Friday, November 28, 2008

More Americans Biking to Work

This is a good story from Voice of America on the increasing numbers of people biking to work and school. Click the link for the audio or read a portion of the transcript below.

Biking to Work


More Americans than ever are riding their bicycles to work instead of driving. They are doing this because of gas prices, a slowing economy and concerns about the environment. Faith Lapidus tells us more.


Many Americans have been leaving their cars at home and riding to work on bicycles. Andy Clark is the executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. His group supports bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation.

Mister Clark says this is good news for the environment. He says riding a bicycle to work does not burn fossil fuel or create dangerous pollutants. Experts say the effects are the most important on short trips. The Department of Transportation says fifty percent of Americans drive eight kilometers or fewer to work. Shorter car trips release more pollution into the air for each kilometer driven. This is because the device in a car engine that reduces the harmfulness of emissions needs to warm up before it can work well.

Members of Congress have supported bicycling as environmentally friendly transportation. For example, Minnesota Representative James Oberstar is a strong supporter of bicycle use. He says cities, counties, state governments and state highway transportation agencies are planning the roadways of the future. They are creating roads and paths for bicycles in cities and between communities.

Andrew Land riding his bicycle to work in Portland, Oregon
Andrew Land riding his bicycle to work in Portland, Oregon
Last year, the Pacific Northwest city of Portland, Oregon, had the highest percentage of bicycle commuters in the United States. Portland has been doing progressive city planning for many years to create special paths for bike riders.

Andrew Land is one of Portland's citizens who bikes to work every day. Mister Land is thirty-three years old and has never owned a car. He has biked to work for twelve years. Before moving to Portland six years ago, he lived in Washington, D.C. But he was hit by a car twice while biking to work there. That has not happened in Portland where there are special roads for bicycles. Mister Land bought a house near these special bike lanes. He rides almost five kilometers to work each day. He also uses the sixty-four kilometer bike path around the city.

Andrew Land rides a cyclocross bike. He says it combines the best parts of a racing bike and a mountain bike. You might say that Andrew Land is "into bikes." He recently attended a show of handmade bicycle frames. It was organized by thirty bicycle frame builders in Portland. And he attended a legal rights workshop for bicyclists.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A New Bike London?

The most interesting thing in this article is that cycling has increased not necessarily because it is more economical but because it "has become fashionable" among professionals. Will it continue? Fashion is fickle so what is in this season could be out the next but if it drags a few more folks into this alternative mode of transport I'm all for it. Excerpt:

While high fuel prices and rising car and bus commuting times are boosting
the increase in cycling, there is another less tangible factor causing the
switch from four wheels to two: after decades of being derided as the poor man’s
mode of transport, cycling has become fashionable.

More than one in ten staff at the London headquarters of Morgan Stanley and
PricewaterhouseCoopers cycle to work. Several big law firms have installed cycle
parks. Eversheds has just opened a 105-space cycle facility with showers. At
Barlow Lyde Gilbert, the number of lawyers cycling to work has doubled to 60 in
the past year.

The success of Britain’s Olympic cycling team has spilt over on to the
street, with thousands of people commuting on single-speed bikes designed for

Monday, November 24, 2008

All I Want For Christmas....

There was a fascinating bicycle Christmas present thread on the boblist last week and without a doubt the most interesting biker fashion statement were these cool bicycle helmet "hats." Of course, it appears they are only available in Europe (it's a Danish company). Would somebody please import these?!

There are several styles but this was my favorite.

Perhaps this helmet/hat from Troxel might be a better option for Nevadans.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - A Magic World

One of my favorite songs of all time. Incidentally, it is also where the above tag, "a little wonder goes a long, long way" comes from. The studio version is much more lush but this solo version is still quite powerful. A good song for a contemplative Sunday.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Perception vs. Reality: New Bicycle Awareness Videos Worth Checking Out

Transport for London sent me a note letting me know that they have released a series of new bicycle awareness videos on youtube and at their site, Do the Test. I don't know that the new "Clue" inspired bicycle awareness video has the same "wow" impact as the moonwalking bear video. But it is still quite clever. I tried the bear video out in my classroom last year when talking about the difference between perception and reality. It certainly generated some interesting discussions. Below are the series of videos. I particularly like the phone call video. Definitely my kind of jokes.

