Showing posts from 2006

Merry Christmas

and Happy New Year. I'm about to leave for a land without internet, so this is going to be a fairly boring blog for about two weeks. In fact, work in January is going to be nuts, so I'll hardly be posting then either.

If you're looking for somewhere else to "click" - Canadian readers might like to sign a petiton which asks the Canadian Federal Government to promote cycling as a preferred means of transportation. If you're not so much into the online thing, you could wait until a paper version is ready for signing at the Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton Mountain Equipment Co-op stores through January and February. If you're in Toronto and shop at Grassroots, you can sign there in January and February as well.

There are lots of reasons why people like me and Joe and Griffin and Minus Car and SnakeBike and CleverChimp and Treadly and all the others (there are TONS - just go through the links on one of our blogs) are trying to live with as few car trips as possib…

Napoleon in Moscow

This post has nothing to do with biking, or with the Promotion of Cycling in Canada petition which is headed towards 2500 signatures, and which you'll be able to sign with old fashioned ink at a few of the MEC Stores across the country in January and February, and at the Bloor and Danforth Grassroots Stores here in Toronto.

Instead, this is just something I found funny in my current book. I'm reading Moscow 1812 by Adam Zamoyski right now, and really enjoying it. He's a good writer and this is one of those episodes of history - of human suffering - that we here in North America in the 21st century just can't believe really happened.
WAIT - I've got a picture of the wrong Napoleon, this is the one I mean:

Actually, this isn't about Napoleon, this is actually about Francois Joseph Lefebvre, one of Napoleon's Marshalls on the Moscow campaign.

Here's the situation: Napoleon took about 450 000 soldiers into Russia without much of a plan for what to do when they …

a citizen for boysenberry jam fan

The cycling petition is still going strong, sign up and tell all your friends.

One of the gentlemen at Bike to the Future in Winnipeg sent me the Amsterdam Declaration which I'd actually never heard of before.

We, the participants at the World Cycle Conference VĂ©lo Mondial 2000, assembled in Amsterdam in June 2000, proclaim that people (including children) should have the right to use bicycles when they want to. We declare that the use of bicycles requires greater acceptance and promotion by all relevant organisations and governments world-wide and call for action.

Right on.

Canada - at least Toronto and Durham where I do my cycling - sucks because girls here don't bike in large groups like these girls below do in Malaysia, Amsterdam and Firenze. Maybe this fight to promote cycling will take us places we never even dreamed!

I need to pay more attention to the awesome (biking Toronto) groups in (bike Toronto) Toronto that are (take the tooker) doing really (cycling cog) great things…

Merry Christmas, Yoko

I get Newsweek magazine amongst some others, and though they've never heard of Canada I really enjoy reading it. They have a video clip right now where they set Danish photographer Jan Grarup's photos of refugees from Darfur against John Lennon's "Merry Christmas / War is Over" song.

I don't really know anything about Darfur, although I did read the Genocide in Slow Motion article in Maclean's a week or so ago. I also just came across Sudan Watch which provides updates on events there.

It's odd - the planet is big enough that half a world away someone's life is being absolutely torn to shreds, and here at home, completely oblivious to Darfur, my main worry is if the wind is going to be against me tonight on the bike.

You know you're a cyclist when...

The petition to promote cycling in Canada is up over 2200 names! Let's force the Feds to come out and say that they want more bike commuters on the road!

I've had a bunch of "you know you're a cyclist when..." ideas in my head for a while now, and I've finally decided to write them up. Out of curiousity though I just googled this phrase to see what's out there, and there are some good ones:
At Bicycle Trip in Santa Cruz I like - When someone asks for advice on buying a bike, you either:
a) ask, "How many thousands do you want to spend?"
b) assail them with so many questions about intended use, riding style and the like, not to mention such personal questions as pubic bone height, that you make buying a bicycle sound like rocket science and unintentionally put them off the idea.

When that same person reacts by saying, "It's only a bicycle," your jaw drops and your eyes bug out

And at some weird Polish wiki I like both these:
your first inc…

Large print giveth and the fine print taketh away

The petition to promote cycling in Canada is now up over 2000 signatures!

In all honesty, the video that Bike Refugee has up in this post pretty much brings a tear to my eye (at least during the parts where Dar Williams is singing.

A co-worker forwarded me this photo. I have no idea where it came from but it made me laugh.

