Wednesday, March 28, 2007

the kindness of strangers

Here are a couple videos I've come across recently and find amusing enough to recommend. Plus they're pretty brief so they won't waste your time.

This is a short one of some
mountain bike race where a spectator gets pissed and throws one of the contestants off a bridge.

Even though the humour in this one comes at the
expense of the cyclist (in favour of the car), it's still pretty funny.

And this one isn't about biking, but I found it pretty funny. Guy taking a girl home after a date and it's a spoof of the Mastercard "priceless" ads.

I was looking through the Fixed Gear Gallery and came across this story and bike. I actually emailed Joshua to get some more details about this random stranger who gave him $350.00 after seeing a car hit him, and this was his reply:

I know, right! It was amazing. She handed it to me gangsta style, all tucked into her palm and looked me in the eye and said, "I just want to bless you." She offered me a ride home and after I told her that my friends were coming, she disappeared. So rad. I mean, who just has $350 in cash on them that they can give away? I hope I can do that for somebody else someday. Thanks for your interest.

Joshua


This gentleman in the U.K. has the only Kona Hahanna I could find on the website.

My Hahanna is the 2001 model and is red and fairly beat up looking (the seat is torn so I have a plastic bag wrapped over it). The drivetrain is pretty much at the point of needing to be thrown away, so I've been thinking of having a mechanically-minded buddy turn the Kona into a singlespeed (freewheel) for the coolness factor, but I'm hesistant to lose the bike's "all purpose" capabilities in exchange for the novelty of the single speed.

Decisions, decisions.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Cyclists are filled with vitality

The cycling petition was put in the mail and is on its way to Ottawa.

I think it was on the Allderblob a few months back that I saw a reference to the survey I've copied below. It took me a while to find it on the internet, and after finding it I forgot all about it.

I guess it is a fairly accuracte survey of cyclists, but it is kind of odd to think that this is how the world of marketing and advertising sees us, and sees all special interest groups - What are their habits and foibles? these people think, and how can we exploit their habits to sell ipods and heartrate monitors to them?

Research: Profile of cyclists in Canada
Crop Marketing Research Opinion Surveys:
OCTOBER 2006

Even though summer has ended, cyclists will not be putting away their bikes just yet. They will be taking advantage of the first weeks of fall to prolong their enjoyment of one of their favourite physical activities. Cycling being one of the most popular sports in Canada, this month’s article will draw a profile of Canadian cyclists. This profile was generated using 3SC, a CROP survey which provides a portrait of the population and of certain groups according to their values and attitudes, and each year measures a wide variety of information about the population. Almost one out of four Canadians (37%) go biking regularly (14%) or occasionally (23%). Forty-four percent of Canadians never do any biking. These results do not distinguish between different cycling disciplines, whether it is road, track or mountain biking. The following is a socio-demographic portrait of Canadians who cycle regularly or occasionally:

  • For all ages: Biking appeals to many age groups within the population. It is mostly popular among people less than 50 years of age.

  • A male-oriented activity: There are more males (43%) among cyclists than females (31%).

  • More francophones: Biking is more popular among francophones (50%) than anglophones (33%)

  • For the affluent: Overall, cyclists are more affluent than the general population. Forty-one percent of people with an annual household income of $60,000 and over take part in this activity whereas this proportion drops to 33% among those who earn less than $25,000 annually.

  • More educated: Biking is more popular among the most educated people. Forty-one percent of Canadians with a university education take part in this activity whereas this proportion drops to 33% for people with a high school education.

  • More popular in Quebec: More than half of Quebecers (51%) ride their bikes; it is the province where this sport is the most popular in Canada. This activity is less popular in the Maritimes (22%).


It is also possible to identify values and attitudes specific to cyclists. The following are characteristics of cyclists:

  • Cyclists are filled with vitality and are known for their energy. Seeking to live their life to the fullest, they are looking for intense experiences and distinguish themselves by their openness to the unknown. Biking suits their spontaneous nature since it allows them to go on outings without much planning and to easily modify their initial itinerary.

  • Their desire to feel emotions and to have intense experiences causes them to take risks. Some will even use their bikes in a more risky manner, by either mixing biking with other sports as in the case of triathletes or doing acrobatic maneuvers with BMX bikes.

  • They make constant efforts to stay in shape and to maintain a healthy lifestyle by engaging in physical activity and favouring healthy eating. Biking is a way to remain physically active and to maintain better health.

