Saturday, December 22, 2007

So this is Christmas (in Orillia!)

Let me think, what did I tell the world last Christmas? Oh yeah, I moralized about climate change, that cycling petition (which I think helped inspire the Ontario government to cut the provincial sales tax on bikes last election), and polar bears. Hmmm... and actually, looking through my other December posts last year, I like the Napoleon one more than the Christmas one!

Anyway, no "be the change you want to see in the world" language from me this Christmas. I hope you're able to build some snowmen, do some skating, and get some winter riding in if you're able. (Jill, I don't visit your site enough, but you continue to be an inspiration).

Merry Christmas everybody!! : )

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Invite Enrique into your oikos

Guess what! There is good news coming out of the White House! The House of Representatives has passed a bill, which Bush has said he'll sign, to set tougher fuel economy standards on U.S. automobiles:
The bill, which passed on a bipartisan vote of 314 to 100, sets higher fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks for the first time in 22 years and requires the annual production of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022, a fivefold increase from current ethanol production levels.

And there's more good news today!
The Japanese have long had a sneaky way of getting around international whaling agreements, by saying that they were allowed to kill X number of whales for scientific research. This year, the Australians got so pissed about this that they vowed to send ships and helicopters in pursuit of Japanese whalers, to video-tape every thing they caught.

Just this morning the Japanese have announced that they've changed their minds and won't kill any humpbacks, which have been under international protection since 1966. On the flip side, they're still planning to kill 1000 whales of other types.

Pretty cool of the Australians eh? I wish they'd come over and videotape the oilsands in Canada, and the automobile use in our big cities, and shame us into taking a tougher stand on climate change.

If you're a cycling advocate, and you want to hear someone who will bring tears to your eyes, listen to Kevin Sylvester's recent interview with Enrique Penalosa on CBC Radio.

Penalosa was the mayor of Bogota (Colombia) who believed in the priority of public transit and active transportation over automobile transit, and was able to achieve massive changes in Bogota's transportation methods. If you listen to the interview (you MUST listen to the interview), Penalosa ties democracy and human dignity into a city's choice of transportation methods, and it is totally inspiring.

And to my surprise, while looking up Enrique Penalosa, I found a story about how Bush is actually pro-bicycle!

And finally, want to test your vocabulary and donate rice?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Happier Christmas thoughts coming soon!

I just finished a book about Robert Oppenheimer called The Ruin of J. Robert Oppenheimer: And the birth of the modern arms race. It was okay, but I'm not mentioning it here because I'm recommending it to anybody as a great read.

I am mentioning it though because it ties in with a long ago post about Easter Island and how smart we humans really are.

Now Oppenheimer, as we all know, is the scientist who, in World War II, gave the world the atom bomb. The U.S. was expecting that if they had to land troops on Japanese soil to finish the war, they'd lose thousands and thousands of men in an effort to bring the war to an end. The scientists working on the A Bomb knew this as well, and wanting to avoid the loss of these troops, finished work on the A bomb in time to destroy two Japanese Cities and force the Japanese to surrender.
Oppenheimer, a very philosophical man, worked on the A Bomb with great moral misgivings. While watching the first successful test of the A Bomb, he famously (mis)quoted Krishna in the Bhagwad Gita - "Now I have become death, the destroyer of worlds." (Apparently the real translation is I am time, the destroyer of all.)

So World War II ends, and suddenly the Americans are racing against the Russians to develop a Nuclear Bomb. Where the A Bomb was a weapon whose destructiveness was dozens of magnitudes higher than the worst regular bomb used in World War II, the Nuclear Bomb would be even worse still. While not quite sure that they could even develop a nuclear weapon, the scientists at Los Alamos in the late 1940s were torn about whether they should even TRY to make a nuclear weapon.

