Larry Beasley and Bing Thom call for us to re-envision Vancouver Viaducts

The colossal freeway-artery that’s been seperating our communities for the past forty years may soon be coming to an end.

Late last year, Gumboot Editor-in-Chief tackled the issue with a great post detailing the fore and against sides around the Viaduct debate. But while most people seem to agree the massive freeway relics a waste of space (although convenient wastes of space), many people are only now thinking about the world of possibilities that opens up if Vancouver’s viaducts are taken down. Here’s a short video produced by myself and City Councillor Geoff Meggs, which explores the issue:

Several weeks ago, over a hundred community activists, citizens, city planners and many of the city’s urban design enthusiasts came together to talk about what a future without the viaducts would look like at SFU. During the evening, the audience listened to a Vancouver city planner, a consultant hired by the city to access the repercussions of removing the viaducts, Bing Thom (a noted city of Vancouver architect) and Larry Beasley (the former director of planning for the city of Vancouver). Below are a few clips from both Beasley and Bing Thom on the importance of re-envisioning what North False Creek could be like without the viaducts.

Both Beasley and Bing are calling Vancouverites to action. But where do you stand when it comes to the Viaducts? Rip them down or keep them where they are? The community implications are enormous!

Great Ideas Build Community

Courtesy of Treehugger - it's the Minimum Wage Machine! A very cool idea that may soon be applied to stationary bikes in Vancouver!

Courtesy of Treehugger - it's the Minimum Wage Machine! A very cool idea that may soon be applied to stationary bikes in Vancouver!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Daily Gumboot is an innovator in community building. And I’m not the only one who knows this, either. Recently, Architectural Correspondent, Stewart Burgess, forwarded me an article from Treehugger: a discovery company. I’ll tell you what they discovered…Blake Fall-Conroy stole my Amazing Idea about bicycle-powered-urban-energy! Kind of, but not really. Fall-Conroy’s Minimum Wage Machine is, however, quite similar to an idea posted here on The DG several months ago. Here is an excerpt from the article entitled “Minimum Wage Machine Pays You Pennies for Your Power”:

One way to make a little side money is to be a power generator. The Minimum Wage Machine will pay you in real time for the power you generate. The more you crank, the more pennies it spits out.

Creator Blake Fall-Conroy shared details with MAKE, saying, “The minimum wage machine pays the user minimum wage in real-time in pennies– the smallest unit of currency in the US. Being in NY, with minimum wage at $7.15 an hour, this equates to 1 penny every 5.035 seconds. The machine has a crank attached to an antique change sorting machine (circa 1913, ebay) and by belt to a small DC motor (salvaged from a printer). The crank turns the motor’s shaft which, in turn, acts as a small generator. The voltage produced goes through a 5V regulator and powers a Basic Stamp. It also powers a stepper motor (same printer) moving a small wheel at the mouth of the change sorter and a small motor inside the change reservoir of the machine.”

And here’s my idea from February 19, 2009 as described on the then titled Weekly Gumboot:

We’ve all seen and, perhaps, used exercise bikes. Usually in gyms. Sometimes at home. And some of us have witnessed the BC Clettes perform to music powered by one of their members pedaling away on a stationary bike. And that’s the idea. Power-generating stationary bicycles.

And it gets better. Bigger, even. The idea is to place hundreds – maybe even thousands – of these stationary bikes all around the Lower Mainland and connect them to the power grid. By riding the bikes, people would be able to produce clean energy for their communities. And they will also get exercise as well as promote healthy living by being “on the street” role models for physical fitness. Here’s the kicker: after pedaling for a certain amount of time, the bike shoots out a loonie or toonie! Whether you’re a homeless person, investment banker high on caffeine who doesn’t want to break a hundred dollar bill, or a kid needing some cash for a bus-ride home, could make money by producing power for the city of Vancouver. Finally, think about the tourist buy-in! Many globetrotters will get their photos taking pedaling away on a bike that provides energy for one of the world’s most unique – and greenest – cities.

I will say, Treehugger’s idea is a bit different. Their model employs a hand-crank and their payment process, based on the minimum wage of a state and using the lowest denomination of coin, is far more sophisticated than my idea of “the bike shoots out a loonie or a toonie!” And, hey, I twitblogged the concept of Bicycle Powered Energy into the interscape because I believe in the open source community. Fall-Conroy’s concept is a fantastic one and it certainly builds community in a myriad of ways. So, let’s spread the word about this fantastic social enterprize!

Attention Mayor Robertson, Vancouver City Councillors and the Green Business and Health and Social Advocacy communities in Vancouver: if The ‘Couve is really about being green, inclusive, healthy, and entrepreneurial, well, this is a fantastically meaningful idea to embrace. I’m of course speaking of the Minimum Wage Machine, as the bicycle thing hasn’t really gotten off the ground…yet…


Courtesy of Treehugger - a young lady cranking the Minimum Wage Machine, collecting coins and making clean energy!

Courtesy of Treehugger - a young lady cranking the Minimum Wage Machine, collecting coins and making clean energy!