  • Very involved in their community, cyclists are interested in social issues. They seek to help those in need and are sensitive to environmental issues as well. For some, cycling is a non-polluting means of transportation that helps to preserve the environment.

  • These people are rather liberal, tolerant, and favour freedom over discipline. Very open-minded, they consider young people to be their equal and their definition of a family unit encompasses more than the traditional “father-mother- children”scenario.

  • Cyclists distinguish themselves by the control they exert over their life. They enjoy setting objectives for themselves. The many challenges that cycling offers people of all levels can fulfill this need, whether it is pedaling on a track that is a few kilometres long or going down a mountain at full speed.

  • Wishing to benefit from life, cyclists are above all looking for happiness and fun. Their professional life remains important for them; they may even put it ahead of their family life.

  • As consumers, they enjoy purchasing the newest products as soon as they are available on the market. They do not hesitate to purchase the latest gadgets for their bike. Price is not an important purchase criterion for them as they look for the best deals and prefer useful and quality products over goods that only enhance their social standing. Not materialistic, they do not measure their worth by means of their possessions and are insensitive to others’ opinions. Cyclists are moreover suspicious of advertising and of the models it sets.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Advice from Glen Murray

The cycling petition is no longer on the web, see the post below for a few more details.

I'm not sure how I feel about the commentary happening over on Spacing Wire. The specific "requests" of the petition are being criticized fairly heavily. Criticism is great and I sought it out back in November when I was drafting the petition (dig into the November blog archives), but at this point I'd like to focus more on the fact that the petition, whatever its specifics, is meant to draw the government's attention towards cycling.

As I've said many times, I hope some more people start other cycling petitions. We'll spread the word to all the cycling groups, get the petitions signed, and we'll bombard every level of government with calls for action on replacing something which is bad (every single person in the world having a car) with something which is good (more and more opportunities to live your live via public transit and Active Transportation.

Regarding the mobilization of the cycling movement, here's that Globe and Mail article I've mentioned before. I love the lines I've bolded down near the bottom.

Memo to cyclists: Don't get bowled over
6 November 2006 The Globe and Mail


Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray has some advice for a new group of Toronto activists planning to press for bike lanes and trails: make like lawn bowlers.

Mr. Murray, speaking at a news conference held by the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation, said the only way to get municipal politicians to follow through on their promises is, essentially, to make their lives hell.

That's why the city of Winnipeg under his tenure never dreamed of touching its 22 public lawn-bowling facilities: The lawn bowlers, no matter how much the popularity of their sport dwindled, were simply the loudest, most organized group of “curmudgeons” the city had ever seen.

“Every single city councillor lives in fear of these people,” Mr. Murray said. The very smell of any impending budget cut brought them out, in their finest lawn-bowling duds, to make their case.

While there are dozens of pro-cycling groups and pedestrian organizations in the city, they haven't been “like a dog with a bone” on the councillors — Case Ootes, in Toronto-Danforth, among them — who often oppose the installation of bike lanes, scuppering the city's plans to build a network, Mr. Murray said.

A well-organized group of upset cyclists, dressed in lycra and wearing brightly coloured helmets, who made their case at committee hearings again and again might just make the difference, he suggested. “You have to make it more difficult [for politicians] not to do these things.”

To that end, the new coalition, TCAT for short, has sent out a pre-election survey to all candidates running for mayor and council, asking them if they support the coalition's detailed plans to build bike lanes and trails and make the city more walkable.

Most of the responses are supportive or cautiously supportive — so much so that it sometimes seems less than clear what real purpose the exercise serves. More than 100 candidates have responded, and the results are posted at www.torontocat.ca .

Certainly, even by the city's own measures, its performance on bike lanes has been abysmal. In 2005, more than 16 kilometres of bike lanes were proposed in the bike plan.

But the city managed to build one measly kilometre, because of bureaucratic delays and roadblocks thrown up by reluctant councillors.

Mr. Murray, who supports the initiative in his role as chairman of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, said that armed with the surveys, activists will be able to hammer councillors who go back on their word.

“They're now on the record,” Mr. Murray said. “And they're not on the record in a vague sort of way.” He pointed out that organizers asked councillors to indicate whether they supported specific bikes lanes in their wards, and concrete spending initiatives.

TCAT, a coming together of like-minded cycling and pedestrian-rights groups, is so new that it does not have a concrete plan of its activities, if any, after the election. But the idea is for activists to wave those surveys in councillors' faces if they go back on their word.

