Friday, November 21, 2008

SideWalks One

The above photos were captured from Google Earth and show the trail that joins Connaught Drive to Patricia Blvd. It also shows Prince George City Hall to the North West.The street north east from City Hall is historic George Street. I chose these areas as the roads, trails and sidewalks right here at the heart of the city are in a state of neglect and disrepair. My first rant will focus on this area of potential hazards, thanks in advance for reading.

As you come off of Connaught Drive just before Queensway Street in Prince George British Columbia, there is paved access to travel to the downtown core by foot or mobility device. In the area lays the Memorial that honors all people who will never come home from work again.The access trail is in a severe state of disrepair. It does nothing to attract citizens to the area to pay homage.

Early photos of the area that City Hall is built on showed a beautiful, relaxed area that had a gondola and always had people relaxing in a park like setting, perhaps a resting point as early wanderers came into the community from the west. The white lines in the photos are the crosswalks to areas north where the first stores and entertainment were situated in our early days.These areas are in disrepair too.

Back when the city first developed they planned an access route between Connaught Drive (Miller Addition west) and George Street.The route is historic and valuable as community walk areas.A separate route continues east across Queensway Street down Patricia Blvd past the houses of Miller Addition west. It ends with a good view at Bedford Place above the Fraser River. You are inside a closed off Cul-de-sac.You see Highway 16 east on it’s way to the rest of Canada the Yellowhead Bridge can be seen here, as well as the historic CN Train Bridge Prince George Crossing.There is a “Welcome to Prince George” sign across the highway, placed there when the road was altered slightly to the south in the mid 1980’s.More on that area here.

Heritage Trail also intersects at this point and continues its’ journey to the Cameron Street Bridge along the Nechako River.The confluence is just a few hundred meters north along the Fraser River from this point.I’ll write on the state of that trail in future text, I have an older blog at *URL*

As you turn left off of Connaught Drive towards City Hall you notice a pile of dirt on the left of the trail.It is the result of the hillside eroding and loose material rolling down. It is also a runoff point for rains and spring melt. The trail is quite close to the base of Connaught hill at this point.

Seasonal maintenance operations have chewed up the soil on this entrance.As you travel further down the trail, you notice many places where 3 to 4 inch “cracks” exist in the asphalt.There are places of pavement missing. In the spring and during rain, runoff erodes the trail even more. As you cross Patricia Blvd and travel down George Street alongside of City Hall, you try to avoid the worst of the potholes.On a mobility aid, you must avoid the sidewalk due to erosion around the “Enterprise Rent A Car” location at the corner of Patricia, Queensway and George St.

City Hall must be accessed by going around to the rear of the building (From Patricia) to access the sidewalk in order to enter the structure to do town business.All doors are electric, the building is completely accessible in all areas and the Municipal center is geared to accept everyone.Outside is a different story.

City Hall has four paths (those white lines radiating out from city hall) to access the cenotaph grounds, business entrances (up a flight of cement stairs or grassy knoll) or relax in the shade of a glade of exotic trees.It is a historic area, chosen in the mid 1960’s to host the Municipal HQ. Only 2 of these cement paths, the North West and North (center) access paths are mobility accessible.There is one directly across George Street and another a few meters further around the grounds with a 4” curb preventing access for so many.

The streets here are in a severe state of disrepair.Deep potholes encircle the lands’ business end.The pavement is eroding rapidly right next to the grounds due to extreme heavy traffic and low maintenance.The land was once fertile and peaceful; the developing community’s resting ground.Connaught Hill had a Ski Jump in the 1950’s; any events were visible from this point and close to the entertainment of the community.

Prince George has a mandate to become 100% accessible.It is destined to become the model for the larger community of British Columbia.BC has a mandate as well, to set the bar when it comes to National Accessibility.The city should take some pride and improve this high profile area.Municipal pride starts at home and this area should radiate that pride in it’s outward hospitality to all persons, no mater what the ability!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Welcome to the Future

Hi there fellow Time Travelers, I have been researching some stuff we may find as we travel further into the future. every second, we come closer to our final destination. I often wonder what would happen if we exceeded our time and missed that destination. Just thought I would write a short post as I have not written in awhile. My apologies.