In late 1949, the head committee, which included Oppenheimer, of the Atomic Energy Commission wrote a report on H Bomb (Nuclear, or "Super" Bomb) development, with the following passages:

We have been asked by the Commission whether or not they should immediately initiate an "all out" effort to develop a weapon whose energy release is 100 to 1000 times greater and whose destructive power in terms of area of damage is 20 to 100 times greater than those of the present atomic bomb. We recommend strongly against such action.
We base our recommendation on our belief that the extreme dangers to mankind inherent in the proposal wholly outweigh any military advantage... Let it be clearly realized that this is a super weapon: it is in a wholly different category from an atomic bomb. The reason for developing such super bombs would be to have the capacity to devastate a vast area with a single bomb. Its use would involve a decision to slaughter a vast number of civilians. We are alarmed as to the possible global effects of the radioactivity generated by the explosion of a few super bombs of conceivable magnitude. If super bombs will work at all, there is no inherent limit in the destructive power that may be attained with them. Therefore, a super bomb might become a weapon of genocide.

We believe a super bomb should never be produced.

The fact that no limit exists to the destructiveness of this weapon makes its very existence and the knowledge of its construction a danger to humanity as a whole. It is necessarily an evil thing considered in any light.

So, I just find this fascinating. Just the way people on Easter Island knew that tearing down the island's trees was jeopardizing their future, and just the way we know today that most of the things we do jeopardize the planet, scientists in the 1940's knew that building nuclear bombs could destroy the world. Yet they were forced to do it anyway.

You kind of wonder "how did we actually avoid nuclear war?" And then you remember the Cuban Missle Crisis and realize that we barely did.

And if all this interests you, you should probably try to see Why We Fight sometime.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I wanna debate this particle cube thing...

You know, a year ago I would have had lots to say about this we were wrong, Iran doesn't really have a Nuke program story. I'm so exhausted by the Bush White House though that I really don't care anymore. I wonder if that was their plan - "hey, let's do so many things wrong, and sink so low, that they can't even criticize us anymore! And then right before we leave office, let's do something REALLY bad!"

Oh well, at least the Bush presidency gave us stuff like this.

I also find I don't have that much to say about the new Environmental Commissioner of Ontario's report. Basically he's saying that the growth in the Greater Toronto Area is unsustainable (the GTA apparently adds the population of a medium sized city every single year).

Well, we all know that. But we're still spreading cement over every spec of green space in places like Scarborough

Wake me up when the Canadian government has increased gasoline taxes and Mayor David Miller in Toronto has imposed fees for driving your car into Toronto's downtown core.

Oh well - for those of us "in the know", let's keep riding our bikes and using Bullfrog and wrap ourselves warmly in the blankets of existentialism.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Courage of the early morning basement cyclist

As soon as Annalise and I started telling people that we were moving to Orillia, we began hearing horror stories about how much snow Orillia gets in the winter. As I'm originally from Bancroft, Ontario, which is probably a little farther north than Orillia, I thought "How bad can it be?" Well, it's only December 2nd and we've already had enough snow fall that I could barely open my front door in the morning.
All of Ontario has gotten a lot of snow the last few days, and I was listening to the guy on CBC talk about doing 30km/hour on the 401 this morning, and still ending up sliding into a 360 degree turn, but up here all the snow is fun. It reminds me of being a kid and going over to the baseball diamond, climbing up to the top of the bleachers, and jumping off into snowbanks. Bancroft hasn't had snow like that in years.

I'm not biking at all these days - walking to work only takes me 20 minutes, so that's what I do. I'm riding my Jamis on my trainer most mornings, thinking I should look into building/buying a bike generator, so that all this energy I'm expending would go into something useful, like charging a cell phone or a laptop battery. If you google "bicycle generator" you will find tons of help pages for building one of these things, but it's all a bit over my head.

P.S. I don't have one of those sweat guards that you can buy for your bike, so i just drape an old dress shirt over the handlebars and the headset to soak up my perspiration.

P.P.S. - If you haven't seen HBO's The Girl in the Cafe, get your hands on it - it's one of the best movies I've seen in a while.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

renewable dinosaur energy

Picture from How stuff works.

Although we aren't really noticing in Canada, because our soaring dollar is protecting us from high gasoline prices, the price of oil is rebounding towards $100.00/barrel - closing today at $98.03. It hasn't affected gas prices here much, but in the states (from what I can tell using google news), gas has gone up around .25cents in the last month.

And still none of the major news outlets, or political figures, are really talking about peak oil. Maybe this will change with a report released in October from the Energy Watch Group - the executive summary is here.