And the promotion of biking and walking, instead of driving, in major cities, Mr. Murray adds, isn't necessary only from the point of averting a carbon dioxide-driven worldwide environmental apocalypse.

It is a key factor in the here-and-now question of which cities will succeed in the post-industrial age.

He argues that attracting the 21st century's coveted, highly mobile, highly educated knowledge workers, who will drive economic growth, means creating a city where they want to live, a place where there are things to do and see, other than “driving by sprawl in an automobile.”


And, as other cities, including Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Portland, Ore., have determined, he said, one easy way to create the “quality of place” to attract these workers is simply to build networks of bike and walking trails popular with them. No offence to lawn bowlers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I'm permitted one act i can save

It's almost time for LOST and I'm waiting for our delivery from Green Earth Organics to show up, and I actually have to do some dishes, but here are a couple petition notes:

  • The online version of the petition has been closed.

  • The totals are 2202 paper and ink signatures, and 4137 online signatures

  • If you signed thank you, and you're in good company, so did Mike Barry, Curt Harnett, Jasper Blake a few famous coaches and many people who are active in the promotion of cycling.

  • The Spacing Wire had some commentary on the petition today.



And I think that's it. More later though.

Monday, March 19, 2007

make for the hills

The cycling petition is still up. I don't actually have any free time to get to a post office and mail this thing until the end of the week, so I figured I'd just leave it online for a few more days and let it maybe reach 4100. On Saturday I weeded out all the doubled-signatures and spam signatures, so it is legitimately at 4090 or whatever it is at now.

Macleans has a recent article called Survival Skills for the Starbucks Set which discusses a wilderness survival instructor in Lindsay, Ontario, who has seen his classes getting more popular with urbanites. In theory, because more and more of them sense the end of days.

This strikes a chord, because ever since I started reading all the peak oil books, my girlfriend and I have been 30% seriously (70% jokingly) talking about what we’d do when civilization ended. We envision a small farming commune in the country somewhere and talk about all the skills that our friends have which would be useful in staying alive. So far I'm the lame "do we really need this guy?" one on the list. I have no survival skills to speak of, and most of my friends who are actually engineers also play the guitar far better than I do, so I'm out of luck as the "entertainment" as well.

Peak oil is the most likely thing right now which could bring civilization as we know it to an end, but there are plenty of other options. The volcano below Yellowstone might finally blow with Tambora like power (70 000 deaths in 1815) and change the weather so badly in North America that farming will be messed up for decades. Then there are the earthquakes, and meteors and sunspots which have been in the news for a while. Apparently the Mayans predicted the world would end by 2012 so I guess we'd better have our commune going strong by then.

If you want a foretaste of urban chaos, try reading Blindness by Jose Saramago. If you want to survive/avoid the urban chaos, try the Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook.

If you're not too worried about all this, and you remember the old Captain Kirk StarTrek episodes, AND you know Monty Python's Holy Grail movie pretty well, just watch this and relax.

Friday, March 16, 2007

the little rascal has spiwit

If you're a cyclist and haven't already come across the Councillor Rob Ford story, check out Biking Toronto (just scroll down a bit). I still cannot BELIEVE that a toronto city councillor said this:
"Roads are built for buses, cars and trucks, not for people on bikes. It's their own fault at the end of the day if they get hit. You shouldn't be in the middle of traffic riding your bike. If you want to ride your bike you've got beautiful parks. That's where you should ride your bike."

Has this guy read a book or an urban transportation report in the last 15 years? I've never met Rob Ford and know nothing about him, but I think I want to kick him in the nuts. Rob, this kid really shouldn't have to move to Amersterdam to be able to ride his bike on the street. And by the way, if he does become a bike commuter, he will be helping to alleviate urban gridlock and global warming, he'll be taking steps towards NOT becoming another statistic in the rise of diabetes and obesity rates in Canada, and if we take things even further, he WON'T be putting much money into the pockets of oil companies which whisper into the ears of republican presidents and lead them to invade other countries.

Oh yeah, and another thing, if the City of Toronto would finally free up all that bike lane money that they have and get the lanes built - very few cyclists would even be getting hit.
Thank God there are people like this out there. (P.S. the song in the background of the video is Play the Greed by Dar Williams).