Anyway, while you ponder all that, take a look at this report I came across concerning a UFO shaped car... Silly RCMP and Alaska State authorities lol

Further along that link, a surprise by Lotus:
it's main power is traditional gasoline, however it does have electric assist with solar panels on the roof. Well, welcome to the future my buds. Try not to disturb the locals on your way through, they are disturbed enough already.

Friday, August 15, 2008

PG Mobility for all

Prince George Mobility for all

I ride a mobility scooter through the streets of Prince George as my main means of transport. I feel the city should encourage people to drive environmentally friendly vehicles like bikes and electric transport and encourage walking. As far as the economy and fuel prices go, I feel I was lucky to be afflicted by a mobility impairment that forces me to ride this type of transport. Life played a role in that as well.

I was involved with a lady the last time I drove a conventional vehicle and only used a cane part time. Partly due to a rocky relationship not based in total reality and mostly due to a poverty situation as I waited for “disability pay” combined with the powerful thought “I can do this while I still can”, I had let my driver’s license expire in October 2005. Not being able to afford fuel and repairs, I had not driven for a couple of years before that. Checking, I realized that the provincial government of British Columbia only requires you to retest for a DL Renewal after 3 years without. I was pretty sure this situation of poverty and the relationship would end within 3 years so I walked as much as I could then switched to my Electric Mobility Scooter when I got weaker. I got a BCID for the odd time someone asked for ID.

For quite a long time now, I have ridden various electric Personal Electric Transport devices (or “PET’s”, Mobility Scooters and Power Chairs). Many times I am forced to ride alongside the traffic in a special lane created for bicycles. Summer is a blast; the PET can go many kilometers no matter what the weather. I put a Harley Davidson sticker on a big green 3 wheeled PET I named “Scoot”. “Scoot” and I made a positive reputation for ourselves and everyone noticed us.

The sidewalks around Prince George are not well maintained in many areas. Curb cuts are in many of the main areas of the city but often do not exist in the residential neighborhoods (if a sidewalk even exists). It is interesting to notice those things; they are valuable access for everyone. Parents with infants in strollers, workers moving heavy items with carts and dollies, bikes and any number of rolling transport appreciate being able to get off the street and access the sidewalks easily.

Prince George has a “Falls Prevention” hot line setup; it can be accessed by calling city hall at 250-561-7600. The hot line is a reporting system for barriers to the “walk-ability” of the city. People are encouraged to phone the city and report any walk area that is in need of repair. As soon as they know of an area, they put it on the list for city crews to eventually repair. As I understand it, the city has a long list and priority for the crews is on a first called, first fixed system and will eventually get to your area.

The city had set this up in 2003 when it presented a mandate to the province concerning Prince George fitness. The theory was based on the thought “People tend to walk more in areas when they see others walking”. That fact was apparent to me on my PET. Every year I go out, I see more and more of them on the road. Prince George has over 3100 of these devices owned by its’ citizens. As I ride I smile and think “monkey see monkey do” a lot. Several mobility riders even offered my trademark greeting of “Want to Race?” before I could speak anything.

Over the winter of 2007/08 the Prince George region experienced an unusually large dump of snow over a period of several weeks. In addition to that, the nearby confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers decided to overflow their banks, threatening transport routes, businesses and housing along the Nechako. This was due to large ice jams forming from the confluence to about 9 Km up the Nechako and Fraser. Actually, flooding on the Nechako had been occurring since the spring & summer of 2006 & 07; the 07/08 winter brought many additional snow removal challenges that the city had not experienced for well over 20 years and the waters rose to levels not seen in over 100 years.

