Thursday, 28 June 2012

Apocaloptimistic expectations.

I learned a new word today.  Kindly allow me to give it to you in context: 
"I am an eternal apocaloptimist." 


(you've gotta love Facebook.)

Face it. Humanity's prospects are dismal at best. The possibility of our extinction exists on so many fronts that most of us can't see the forest  for the news. I mean trees. And yet...

And yet, as Bucky Fuller said “There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”  As soon as enough people (a critical mass, if you will) share a common vision, it becomes inevitable. What we collectively hold to be true must come to pass, because our actions always reflect our beliefs. Imagine our cities as beautiful, liveable, soul sustaining places where people thrive in peaceful, creative symbiosis.  The realities of traffic congestion are ugly on so many levels, but within every city exists the potential for something much greater.  

Leave your objections curbside, suspend your disbelief for a moment, please, and roll with me on this one. Stanford University recently released a study which determined that the world can be powered by alternative energy using today's technology within 20-40 years, and it can be done at costs roughly comparable to conventional energy." Hard to believe, isn't it?  What they discovered is that all that is needed is the societal and political will to make it happen.

This is just one example of a greater, fundamental truth: we can create any kind of world we choose.  Just be aware that in the absence of conscious creation, our greatest fears are drawn to us.

Let us envision a planet populated with beautiful, happy people who spend their days doing all of the things they love most, and their nights doing each other. Remember: if you can envision it, you can create it, so think happy thoughts and join me in creating a better world!

How are we going to get there? It's dead simple, and that's the beauty of it. As with any worthy goal, you start with a vision, a destination, an idea of where you're going, and then you take it step by step and one day at a time.  The Dali Lama says that the only way to create world peace is to create peace in your own world, and this resonates with truth, too, so be happy. Love your body, love yourself and ride your bike.  

Touch the people you love. Do it often.  Everyone needs at least ten non sexual touches a day just to maintain optimal levels of oxytocin, so hug your kids, your friends, your family and your pets.  And like the man says, "Make love, not war."


I've mentioned the bike path to world peace; the premise is this: people who ride their bikes every day have WAAAAAY more sex.  Riding a bike increases your brain’s happy chemicals: things like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, so that you will be a happier person when you ride your bike every day.  Not only are you happier, but you look better, too, with your toned thighs and tight butt, and coincidentally, you are also healthier, so you have more energy, more vitality, and a greater ability to make the most of your life.  This new you, the healthy happy and hot you, gets laid a lot.  Getting laid a lot creates a cascade, a flood of oxytocin in your brain.  Oxytocin is your brain's love drug, and a good dose of the stuff causes measurable behavioral changes.  People with plenty of oxytocin floating around in their brains act in loving, trusting, and kind ways, and when enough people figure this out, well, that’s when you find humanity riding a planetary path to peace.


The long and short of it is that we needn’t worry about bike lanes in Bahrain, just so long as we are proactive in creating sustainable infrastructure in our own cities.  People are funny that way… a bit monkey see monkey do-ish, which means the best thing you can do for world peace is to get on your bike, get happy, get fit and get laid a lot.  You with me so far? Good, because there is a line in the sand, and once you cross it, you will never go back to the dark side.

Let me show you the line and what lies on either side.  Imagine, if you will:

It’s Saturday afternoon in Vancouver, and you have a little bit of time on your hands.  You’re all for world peace and you love making love, so naturally you get on your bike.  Gravity has a mysterious way of working, so you eventually find yourself on the seawall with hundreds of other cyclists, checking out something that looks a lot like this:

This reclusive species of North Shore mountain-bike enthusiast sometimes comes to town to show the rest of us what kind of stunts they get up to on those crazy, kick-ass trails you can find just a hop, skip, and a bridge away.That’s exactly what I ran across other day.  It was almost enough to send me on my way across the bridge and up the mountain right then and there, because hey! I've always wanted to fly...

Instead of hitting the trails, however, I joined Velopalooza's Elemental Gardens ride, and found myself in the company of a number of conscious and concerned citizens, and one Gordon Price.

He looks happy, doesn't he? It's as if he's getting some....