Moonwalking Bear


Bicycle Test

Phone Joke

UNR Paper Takes Shot at Cyclists

This may be the stupidest anti-cycling article in the history of the world. It makes me ashamed that I actually used to teach at UNR. I was almost tempted to ignore figuring it wasn't worth a response but then someone pointed out that if it emboldens just one driver to be more aggressive when they encounter a cyclist on the road, well, that's good enough reason to speak up. Poor writing and illogical...that pretty much sums it up.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Just When You Thought Democracy Worked...

Apparently Pushing Daisies, one of the most interesting and wonderful television shows in recent memory, is facing a possible early death. If it goes to an early tv grave their truly is no justice in the world. The show is impossibly clever! Click here to find out how to help let ABC know that you want them to save this great show. And save Pigby!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Prop 8 Protest in Downtown Reno

I went down to the Prop 8 protest with my wife and a few friends last night. There was a great turnout (around 300 people) and a lot of support from the unsuspecting downtown casino traffic. I like that the speakers were making a big effort to frame the issue as not being about "gay rights" but about "equal rights." The line of the evening came via Kitty Jung who spoke to the crowd and quoted (I believe it was) her niece who said:

"Be careful who you hate because it just might turn out to be someone you love!"

I also saw some former and current students at the protest which was nice. All in all it was very positive protest but a few signs hinted at the anger many are feeling towards the radical religious right. After the speakers the crowd walked from the City Plaza to the arch on Virginia.

Favorite signs

"If the fetus you save is gay, will you still fight for it's rights?"


"If being a homosexual is a disease, can I call in "gay" to work?"

Sunday Morning Music - Gallery Piece

Of Montreal's latest album is just too much fun. I'm a sucker for the glam funk hybrid and I love the way the songs on Skeletal Lamping veer off in fun weird directions. I'm tempted to treat myself to their upcoming show in San Francisco this Friday. Next weekend is my birthday after all. I think the opening paragraph of this album review nails the vibe:
Kevin Barnes is a married white man whose alter ego is a black transsexual named Georgie Fruit. Transformations come easily to the Of Montreal frontman: Over the past 11 years, he's seamlessly morphed from low-fi indie rocker to quirky prog-pop star, and now on Skeletal Lamping he's a glam-funk warrior, drenched in the sounds and sexuality of Prince, Freddie Mercury and Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie.
So here is a homemade video that I can't help but post: Gallery Piece as interpreted through the roller disco. And below a live clip of the same song.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Worksman Cycles Featured on NPR

Here's a nice story from NPR on Worksman, the "oldest existing bike maker" in the country. Just goes to show how practical bikes can be. I don't know that riding one of their bikes inspires the joy that a less encumbered bike would, but the thrill of being able to efficiently carry so much stuff, whether it's pizzas or tools, counts for something. As of right now they haven't posted the audio but I'm sure it will turn up here eventually. Below is some of the transcript of the story.

The legendary names in U.S. bicycle manufacturing have all but disappeared. But at a factory in a residential part of Queens, N.Y., there's a bike maker that's been around for more than a century. You've probably never heard of them, but Worksman Cycles is the oldest existing bicycle manufacturer in the country.

The next time you're in New York or some other big city and you buy a hotdog from a street vendor or see a pizza delivery guy riding by, check out their wheels. Chances are they're peddling or pushing a Worksman, though the name may be tough to read. Some of these battered specialty bikes are 20, 30 or even 40 years old.

Wayne Sosin, president of Worksman, recently showed off some bright orange, yellow and blue tricycles used for factory work. They run around $1,200 and provide an emissions-free alternative to golf carts and forklifts.

"These are bicycles and tricycles that are used to move personnel at large facilities," Sosin says. "Workers need a good way to get around. They use Worksman cycles to do that, so a lot of them want safety colors. Safety orange, safety yellow."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wonderfalls Gets Some Respect

Caroline Dhavernas as Jaye from Wonderfalls

Entertainment Weekly has a gallery of TV shows that they picked as the worst cancellations in TV history. Best picks: Veronica Mars (I'm still missing the best father/daughter relationship in television) Arrested Development (so obvious but still missed) and the wonderful Wonderfalls (at least I still have the DVD set-and Pushing Daisies is by one of the same creators). See the rest of the list here.