Prince George did not seem prepared or organized during that period. Resources were spent to the maximum and some city streets and most sidewalks would remain unploughed for weeks at a time. Priority for cleanup seemed to be based on the aggressiveness of complaints. Having just a mobility aid for transport I often found myself trapped in my apartment most of the winter. Having a polite nature and a soft voice, I missed over 60 percent of my limited work days over that winter; my transport just is not made for those conditions. I got fed up and called city hall one bright sunny January morning and blew up. Crews were deployed within 2 hours and I was able to get out for the first time in 3 weeks! During those 3 weeks, I planned ways to make the city aware that folks who decided to reduce their carbon footprint by only driving devices like this were being prosecuted this way. What would the incentive be to do our part for the environment if we could not leave our houses?

To that end I contacted John Neison, former chairperson for the now defunct “PG Scooter Club” in February 2008. We discussed the potential of re-forming the club with new values and principles. In April 2008, we announced to Prince George that the Prince George Power Mobility Club was born out of the ashes of the Scooter club. We discussed methods of recruitment; possible activities if we did. We came up with a few ideas, thought of the barriers to doing those activities and found ways to overcome many.

In the spring when the snow cleared I saw that several large communities in Canada had started an event of colossal importance. Electric Day was held and will be held annually, some hold hopes that it will become another day of celebration; yet another “Stat” with a purpose directed towards the environment. A day to celebrate all things related to electric transport. Buses, Cars, Bicycles, Scooters, Wheel chairs, Electric generating treadmills, and solar panels (to name a few of the items I saw featured) were presented to thousands. “Why can Prince George not hold such an event?” I asked John. He did not know an answer. I further suggested that the PGPMC investigate the potential and perhaps host it here.

We decided to put it to a few more mobility riders who showed up to our first meeting. We first held a general vote in early June 2008 to select officers for PGPMC. John was named as President and me as Vice-President. Nancy (John’s wife) would be the treasurer and an administration person collected notes and created minutes from the meetings. We discussed the idea of “PG Electric Day” after that business.

It went over well. A week after, John, Nancy and myself acting on behalf of the PGPMC contacted Pat Bell, Prince George North MLA with the idea. He loved it. He offered PGPSC a whole lot of support to set up an administrative office for PGPSC, and offered to tell a few contacts. A few days later, Shirley Bond, BC Minister of Education and Deputy Minister for British Columbia contacted the PGPSC offering major support for the club. Even Gordon Campbell put in a comment (verbally) offering his support for PG Electric Day in June 2009! I put up a blog to promote this to the world.

It is now August 2008, 10 months till we launch the E-Day. The PGPSC has taken a summer vacation to plan a strategy for developing the beginning of this new club in Prince George, one that has a powerful recruitment strategy and could attract a potential of 3500+ power mobility owners.

Once the idea catches on, the potential for all communities to start such a club is great as well.

PGPSC is set up to provide riders in Prince George with fun, recreational ideas keeping the environment in mind. They would participate with other riders, providing a measure of support and companionship for a common goal of recreational/environmentally safe fun. Prince George parks (many of them) have trails that can be accessed with these devices. In addition, the surrounding area around Prince George is extremely accessible in its developed areas. Quesnel has an accessible riverfront trail area and about 140 miles north of PG a trail was just developed connecting with local trail systems here in the city, stretching over 100 Km across British Columbia wilderness with accessibility in mind on many sections on either end. It was endorsed by support organizations like the Prince George Paraplegic Society. With recently acquired support, we now have the capability to move about 20 scooters and chairs to wherever we decide to hold an event.

Right here in PG (right in your back yard), we have over 100 Km of accessible nature trails and street routes. For example, the Heritage Trail system, which is over 8 KM of paved trail with about 3 Km of packed and compacted gravel in environmentally sensitive areas. Forests for the world on Cranbrook Hill, a UNBC project comprises over 15 KM of compacted gravel trail which is fully accessible; a wonderfully relaxing tour whether riding on electric or human powered mobility.