New Info: After doing this post yesterday, I found myself on the mountain bike review forums, where there's a long thread on this topic, and apparently Ford is actually responding to many of the nasty emails he's received - if the emailer left his phone number Ford has actually been calling to apologize. He's also saying that the above quote was taken somewhat out of context. He thinks a lot of accidents happen because drivers use the bike lane as a "scoot by" lane and that's how cyclists get hit sometimes.

Well, give credit where credit is due, he's trying to make amends. That counts for something.

If (and when?) the petition to promote cycling in Canada crosses 4000 signatures today, I'm taking it down tomorrow. I've been putting off going through it to weed out the spam signatures, and also putting off adding up all the pages of the paper & ink version of the petition, but I guess I'll have to do it sometime, and my day of choice is tomorrow.

On a quick musical note, I am really really digging qR5's Revisited Gone.

and here's Monty Python.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Treviso


Before I begin, anybody who wants to cross their fingers for me and say "good luck Tuco" I'd greatly appreciate it. I interviewed for a job this morning that I'd quite like to get. It would be in downtown Toronto and bring to a gradual close this 4 to 5 hours a day I spend commuting to and from Oshawa. I need the luck incidentally, I totally flubbed one question and spote "sotto voce" most of the time. What a dumbass.

Anyway, this is a picture of a Pinarello Treviso. My paternal grandfather came from the town of Treviso, just outside of Venice in northeastern Italy. So I'm pretty juiced that Pinarello is making a bike that I feel some connection with. For those of you who don't know - Pinarello is one of the sexiest of bike companies. Their bikes are ridden by the "Gods" of the cycling circuit. Most of us hackers just kind of drool over Pinarello bikes and don't remotely consider buying them.

The Treviso is kind of a strange flat bar road bike built for city riding. It retails for around $1200.00 American. As Bicycling magazine says "it has speedy, high-pressure 700c tires and road gearing, but offers a more upright position for those not wanting the aggressive hunch of a drop bar."

That's nice. But is Pinarello serious? Who's going to buy this thing? Roadies won't buy it because of the handlebars, and what city-rider is seriously going to spend $1200.00 on a city commuter that you could never ever ever ever ever ever ever leave locked up outside a grocery store? It'd get stolen faster than you could say "holy crap that guy is stealing my bike!"

(Don't get me wrong Pinarello - I want one. Send a size 54cm to me here in Toronto. Grazi.)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Da Bugle

I'm waiting for two more batches of signed petitions to arrive (both from out west) before I take the Promotion of Cycling in Canada petition down and send it to NDP MP Olivia Chow.

Sign now if you haven't already - it's just passed 3800 signatures and it'd be awesome to have the online version at 4000 before it gets wrapped up.

And the awesome people at Toronto Cycling have the Winter 2007 BUGle magazine ready now.

Much to my delight, my story about my old Raleigh Safari is in there.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Birth of the Blog

Okay - so I'm going vegan and reading way too much about factory farming (also known as Intensive Livestock Operations or as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) and since this is primarily what is on my mind these days I am inclined to blog about it.
But, I don't feel that "Story of a bike and a stubborn cyclist" is the right place to vent about veganism etc, so I've created a new blog called Veggie Karma.
If you ever want to surf over and check out what I'm doing on the veggie site, be my guest. If you'd rather just hear about biking and peak oil and george bush and literature and sustainable development, stay right here.

Following along with The End of Suburbia there is a new documentary which is supposed to be hitting Toronto soon called A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash which I'm keen to see.

I've been very quiet on the peak oil front for a while. As I mused back here I no longer really know what will happen. Will there be an easy transition into alternative energies aided by nuclear power and coal? Or will there be an abrupt drop off in our quality of life? I don't want millions of people to be out of work, I don't want doctors working under the dim lights of emergency generators, but in a way, if the oil runs out before we kill all the polar bears and completely ruin the planet, maybe that'd be for the best?

And Carbon Taxes (which I mused about in terms of raising gasoline taxes here) are in the news here in Canada - check Only Carbon Taxes can rekindle conservation from today's Toronto Star.

Here are two more things:
Bookcrossing - finish a book, conveniently leave it at a coffee shop with a tag on it, and follow it on this website as it moves its way from reader to reader.

Justin Rutledge - my brother introduced me to Rutledge a little while back, and I've been listening to him a lot. If you like Blue Rodeo you'll probably dig Rutledge - he does the same kind of alt / country / rock that they do. "Don't be so mean, Jellybean" on this page is a live track from the Cameron House in Toronto.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bush wears you down

I should be pretty happy about the Scooter Libby conviction. It is so far the biggest indictment of the George Bush White House, and the lies this administration told in order to take the country to war. In a way I am happy about the conviction, but then again, we all know that these guys are appalling human beings and so far Libby is the only one to get nailed? Libby? Screw Libby - we want Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Bush himself to go down as well.