These are the only two photos from yesterday morning's ride which are at all worth posting. This is the Danforth at around 5:45 a.m. Sometimes it's worth it to be up and on the road this early because you get these big four lane streets all to yourself. Sometimes I wait-out a red light (the ones I stop for) by doing figure eights all over the place.

This is at the intersection of Taunton Road and Stevenson in Oshawa. I'm on Taunton for about 1 km during my commute and it's a typical Durham (I refer to Durham as Mordor in my head a lot these days) nightmare - four lanes of doom. Stevenson is a quiet road that is fairly relaxing to be on. However, right at…

Everybody makes history

The Canadian petition to promote cycling is just over 1900 names! Sign up fast and tell all your friends.

I took a few photos on my ride today, but won't be able to post them until tomorrow. In the meantime I thought I'd play along with Griffin's tag game. Griffin by the way has a super-duper awesome photo up in this post.
I don't usually do these chain email things, but Dave in Winnipeg did it, so I figured I'd play as well.

P.S. Dave's blog has a great link to the Winter Challenge Series. Basically it's a fun contest where you accumulate points for how much winter biking you do. The rules are at the bottom of the page, and number seven is this:
7. Indoor spinning, weightlifting, roller riding, swimming, etc. do not count. Be a pussy, if you must, but don't expect to be rewarded for it.

Hopefully I'll remember to play and use my commuting to rack up massive points. : )

So Griffin's game, here's how she described it:
Here's how it works:
List si…

God keep you safe, my friend

There's lots of news!
The cycling petition is over 1500 names now. Curt Harnett, the Canadian Olympic track cyclist signed (around #285), and there is "a" Mary Walsh from Newfoundland who signed (around #1405).

God knows if it's our favourite warrior princess from This Hour Has 22 Minutes, but it'd be very cool if it is. (Just in case - thanks Mary!)

The trick with this petition was in finding an MP who would present it to the House. That is now taken care of, thanks to Toronto NDP MP Olivia Chow! I emailed a few different MPs and heard nothing from them, and then broke down and wrote an old-school paper letter to Ms. Chow's office, and heard back from her almost immediately, saying she'd be happy to present the petition.

There is one catch though, but it isn't really a big one. As some of us had feared, you can't hand a print-out of an online petition w/signatures to an MP - House of Commons rules require a traditional paper & ink petition w/sign…

We're Curling Team From Sweden

The petition to promote cycling in Canada is here.

Velo News had an interview with Steve Johnson regarding his first six months as President of USA Cycling.
Based on this quote, I think he'd sign our petition:
Johnson believes "the time of the automobile is rapidly drawing to a close, and I see the bike as a wonderful vehicle for transportation, health and fitness, and everything else that is wrong with America."

So I'm curling this year. I grew up curling, but was away from the sport for years. I curled a bit around 1999 / 2000 at the Royal Canadian Curling Club downtown, but then I had another break.
I started the job at UOIT and it turned out that one of my co-workers (who I think was an even bigger high-school curling nerd than I was) was looking for a male curler for her mixed team at the Tam Heather club in north Scarborough.

I was a little bit reluctant to take up curling again. Despite the fun of the game, the friendly, social, boozing aspect of it, the commute fro…

Yosemite Sam

I've come across some interesting documents recently, all of which are available for free online.

The Bicycle and Urban Sustainability by David Tomlinson, who in 2003 was at York University, and now seems to be with the City of Toronto Transportation Services.

Mr. Tomlinson does a good survey of why modern cities are not sustainable and how the bicycle can come to the rescue. At one point, talking about auto accidents he uses the sentence While the carnage inflicted by automobiles certainly changes the lives of countless crash victims and their families, the fear of traffic accidents can affect everyday travel choices. That's a fairly sad sentence on many levels, but for cyclists it is sad because Tomlinson goes on to explain that it is primarily the "fear" of being in an accident that keeps people from choosing to ride their bike to work.
He also mentions this idea, which I'd actually never heard before:
Short automobile trips generate the most pollution, per kilome…

America & climate change

The Promotion of Cycling in Canada petition is here.

As reported in the Toronto Star yesterday, the best thing about the recent American election might be an about-turn on U.S. environmental policy. Up until the election, the U.S. Senate's environmental committee was headed by one James Inhofe, a Republican Senator from Oklahoma. Inhofe has compared environmentalists to Nazi's, and on the issue of American atrocities in Iraq, and the torturing of prisoners, Inhofe believes that they deserve every bit of abuse they get. Inhofe also believed that climate change was a hoax, and used his power to block any initiatives that would combat climate change.
The new head of this committe is a California Democrat named Barbara Boxer. She has already called for massive cuts in carbon emissions.

