Tuesday, November 28, 2006

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 from Oshawa to north Scarborough to downtown Toronto on a bike on a late Friday night after work was going to be rough, but in the end I said yes. Because, I have to admit it, I missed the hot dancing/singing Swedish curling babes. Every club has them, see below.



I've put up some good videos before:

But I don't think I'll ever top this one.

P.S., I've been skimming Stephen Brunt's Searching for Bobby Orr because I'm a bit of a Bobby Orr nut (I mean, come on, his 1971 plus minus was +124!).
The book is fairly dry actually, but there is a funny story partly involving recent Leafs coach Pat Quinn. In a 1969 playoff game, playing for the Leafs, Quinn knocked Bobby Orr unconscious in Boston. The crowd freaked and Quinn had to be escorted from the building by the police. In the third period another Leafs tough guy named Forbes Kennedy decided he needed to make a point that the Leafs weren't going to be intimidated by the crowd, so he fought the Bruins goalie, Gerry Cheevers twice, fought another Bruin named Johnny McKenzie, and even punched a linesman. Altogether, from one brawl, Kennedy received four minor penalties, two majors, a ten minute misconduct, a game misconduct, and a match penalty.

Old time hockey?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

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 kilometre, since a vehicle’s motor is not able reach optimal operating temperature. These are also the trips that are most amenable to bicycling, and so the bicycle’s potential to reduce air pollution is higher than one might think.

The Earth Policy Institute has a text titled Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble. They've made it available as a .pdf on their website.

I so far haven't reached the chapters where "solutions" are presented. Right now I'm just reading horror story after horror story about how we're all doomed.
It's nothing new I guess - the peak oil issue, the looming water crisis (which will probably start a war in the middle east), the loss of farmland to suburban sprawl, etc. etc. It's scary stuff, so eventually you can't take anymore and you close the book and you open one of your magazines....

and you read in Fareed Zakaria's Newsweek column that China and India are already constructing 650 coal-fired power plants, whose combined CO2 emissions will be five times the total savings envisioned by the Kyoto accords.

Sufferin' Succotash.

FINALLY, Statistics Canada has a good publication titled Human Activity and the Environment: Annual Statistics 2006. Section 1.2 documents Transportation's Environmental Impacts, and there is basically a chart which says "Cars kill us this way, this way, and this way" (page 18, and I'm only exaggerating a little bit).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

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 open their eyes on this issue as well. (P.S. the photo is from this Toronto Star story. I actually think Harper looks good. He looks like he's having fun and being nice. It's the look on Bush's face that cracks me up.)

Although the above petition is doing well, there are currently around 250 signatures, I'm pretty sure it will get read in Parliament and do the old "in one ear out the other." We all think the promotion of cycling is a good idea, and probably a lot of MP's do as well, but this will just be one single petition amongst many others on lots of other topics.

If you go to the Parliament Debates website, and just type "petition" into the search box, you get hits of all the various members standing up and saying "Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present this petition from X on the issue of Y."
I guess National Literacy just passed, because there were about 15 to 20 different petitions read in the house recently regarding literacy. And then you can also find a petition about once every day where people are asking for a re-opening the same-sex marriage issue, asking the Gov. to make same-sex marriage illegal.

So - one lonely cycling petition probably won't do too much. It's a nice first step, but we should probably think of this as a marathon. We're going to need lots of petitions and really try to hammer a "pro-cycling" message home in the House of Commons.
If you want to start a petition, read through these instructions, start searching for an MP who'll read your petition in parliament, and let the other cycling bloggers know so that we can help you spread the word to get signatures.
Let's do it. Let's force the M.P's to hear about climate change and cycling every time they sit in parliament. If other special interest groups can do it, so can we.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

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, the House will be on its Christmas recess soon and there'd be no chance to get this read in December anyway.

If you want to, feel free to copy and paste the petition into an article and mail it to your M.P. or M.P.P. I'll probably do the same thing eventually.

I'm now going to try and shut up about this petition. I feel like I've been ranting about it too much. I can now go back to topics like how damned wet and windy it is here in southern Ontario at the moment, and how heavy my Dew Deluxe rides.

Monday, November 13, 2006

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 public transit users.

At that time Mr. Flaherty said “Gridlock has become one of the most pressing issues across the GTA, eroding the quality of life and having a negative impact on business and productivity. Our government’s new transit tax credit will make transit more affordable, giving people even more incentive to park their keys and leave their cars at home.”