As coverage in the Guardian Newspaper explains, the report states the following:

  • World oil production has already peaked and will fall by half as soon as 2030, according to a report which also warns that extreme shortages of fossil fuels will lead to wars and social breakdown.

  • "The world soon will not be able to produce all the oil it needs as demand is rising while supply is falling. This is a huge problem for the world economy," said Hans-Josef Fell, EWG's founder and the German MP behind the country's successful support system for renewable energy.

I've written too often about this - but in short, let's learn some survival skills and move to Cuba.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Some people even seen the bear in me

I'm going to impose a strict "no more polar bears for several months" policy for my blog after this, because this could get silly, but here are some pictures from another email that was forwarded to me.

These are things we can learn from our great white friends up north:

A) Always get your beauty sleep.

B) No half-hearted hugs - bear hugs all the time.

C) Get exercise, and don't neglect your core.

D) Always look your best.

E) Beware of penguins.

F) Because they're annoying little bastards (click on picture to animate).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sustainable Communities

I've mentioned before how much I hate sprawlurbia and how I secretly (or not so secretly) am waiting for peak oil to hit and get all the cars off the road, and force urban planners to prioritize active transportation in their planning.

As many of us already knew, sprawlurbia is killing us in various ways. The obesity and diabetes rates are way up partly due to our culture of sitting in the car for an hour to get to work. As well, as the previously mentioned (see below) Toronto Public Health report states, the pollution caused by automobiles is doing quite a number on us.

To the rescue is the Ontario Provincial Planners Institute. They've just released a report titled Healthy Communities, Sustainable Communities.
The report calls for many things near and dear to a cyclists' heart: they call for an expansion of transportation legislation to include walking and cycling, and not just automobile use, in establishing transportation master plans.

They advocate for arterial roads to contain no more than "two or four private vehicle lanes: if additional travel demand exists, the additional corridor space should be devoted to transit or bicycle lanes."

They ask urban planners to pay "specific attention to reducing use of petroleum-fuelled vehicles in favour of other transportation technologies and modes, and placing greater attention on greening our urban environments with green roofs and trees, especially along heavily travelled thoroughfares."

And finally, as part of their summary, they write "Communities that adopt these planning principles are walkable, cyclable, and transit-supportive, include transit-oriented development, and promote alternatives to the single occupancy vehicle."

Right on - death to single occupancy vehicles, suburban utility vehicles, and urban sprawl.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Public Health in the City of Toronto

Toronto Public Health has just released a report titled Air Pollution Burden of Illness from Traffic in Toronto. My friend Kate from my university donning days worked on this and sent me the link - thanks Kate!

It's a follow up to the 2006 report that I mentioned in this post, and when you add in what the City of Toronto Transportation department knows about The Bicycle and Urban Sustainability, you wonder why things aren't fixed already. Think about it - city research shows that motorized traffic is killing us and that active transportation is the answer. What's the hold up in getting the bike lanes in and taxing car use downtown? Oh yeah, guys like this and this.

This chart comes from the public health report - it shows how the City of York in England prioritizes modes of transportation

Figure 8 illustrates the hierarchy of transportation users implemented by the City of York. In this hierarchy, cities are designed around people, not cars. A sustainable transportation network focuses on active transportation modes first, followed by modes that are vehicle dependent. It is also important to note the emphasis placed on the needs of individuals with mobility problems. These individuals require special attention to enable them to enjoy active modes of transport. Toronto is considering adopting this transportation hierarchy as part of its Walking Strategy, which is currently being developed. In order to be most effective, this priority setting approach needs to be applied to all land use and transport decisions.

