Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On the Prowl





As if I needed a reminder of why commuting by bike is so great my first ride to work of the new school year yesterday included having the largest coyote I've ever seen run across the road in front of me. Add to that getting to watch the (almost) full moon set in the west and the sunrise at the tail end of the ride. Exhilarating is the word that comes to mind.

I don't imagine I'll be challenging myself to ride everyday as I did last May for bike to work month. But I do intend to ride 15-20 times a month throughout the year with what will be an annual challenge in May to ride everyday to school. All told that should amount to 3000+ miles per year commuting (plus how many gallons/money saved for gas?).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Morning Music

Summer is almost over (where did it go?). School starts tomorrow. "Say it ain't so"...one of the most deceptively simple, and extraordinary songs, ever!


Friday, August 24, 2007

Same S**t, Different Year
























It's that time of year:

"Blah, blah, blah, BURNING MAN, blah, blah blah"

"Blah, blah, blah, BURNING MAN, blah, blah blah"

"Blah, blah, blah, BURNING MAN, blah, blah blah"

So go too many conversations I have with friends and acquaintances around this time of year. Since I haven't really change my opinions regarding the annual festival I'm pointing you to last years entry on the "burn." Why reinvent the wheel?

Let me just add one thing. If you cobbled together a bike for the playa and plan on dumping it afterwards do us all a favor and donate it to the folks doing such good work at the Reno Bike Project.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Tale of Three (or four) Cities


A nice story on the economic impact that can be a part of an urban plan that includes accommodating bicycling, walking, and mass transit. Leave it to Portland, Oregon, one of the greener cities in the country, to recognize this link:

Excerpt:

Because Portland-Vancouver drivers log 20 percent fewer miles a day than most U.S. urban dwellers and spend less on cars and gasoline as a result, the region's economy saves $2.6 billion a year, or about 3 percent of the area's annual economic output, according to a new study for the Chicago-based CEOs for Cities.

And most of that money, which otherwise would go to far-flung car makers and oil companies, appears to go instead to housing, entertainment and food in the Portland-area economy.

"It stimulates local businesses rather than rewarding Exxon or Toyota," says the five-page report titled "Portland's Green Dividend" and authored by Portland economist Joe Cortright.

As cities from Los Angeles to Miami look to remake themselves with rail transit and mixed-use housing, the report could have widespread implications.

It raises the question of how much it costs Americans to live in cities that require residents to drive for nearly all their daily needs. Though transit, bicycling and walking are relatively minor contributors to Portland's savings, the study implies that development patterns that shorten commutes and facilitate walking, bicycling and using transit can have a positive economic impact.


Mixed Messages being sent in Charlotte, NC with the “prohibition of bicycling” signs being placed around a development in the city. This reminds me of some of the signage I’ve seen around the parking lots near Walden Coffee, Eclipse Pizza, etc. down near the corner of McCarran and Mayberry. Strange considering there are bike racks and both those businesses are often frequented and support bicyclists.

And this article on from the Gotham Gazette about how New York lags behind other cities in promoting cycling.

More than ten years ago, the Giuliani administration formally introduced the Bicycle Master Plan for New York City, an initiative to develop a city-wide bicycle network to increase ridership and integrate cycling into the city's transportation system. Since then, the plans have evolved. This spring, cycling has emerged as part of PlaNYC 2030, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ambitious proposal to make New York City more environmentally friendly and reduce carbon emissions believed to cause global warming. The current plan calls for the completion of an 1,800-mile system of bike routes by 2030, as well as improvements to biking facilities and increasing public awareness. But New York still lags behind many other cities when it comes to promoting bicycling, and a number of questions remain about safety, facilities and the fight for always scarce space in the crowded city.


Do you think maybe the scarce space issue might actually be improved by incorporated more biking instead of catering to autos that take up 10 times the space?

Maybe to see how it's done we should look at Copenhagen?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Morning Music




“If you want a revolution … revolutionize at home”


World Party is one of those band’s that exists based on the foundation of Karl Wallinger’s taste for Dylan, Beatles, Stones, and Prince, that show up in his writing. For some reason his early band, the Waterboys, has always been given more critical praise than they deserve. He’s one of those all too common British (Welsh actually) pop mastermind’s who seems to hide out in his studio laboratory not unlike early work from McCartney or later Andy Partridge, emerging every few years to put out another wonderful hook-laden pop record. Unfortunately, something went wrong with this template about 10 years ago when after the release of Egyptology, Wallinger had an aneurysm that left him unable to speak or do much of anything else for a couple years. And while Robbie Williams had a big hit covering one of the songs off that album, little success has come his way at least in the states where his last record wasn’t even released in the states in 2001. It was reissued last year with a bonus dvd and the band did a bit of touring and turned up at the SXSW festival in Austin. To date, their best album is still Goodbye Jumbo but the new(ish) record, Dumbing Up is worth checking out.