A Prince George city bylaw demands that all new business construction must be accessible by everyone. This makes Prince George a very accessible place to do business; the perfect center to begin the drive for using this equipment for local transport and forcing petroleum companies to rethink their money gouging practices. I won’t even mention to you that they take your money (TONS OF IT!) and do not do half of what is needed to clean up the messes their products create. We even have to pay extra taxes for the gov to do the petrol companies “dirty” work of “carbon cleanup”. WTF is Carbon tax??? Do they not make enough to wipe up their own spills and environmental damage? Anyway, I’ll shut up now on that heated debate.

Out of the 3500+ electric mobility devices that exist here in Prince George, I would estimate that today only about 10% are being used to their full potential. I believe that once people see how much fun we can have on these slow moving machines and how they are evolving into an alternative transportation solution to the fuel crises :) we will go a long way towards meeting our goals in the environmental concerns. People would save loads of coin so they would spend more at local retailers improving an already uplifted economy!!! How sweet would that be! On the lighter point as a side effect the air would be slightly cleaner and you would be rewarded with a good feeling that you are contributing to saving the environment. As we are in the center of the province we would become a model for the province which coincidently will become the model for the nation, then the world as a whole!

Till next time, fellow planet saviors: Ride free, Ride far and screw the gasoline companies; save your coin for your favorite sidewalk market!!! We don’t need no stinking licenses, helmets and do not ask to check my oil!

In Prince George, please contact either Medichair Prince George @ (250) 562-8280 or PG Surg Med @ 564-2240 for advice and information about these devices.

This blog has been brought to you by Employment Action of Prince George British Columbia Canada. If you have physical barriers and would like to return to gainful employment, please contact our professional staff of employment counselors. Together we will explore your options, attempt to overcome your barriers and try to find the perfect career for you. 250-564-8044 or toll free at 1-866-409-8044. Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 4, 2008

PGPMC News Happy BC Day!

PG power Mobility club has officially partnered with "Asleep At My Desk Productions", a new developing video, photography and marketing company in Prince George; Ken Biron is the owner of that mess (Stay tuned). PGPMP is also partnered with AAMD's other partner, PGWalknroll. PGWNR is owned by Ken Biron and Lorraine Young. This blog is hosted and promoted on WNR's space and in their newsletter!

Another partner of PGWalknroll and AAMD Productions, "Grampa Ganja's Happy Man's Hemp Shop" is interested in talking to PGPMC about a combined Electric Day / HempFest in Prince George before the Olympics in 2010. Flavored and fueled by 420 legalization, it will be focused on serious environmental and medical issues. This would attract a huge market world wide (who will be in the area anyway) for a full weekend. Music, Good times and serious talk mixed throughout. Time, place and focused event details to follow. HMHS needs to work out a few details: In Brieif;

How would an "Electric Hemp" theme go over in Prince George British Columbia Canada?

Where in the huge area of wide open areas in the Prince George City area could an event of this scale be held?

Stay tuned for the answers (or comment below and help us plan)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prince George 2009: The dawning of the age of electric transport

Prince George British Columbia has always been the center for transportation and innovative ideas in British Columbia. Way back in BC History, people in Prince George and area have needed to be innovative and resourceful to survive. Pictures taken of the community in the early days (up to around the 1940’s and 50’s) do not show much use of the conventional vehicles that we are used to. Back then, it did not make much sense to trade in the horse and buggy for one of those slow, loud horseless carriages that Mr. Ford was building back east… Fast forward to the early days of the new millennium in British Columbia and see the high fuel prices and the struggle in British Columbia to keep the cars fueled up so you can make money to buy more fuel. We need an alternative and Prince George is the place to begin the idea in our province.

In 2007 several large centers across Canada hosted “Electric Day” (E-Day), an event to celebrate the alternative of Electric Transport in these days of extreme out of control world oil prices. According to mainstream news sources, the events were a huge success in those communities. The struggle to keep the tank filled is a world wide problem today and everyone is looking for a solution. Electric days celebrate devices and vehicles designed to operate on electricity only.