Now, if you are a recent transplant to Vancouver, or if you are one of the poor unfortunates who don’t actually reside here, then you could be forgiven for never having heard of Mr Price.  Dunno what my excuse is, though, cause till Saturday I hadn't heard of him either.  Several questions and a rather interesting ride later, however, and I had to take my helmet off to the man.  He's been integral to creating the infrastructure which makes this such a great city to live and ride in, and he’s an example of how a community of like minds can come together to create high-density spaces where happy people live, work and play together in close yet comfortable proximity.

(like this...  :)
According to the great Wiki, Mr Price first made a name for himself when he created a safe streets program to rid his neighbourhood of prostitution, and he is renowned as Vancouver’s  first openly gay councilor, which is probably why, during his 16 years as a city councilor, he represented Vancouver’s West End, our first openly gay neighbourhood.  He is the director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University, and Portland and Seattle know him as the man who lectures at their universities and advises their city planners on matters relating to transportation, development, and land use (read bike lanes). All of these points go to show that he has strength of character and conviction, but that’s not what impressed me.

It’s his vision, really, and his understanding of the eventual and absolute limits of our global car obsession which made me sit up and take notice.  The man is 62, and he’s a healthy, happy, fit, long-time member of a distinct and remarkable cultural shift which began here almost thirty years ago and continues to evolve today.  Price has written extensively on all of the issues surrounding sustainable development and livable cities, and he has won several awards, including one for an article which elucidated just how deluded we North Americans are in our utter car dependence.

It's a great little piece.  It really ought to be given to every city planner on the planet today, after it’s tattooed on the heart of the one man in Canada most in need of a bike and a LOT of sex, Toronto’s anti-bike advocate and somewhat less-than-worthy leader,  Mayor Rob Ford.  



Do YOU feel like kissing him??  You can bet your last loonie he's not doing it every day.  Not quite so happy, this one...

You see the line in the sand perfectly clearly now, don't you?  On one side you will find hot, fit, and happy, and on the other, you find miserable people like him, stuck in traffic in their smelly cars with a body pumped full of stress hormones and a hate-on for all sorts of things, but especially bikes...  

Sigh.  I feel sad for those poor sods in Toronto, with such a sorry stick in the mud for a mayor, but then they voted for him, didn't they? The good citizens of Toronto may one day wake up and vote for evolution, but don't hold your breath. Let's leave Mayor Ford to fall off the scales again and again as he continually fails to lose some of the enormous burden of weight which he hauls around IN HIS CAR every day… 

... and turn our attention instead toward creating our own little piece of Heaven on Earth.  In the end, your experience here will have everything to do with your expectations and your beliefs.  What kind of world are you working toward, and what kind of experiences are you gaining from your time spent here? You know which side of the line you'll find me on. I've been looking for Liz in the bike lane for ages now, so I know how good it is here...
Where are you?


Friday, 22 June 2012

The great helmet debate: weighing in on bike safety from head to toe.


I’m baffled.  Isn't an accident defined by the fact that it could have been prevented? 

Ontario’s chief coroner, Dr Andrew McCallum, released his review of 129 cycling deaths which occurred over a five year period in Ontario, but it just left me confused.  He found that every single one of those deaths could have been prevented. I don’t see how it takes much medical genius to come up with that little gem.  Unless riding a bike has suddenly become a terminal condition, the deaths of 129 otherwise normal healthy people in accidents are by default something which could have been prevented. Yeah?

This ghost bike memorial in Ottawa was created in memory of Danielle Na├žu, who died nearby while cycling to work.(Giacomo Panico/CBC) http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/06/18/ontario-cycling-deaths-inquest-coroner-report.html

The chief coroner recommends that Ontario improve its cycling infrastructure, and that heavy trucks have side guards to ensure cyclists and pedestrians don’t get swept under the wheels.  Good thinking, Doc! Now we’re getting somewhere. Sadly, however, neither of these recommendations made any real headlines, and no one is rushing to make them happen, either. 

But HOOOO BOY!  When the coroner resurrected  the age old suggestion that helmets be made mandatory, THAT got chins wagging from coast to coast. 

People are going on and on with all sorts of ridiculous objections.  Often heard is the old gem “A lot of people won’t ride a bike if they have to wear a helmet, and riding is good for you, so helmet laws are detrimental to the greater public good.”  Aren't there are rules to logic?  I'm sure that there's more than one problem with that line of reasoning.

http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/editorials/Opinion+bicycle+helmets+doing+more+harm+than+good/6687936/story.html 

Pressure is mounting for a change in B.C.'s mandatory bicycle-helmet law, enacted in 1996. Critics believe the law deters some cyclists from getting on their bikes for short trips, while others believe the law reduces injury.