Thank God people like Inhofe, and Joe Barton (who I wrote about here) are gone now. If the U.S. makes a big push on the environmental issue, hopefully it'll impress Harper and Ambrose enough to ope…

The Petition is up

I have posted the petition asking the feds to take steps to promote cycling as a means of transportation on a website called Go Petition. I called it Promotion of Cycling in Canada. (click the link and you'll be at the petition).

It is the second draft without corrections. Thank you to everyone who offered suggestions and comments. If it looks like I totally ignored them, these are probably the reasons:

I didn't want this petition to get out of hand. I.E. everything about asking the government to end the hidden car subsidies should probably go in another petition.
In a word - length. In the reading I've done it appears that petitions should be very short, this one is already way over it's word limit.

So please sign it if you agree with the idea. I'm probably going to leave it up collecting signatures until sometime in January. It'll probably take me that long to find an MP to read this in the House of Commons (if anyone has an IN with their MP let me know!) Plus, t…

The 2nd draft

Okay, I'd welcome any suggestions on this draft, and then I'll put this up on a petition signing site.
I've basically shifted the focus away from "give us a tax credit" to "give us something!" and I list a few initiatives the gov. could take to promote cycling as a climate change solution. Any obvious initiatives that I've left out I'd love for you to mention.
I've also tried to streamline this a little bit. I don't think petitions are supposed to be anywhere near this long.

Dear Ms. Abrose, Mr. Cannon, Mr. Flaherty, and Ms.Gelinas:

At a time when environmental protection has become one of the top priorities for Canadians, we, the undersigned, request that the Canadian government do all in its power to promote cycling as a climate-change solution.

In the summer of 2006, the Canadian government took steps to promote public transit as a climate change solution by offering a tax credit to pub…

If there's any way I can get out there again and finish it, I will

(quote above spoken by Terry Fox as he lay on a stretcher, telling reporters he was halting the Marathon of Hope because his cancer had spread into his lungs. See clip below.)

The first draft of the petition regarding a tax credit for cyclists is here. I should have a final version up on a petition signing site early in the week.

I kind of feel like I've gone off topic (i.e. cycling) and have been ranting on a soapbox for a little while. I promise I'll shut up and go back to basics once I finish this petition.

The David Suzuki foundation has just released a report which basically says that the federal and provincial governments in Canada have done nothing to effectively combat climate change.

Canada is getting a reputation for being too cowardly to make the sacrifices necessary to fight climate change.

And it's true. After signing Kyoto and saying we'd join the war against global warming, we took a look at the numbers and said "Yikes! It'll be expensive! We're …

the economist on the Stern report

The Economist is not usually a place to find supportive words on green issues. When I read it I mainly do so for their international news. But, in Stern Warning in their Nov. 4th issue they actually come out in support of the Nicholas Stern report which basically argues that the economic impact of climate change will be astronomical, and that it will be far better in the long run to spend the money to avert climate change now, than to risk the economic disaster that climate change will bring in the future.

"Sir Nicholas may well err on the gloomy side. And it is certainly impossible to predict precisely what effect climate change will have had on the world economy in a century's time. But neither point invalidates Sir Nicholas's central perception - that governments should act not on the basis of the likeliest outcome from climate change, but on the risk of something really catastrophic (such as the melting of Greenland's ice sheet, which would raise sea levels by six …

Kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight

If you're looking for The Petition - click here.

Over at BikingToronto Joe was reaffirming his vow to fight for biker's rights in the face of the onslaught of cars that we all face each day.

I'd like to hope that many more cyclists across the country will take up the torch and fight this battle as well. There's no doubt anymore (see the bottom of this post) that the planet is dying, and that cycling is one of the things that can save it. I refuse to believe that we're too lazy to try to fight this battle. It sickens me that the Conservatives have gone to Kenya for the latest talks on Kyoto trying to "renegotiate" the Kyoto terms because we can't meet our goals. We're the nation of Terry Fox. We're better than this.

As far as this petition goes - I know there are flaws with it. I know the math/logistics will be tough to figure out, I know it leaves out pedestrians' rights, I know it doesn't address penalizing drivers. But, I don't t…

As the americans go to the polls

(If you're looking for the petition, keep scrolling, it's the next post down).