World Party is at their best when channeling the pop melodies of 1966 era Beatles and Dylan and a bit less successful when they try to get funky, a la Prince. This performance from Sessions at West 54th street is a gorgeous rendition of “Is it Like Today?” – Just ignore the lame intro from the host.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Most Electable Dem?


Check out the Rolling Stone article on John Edwards. They make an interesting case that he may very well be the most viable democratic presidential candidate even though he has raised half to a third of the money that Obama and Clinton have. An excerpt:

“In head to head polling against the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, Clinton and Obama have managed to post only modest leads. Edwards, by contrast, not only bests every Republican candidate in the race, he trounces them by an average of twelve points.”


And, while there is a bit of a “the planets must align” quality to the RS article, it’s too early to count on Clinton and Obama to be the savior’s of the party. The democrats may want to (desperately it seems) nominate a black man or a woman to the top of the ticket it still needs to be the RIGHT person. As a person of liberal disposition I have yet to be convinced that either Hillary or Barack are that candidate. But it’s early….

Late word has Edward's pulling some staff from Nevada to adjust for the ever evolving primary schedule. I suppose that's better than Richardson's reduced staff in Nevada.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Piggy's Revenge


I’m not sure whether to be intrigued or appalled by this new cbs TV show coming this Fall, Kid Nation. As an educator who will be teaching Lord of the Flies this year I can’t help but think this may be a bit too much of “art” reflecting “reality” TV. Or vice versa. Bear in mind that the reason the show was filmed in New Mexico is because there is some sort of loophole in NM child labor laws. If I recall correctly this is a state where cockfighting is still legal and up until recently dogfighting (a la Michael Vick) was legal as well.

If you are looking for an updated version of Lord of the Flies you're probably better off checking out the film Battle Royale.



Hmmm, I'm wondering if this is a good place for my head to be right before the school year starts?!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Las Vegas My Ass


What’s up with Bicycling Magazine proclaiming that Las Vegas is one of the nicer places to bicycle in the country? Don’t they know how hot it is? Seriously though, Reno needs to get with it in terms of bicycle friendliness. We have a lot going for us but a little extra education, perhaps more “share the road” signage could do wonders. It reminds me that sometimes it feels like Renoites don’t want too many people to know how much our fair city has going for it. I'm guilty as well. I resisted the urge to write Outside Magazine about not including Reno in its list of the top 40 cities for outdoor activities. Is it better to stay quietly under the radar?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

R.I.P. - Phil Rizzuto


I was given this ball hit by Phil by a friend of my grandfather's when I was a little kid. I like that he was a scrappy player but my memory of him is for his announcing. Holy Cow!

Stop! Thief!


So the big news in my life in the last week was the cutting short of my vacation because I got a call from a neighbor that the house had been broken into by a couple of thieves. Let this be a lesson to be good to your neighbors. Not only did he run out and yell at the two guys but he called the police and then proceeded to try and chase them down on his motorcycle! Alas, they still got away. But not with as much as they could have. Besides the loose change and a few other insignificant items they took my beloved bicycle commute bag. Made by Vaude these are some of the nicest bags on the market and strangely rare given their features, quality (my first one lasted almost 8 years of constant use), and price. I’m posting a photo of my bag here so if you see someone out and about take a pic of it and send it to me. It could be a thief…or it could be me (so don't tackle me and take it away) since I’ve already ordered a replacement.

To make matters worse, coming back early from vacation meant having to put up with the Hot August Nightmare which I had planned to miss. Despite the Reno Gazette Journal’s claims that this year was a peaceful event I overheard one of Reno’s finest note that they had as many as 1500 “gangbangers” at the Parklane Mall at 1 a.m. Saturday night. I’ve said it before but alcohol, muscle-cars, and testosterone are not a good combination.