Photograph by: Mark van Manen , PNG Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/news/bicycle+helmet+should+eased+Critics/6802696/story.html#ixzz1yXo8vibY


At least Darwinism works. Let's just call it a weeding out of the weak minded.

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING:
The absence of a helmet can have a serious impact on your mental health.

A few OTHER people are questioning whether or not helmets even work to prevent injury and death. (http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1230.html)   Seriously?

Let’s settle this once and for all, shall we?  For all you doubters out there, you can try this well documented yet simple scientific experiment to determine for yourself whether or not helmets work.  Put on a helmet, and have a friend hit you over the head with a beer bottle.  Now take off the helmet and try it again.


 It’s a no-brainer!

Cries of” NANNY STATE!” can be heard echoing across the country.  It’s the same kind of reaction Mayor Bloomberg received when he tried to ban soft drinks larger than 16oz from restaurants, pubs, deli’s and movie theaters in New York.  Jeff Halevy of the Huffington Post postulates that “Drinking soda, or better stated, our right to drink soda, is actually good for us. Isn't that what makes America great? We're the land of free choice.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-halevy/new-york-soda-ban_b_1563978.html)  Puhleeeeease.

Who says America is so great anyway? Amidst an epidemic of diabetes and morbid obesity, skyrocketing cancer rates, and soaring levels of Alzheimer’s, you crazy people insist on your “freedom to choose” to continue to kill yourselves slowly and en masse.  And, paradoxically, you consistently and unequivocally “choose” to not have universal health care, too. Why?  Because it costs money, though it doesn't cost nearly as much money as the constant wars you fight in oil producing nations.  I fail to see the wisdom in that, nor the greatness.

Don’t worry, though.  When you come to your senses and take a look around, you will realize that just saying a place is great over and over and over again does not, in fact, make it so…

The world has gone mad. 

Even Bike Snob weighs in all skewif:
Speaking of government and Twitter, that putz who wants to force us all wear helmets continues to exist--and to Tweet, for as Randy Descartes once said, "I Tweet, therefore I am (a putz)."   (http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.ca/2012/06/ever-upward-importance-of-being-epic.html)

The whole debate, and indeed the whole nanny state itself would be over before it began if people could be counted on to do the right thing.  To err is human.  To err again and again when it's abundantly clear that it’s not a good idea is just plain stupid, but if you like we can go with “exercising freedom of choice.”

And then there's the old standby: "Helmets ruin my hairdo!" (durbaninspired.blogspot.com)
Head injuries ruin lives.

Lots of really cool sports have safety gear that starts with a helmet. Skateboarders, mountain climbers, skiers and snowboarders, football and hockey players, baseball and cricket batsmen, sky-divers, fencers, soap-box derby racers, polo players and horseback riders all wear helmets.  Every one requires a helmet, and yet not one of those sports require you to play in traffic! 

Well, to be fair, Polo players and horseback riders are also on a field with very heavy, fast-moving objects, so I guess that almost counts. But they have added safety gear:  they have heels on their boots to prevent their feet from slipping through the stirrups.  In case you hadn't noticed before, stirrups and pedals have a few things in common, especially the fact that the ball of the foot sits on them in precisely the same manner, and the foot has exactly the same ability to slip off them.  For this reason I would like to suggest that not only do we need mandatory helmet laws, but we really ought to enact mandatory safety shoes laws, too.

After all... fair's fair. ;)

Monday, 18 June 2012

Velopalooza



Don’t worry if you missed the first instalment. You didn't miss much. Mum always told me I’m not very bright, so I keep it simple. It boiled down to two points: 


         1.  Vancouver is a nice place to ride a bike.

           2. If you ride your bike every day you will have waaaaay more sex.


Sure. Naturally, you’re thinking to yourself "she’s just saying that to get me to read this," but there’s sound science behind it, and also, Vancouver is a great place to ride a bike.


It's temperate, it's gorgeous, it’s fun, though sometimes it is rather wet.  Vancouver has a decent bike route network, and it boasts a varied and diverse network of people to enjoy it with, too.  You’ll find clubs, societies and groups hosting events throughout the year, so there's always something interesting to do on two wheels. 