Ms. Ambrose additionally said “The transit tax credit will not only save people money, but by taking public transit Canadians will be helping to improve our environment. The transit tax credit is part of our government's made in Canada environmental plan. Our transit tax initiative will take the equivalent of 56,000 cars off the road each year which will significantly reduce greenhouse gases here in Canada."
Department of Finance Canada (2006). Taking public transit is now more affordable in Canada. Retrieved November 4, 2006 from http://www.fin.gc.ca/news06/06-031e.html

We agree with Mr. Flaherty and Ms. Ambrose that removing cars from the roads should be one of Canada’s top priorities. We feel this can be achieved by promoting cycling as a substitute to the automobile. We also feel that the government needs to promote cycling due to its health benefits.

According to the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute:
Current estimates place the cost of physical inactivity in Canada at $5.3 billion ($1.6 billion in direct costs and $3.7 billion in indirect costs) and the cost of obesity in Canada at $4.3 billion ($1.6 billion of direct costs and $2.7 billion of indirect costs) in health care expenditures. This represents the totaleconomic cost as 2.6% and 2.2% respectively of the total health care costs in Canada. There is concern that chronic disease resulting from obesity may threaten or cripple the health care system in Canada.
Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute. 2004 Physical Activity Monitor and Sport. Retrieved Nov. 4, 2006 from http://www.cflri.ca/eng/statistics/surveys/pam2004.php

As well, in 2003 the Federal and Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Sport, Recreation and Fitness set a national target to increase levels of physical activity by ten percentage points in each province and territory by the year 2010. A primary reason that they set this target was that “Physical inactivity levels in Canada remain a serious public health burden. Fifty-five percent of Canadians do not meet minimum guidelines for regular physical activity necessary to attain health benefits. Physical inactivity increases the risk of chronic disease, premature death and disability.”
Government of New Brunswick. (2003) News Release: Federal and Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Sport, Recreation and Fitness Target Increase in Physical Activity. Retrieved November 4, 2006 from http://www.canadianheritage.gc.ca/pc-ch/news-comm/ce021712_e.htm

As cycling would combat climate change by removing people from their cars, and ease the burden on the health care system by helping people maintain an active lifestyle, we ask the Canadian government to do everything in its power to promote cycling as a means of transit.

Steps which we feel would achieve this include:
a) Offering a tax credit to bicycle commuters similar to that offered to public transit users. Cyclists would be required to have their employer verify that they commute to work by bicycle, and would then be given a credit based on the value of the C02 emissions they would have released into the atmosphere had they driven a car to work.
b) Setting up a program similar to Britain’s “Cycle to Work” initiative. In this program the employer purchases a bike and related accessories for an employee who wishes to commute to work by bicycle. The employer then claims the taxes back from the government, and sells the bike to the employee at the tax-free price over an extended period of time with small deductions from the employee’s paycheque.
c) Offering tax incentives to employers which set up bike lockers and showers for employees who wish to cycle to work.
d) A removal of GST from bikes and bike accessories.

These steps and others can promote cycling as a transit alternative, but perhaps more importantly, the implementation of one or all of them would be a strong statement from the federal government - legitimizing cycling as a preferred means of transit. Please make this statement, and help us make Canada part of the solution to climate change.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

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 out!"

Is this Canada? Did the country which sent soldiers to Vimy Ridge and which produced people like Terry Fox (Watch the clip!) and Rick Hansen lose the ability to make sacrifices?

I can't help but think that the fight against climate change is the war our generation has to face. If Canadians could give their lives in the world wars, in Korea, in Afghanistan, surely we can cough up .20cents per litre of gas in 2006 to save the planet.



If there is one country that most characterizes the global failure to address climate change, it's Canada. And the failure can't be blamed entirely on rapacious Alberta oilmen, or the cold weather, or even the great distances between our cities. It's largely the fault of the average car-driving, steak-eating, electricity-burning Canadian energy glutton.
Colin Campbell, "An Appetite for Destruction," Macleans 20 Nov 2006, p. 51.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

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 to seven metres).

Just as people spend a small slice of their incomes on buying insurance on the off-chance that their house might burn down, and nations use a slice of taxpayers' money to pay for standing armies just in case a rival power might try to invade them, so the world should invest a small proportion of its resources in trying to avert the risk of boiling the planet. The costs are not huge. The dangers are"

Sounds simple, n'est ce pas? However in Canada we have Martin and Ambrose running the show, and they probably agree more with sentiments like this from Ralph Klein:
Klein also questioned the need for a carbon trading exchange and said it’s time Canada dumped the Kyoto accord and worked on a plan that is doable.
“Our answer to Kyoto is forget Kyoto, forget the protocol and do what is reasonable, understanding that we’re a carbon-based economy.”