Here in Prince George, many of us own electric mobility aids due to an injury or disease that robs us of some mobility. Quite a few of us ride these to go about our business around town. There are estimates of over 3500 electric mobility devices in Prince George. Those devices are perfect in town vehicles. No license or helmet required, slow but steady. You ride past the gas stations with a smile on your face and you keep your cash for the store. It may take 20 minutes to get from the 1200 block on 20th Ave. to Pine Center Mall but the ride is pleasant in the summer and full of great views. Always pack that camera you splurged on as you passed the gas station! Most medium to large mobility aids can travel 15 to 35 Km’s before needing a recharge & some can travel as fast as 25 kph! Recharges cost about 4 cents from dead flat (unless you live in an accessible apartment where the electricity is included in the rent).

While riding around the city on one of these, a certain rider was dreaming of a day when everyone would be using electric in some form or other. Prince George area is built for accessibility (and many structures as well). With an electric device, many natural accessible areas exist. Over 100 KM of nature trail area was developed in the Prince George area and over 40% of that is completely (naturally) accessible by electric mobility aid.

“Why could we not do this E-Day in Prince George” he wondered. The rider realized that an organized force of people with the same idea would be needed to pull something like this off. To that end he investigated and contacted the former President of the PG Scooter club (Dead society for riders of Mobility aids) and suggested the idea of reforming the group. Since September 2007, Ken Biron and John Neison have collaborated on developing a society for those lucky enough to be afflicted with a mobility robbing condition and forced to ride these things.

Ken is a long time rider due to mobility problems caused by Multiple Sclerosis and was noticing an increase in the number of mobility devices being used every year. He is also the Facilitator for the MS Support Group and Assistive Technology Consultant for Employment Action. John is involved in many activities that the city manages on the issues of disability; he also rides due to a mobility problem. Ken and John agreed to re-form the scooter club to show people that this alternate form of transport is not something to be hidden. The club was renamed the “Prince George Power Mobility Club” (PGPMC) and is planning to implement an annual event of the future of personal electric transport as a way of introducing themselves to you. Their vision is “To assist and support people with Power Mobility Devices”. They don’t focus on “Why” we ride, just that there are fun, safe ways to ride.

Ken and John are supported by Nancy, John’s wife and fellow mobility rider. The 3 of them met unofficially a few times in the board room of 490 Quebec over the winter and spring of 2007/08 to discuss the future of the club. They plan on creating a Non-Profit society based on these values. In June of 2008 it was decided that PGPMC would need to promote a huge media event to get the attention of mobility riders and attract a membership. The EDay event was the perfect vehicle for that plan. At the Initial meeting which was attended by 6 people in the boardroom, PGPMC elected several official positions. John became the President and Ken is the Vice. A secretary was elected and there is now a treasurer. It was discussed about us supporting EDay in Prince George and using that for a membership drive.

After the meeting Ken, John and Nancy sat with a very receptive Pat Bell, MP and discussed the concept of “Electric Day” and how it could be held in Prince George. He offered his parties’ support and offered to talk to his contacts about it. A few days later Shirley Bond, MLA and Deputy Minister for the Province of BC called John on the telephone and offered the province’s support in this venture. Shirley said that Gordon Campbell (BC Premiere) was eager to support the idea in Prince George.

Electric Day #1 is being planed for the Multiplex in June of 2009. All forms of electric transport will be featured. Tricked out Mobility aids, electric bicycles, Electric motorbikes, cars, trucks, forklifts, busses and all sorts of other environmentally friendly electric travel modes will be featured. Chevy and Toyota plan on unveiling the first true electric vehicles in 2009 as well and it is hoped that one or more will be featured there.

brought to you by Employment Action, 1268 5th Ave PG. If you have physical barriers and would like to return to gainful employment, please contact our professional staff of employment counselors. Together we will explore your options and try to find the perfect career for you. 250-564-8044 or toll free at 1-866-409-8044. Thanks for reading!.
As well, this event was featured in the Prince George Citizen on the 3rd of July, local downtown printed news source. Thank you Prince George Citizen & Scott Stanfield; I am sure we will talking to you again someday