Explore Vancouver from a new perspective, and ride it all, from the track to the highway, from the roads and trails to bmx parks, bike polo, cruisers rides and more...  anything you want. 


Yes, anything.



If you love to ride, you're sure to find something you enjoy during Velopalooza. (Go to velopalooza.ca for an events calendar.)


Veloplaooza is a microcosm of the Vancouver cycle scene. Opening day began at six thirty am, continued full bore throughout the day with non-stop events, and culminated with an evening Rave Ride around Stanley Park. 

Velopalooza rolls right along till July 2nd, so do check it out. There are tons of sweeet events to choose from, too. You’ll find everything from clinics and collectibles to swaps, films, parties, and of course, dozens of rides!  




For those who are passionate for a cause, The Gear Up 4 Cystic Fibrosis ride from Vancouver to Banff is sure to fill your boots. Lots of Freds and Wilmas swim, erm, ride a century to Chilliwack the first day, a bunch more do another hundred or so kilometres to get to Manning Park, and then a few hardy souls continue straight on for an impressive twelve hundred km ride, all the way up to beautiful Banff, Alberta. 


The same Saturday, 16 June, also saw the first half of the Float - I mean Ride- for the Cure, where participants travel from Vancouver to Seattle. 

Looks like fun, doesn't it?


Given the rains, this event turned into water polo in the park in the end:



You can count me in for the Cycle Chic Social on the 29th, come rain or shine, because I want to meet the Bicycle Babes!

This may come as a surprise to you, but some people seem to think that Vancouver is lacking Culture.  Bike Snob NYC (henceforth BS) says:

Of course, when you think about Vancouver you think of stuff like mountain biking, and marijuana, and other kinds of outdoorsy stuff, and marijuana.  You don't really think of culture.  This is true of most cities that lie in regions of great natural beauty, because instead of actually creating stuff they can just smoke marijuana and look at stuff that's already there.

 This is patently untrue.  We ride to fabulous places, sometimes over enormous distances, and then we sit back and enjoy the scenery. Whenever possible, we like to do this all together in great droves.



Until July 2, at six thirty every morning, you will have plenty of company should you choose to attend Velopalooza's  morning mass.  Everyone meets across Georgia St from Lost Lagoon on the west side of Devonian Park to ride to a new and interesting destination each day. (https://maps.google.ca/maps?q=49.295041,-123.135774&hl=en&ll=49.294869,-123.134884&spn=0.005898,0.009645&num=1&t=m&z=1)  

There aren't many better ways to start the day! 

There's nothing like the feeling you get when you find yourself saying OOOOH MYYYYYYYYY GOD that's beautiful!!. No matter how you get there, it’s highly beneficial to experience this state of being at least once a day.

And lo and behold... knock and the door shall be opened unto you! Seek and ye shall find…!! :D 

And ye shall find me “courting guilty pleasures http://velopalooza.ca/event/courting-guilty-pleasures-an-alley-cat/ and checking out Bike Smut: The Orgasm Trail.  http://velopalooza.ca/event/bike-smut-the-orgasm-trail/



Now what do you think of that?



Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Spoke'n'Scene

What is Spoke'n'Scene?

This little number is all about Vancouver's bike scene.  Our lovely city won a bronze medal for being the worst dressed city in the world, and while it's true that there are waaaaaay too many pairs of LuluLemon's plastered on bottoms which have yet to see a yoga mat, this city definitely has style.

Sure.  Ok, it's true. we have a small army of Mary fresh from Mountain Equipment Co-Op:


The observant will note that this rain savvy Mary is dressed from head to ankle in gear worthy of the best deluge the Pacific has on offer, yet he has foregone the booties to complete his ensemble in favour of a pair of well ventilated trainers. Sadly for him, the downpour started mere moments later...

You've got to love MEC, really.  It' brilliant for all things outdoors, it's true, you get GREAT GEAR- high quality stuff- at seriously cool prices. And for those of us who choose this lifestyle in this particular setting, it's a fantastic deal.  Anyone who's spent time in Vancouver knows MEC, but for you outta towners, you can check it out here...http://www.mec.ca/Main/home.jsp. It's a camper's heaven, it's true, and it's the best place to find a kayak, tent, carabiners, and all things outdoors, even, yes, bikes and bike gear.  I have to admit that it's a great place to pick up all sorts of things.  But honestly.  On a rainy day in Vancouver the bike lanes in this town really do resemble a communist state, with two out of every three riders wearing identical rainsuits in a choice of three colours.

