Sunday, 17 May 2015

Our turn has come.

We're winning. There's a revolution going on, and no matter how you spin it, cyclists are bound to come out on top.
Metronews
Ask any motorist what they think of cyclists, and almost inevitably they will go on a tirade about how we are all law flouting maniacs responsible for chaos and mayhem on their well ordered streets. Rare is the driver who is even aware of the mistakes they make behind the wheel, errors which may result in life altering injuries for any cyclist unfortunate enough to be in their path. But don't bring it up, because sacred is their right to drive.

Metronews
And even though we are scorned, resented, and even sometimes hated  by ever so many motorists (self evident when you read the comments on any article about cycling in any publication), we are definitely on the right side of history. That's why cyclists can rest assured that a two wheeled way of life will be embraced by an ever growing number of people as time marches inexorably on. Our interests will be protected, even promoted by a growing number of governing bodies all over the globe. Here in Vancouver, where a progressive city council has embraced cycling infrastructure, despite the vociferous objections of many of the wealthiest, and thus most influential, people in town, the number of cyclists has dramatically increased in recent years. And that's a good thing, because along with the uptick in the number of cyclists comes a reduction in the number of automobiles congesting our city streets. And no matter how much you might hate me, dear motorist, you can't help but like seeing fewer cars on the road in front of you, and one more vacant parking spot when you do finally decide to stop.


Yep. It's a good thing that there are more and more of us on the roads. Why? OMG, can you imagine the gridlock if we continued to worship the motoring way of life the way we have for decades on end now? Vancouver is projected to grow by more than a million people over the next twenty five years. Already our streets are amongst the most congested in North America, and as we have a geography clearly defined and limited by both the mountains and the sea, that isn't about to change any time soon. There simply isn't the room for a million more cars. Crossing 16th Avenue on a Sunday morning is an exercise in patience, so don't bother even trying it in the middle of rush hour.

And here's the kicker: The British Columbia Ministry of Transportation readily spent $2.6 BILLION dollars building the new Port Mann Bridge. When it opened, it was the widest bridge in the world, with a whole ten lanes of trafic, and it was and remains the second longest cable stayed bridge in North America. The only problem is that it has done nothing to ease congestion in the city, except for in the area immediately preceeding the bridge. So far, the only thing this investment has accomplished is to move congestion from one side of the river to the other. It has also increased the traffic on the next crossing, the Pattullo Bridge, which was a nightmare even before people started using it to avoid paying the Port Mann toll. The Patullo was built in the 1930's, with very narrow lanes, and awkward approaches, and because the bridge was never built to handle today's big trucks, many of them need to take two lanes just to get onto the bridge. It's a mess. But don't worry, the Ministry of Transportation is willing to spend another billion dollars or so to build a bridge in New Westminister, too.

 The Now
Do you know what they're not prepared to do? They won't invest in transit. Nope. Nothing. De Nada. Zilch. Even though this government will happily drop billions of dollars to build bridges, (which only postpones the inevitable) it refuses to spend anything on sustainable development. What. A shocker. So the only way that residents of the Lower Mainland are going to see an improvement in the kinds of infrastructure which WILL create more liveable cities is if they pay for it themselves. That's right.
No spending on transit unless we the citizens vote yes on a referendum asking whether we will accept a 0.5% sales tax increase to fund the development.

 WTF? A 180 fork alignment!

It's all bass ackward. But then I expect very little from our government, what with its prioritization of the extraction and promotion of fossil fuels and its complete and utter lack of initiative when it comes to developing sustianable energy systems to see us into the future. No. This government is wedded to the past, with its prehistoric energy policies and will not budge till it, too, goes the way of the dinosaur. Our Premier, Christy Clark, is a bright little shadow of Stephen Harper, whom Pulitzer prize winning Chris Hedges recently declared a corporate puppet. And please, give me one shred of evidence that it isn't so. Each and every one of the grave mistakes made during the Bush administration, is happening here and now, in a Canada unrecognisable to those of us who like to think of our collective native land as the True North Strong and Free. The devolution of Canadian politics is happening at an alarming rate, with the underfunding of health care, the dismantling of social programs, the criminalization of poverty and the militarization of police forces all echoing and mirroring the decline of civilization in America. Let's not even mention the illegal war you'll find Canadian soldiers waging over in Syria. (Yes, of course ISIS is pure evil, but our being there with no end plan only strengthens their ability to recruit our youth.) And in the name of Homeland Security, the conservative government just passed bill C-51, laying waste to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Sigh. Where are the mass protests which ought to be happening in every city across the country??!

Yes, Hedges has a lot to say, in fact, but the biggest take away I got from listening to his interview on The Current this week is that America (and by extension Canada, too, with its corporation-serving administration) is in the grips of a protofacist movement dating back generations and gaining exponential strength today. Hedges goes even further. He says that America is on the road to revolution, and he incites us all to defiance and protest, claiming that we are morally obliged to stop our government (s) from continuing on this path of absolute unfettered domination and destruction.