P.S. - for the petition, I'm hoping to do up the 2nd draft over the weekend, focusing more on "legitimizing and promoting" cycling in Canada through measures such as a tax credit or an employer/employee purchase of bikes and gear such as the British Cycle to Work plan.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

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 think that matters.

I think what does matter is that THIS petition is followed by another one from B.C., and then another one from Manitoba, and then another one from Nova Scotia, and etc. and etc. and etc.

We need to make the House of Parliament ring with calls for tax credits for cyclists, increased taxes on gasoline, mandatory bike lanes on any new roads that are built.

If our voices are loud enough maybe the House will start listening and some of these measures, maybe the really interesting British one, will go through.

So, no matter the flaws of this petition, I'm going to write up a second draft soon following the government's How to Petition Parliament guidelines. And then I'm going to post it on this website, and then I'm going to try to find an MP who'll present this to the House.

AND I beg someone else out there to start the next petition!

Incidentally, if you want to see how petitions are handled in the House, go to the House of Parliament Debates. In the search box just type in "petition" and you'll get some hits of Parliamentarians presenting petitions from their constituents.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

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....
BUT -
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 at. Maybe it will be something like this British Scheme. Maybe we'll decide to aim at penalizing drivers instead of rewarding cyclists.

But whatever, let's keep talking and see what comes out of it. Maybe we'll have several petitions.

Aside from the comments below the petition post (to the gentleman/woman who wrote the lengthy 10th comment, thank you so much for the work, but being a mathematical moron it's going to take me a couple reads to digest all that) I've had a couple emails from the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition and I'll cobble together their ideas at the bottom here.

And... I'm all for dissenting opinions. But there is a way to point out flaws in a constructive way rather than an antagonistic way. Some of us are trying to build something here, if you want to scoff, do it on your own blog.

Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition
I agree with the spirit of the petition, but think it would be quite
difficult to implement.

I agree with Andrew in that it might be wise to look at the larger picture
of car subsidies.

What might be more effective is to encourage Canada to institute legislation
similar to the California Parking Cash-out law of 1992 which forces
companies offering "free parking" to employees to provide rebates to those
employees using transit, cycling or walking to get to work. For example, at
UBC, employees get parking subsidized to the tune of $60 per month while
"greener" employees get nothing.

We then should then get governments to institute some sort of user pay
scheme for using the roads. It is estimated that each car in the GVRD is
subsidized to the tune of $3000 to $6000 dollars. If one includes future
costs related to global warming, I think the figure of $6000 is ridiculously
low. How do you price a planet?

Imagine how many people would then switch to cycling!

I would rather see a greater tax on driving than tax cuts for cyclists. I
like to think of cyclists as paying their way. But of course I would support
the spirit of the petition, and would like to support the efforts of others
to make cycling more attractive.

The only think I would like to see change in the wording is the statement
that cycling is "far more worthy" of a tax cut than transit. (Why isn't he
comparing his tax cut to "free parking", etc?) This is too much of a value
statement.

I like the idea and think it's definitely something we should support. That
said, I would probably do a bit of editing to the text. I'll see if I have
time in the next day or two to take a shot at it. But in principle, what do
others think?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

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, would like to offer one more way the government of Canada could combat climate change.

In the summer of 2006, the Canadian government very wisely offered tax breaks to users of public transit.

At that time Mr. Flaherty said “Gridlock has become one of the most pressing issues across the GTA, eroding the quality of life and having a negative impact on business and productivity. Our government’s new transit tax credit will make transit more affordable, giving people even more incentive to park their keys and leave their cars at home.”

Ms. Ambrose additionally said “The transit tax credit will not only save people money, but by taking public transit Canadians will be helping to improve our environment. The transit tax credit is part of our government's made in Canada environmental plan. Our transit tax initiative will take the equivalent of 56,000 cars off the road each year which will significantly reduce greenhouse gases here in Canada."

Department of Finance Canada (2006). Taking public transit is now more affordable in Canada. Retrieved November 4, 2006 from http://www.fin.gc.ca/news06/06-031e.html


It seems obvious to us that a similar tax credit should be offered to the community of bicycle commuters.

Commuting by bicycle has the same environmental benefits as commuting by public transit.

However, commuting by bicycle has health and economic benefits which make it far more worthy of tax credits than public transit.

