Thursday, August 23, 2007

Even St. Christopher needs some company sometimes

Herb from I Bike T.O. and I met up recently at the Urban Herbivore. He took a photo and I handed over my interview answers and I'm now written up in one of I Bike T.O.'s cyclist profiles.

I was careful with my words in the profile. I could have been a lot more disparaging about cycling in Durham, but I held back. There is simply no cycling infrastructure in Durham, and the single occupancy vehicle rate out there is staggering. It is so frustrating to ride your bike knowing that you're doing the right thing, but have to fight tooth and nail for your precious few feet of the road against motorists that you can't help feel aren't trying hard enough to find alternatives to their car.

I have been thinking about getting a sign that read "Honk if you love clean air - get out of your car if you want to do something about it" made to go onto my backpack.

Additionally - I'd be so much happier if I EVER saw another bike commuter on the road in Durham. I see roadies once in a while, headed for the country roads to the north, and I see the odd dude riding a BSO (bicycle shaped object, like a CCM) on the sidewalk, but maybe once every two weeks do I see someone who looks like they're actually doing a commute by bicycle.

Anyway, although I always feel like I'm leaving the Whitby Go Station each morning and battling motorists on my own, I know Darren and Joe and Mike and Snake and many others are out there demanding their share of the lane. Cheers guys - to those of you about to pedal, I salute you.

Here are two quotes, kind of on topic, from a book by Paul Hawken called Blessed Unrest. The book is a history of the grassroots movements which have sprung up to battle things like globalization and climate change.

Speaking of previous battles like this, Hawken provides this quote from Rachel Carson's fight against the pesticide companies in the 1950's.

Miss Rachel Carson's reference to the selfishness of insecticide manufacturers probably reflects her Communist sympathies, like a lot of our writers these days. We can live without birds and animals, but, as the current market slump shows, we cannot live without business. As for insects, isn't it just like a woman to be scared to death of a few little bugs! As long as we have the H-bomb everything will be O.K.
P.S. - She's probably a peace-nut too!"

Letter to the New Yorker protesting the publication of Silent Spring.

And this one about Bhopal:

The Bhopal tragedy is a symbol of the cruelty of corporations against humanity. The day that we succeed in holding Dow liable for the continuing disaster in Bhopal will be good news for people all over the world. From that day on chemical corporations will think twice before peddling poisons and putting profits before the lives and health of people. We are not expendable. We are not flowers offered at the altar of profit and power. We are dancing flames committed to conquering darkness and to challenging those who threaten the planet and the magic and the mystery of life.
Rashida Bee, Bhopal survivor and organizer

P.S. Title of this post comes from the Justin Rutledge song, Special.

P.P.S. I know I've used this Terry Fox photo before, but I was in a "why can't we do what's right - like Terry would" mood, and it's such an evocative photo.


Veg*Triathlete said...

Well, I never would've expected such a patriarchal division of labor in your household! Start cooking! If we're going to viva la revolution, etc, we've got to be able to use the tools, and those include wrenches AND spatulas. ;-)

That's a great profile interview, by the way. Fun to read more about you & your cycling philosophy!

Snakebite said...

Not much for biking infrastructure here, either. I'll keeping commuting, which, is leading by example. Do the same. Sooner or later (or when gas prices really shoot up), there will be more bike commuters. We are hoping, and working on, our city officials. We are slowly making progress showing them there are a number of us bike commuters out there. At least we're starting to talk about bike lanes and sharrows.

amh said...

I rather dislike both the term and the sentiment behind BSO (Bicycle Shaped Object).

Many kids, like myself, grew up on department store bikes. We put a lot of miles underneath us with them, and we grew up with a love and fondness for cycling wich continues with us as adults.

To dismiss these otherwise good bikes as a BSO ain't cool. It's snobbery, elitism, and prejudice. It's disrespectful, and rude. I respectfully ask you to stop ever referring to these bikes as BSOs.

You don't want to ostracize your cycling allies (and potential allies) no matter what kind of bike they choose, or can afford, to have.

Melissa said...

Will you help a girl out?

23. Get 10 friends to make me mixes to listen to in the photo lab.

Please. :)

Tuco said...

Well AMH, when I first started being a Toronto cyclist, it was on a department store mountain bike I bought off a coworker.
I don't even think I can remember all the things that went wrong with it over the 7 or 8 months that it actually worked.
I do remember taking it to the bike shop again and again paying for repairs. And I remember the time I was biking to work and the right crank arm completely fell off.
Finally the front hub shredded itself into a noisy death, and when I took it to the bike shop, the mechanic I had been constantly dealing with said "Man, it's over for this bike."

So - the department store bike I had was wretched. I've heard stories that some people have put massive miles on dept. store bikes, but I've heard MORE stories that are similar to mine. Ergo my less than positive feelings towards them.

Sorry for ill feelings this may cause.