Hear. Hear. He's right.

And guess what? You don't even have to take up arms to take back your country. The best thing about waging war on a corporatocracy is that the most powerful weapon of all is in your pocket. You use it every day. It's your wallet! Here in Vancouver, growing number of us are choosing not to buy in to the bullshit. You don't actually NEED to drive everywhere you go, despite what you've been taught to believe. Do you wanna to know why I call it the bike path to world peace?



It's simple. When you ride where you need to go, rather than drive, you're happy. Endorphins, serotonin, dopamine? Those are your brain's happy drugs, and they're yours for the making when you choose two wheels over four. So you're happy, and suddenly you're healthy, too, because all of that movement boosts your immune system and your sex drive, and actually slows the ageing process. (Does that look like a woman approaching the half way mark? I will turn 50 next year, but bikes keep me young and if it works for me, it will work for you.) And cycling does wonders for your legs, too, not to mention your butt. So. You're happy healthy, and hot, and suddenly you've got more money in your pocket, too, cause you're not donating it to the oil and gas industry, (already in receipt of unbelievable subsidies, so you can feel good about it on every level). If that's not a recipe for love, please tell me what is! Suddenly, you've got a great sex life going on, et voila. Your happy, healthy brain is saturated with oxytocin, the brain's love drug. What does that mean? It means that you see people as more loving and trustworthy, and concurrently you act in a more loving and trustworthy way. You see where this is going, don't you? If everyone rode a bike when and where they could, we'd be enjoying world peace in no time.



Quick. Somebody buy our leaders a bike, so we won't have to hold any more silly referendums to fund what ought to come natually to us all. Of course there will always be a time and a place for cars, and a good reason to drive here and there, but the daily commute isn't it. Sustainable cities - you know, places where people live and work in the same community, and where everything needed for daily living is close at hand? It's the way of the future, no doubt about it. Whether our governments see the truth of their own volition - or whether we need to be firm in our resistance - is yet to be seen, but here in Vancouver, at least, there's a beautiful, soft light at the end of the tunnel. The revolution has begun.

15 comments:

  1. bad boy of the north18 May 2015 at 09:23

    great post.viva la revolucion!maybe a fondon't in Vancouver would be in order.

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    1. Yes. Absolutely. It would be ever so awesome if good ole Snobi Wan packed up the wife and his 18 kidlets and came out to lead the ride, but failing that, I would be happy to carry the Fondon't torch, and plan and lead a ride. XX

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  2. il Pirata est Mort18 May 2015 at 09:23

    Ms Babs you are a monument to biking's cures for what ails you. Your bike has led you out of the peloton and positioned you to hammer to the 50 line looking like the killer you are. All blessings upon your shining example.

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    1. Oh! How kind! Thank you! :D xo xo

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  3. Great post and as always it resonates here down under. Our provincial government just got re-elected on a promise of spending billions of dollars on freeways which includes one that will empty onto a 2 lane high street ? Our Prime Minister is very similar to yours, only not as sophisticated. He shares the belief that fossil fuels are good for us and believes that coal is needed to give cheap energy to the world's poor (so we can sell it to them!). And how well do these bastards know how to game the system, look at the Tories being re-elected in the UK with barely a third of the vote. That's an amazing Gerrymander. it's great to be able to join in the rant. I must make sure I ride home today and not take the easy way out otherwise I'd be a hypocrite right? Love your work Babble.

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    1. Thank you, David. :)
      One of the things Chris Hedges emphasised which makes sense, though I have a hard time doing it, is not to focus on the personalities. And it's true, isn't it? Our political parties themselves are in bed with big business, so it doesn't really matter much who is at the top. It's hard to let go of the feeling that anyone who wasn't so controlling, so clearly OCD as Harper, would do a better job of it here in Canada, but Hedges' point is true. Look at what happened with Obama. He is obviously a good guy, yet so many of his promises came to nothing, and it wasn't only because of the Republicans determined to neuter him. Take his promise to shut down Guantanimo Bay in the first year of his presidency, for example. To this day it continues on. And the list of similar examples is long.

      Here in Canada we had an upset a few weeks ago, when our biggeset oil producing province elected a left of center government after over four decades of Conservative rule. The very first thing their new premier, Rachel Notley, did was to assure the oil and gas industry a steady hand, and an easy go of it. !! Of course a few things are sure to shift, but overall? I am not convinced that a party at the opposite end of the political spectrum is going to make much difference at all, so tightly wound together are our political and economic systems.

      I loved V for Vendetta. And I love Buckminster Fuller's point, too, that there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come. Albertans did what they could to insist on a change of direction, but it will take more than electing a different party to the same old system. We must create change from the ground up, and there is no other way to do it than with a grass roots revolution. It's a tough thing to do, because people's beliefs are tightly bound to their way of life, but I think that climate change has become something even we fact-resistant humans can no longer ignore.