George - after writing about you several times now, I have to admit that you've exhausted me. Invade Iran, drill for oil in the Arctic, stare at us all like we're the morons and you have to explain everything in one syllable words for us - do whatever you want, you win, I can't fight it anymore.

What I am into fighting these days is factory farming. The more I read the more appalled I am that this industry exists, and that we all turn a blind eye to it.

I ordered in an article which provides an overview of the origins of factory farming, and in large part it has to do with huge surpluses of grain & corn in the U.S. in the 1940's. The agricultural groups wanted to keep producing corn, but needed a way to get rid of it, so they lobbied for the meat industry to grow exponentially so that the corn and grain could be fed to the cows.

So - as a reminder - a big criticism of meat rich diets is that they are TOTALLY a waste of resources, especially water, grain and oil. For example, why feed 7 tons of grain to cows and only get 1 ton of meat back, when you could have just given people the 7 tons of grain to eat?

Anyway - here's a quote from way back in 1949 when a man named Allan Kline, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, went before Congress to advocate the ramp-up in the meat industry:
Focusing on "meat" consumption was an especially efficient manner of controlling grain surpluses. Kline pointed out that "it takes seven times as many acres to feed a people on livestock products as it takes if people eat grain."


Wunderbar. Let's use agricultural land in the most inefficent way we can find. And hey! Let's lay the ground works for a holocaust style treatment of living animals while we're at it. Rock on.

Source:
Winders, B. & Nibert, D. (2004). Consuming the surplus: Expanding "meat" consumption and animal oppression. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 24(9), 76-96.

Another item:
Sztybel, D. (2006). Can the treatment of animals be compared to the holocaust? Ethics & the Environment, 11(1), 97-135.

And for a longer overview of all this, try the WorldWatch Institute's Happier Meals: Rethinking the Global Meat Industry.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Office


So my best friend at work - and the person who has been carpooling me to and from the Go Station, has found a new job and is moving back to Ottawa. Her last day was this past Friday.

Godspeed Shannon. May the road rise to meet you.

So I went to the bike show and resisted buying a cyclocross bike. This wasn't actually that hard because there were very few cross bikes on display, just a couple Konas that weren't my size.
I got some shoes for myself and some stuff for my brother but it was a fairly uneventful show. Thanks again to Cycle Ontario Alliance for displaying the petition at their booth and getting lots of signatures. I think the online version will get taken down this coming weekend, and all the various pages sent to Ms. Chow next week.

I'm now doing a full on public transit commute from downtown Toronto to north Oshawa until the streets and weather improve enough that I feel it safe to get back on the bike. Today as I was riding the bus up to school, I noticed that Oshawa's "Forbidden Pleasures" store (i.e. erotic items store) is in a grungy little strip mall right beside a Wimpy's Diner. I love Oshawa.

Here's a picture of me holding a piece of broccoli with my eyes mostly closed, talking to one of my few male co-workers about that Samuel Jackson / Chris Chelios video (see below).

Friday, March 02, 2007

Smarter than the average bear

So the Toronto Bike Show is tomorrow, which means that this cycling petition will be taken down pretty soon. I think it has done pretty well: the online version currently has about 3700 signatures and I think the paper version will have upwards of 1500 signatures by the time I send everything to Olivia Chow.

I've talked myself out of buying a cyclocross bike this weekend. After I give my brother my Dew Deluxe I'll still have three bikes (the beater, the all-rounder, the race bike) so I can't really justify "needing" a bike at the moment. Plus, I want to buy all that basic stuff that cyclists need for my brother - pump, locks, jacket, lights etc. I'm also looking forward to meeting a few people at the bike show who have been helping with the petition and who I so far only know through email.

The big news in Ontario right now is that our diabetes rate is going off the scale. I wonder if getting people onto bikes and promoting active transportation would help with this problem at all?

So the weather in the GTA has s.u.c.k.e.d recently, and I'm getting worked up about factory farms, and I need to remember to look on the bright side and think that spring is coming and that one of these jobs I've applied for will pan-out and I won't have to do marathon commutes to work anymore.

And just for the heck of it, here's that strange Samuel Jackson / Pulp Fiction / Chris Chelios film from a while back.