The following is from the new report's executive summary:
This study estimates that mortality-related costs associated with traffic
pollution in Toronto are about $2.2 billion. A 30% reduction in vehicle
emissions in Toronto is projected to save 189 lives and result in 900 million
dollars in health benefits. This means that the predicted improvements in
health status would warrant major investments in emission reduction
programs. The emission reduction scenarios modelled in this study are
realistic and achievable, based on a review by the Victoria Transport Policy
Institute of policy options and programs in place in other jurisdictions. Taken
together, implementation of comprehensive, integrated policies and programs
are expected to reduce total vehicle travel by 30 to 50% in a given
community, compared with current planning and pricing practices.
Given there is a finite amount of public space in the city for all modes of
transportation, there is a need to reassess how road space can be used more
effectively to enable the shift to more sustainable transportation modes. More
road space needs to be allocated towards development of expanded
infrastructure for walking, cycling and on-road public transit (such as
dedicated bus and streetcar lanes) so as to accelerate the modal shift from
motor vehicles to sustainable transportation modes that give more priority to
pedestrians, cyclists and transit users.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

toronto cops mean business

Although this happened very close to my (soon-to-be former) apartment in Toronto, this isn't my story, but my friend Oliver's story.

In the Dundas, Parliament, Queen, River area, you have a nice collection of bike lanes. On the east side of the Don River, Dundas Street has a great bike lane, and on the west side of the river, Gerrard has a bike lane, and so do Shuter and River Streets. Oli was commuting to work along Shuter on the first day of school this past September, when he approached and passed a cop car parked in the Shuter bike lane.

As he moved into the car lane to pass the cop, Oliver muttered "WHY?" through the cop's open window, and then just kept cycling along. Behind him, Oliver hears an engine roar to life, and almost immediately the cop has caught up to Oli, and swerved to a stop in front of him - the car diagonally blocking all of the bike lane and most of the car lane (both on the westbound side of the street).

The cop gets out and starts off with "how you doing?" and then he and Oliver have a brief conversation about why the cop was parked in the bike lane. His story is that he was on-duty keeping an eye on the school crossing just up the road to catch anybody running the crossing.

The discussion quickly turns into "What's your name? / Let's see some I.D.?" What do you need to see I.D. for? "You don't have any I.D.?" Will my old (orange and white with no photo) health card be okay? "You don't have any photo I.D.?" UNTIL Oli finally hands over his driver's license.

The cop disappears into his car to check to see if Oli's record is clean (which it is), but also seems to grab a binder to check for cycling regulations to see if he can nail Oliver for anything. When the cop struts back out of the car again, his first words are "So where's your bell buddy?" and he ends up writing Oliver a ticket for $120.00 for not having a bell on his bike.

While all this happening incidentally, a SECOND squad car has pulled to a stop ahead of the first car, and the second car is parked on an angle taking up part of the eastbound lane and the rest of the westbound lane that the first car hadn't stopped. So you have two cops causing a traffic jam all in the interest of harassing a cyclist.

Moral of the story? Don't question the authority of the toronto cops. They'll find a way to make you pay.

And yes, Reno 911: Miami was completely juvenile, but I still have a soft spot for that kind of thing.

And don't eat red meat.

Friday, October 26, 2007

An Orillia roundup

Before I forget, here's my new theory - your sense of outrage with the world has a direct correlation to how much time you have to read and follow current events. I haven't been following the news as much as I used to, and therefore I don't know what Bush and Cheney etc are doing, so I don't have much opportunity to be outraged. I guess this is a variation on "ignorance is bliss."

Here's a glimpse at the life of a cyclist in Orillia, Ontario - my new hometown. There's a nice biking trail down along Lake Couchiching, which runs parallel to a gravel hiking trail. Otherwise I haven't seen any bike lanes on the city streets at all.

Velocity is my new bike shop. My girlfriend and I went in there our very first day in town when we were apartment hunting and they gave us the scoop about which neighborhoods to avoid etc. I've bought an armadillo from them, and a Pedro's mini-cleaning kit. I'm hoping to do their Tuesday morning rides with them in the summer (on my Cannondale single-speed!)

The day I was walking around town (a plus 20 degree celsius day at the end of October in central Ontario!) I caught these two going by, the rear cyclist hauling a trailer.

These are the only bike parking posts I've seen in town. They're beside the big A&P down near the lake (an A&P is a supermarket). There aren't any on main street, nor are there any near the Lakehead University campus (where I work). I doubt I'll be lucky enough that Orillia works like Toronto - i.e. you call up the city, say "I need a post at X and Y streets, and it gets done." I have so many things to check up on - city bylaws about how much of the lane I'm allowed to take up, bike posts etc. So many things to do in my new town.
The last photo is just a sneaky shot of the lake through some autumn trees. I gotta say, I dig autumn. The hot weather is worrisome, but in general me and the leaves are grooving together pretty well.