      But there is hope. Every time you get on your bike, you're doing a world of good. Once people understand that a sustainable global economy is possible, change will happen quickly. We just have to Be the Change, and live an example of a life of better choices, until it becomes the new normal. Ride on, David, and you will lead the way. Viva la revolucion indeed!

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    2. You are quite right to emphasise the policy over the personality. It does get in the way, as hard as it is to ignore the things that really get up your nose, they aren't the important things. It's the people behind the throne that actually make things happen the way they do, that's how the big mining and fuel companies control things.

      I also just wanted to say two other things. The first is that I appreciate how generous you are with your responses to comments. You always provide such considered and lengthy responses it makes me feel that making comments on your page is really worthwhile. the second is that I love your fredly posts. There are so many aspects to cycling that it's great to see you getting into the sport side. Whenever i see an instagram shot of you in your fred gear I make sure to like it !

      Keep up the great work, I look forward to your blog and not just for the pictures.

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  4. Babs. As always so very well put. But as one who took part in the U.S. revolutions and demonstrations during the 1960's I just don't see the outrage and passion needed to bring about any significant change existing. As long as we as a people continue to vote against our own self-interests and continue to elect pols with corporate ties, we will continue to get the government we deserve. I hope I am wrong, but I don't see things changing in my lifetime. That is not to say we should stop trying. Keep ringing the bell and hopefully people will begin to wake up. And P.S. You do rock out that white dress!

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    1. It's true. I completely agree, and that's what scares me more than anything. And at least you have a history of civil disobediance down in the US, whilst up here all we have is a pattern of complacency. Despite the fact that Bill C51 blatantly contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, most Canadians approve of it. Worse, most of our number are supportive of our troops bombing Syria despite the fact that we haven't a legal mandate to wage war over there. And the environment? That's a laugh. Everybody wants change, but nobody wants TO change. No matter how you slice it, humanity is screwed. Completely. Fucked. Up. I only hope the masses wake up before we cross a threshold beyond which there is no redemption. And in terms of the climate, that point is fast approaching. And our environmental issues are so closely tied to our political and economic policies that it's hard to have any hope for our future, yet all it takes is one good idea. As soon as enough of us share a common vision for the future, change will happen almost instantly. Or that's the theory I'm operating on, anyway, because as far as I can tell, it's our last hope.

      At least I can feel good about the lifestyle I am living day by day. There's always a glimmer of hope that it might catch on in time...

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    2. Oh! And ps - thank you! It's a favourite... I've had that dress for ten years now, and somehow it is always in season.

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  5. Ms. babble on, Nice post here. You are expressing your love of bicycling, its potential, your city, and of your fellow humans (even if they are politicians or driving cars). I lost interest when you started posting "Fredly" racing stuff. I always enjoy reading your posts when they involve the "bicycling revolution" and tours of Vancouver. It is always good to see a picture of the beautiful white Amsterdam, which of course, unlike a racing bike, you can ride in heels. Thanks

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    1. Thank you! Sometimes I feel like a broken record, trumpeting the same message over and over again. And this is such a gorgeous city that there's always a beautiful journey to share. And as much as it's a beast to service, and despite the fact that it always seems to need some sort of work, I do love that bike. It's so elegant and sexy, and it's just perfect for dresses and heels...

      I am sorry that the fred posts are not to your liking. The sport is very new to me, and so very exciting... it's quite a social scene here in Vancouver, too! I have made some lovely friends through the racing community. It's always shocking just how many Freds are floating round the Lower Mainland! I was going to post a race season update before this post, but this one just had to be said. I just can't believe the things I see happening all round me, and I keep hoping that if I just keep at it, something will give.

      But I do thank you for taking the time to reach out. I will keep your message in mind, and will try to keep the Fred posts to a minimum, though there will be a few here and there. I just can't help it... I love it so. :)

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  6. I like a bit of Fred talk. It's all part of cycling and even though I'm not going to grow a Ned Kelly beard or try to squeeze into a pair of skinny jeans, I still find it entertaining to read about your racing experiences.
    At the moment your average Jo fears change more than they fear not changing. The tide will turn but how and when?
    Keep on babbling, Fredding, and cranken those 49 year old legs :)

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    1. Thank you, Harry. It's inevitable, really, cause the way of the Fred has become a part of who I am. Funny, cause when I started this blog, I loved to move fast no matter which bike I rode, but I hadn't an inkling of what it was like in the racing community here in town. I already owned my go-fast Lynskey, but only came out to play in the summertime, and not so often at that. Now I can't imagine my life without those long hard rides, and as much as I love the Electra as transportation, my happy place is definitely out there somewhere far from home, spinning a road bike. And as you know by now, I can't help but babble on about it, at least a little... :D

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    2. And you're right, of course. I am definitely looking forward to that changing of the tides - here's hoping it happens sooner than later.

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