According to the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute:
Current estimates place the cost of physical inactivity in Canada at $5.3 billion ($1.6 billion in direct costs and $3.7 billion in indirect costs) and the cost of obesity in Canada at $4.3 billion ($1.6 billion of direct costs and $2.7 billion of indirect costs) in health care expenditures. This represents the totaleconomic cost as 2.6% and 2.2% respectively of the total health care costs in Canada. There is concern that chronic disease resulting from obesity may threaten or cripple the health care system in Canada.
Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute. 2004 Physical Activity Monitor and Sport. Retrieved Nov. 4, 2006 from http://www.cflri.ca/eng/statistics/surveys/pam2004.php

As well, in 2003 the Federal and Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Sport, Recreation and Fitness set a national target to increase levels of physical activity by ten percentage points in each province and territory by the year 2010. A primary reason that they set this target was that “Physical inactivity levels in Canada remain a serious public health burden. Fifty-five percent of Canadians do not meet minimum guidelines for regular physical activity necessary to attain health benefits. Physical inactivity increases the risk of chronic disease, premature death and disability.”
Government of New Brunswick. (2003) News Release: Federal and Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Sport, Recreation and Fitness Target Increase in Physical Activity. Retrieved November 4, 2006 from http://www.canadianheritage.gc.ca/pc-ch/news-comm/ce021712_e.htm

As cycling would combat climate change by removing people from their cars, and ease the burden on the health care system by helping people maintain an active lifestyle, we feel that it is almost imperative to offer a tax credit to bicycle commuters.

Although bicycling does not require fuel costs, it is not a cheap activity. After the initial purchase of a bike, miscellaneous costs include, but are certainly not limited to, locks, tune-ups, replacement tubes, waterproof clothing, winter clothing, chain oil, tire liners, air pumps, cleaning tools, storage stands, and helmets.

The government could provide a tax credit the following way:
a) Require cyclists to provide proof that they use a bicycle to commute to and from their workplace. This could be done via a letter of confirmation from their employer.
b) As it would be hard to tally up every expense that cyclists incur, the government could provide credits proportionate to a cyclist’s weekly mileage.

In comparison to a transit user who spends $80.00 per month on a transit pass, and will save $150.00 year with the government tax credit, we feel that the tax credit for cyclists should be set in such a way that cyclists receive double the savings as do transit users, to account for the additional health cost savings associated with cycling and which do not happen through use of public transit.

Please encourage Canadians to commute by bicycle by offering them a tax credit to do so. Please help us meet our Kyoto goals. Please help us save the planet.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

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 cancer. Meanwhile the automotive industry, which is killing the planet, gets to run around willy nilly telling us how cool their cars are - is that fair?

I saw Allerdice's website just before reading the article in the most recent Newsweek called "Putting: Detroit in the Shop" - which is about how badly the Detroit automakers are getting nailed by the Japanese. The following quote really made me laugh:

"Detroit spent 25 years copying the Camry and emasculating the American car," says Global Insight auto analyst John Wolkonowicz. "Now they need to bring back real American cars for real American people, the folks who watch NASCAR and shop at WalMart."
Hmm... i.e. not for the pussies who vote Democrat and buy locally grown produce? Concentrate on the WalMart crowd and Detroit will make a roaring comeback? rock and roll.

Incidentally - the Newsweek cover story this week is called Rethinking Iraq: The Way Forward, by Fareed Zakaria. It's a pretty thoughtful take on what the eventual Iraq pullout is going to look like.

Cycling
I rode over ice today for the first time. Old habits come back quick... you slow down, adjust yourself so that you hit the ice patch in a straight line, and it's easy-peasy.

Thanks to Vertigo for this: Drive a Hummer? Click HERE!!

And I've bought a new bike! It's a 2006 Kona Dew Deluxe, which I got on sale for about $660.00 from my favourite bike shop Sweet Pete's CyclePath at Bloor and Dufferin. I wrote a full review of the bike over on Road Bike Review, so I won't go into too much detail here. It's the blue bike at the front in the photos below.
Assembled behind the Dew are the rest of the household bikes.

bikes3

bikes2

bikes1

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

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."
polars
After seeing the Clean Air Act (it could be summarized with the sentence "Let's not do anything about the environment for a really long time!), that is such a funny and sad line. While the Conservatives cowtow to the oil patch, polar bears are dying.

Anyway, what interests me, is that apparently the Commissioner's reports have to summarize all the petitions which government departments have received on environmental issues, and what has been done about them.

This has got me to thinking about writing a petition. I think I'll start slow, with my pet dream of getting tax breaks for bike commuters, and I'll hopefully start enlisting people for signatures soon.

P.S. I bought a new bike. Nothing fancy, like Sascha's unbelievably sexy new Orbea!. Mine is just a hybrid to get me through the winter, but I'll take a pic and write more about that later.