And finally, No Impact Man found my blog and linked to me recently, and the day he did, my hits went up to 599, from a usual average of about 110 per day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It just don't get no better than a bear

My girlfriend was forwarded this story, and when she sent it to me I thought it'd be a good blog post.

I guess a photographer visiting Churchill, Manitoba, took some sled dogs out to take some pictures.

Out of the snow a polar bear creeps towards the pack, and the photographer starts thinking "Oh crap, all the dogs are goners."

Turns out though, that the polar bear just wanted to play around.

And he came back several times on succeeding days to play with the dogs some more.

So cute - and such a shame we're going to have killed 30 to 50% of the bears by 2050.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Badges, we don't need no stinkin badges!

Wow - oil closed at a record $88.00 a barrel today. If you adjust for inflation etc, oil was still more expensive back in the 70's, but it definitely makes you think about peak oil and how screwed we're going to be when the oil runs out (unless you live in Cuba, which is apparently a post peak-oil economy already).

Ahh peak oil - fewer cars and more bicycles. I realize there will also be potentially catastrophic consequences of peak oil hitting as hard as it could, but being a cyclist I tend to just concentrate on the ribbons of empty highways and how much fun it'll be cycling along them.

On a somewhat similar topic, I took the Eco Footprint quiz today. You can see my results here below. I guess that's what being a near vegan and a cyclist/pedestrian will do for you.

I'm getting used to life in Orillia, and since I only have a 20 minute walk to work I'm actually not biking much here, just walking everywhere. I hope to do a bigger update on life up here in Simcoe County, but it'll have to wait until I get my hands on my girlfriends' digital camera again.

Hope everyone is doing well!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

When tomorrow gets here (where will yesterday be?)

In saying goodbye to Toronto, one thing I thought I could do was a photographic "thanks" to some of the bike shops I've depended on since becoming a commuting cyclist back in about 2001. So I went for a ride on a grey Sunday morning here in Toronto today, and took photos of the main shops that I've used over the years.
The store I've depended on the most over the years is Sweet Pete's at Dufferin and Bloor. In 2000/2001, when I was new to cycling and was riding some sort of Home Hardware mountain bike thing, I kept going to them for repairs until one day the front hub kind of shredded and the guy at the shop, who'd done repair after repair for me, looked at me and said "Man, it's over for this thing." I subsequently bought the Kona Hahanna from them which I rode around town today taking these photos, and it is by far the most useful bike I've ever had, though it looks very different now than it did when I bought it (i.e. it's now a singlespeed with slick city tires). I wish I knew how many kilometres I had on the Hahanna - I think 20 000km is a safe guess, but it's probably more.
I also bought a KHS Flite 200 road bike off these guys, which a year or two later I sold through Craig's List, and a Kona Dew Deluxe, which I eventually gave to my brother.

After moving into the Regent Park area I started using the Danforth Cyclepath a bit. They stock Specialized Armadillos, which I love, but the main reason I need to thank them is for a wheel rebuild they did for me. In the summer of 2006 when I put 4000+ km on my Cannondale, riding back and forth to Oshawa, I went to them after a broken spoke to look at my rear wheel, which had been straight laced. They took it apart and relaced the spokes to cross three times, and I haven't had a broken spoke since, nor has the wheel gone out of true. I wish I knew his name, but to the mechanic at this shop, thanks dude, nice job.

I've only been in the Roncesvalles Set Me Free a couple times in my life, but I owe them a thanks for a flat tire fix they did for me once. I was going up Roncesvalles once in an autumn rain and got a flat a few blocks south of the bike shop. For some reason I wasn't carrying a tube and a pump, which is unlike me, so I walked the bike up to Set Me Free and within moments the guys in the shop had my wheel off the bike, the tire off, a new tube installed, and me on my way. It was really pretty cool - kind of like a Nascar pit stop.

