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Cycle Touring
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Whale Watching
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Cave Exploring
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Appendix: Getting There
Seasons in the Sun
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Introduction E-mail
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Written by Brian Grover   
Sunday, 28 January 2007 08:49

After returning from several years living in Japan and France I suddenly realized how dependent I had become on public transportation. Prior to globetrotting I had always owned a car. I also realized how woefully inadequate the transportation alternatives are in Vancouver. Of course a bicycle is fine for running most errands around town. The problem was when I tried to resume my outback-bent lifestyle. In Japan many trailheads are easily reached by train or bus. In fact, rail companies publish impressive booklets detailing hiking trails and other recreational opportunities along their lines. By contrast, the underlying assumption here in western Canada, is that everybody has a car. When I contacted Maverick Coachlines to find out what kinds of activities were accessible along their routes, a staff member declared that they were not a public transportation company. At BC Rail the reception was icy, as if invaders from a far-flung galaxy were wasting the 1-800 service.

Very few guidebooks even pay lip service to public transportation. Even in those situations where heading out on one bus and returning by another one makes perfect sense, most guidebook authors will tell their readers to arrange to have a car left at both ends of the trail instead. Clearly some changes to the traditional mind set are in order.
Determined to avoid the headaches and expense of owning a car, I set out to find out just what could be undertaken without one. This book, then, is the fruit that effort.

We live in a time where owning a car is an expense many people just do not want to contend with. More and more people—especially the enlightened young —are choosing, for financial, environmental or lifestyle reasons, to forego the dinosaur. I, for example, can work one day less a week, without a car to support. I have 52 three-day weekends every year!

Yet as a society we routinely oppose the establishment of intelligent public transit alternatives in our neighbourhoods, preferring to send noxious, chronic lung-disease-causing fumes to our neighbours up the Fraser Valley than to make the transition to communal modes of getting around. We complain about road rage, gridlock, crowded highways, unused commuter lanes and then we dash out to buy bigger, better, faster sports-utility vehicles. More than half a million cars hit the tarmac daily in the Lower Mainland. That’s more than one car per household. On any statutory holiday expect the local news crews to be out eliciting inevitable comments from travellers stuck in ferry line-ups. Such trite tirades are rendered moot if we consider that every one of those stalled at ferry terminals would have boarded in a timely fashion had they left their dogma at home in the garage. Unlike most of the rest of the world, we are stuck in a time warp dating back to the 1950s.

This book is dedicated to and written for those who do not want to sit around complaining about the high cost of gasoline or auto insurance at dinner parties, do not want to spend their Thursday afternoons getting a brake job, who dislike parking fines, speeding tickets and tow trucks with equal acrimony.

Put another way, for every $100 Canadians spent on retail purchases in 1999, $35 of that was spent on their cars, $8 on home furnishings and electronics, $10 on clothing and $20 on food. Obviously getting rid of the dinosaur can be economically liberating.
Finally this book is a message. There is a growing constituency which believes we already have enough pavement, we just need to start using it better.




Copyright © 2007 Brian Grover. Content Distribution is Prohibited
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