A friend who made a difference

Arno Schortinghuis has passed away, and many people feel deep sadness today. He’s gone now, but his kindness, even disposition, dedication, lack of pretention, twinkle-eyed sense of humour, his open nature and deep knowledge — all live on in us, our memories and the things we’ve learned.

He was a champion for expanding choices in transportation, and in particular the creation of safe and effective infrastructure for those who choose to travel by bicycle.  He could be found in boardrooms, meeting rooms, open house events and online — taking on the issues and providing cogent, well-thought-out opinion.

I remember Arno as a conciliator, who always looked for the common ground to try and secure agreement and move a group or an issue forward.  He also focused on the positive, the benefit, the happiness and pleasure.  His patience is legendary.

Colin Stein, Price Tags’ managing editor, has updated his lovely piece on Arno. A snippet here, with Arno’s thoughts on how to go about making change:

It’s two parts. It’s encouraging the decision-makers to do way more to make cycling an everyday, safe, convenient activity. Getting the decision-makers on board — that’s probably the most important.

The other is getting the public on-board — encouraging them to cycle more and accept cycling as a real mode of transportation. Some of the people who drive a lot and don’t cycle have a very negative opinion of cycling.

We have to get over that because the politicians aren’t going to act unless the public is on-side as well.

I can remember Arno as “Cycling Santa”, and as the person who delivered Translink’s training bus rack to various events. Every so often today, I hear his voice in my head, saying “Hello Ken”, with characteristic enthusiasm and a rising inflection. Always makes me feel good.

A few photos below, and yes, you can gaze upon a photo of Arno in a suit, with the then-mayor.

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Comments

  1. I am so sorry to hear of his passing. He was understated but relentless, an effective advocate, and a very decent human being.

  2. Best wishes to his friends and family.

    I’ll miss his contributions here on Pricetags. Always insightful. Always respectful.

  3. I will miss Arno very much. He was a founding member of Bike to Work BC Society, He used to cycle to my house once a month as he signed our cheques with me, as he was a Board co-signer. We always had a cup of tea and an insightful chat. I learned many things from him but mostly I just enjoyed his company and sweet nature. And also how much he got on with my cat! the two had a great affinity for each other. Best wishes to his wife and kids and to all who knew him and will feel the loss.
    Penny Noble

  4. Arno was an amazing person and one the kindest people I have ever met with a sense of humour to match. We are better for having known him. RIP Arno, your legacy lives on.

  5. As I ride today I’ll chant some of my fave lines that Arno and many others would blast out at the many Critical Masses we shared road space in. But I’ll add a another line :

    “I say ARNO . . .You say HERO, ARNO . . .HERO, ARNO . . .HERO, ARNO . . . HERO!”

    We Are Not Blocking Traffic, We Are Traffic!!!

    Keep On Cranking ARNO and keep the rubber side down!

  6. What a shame. Though we often disagreed, his comments were always well thought out and respectful.

    It just goes to show, you never know what day might be your last. Enjoy life to the fullest and don’t leave it with regrets.

  7. I never met Arno, knew exactly what he did or was aware of how many lives he touched until now. I only knew him through his posts here on Price Tags. But he left an indelible impression nonetheless:

    Intelligent. Gentle. Persuasive advocate. Respectful.

    These and the warmth of family and friends will no doubt help his legacy grow.

  8. I never met him but I always admire folks that make a stand for more active transportation, i.e. less car use and more biking in this case. Vancouver is better off with bike lanes today than 10+ years. For that: Bedankt & RIP.

  9. I remember canvassing Green with Arno one year. Quiet and persistent.

    Here’s to trying from the inside, trying from the outside, and trying from the other side

    Bye Arno

    1. Perhaps during the 2006 federal election when Arno ran in Vancouver Kingsway for the Green Party? He got over 1,300 votes!

  10. Arno’s passing reminded me of a call I once made about an old car for sale with unbelievably low mileage. The woman’s voice on the answering machine said that she couldn’t come to the phone right now.
    Turns out she couldn’t come to the phone because she was dead. Killed by a motorist while cycling. She was a Dutch woman who, naturally, cycled, which explained the mileage on her car.
    Her brother had come over from France to dispose of her estate.
    How many more cyclists and pedestrians will die, or be injured, thanks to a bully motordom mentality.

  11. Thank you for your photos Ken. I will miss our “skinny cycling Santa” this year.

    When I joined the Board of Directors of the VACC (Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, now HUB) I was particularly struck by how Arno, an older gentleman, enthusiastically encouraged and supported younger people, especially women, to participate on the board.

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