The Parliament Street Cycle Solutions has been my local bike shop for about two years now. They're good guys willing to talk you through some fixes (I got advice and parts for the kona single-speed project from them) and they also carry armadillos.

And I never had much contact with Bikes on Wheels, but I wanted to get a picture of my Kona since I'm taking it up to Orillia tomorrow and it'll never roll through Toronto again, and so I thought I'd stop in Cabbagetown and take this photo. My bike is the one in the centre of the shop, leaning against the store.

And to Gino and the staff up at the North York Cyclepath, who went out of their way to find a 2006 Jamis Nova to sell me at a discount, I'm sorry, but your store was just too far north to be included on my jaunt around town today. Sorry guys, but thanks so much for the Jamis.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Toronto the good

In preparing to say goodbye to Toronto, I've been trying to squeeze in some bike rides that I've always enjoyed in this city. Frequently thinking things like "this might be the last time I ever cross over the Humber bridge."

These two pictures are from the Humber River biking trail. Toronto has two river valley biking trails - the Humber in the west, and the Don in the east, and I've ridden the Don Valley river trail far more often than the Humber. I've always lived a bit closer to the Don than the Humber, and the Don trail has the advantage of three half decent hills up at the north end that you can use for hill-training. But, the Humber is definitely more picturesque. I remember going through the Humber once on my Kona mountain bike on a thin layer of crusty snow - nice quiet winter morning, the trail mostly deserted, the snow breaking under my tires. One of those random rides that you take which turn into a lasting memory.

And this is the beaches in Toronto's east end. From my place (this was Monday? Tuesday?) I rode east on Queen Street to the beaches area, turned south and was quickly on the Martin Goodman trail, which is a long biking trail along Toronto's lakeshore which takes you completely across Toronto from east to west (with only maybe 3 or 4 km of street riding involved). When I did my undergrad at U of T, a small-town boy in the big city, I grew to hate Toronto. And for the first few years I was back (after going abroad and teaching ESL for a few years) I hated it even more. And then I bought a bicycle and started exploring areas like the Humber trail and the Don trail and the Martin Goodman trail, and my bike opened up Toronto's green areas to me, and I relaxed here for the first time.

So here's to biking in Toronto. Here's to your bike opening up the green areas of your city. Here's to Toronto the good - the places where you can ride your bike.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bells on Bloor

Bells on Bloor happened today. Picture about 200 cyclists (my rough guess) meeting at High Park in the west end of the city, then cycling along Bloor Street (with bike cop escorts monitoring all the intersections) to Avenue Road in the center of Toronto, and then weaving a bit and ending up at Queen's Park - the home of our provincial government.
All this to rally people around the cause of getting more bike lanes built in Toronto, more people out of their cars, and more hope for solving the climate change crisis.

In the picture below we get a glimpse of Darren from Bike Refugee (white T Shirt). Darren is one of the few cycling activists I've met before. At the end of the ride today I also got the chance to say hi to Tanya from Crazy Biker Chick (probably the most famous cycling blogger in Toronto) and Vic from Vic Gedris (and from Cycle Ontario Alliance). P.S. - as per usual, Tino at Bike Lane Diary has coverage of today's event, and some other cool photos if you scroll down a bit.

This is the group going past the new (funky!) addition to the Royal Ontario Museum, just before we make the turn off Bloor Street south onto University Avenue.

And this isn't a great photo, but the best one I took of the group assembling at the end of the ride in front of Queen's Park. I doubt any of the politicians were there, but the Liberal Party's campaign bus was parked in front of the building. I wonder if there's been a pledge for all the parties to go carbon neutral in this election campaign. Didn't all the federal parties do that in the last federal election?

And this is just typical, and ironic. If I had a camera with me all the time (and the patience to stop and snap a photo), I could take dozens and dozens of "cars parked in the bike lane" photos every month. Today, on my way home from Bells on Bloor, I found this dude parked in the bike lane on Shuter Street just east of Parliament.
Thank you, sir. By taking up the entire lane, just on the other side of a set of streetlights, you guaranteed that I was going to have to check over my shoulder a few times, gauge my speed right, and fight for some room as i went through this intersection, rather than having what should have been a peaceful stress-free ride through a bike lane.