The LA Times has an interesting (and long) article about another vehicle festival that I have mixed feelings about: Critical Mass! I certainly appreciate the festival like atmosphere and the notion of taking back the streets in dense urban centers. Yes, Dense Urban Areas make sense for a CM ride where streets/traffic don’t allow for cars to move too fast.. My issue is when massers start riding around in less dense areas where streets are designed to allow for cars to travel at faster speeds (for example, further south on Virginia st.). How could this act be seen as anything less than provocative and antagonistic?

Speaking of provocative, I was going to write up a little bit about the weird parallels between Rasputin and the now out of work, Karl Rove. But, instead I’ll leave it to somebody else to cover his legacy. I can’t help but wonder if it’s a bit soon to be assessing his legacy but whatever. I’d be very interested to sit in on one of the poli sci classes he hopes to teach.

---

Can I get a Snickers with that?


Bike Vending Machine Looks Cool, Dispenses Goofy Bikes

Thanks to the Worthy Adversary for this story!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ghost Bike Ride Information -


I'm passing along this info via the Procratinating Pedalers.

Please join us for a ride to memorialize and place a Ghost Bike for Procrastinating Pedaler Club member and avid bicyclist, Don Campbell.

Don Campbell was killed by a motorist, in this case driving a Q&D construction truck, on July 16, 2007, almost exactly one year after David Pumphrey was killed by a hit and run motorist on Double R Boulevard. On Labor Day weekend, 2006, about 140 local bicyclists placed a Ghost Bike near the site of David's accident.

This Ghost Bike will be placed at the intersection of Sparks Blvd. & Los Altos Parkway at about 9:00am.

Due to the heavy traffic in the area and the desire to raise the visibility of bicyclists, we are going to ride from 4 gathering points:
Start Time: Start Place: Dist to Ghost Bike
8:00am Roy Gomm Elementary School 12 miles
8:50am Katz Koffee, at the first right turn mall entrance heading east from Pyramid on Los Altos Pkwy 1 mile
8:50am American Java, Vista & Los Altos Pkwy 1 mile
8:50am Wells Fargo Bank, Disc Dr & Sparks Blvd. 1 mile

The purpose of this ride is not just to honor our fallen friend but also to raise awareness of bicyclists' right to share the roads with motorists and to heighten bicyclists' awareness of their need to ride defensively.
Helmets are absolutely required to participate in this ride!
For information, please contact Terry at 775-287-7142 or tmcafee@gmail.com.

The more bicyclists we can gather for this ride, the more community awareness will be raised.
Please pass this message on to all of your bicycling friends.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Road Trip Gallery










Quote of the Day


“There were Germans in uniform who taunted and gratuitously tormented their victims—some sent snapshots home to display their licensed sadism….”

A description of the Nazi guards and their treatment of the Jewish population in Warsaw Ghetto during WWII from Sophie Scholl & the White Rose

Friday, August 03, 2007

Hot August Nights and a little counter programming




Sometimes it feels like it’s sacrilege around here to criticize HAN but as a cyclist it’s hard to get excited about a festival that glorifies one of the most problematic inventions of our modern era, the automobile. The fascination with this form of locomotion is a sickness plain and simple as far as I’m concerned. Nevermind the arrests, brawls, public drunkenness, and mass consumption of gasoline that we will be subject to over the course of the next week. It makes HAN my second least favorite Reno event (stay tuned for next month’s Street Vibrations).

How appropriate that August is also being targeted by the Center for the New American Dream as “Downshift Your Driving” month. You can go to there site and pledge to reduce the amount of driving you do this month. They have some great tips for ways to reduce driving in our daily lives. Their website asks us to “schedule one car free day per week – and take a true shortcut to a higher quality of life…. In short, enjoy more of what matters!” Why should we as a society consider doing this? Here is one good reason:

-Per person, the United States puts more climate changing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other nation. Motor vehicles are responsible for almost 25% of those emissions.

But more than that imagine what would happen if all Americans took one day off a week from driving? Conservation is rarely talked about as a way of staying our addiction to fossil fuels. But it could have a greater and more immediate impact than any other “solution” provided by so-called alternative fuels.

In other biking news, check out the newly revamped BIKES BELONG website. Great resources here for the general public, advocates, journalists, government leaders, grant seekers, etc.

Finally, I’m heading out for a week away from Reno. I’d like to say I planned to be away from Reno during Hot August Nights. It seems like every year I threaten to leave town during the event. But no, it’s just a happy coincidence. Look for some dispatches from around Southern Utah this next week. Hopefully I’ll get some good photos of Zion.