Days 49–51, September 12th–14th: Vancouver

Greenhouse gas emissions (CO2eq): 2,335 kilos (STILL working on it…)
Sigurðar saga fóts: 223/252

Whew, and then I was in Vancouver! The pacific coast! Behind on my travelblogue but (NB) catching up on Sigurðar saga fóts. Yay! Blimey, I’ve made my first continental crossing! Out here in the West, you sometimes smell a plant that reminds me of the smell of fennel tea. I wonder if it’s fennel? Yeah, and it’s in British Columbia! The land of carbon taxation. Woo!

Vancouver seemed a bit of a blur. Partly it was just the mist. But being on holiday turns out to be tiring, and I guess I’m getting a bit travel-worn. Still, I liked the grey sky. And, like, cities can get cool points for various things—good public transport (especially underground systems where you can see out the front of the train), seats of national government, a well-stocked university library, groovy languages, whatever. But let’s face it, most of the cool points a city is ever going to score come inevitably from three key environmental factors:

  • Does it have the sea?
  • Does it have islands?
  • Does it have mountains?

Broadly, cities get 12 points for one of these, 20 points for two, and 24 points for three. Not many get 24. Edinburgh gives it a good shot; so does Helsinki. London and Toronto kind of crawl in to the lower rankings by making optimistic claims for tidal rivers and large lakes respectively. Leeds does not. Reykjavík struggles a bit with those last four points, but does very well. But Vancouver definitely gets the full 24. Shame I was too spaced out to say anything really intelligent about its success!

Though it did also have HUGE piles of YELLOW!

Big pile of yellow, Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver didn’t seem as bikey as Toronto, but I did cycle round much of the downtown’s coast on a nicely done cycle path. The sort which sometimes has a nice simple hey, here’s a park by the sea, let’s put a cycle path along the edge sort of vibe. (Some really great trees in the park by the way, it was like being on ENDOR! Except that I was on a normal bike, not a speederbike. But more about that in my trees post when I do it.) But sometimes the cycle path had more like a, hmm, tricky, now there’s a big road in the way sort of vibe. The impressive thing being that in Britain people go ‘I dunno, I guess that now we’ve got to the point where cyclists might actually need it, we’ll abruptly give up on the cycle lane, put up a bafflingly uninformative signpost, and see how many get squashed’. But Vancouver actually did sensible, helpful, creative things with its cycle path. So well done Vancouver!

I get the idea that Vancouver likes to think of itself as these amazingly eco-friendly place. It wasn’t massively apparent as I biked round (the people on bikes all seemed to be tourists like me), but hey, I wasn’t there long. Mind you, I did meet the best bus-driver in the world! Me and my companions had asked a bike-hirer-outer about buses and she was, like, oh, get on the bus, the driver will tell you where to go. And if I was able to raise just one eyebrow at a time, I would have considered that an ideal moment. Helpful bus-drivers? You’ve been cycling too long, miss. Though to be fair, bus drivers here in North America have been pretty cool so far. I did have a very slow conversation with a totally useless one in Buffalo, but then with another one who was nice and moderately helpful; there was the democratic coach-driver on the way to Chicago of course, you can’t say he didn’t have character. And the coach-driver from Edmonton to Calgary. We’ve been driving about five minutes and then he stops at this bus stop, and switches off the engine and stands up and says ‘Until yesterday, I’d have made this announcement on the microphone. But as of today, in Alberta, it’s illegal to talk on a cellphone while driving, or even on a microphone’. And I’m, like, oh God, what rant am I about to sit through from this denizen of the land of tar sands? But then he smiles and chipperly-and-politely continues, ‘Which, given the number of accidents caused by people talking on their cellphones while driving, I think is quite sensible. Now, you’ll find a restroom towards the back of the vehicle…’

But the Vancouver bus-driver was GREAT! I had to compost this ticket we’d bought in the supermarket, right, and was trying to work out how to use the machine and he was, like, bouncing up and down in his seat and he was, like, GO ON! Yeah, that’s it! No, not that way round! YEAH!! THAT WAY! WOO! Go on, push it in! Like that! YEAH! THERE YOU GO! WOO! And he really was helpful about where to get off and where to go and everything. That’s my kind of bus-driver. Extra public transport points for Vancouver!


About alarichall
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2 Responses to Days 49–51, September 12th–14th: Vancouver

  1. I’ve had some really good bus driver experiences out here. When they see you running to catch the bus they actually stop and wait, rather than heartlessly ignoring you, British-style; they wish you a nice day in a heartfelt way or strike up conversations with you (a Polish driver used to even address me as ‘my love’); one even complimented me on my politeness in taking out my earphones to get on the bus. And they sometimes make an enormous fuss about dropping you on the corner you want rather than stopping at the bus stop, if you’re out in the suburbs, which I find completely disconcerting.

  2. We also had a great bus driver in Vancouver – boarding on a spur of a moment didn’t have enough change and were told to ride for free – with a big smile too!

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