Hi everyone, this is just a short note because I'm preoccupied today with the American elections, a prof who has given an assignment that I'm not sure is possible for her students to do, and a class I'm teaching this afternoon....
A thought on what this petition is all about. Ideally, yes I'd like to encourage more people to get on their bikes, and somehow reward those of us who are already biking while our neighbours fly by in their steel-cans. Perhaps more importantly though, I'd like to force the government's hand and have them enact legislation that would more or less say "Our preferred way for Canadians to travel is by bike and public transit."
Whatever this petition evolves into, I hope that it will go some way towards legitimizing cycling as a means of transit.

So what will this petition evolve into?

Maybe it'll be the tax credit it is so far aimed a…

A first draft of the petition - tax credits for cyclists

First - I just found a WWF petition regarding Kyoto that people might like to sign.
World Wildlife Fund petition for Canada to meet its Kyoto Targets

Second - Below is my first draft of the petition regarding a tax credit for cyclists. I welcome any and all comments /suggestions. I'm sure there are some good editors out there and people with good ideas. Let me know what you think. After we go through a couple drafts and are happy, I'll find a place on the web to post it for people to sign.

The addressees are the Minister of the Environment (Ambrose), the Minister of Transportation (Cannon), the Minister of Finance (Flaherty) and the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (Gelinas).


Dear Ms. Abrose, Mr. Cannon, Mr. Flaherty, and Ms.Gelinas:

At a time when the international community is focusing on the environmental degradation of the planet with initiatives such as the Kyoto Accord, we, the undersigned, w…

What is hip?

Although I was intending this post to be all about my new bike, other things have come up that I want to talk about as well.

First - is blogger's photo upload working for ANYBODY these days? I can't remember the last time it worked for me - I've had to do all my photos through Flickr. Thank God Jenny showed me how to do that a while back, or this would be one boring looking blog.

I haven't looked through the Allderblob much before, but I did yesterday, and it was awesome. Jacob Allderdice rants pretty much the way I would if I ever wrote this blog while drunk (i.e. if I loosened up and wasn't concerned about pissing people off). I love his Ban Car Advertisements letter to the Toronto Star, especially the line about the Star's frequent "Automotive" Section when he says "why don't you just have sections called "Tobacco!" and "Firearms!" as well?"
I mean really - the smoking industry got nailed because smoking causes can…

If I write it, will they sign?

Part of what I do at work is shuffle government publications from one place to another, and yesterday I came across the 2006 Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The report is entirely devoted to climate change, and the fact that I came across this yesterday was very appropriate as the Nicholas Stern report on the costs of global warming came out yesterday as well.

The 2006 Commissioner's report is basically a very tame warning that climate change is happening and that the government needs to do something about it. It was actually prepared before the Conservative government here in Canada launched their already infamous Clean Air Act. The report says something like "the new government has promised it will introduce stiff measures to fight climate change, and we will be interested to see what they deliver."

After seeing the Clean Air Act (it could be summarized with the sentence "Let's not do anything about the environment for…

Nail guns, cows, and sundown

I have been meaning to do some research and do up a big vegetarian posting for my friend Mark, but I doubt I'll ever get around to it. I didn't go veggie for any one particular reason, but more because all the various reasons added together seemed kind of overwhelming to me. Without even touching on animal rights/cruelty, or the meat industry's effects on the environment, there's always just the health concerns.
I just came across a mention of a documentary called Frankensteer. I don't know if I'll ever get my hands on it, maybe Queen Video would have it, but it looks great.

Frankensteer is a disturbing documentary that reveals how the ordinary cow has been turned into an antibiotic-dependent, hormone-laced potential carrier of toxic bacteria, all in the name of cheaper food.
Every year, 50 per cent of the total tonnage of antibiotics used in Canada ends up in livestock. And every year cattle raised in massive feedlots are routinely dosed with antibiotics even if …

Some American stories

I wasn't really planning to blog today, was hoping to spend part of my lunchhour figuring out how to become a millionaire on the stock market, but two things in Newsweek caught my eye this morning:

Although signed back in August, a U.S. National Space Policy was just published on the Office of Science and Technology website in early October. Basically it is a document outlining the United States' goals and plans regarding the utilization of space.
A fundamental goal of the policy is to “enable unhindered U.S. operations in and through space to defend our interests there.”

[The policy calls upon the secretary of defense to] “develop capabilities, plans, and options to ensure freedom of action in space, and, if directed, deny such freedom of action to adversaries.”

