Wickedly intelligent. Socially progressive. Self-deprecating.
Tell someone in the world of Vancouver transportation policy-making that you've met a leader in their world with those qualities, but you forget their name, and they'll probably guess Tanya Paz.
I don't have any mechanical ability. I've never been that kind of bicyclist. I specifically eat too much ice cream — I don't want to, but I do — so that I can stay chubby so that other people see me on a bike and say, 'that middle-aged person, that chubby woman is riding, maybe I can too'.
So it's my duty...it's part of the role modelling.
The wicked intelligence likely comes naturally. The social progressiveness, probably a product of upbringing, education and generational mores. The self-deprecation? A bonus.
Aside from being funny, stylish and endlessly interesting, Tanya occupies a key position in Vancouver's active transportation milieu.
Tanya was an early employee of car sharing pioneer Cooperative Auto Network (now Modo), and has subsequently helped reduce car ownership, and provide more transportation options, to Vancouverites for much of the last two decades, including roles with The Company Car, B.E.S.T., Mobi, LifeCycle and VeloMetro.
Transportation was always about choice, you need choice. One of the areas that I delved into was the change in people's behaviour. Convincing them to give up their car, or to try walking, cycling, taking transit sometimes, and then realize they didn't need their car all the time.
If they had a car sometimes for car-sharing, then they could do those other modes, which is what it was all about.
Today, as volunteer chair of the City of Vancouver's Active Transportation Policy Council, Tanya works very closely with — and between — city council and staff liaisons, and local residents who want better policies and conditions for walking, cycling, and other active transportation modes.
She also has the unenviable job of keeping a level head when the leadership challenge involves negotiating with local bodies that appear not to understand cycling, or to be positioned to act in their best interests.
The relationship with the Vancouver Police Department has been slow in coming. A lot of their work is reactive...a crime is committed, and they go to the scene. Or they get complaints about noise or something, and they have to show up.
So they get quite a few complaints about scofflaw cyclists, and they're responding to that. I'm not sure that's the best application of the law, for the number of deaths and serious injuries that are happening from a bicyclist rolling through a stop sign, or what have you. Or not wearing a helmet. I think it's clear the deaths and serious injuries are coming from intersection interactions or from bicyclist dooring, especially 10th avenue.
Should the enforcement be based on the data, or based on the number of complaints? And are they equal? Does one outweigh the other? I think the data outweighs the emotion that exists in our city around people's hate for people on bikes. And that should be determining enforcement.
Tanya's role in helping the city achieve its goals can't be understated, not because she accomplishes all these things on her own (she doesn't), or because she's the loudest shouter in the room (she's not). It's because, in addition to having the luxury of working in a sector that aligns with her values, she gives of her free time to support those same causes, regardless of how long it takes to see the payoff. And she's willing, and able, to lead.
I'm one of those people who thinks globally but acts locally, like the woman in Langley who came up with the phrase, because there's only so much I can do. I could get overwhelmed by the number of children in brothels around the world. I can't solve everything. I really do have to focus on one area, and just keep moving down that track.