In a way though, I find it hard to blame the motorists, when cops will go right by them most of the time without saying "boo" about this traffic violation. Since the cops don't enforce it, why would motorists think twice about doing it?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Where's Waldo?

Although I am planning to attend Bells on Bloor on Sunday, my mind has not been on cycling, the environment, George Bush, or blogging very much recently. In fact, as far as cycling goes, my butt hasn't been on my bike for maybe two weeks now.

My contract at the university in Oshawa finished at the end of the first week of September, and I am no longer the lonely cyclist pedalling his way through Whitby/Oshawa each day. Thank god, actually. I got so tired fighting that battle. Durham Region (for american readers, durham is the sprawl of suburbia to the east of Toronto, including the cities of Pickering, Ajax, whitby, oshawa) is a lost cause as far as I'm concerned. durham is exactly the type of region that HAS to switch to public transit and cycling RIGHT NOW to help save the planet, but the political will doesn't exist out there, and I'm pretty sure that in 2025 when peak oil has hit and all the polar bears are dead someone on the oshawa city council will say "hey, let's hold a referendum about building a bike lane downtown, and maybe start work in 2030 on it."

Anyway - my job in Oshawa finished, I spent about a week in Bancroft with my parents, hiking through the forest every day, seeing lots of deer, doing some writing (I'm a hack novelist), canoeing with my dad and that kind of thing. And then, just as I was starting to enjoy being unemployed, I was offered a new job.

And I'm MOVING - at long last (I'm a smalltown boy at heart) I'm LEAVING TORONTO.

I'm going to see if you guys can figure out where I'm moving to. All these pictures were taken yesterday in my soon-to-be new home. I'll give you a few hints - the city is in Ontario, within three hours drive of Toronto, and an established university is setting up a satellite campus in the town I'm moving to, ergo a job opening up there for me.

So, I don't know when I'll get back to blogging regularly again. I'm fairly stressed right now about finding a place to live etc. Once I do relocate though I'm excited about being the annoying guy at town council meetings standing up and saying "what about bike infrastructure?" every five seconds. Luckily my new town does have a fairly good cycling culture, at least on a recreational, if not a commuting, level.

Anyway dudes - leave a comment with your guess about where I'm moving to, and I hope you're all getting lots of miles under your wheels in the nice late summer weather we're having. ciao.

P.S - Floyd has been officially declared guilty.

Monday, September 10, 2007

of bells, bears and taxes

Bells on Bloor is happening on Sunday Sept. 23 to celebrate car free day. That one should be a hoot - riding from the west end of Toronto into the center on Toronto's main east-west artery. Can't wait.

I'd like to think that our petition helped spur this on - the provincial Liberal party is promising to cut provincial sales tax on bikes and bike helmets if they get re-elected. Our petition, which asked for this and other things, went to the Federal Government (I never got around to directing one at the province), but hopefully the Ontario Liberals were paying attention when Olivia Chow read our petition in Federal Parliament, and stole some of our ideas.

This story about global warming's impact upon the polar bear population is exactly why I have rather extreme thoughts regarding what our society is NOT doing about climate change.

How can we not raise gas taxes, not enforce better auto-emission standards, not hammer industries which are extreme polluters, not raise taxes on the meat industry (if you're not a vegetarian this might seem an "out of left field" statement - but read this, or this study which came out of Guelph University), when our society is leading us right to a world where polar bears will be massively killed off - along with all the other plants and animals which are disappearing due to the unbelievably high extinction rate that we are causing.

From the Guardian:
"At present, animals are believed to be going extinct at 100 to 1,000 times the usual rate, leading many researchers to claim that we are in the midst of a mass extinction event faster than that which wiped out the dinosaurs."

The gentleman who graciously gave me this bike was attacked, while on bike, by a car a few months ago. The description of the crash, and a string of comments, are here on Spacing - be well Geoffrey. Hope you're out there fighting for your lane again soon.

My buddy Oliver, who is pretty pissed about cars parking in bike lanes, got a ticket from the cops recently when he went up to a squad car parked in the lane and asked what they thought they were doing. I haven't heard the full story yet, but hopefully Oli will be giving me the description in a guest post soon.

Take care everyone!