To deny such freedom of action to adversaries... and to enable unhindered U.S. operations in and through space... Doesn't that sound like 1800's manifest destiny, this time in space? It also smacks a little of D…

The Sacred Madness

When Johannes Kepler had his "eureka" moment regarding the laws of planetary motion, he was ecstatic. Having solved that problem, he would eventually write -
"I am free to give myself up to the sacred madness." He had unraveled one of the mysteries of life, he had taken a step closer to his God, and he could now give himself up to the mystic.

The Sacred Madness idea has always amused me, and I was thinking about what the sacred madness would mean to me as a cyclist.

There's lots of little crazy things I'd like to do as a cyclist. I've been very very tempted recently to reach out and grab onto a truck and do the "get a free tow" thing sometime. I'd like to do some of this stuff. The closest I've come is flying through busy places in Toronto like Spadina's Chinatown, Bloor's Annex, King Street anywhere downtown, at too high a speed and feeling like I was in that "radar aware zone" where I was pretty sure the street couldn…

A tuesday miscellany

A columnist in the toronto star named David Bruser put out an open invitation for letters regarding the toronto transit situation. In his words - "Is there a better way? If so, the Toronto Star wants to hear about it." He can be reached at As only cyclists read my blog, I'd invite all of you to write in, tell him that cars are ruining the earth, and that we need more bike lanes and tax breaks for cyclists! : )

The most recent Macleans has an interesting article about the internet, and how good it actually is. Of note to bloggers is a section on the free speech allowed by the net. Blogging is good because "(the internet allows) the most participatory marketplace of mass speech that this world has ever seen."
Yet blogging is bad because, in general, people read the blogs of people who share their politics etc. Democrats read democratic blogs. Republicans read republican blogs, and cyclists read cycling blogs. Therefore we're "preaching…

Peter Miller's Yellow Cards

This is just a quicky - busy day today, Bruce Cockburn concert tonight, mucho bike shopping to do this weekend... BUT... I read about this in the most recent Bicycling Magazine this morning.

Magnetic cards available through Peter Miller - Yellow Cards. So much more civilized than my pet daydream of riding around with a baseball bat attached to my backpack.

i took my potatoes down to be mashed

The conservatives released Bill C30 in the House today. This is the much bally-hooed Clean Air Act, and it should be available to read soon on LegisInfo.
Although I am including the highlights of the bill below, who cares really. We knew the Conservatives weren't going to do anything serious with this bill. To play devil's advocate, would the Liberals? Are any of these guys willing to stand up and say "gasoline should be taxed up to double it's current price, with the extra money going to environmental recovery"? Not likely, but that's the kind of serious measure which needs to be taken to actually save the planet.

More interesting than the bill is this story about the Canadian Automobile Association.
"The country's largest club for drivers, the Canadian Automobile Association, on Monday urged its members to spend less time behind the wheel and said this would help fight climate change and boost air quality.
The club which has 4.9 million members, also b…

oh to be in holland

Clever Chimp in Portland has a nice little video up in his Oct. 17 post. It's just three people on big utility bikes riding with their children. But man, it looks so peaceful and serene.

If only we all went through life this way.

My buddy Oliver, who I've known since Grade 7, and who is pictured here dressed as his alter-ego, The Flash, has a new cycling photography website at H2o photography. If you raced the recent Oktoberfest cyclo-cross race your picture is likely to be captured there somewhere.

Oli, who used to race with Lanterne Rouge and who is now recovering from a back injury is my friend who tells me things like a) "you really need a good bike" (when I owned a crappy home hardware bike) b) "you need a lighter road bike" (when I owned a heavy KHS chromoly road bike) c) "you aren't really going to sell your Cervelo are you?" (now - as I'm currently thinking of selling my Cervelo road bike).

I really really really really really wasn&#…

Hmmm... what's the appropriate word... "miserable?"

It is Tuesday Oct. 17 in southern Ontario and it's basically miserable out. It's pouring, that's the first thing you need to know. I had a tailwind for a while as I trekked through Whitby, and I was thankful for that, but then I turned east on Conlin and a heavy headwind blasted itself into my chest. I suddenly felt like I was doing the Scarborough Bluffs climb on my mountain bike.
Anyhoooooo..... I thought I'd talk about gear today.
It's not too big a stretch to claim that my lifesaver for this commute has been this backpack. It's from the Running Room (I worked at the Running Room in the Beaches for several months up until September) and I highly recommend it for any biker.

You know the backpacks you have in your closet which are covered in salt stains from sitting on your back as you ride on hot summer days? And how the clothes/books you have in that pack are icky and damp when you arrive at wherever you're going on those hot days? Well this backpack has a…