Then the sun comes out again, and instead of an army of Mary, all the Freds come out to play.  Now if you don't know who Fred is, then clearly you are missing something, because you haven't read Bike Snob yet. (http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.ca/)  I was planning to call our army of Fred Steve, but instead I am shamelessly and brazenly using his appellation, because he's right, and if the shoe fits, etc.  You will instantly recognise Fred. You've seen him.  In fact, here's a fine specimen posing rather nicely at Kits Beach:



Posing being the key word...technically, this is a McFred.  If you were to spy him cruising along the highway you wouldn't think twice, would you? That would be Fred. This McFred,  however, has yet to break a sweat.  This McFred is as cool as a cucumber sitting pretty at the play park at Kitsilano Beach.  Now I figure by the time you take that bike out, pour yourself into all that spandex and clip your shoes to those pedals you would just want to go somewhere, and since you are on a MADE TO GO REALLY FAST BIKE you would try to get there really really fast.  I'm guessing you do not want to sit by the seawall on Kits Beach where you can sometimes approach 5 km/hr on a good day. McFred is like McFood:  it just looks good.  You will find plenty of Fred, Mc or for real, all over this town, often on a neutered for the commuter road bike.  They're easiest to spot during rush hour.

In fact, you'll see all kind of characters on wheels:  a plethora of  I'M IN A RUSH GET OUT OF MY WAY Guerillas working hard, delivering messages in all weather, come rain, snow, wind or shine, out there day after day, always just working, working, working, working...

...ish. ;)

And of course you've got your Mutts, too, collecting and recycling, and your Coconuts, thieving and preying.  They are the bottom feeders; one group entrepreneurial, the other opportunistic.  Yet despite all that, and despite the ubiquitous yoga pant, Vancouver definitely has style, and that's what we're here for, that's what this baby is all about.

This city is stunning, which always helps when you need to ignore a few too many pairs of overstuffed Lulu's on the street. Our local, Kitsilano Beach, is a bit of alright:

There are lots of pretty people on Kits Beach, so I like to hang out there and take pictures. You'll see a lot of it.  We are lucky here, in that we have miles and miles of seawall to explore, for those who prefer to avoid traffic and all it entails, though sometimes lots of people have the same idea, and then you might run into traffic of an other sort...
On a different day, however, you may be lucky enough find you have the city all to yourself.

The photos above and below were taken on the seawall along false creek.  It's a lovely place for a leisurely ride, as many of our ever swelling ranks of cruisers can attest to...

If you prefer to go a little faster, head across the Lion's Gate Bridge where you will find a view like this:
And then you can hit the Sea to Sky highway.  If you want to head up to Cypress Bowl, you will find yourself facing a view like this:

You may or may not see that particular Wilma out for a spin, but if it's a clear day you will definitely see for miles and miles and miles.

I am here to give you a taste of  life in the bike lane, to share with you our white hot bike scene.
Erm....  Well, ok, sometimes it's cool and damp, but even so, it's great fun.  And hey! There are always plenty of hotties around, even if a few of them do wear Lululemon... :)


 Oh I give in. I can't help myself.  Listen. I am a woman of strong opinions and I grew up believing that it's nice to share, so here goes. 

If I ran the world, it would be a different place. Everyone would ride more, and drive less, and they would actually be happier for it, because riding your bike increases your brain's happy chemicals, you know the ones: serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and more. Riding every day creates measurable, long lasting  health improvements on ever so very many levels, but the cool thing is that it actually creates happiness

 It's such a no-brainer!  Your car slims your wallet and makes you fat, but your bike fattens your wallet and makes you slim.  AAAAAAAAAAAND (this is the best part) when you're slim, trim and happy, you have way more sex, which increases your brain's love chemical, oxytocin.  This creates a state of peace and trust which in turn leads to definite, measurable behavioural changes. You see where I'm going with this, don't you?  It's the solution to all of the world's problems, the bike path to world peace, if you will.  Scoff if you must, but give it a go. I dare you. 

Welcome to Spoke'n'Scene.