|John tries out an electric bicycle at a Saltspring store. He liked the bike because it had a solid place for carrying things at the back. But he didn't bite -- he wants to make sure he'd really have a use for it.|
|The driver of this electric truck picking up garbage along the West Vancouver waterfront was a bit bemused when a man with a camera started asking him detailed questions about his vehicle. But when he realized John was sincerely interested, they had a big conversation.|
Cars are another whole story. Young and poor and adventurous, he drove a rickety Austin-Healey Sprite (winter trips with snowbanks higher than the car's plastic windows, no heater) when he worked at a bank in Revelstoke. I'm glad to have missed that era, but I was in for three successive Volkswagen Beetles when he was a poverty-stricken young photographer in Edmonton. (Alberta didn't have many hills, but when we went to the mountains, there was a serious possibility we might not get up them.) With a secure job in Vancouver came a Volkswagen Rabbit, an ironically yellow lemon that gave lots of trouble, and there was a string of fancy cars after that.
One day he came to pick me up in a brand-new Toyota Supra -- surprise! -- and I recall an ill-fated BMW. But somehow those cars never seemed to take, and our favourite vehicle of all time was a 1990 blue Ford Aerostar van. It was plain, comfortable, capacious and accommodating, but eventually the transmission blew, and it had to be hauled home on a flatbed truck, its dignity sorely impaired. It's the only vehicle I ever felt like having a funeral for.
John has given up on fast vehicles, given that speed is no longer an option in the gridlocked Lower Mainland. But lately, he's found a whole new reason for stopping to inspect the wheels we see on city streets. To me, they're just ordinary-looking cars, bikes and motorcycles, but to him they're fascinating portents of the future. Electric vehicles have arrived, it seems. I expect that one day -- surprise! -- he will come to pick me up in one.
|A better view of the electric bicycle, with its rack on the back.|
|And the electric garbage truck in all its waterfront glory.|