Bike Racks...part 27

I took a photo of a bike rack similar to this a few weeks back. This seems like a pretty smart design and a good use of old parking meters. This program is based out of Seattle.

Circle Bike Racks

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Bicycle Program conducted a pilot program in 2005, installing 11 "Bicycle-Circle" racks on meter posts in Capitol Hill that otherwise would have been removed as the neighborhood transitioned to an electronic based Paystation Parking system. Working closely with Creative Metalworks, the Bicycle Program staff refined the design of the rack into a product suitable for installation on public sidewalks. The design changes include:
- Thickening the rack and the top and bottom mounting brackets, making them more difficult to bend;

- Adding set screws, preventing the rack from rotating around the post (pre-drilling of the top and bottom brackets by the manufacturer eases thread tapping for the set screws);

- Adding a center bracket, securing the bicycle icon to the post;

- Beveling the outside edge, reducing the chance of denting/scratching a bicycle frame.
Because the pilot program was successful, SDOT is expanding the installation of the Bicycle-Circle rack into other neighborhoods.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nebraska, Rain, Rain, and SnappyCaps!

I went back to visit my alma mater this past long weekend. I'd forgotten what it was like to have nonstop rain. Two days of it. It was a fun trip and included a stop at my favorite bike shop in Lincoln, MonkeyWrench Cycles. There logo is awesome! And I also discovered that the University of Nebraska has a full service bike shop with rentals. How cool is that!

But the coolest thing was discovering Lincoln's own Snappy Caps! Cool, colorful, and custom cycling caps. Check out their website here! Can't wait to order a new cap from them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Night Pick Me Up - Adam Ant

Oh, the heady youthful days of MTV. So silly. I particularly love that the woman with glasses is magically uninhibited, hot, and sexy when she takes off her glasses. It reminds me of the bookish, bookstore clerk in The Big Sleep, who while having a drink with Bogart takes her glasses off and lets down her hair and Bogie finally notices she is absolutely stunning. I always thought she was prettier than Lauren Bacall actually. But I digress....clearly I'm on an 80s music kick of late.

Protect Your Melon!

There was a pretty good article a few days ago in the RGJ on bike helmet usage. I think, in the US at least, there really is no question about using a helmet. It's something that should always be done. Yes, I know the statistics from some European cities about bicycle fatalities being much lower, biking much more popular, etc. Alas, we do not have that kind of bike infrastructure in this country, even in our best biking cities. It's also good to note that the majority of urban bike trips in Europe are 3 miles or less. Here's the money quote from the RGJ article but click the link to read everything:

Helmets protect the rider not just from the injuries they might cause, but from the injuries drivers of vehicles might create.

Just think of that driver distracted by a coffee spill, the screaming kid in the back seat or the cell phone they absolutely must answer.

From 45 percent to 88 percent of brain injuries from cycling accidents could be prevented by the rider wearing a helmet, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.

Monday, November 10, 2008

UNR's Green Report Card

A pretty pathetic C minus! Go here to read the full report and check out where other universities stand.

The College Sustainability Report Card is the only independent evaluation of campus and endowment sustainability activities at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. In contrast to the academic focus on sustainability in research and teaching, the Report Card examines colleges and universities, as institutions, through the lens of sustainability.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - Thompson Twins

It's obvious that I have a soft spot for 80s music. But there is generally what is considered the "cool" 80s music, and the not-so-cool music from the era. Thompson Twins definitely fall into the not cool category. But I must admit to having a soft spot for Tom Bailey and company. And even though Hold Me Now and If You Were Here still occasionally get airplay (the latter largely because of its use in the film, Sixteen Candles) I don't think we're better for their absence. Bailey had a real gift for melody. The following song is a great example. It's over the top and over produced like so many 80s songs but I love it anyway.

And here is a quick summation of their career with some pretty honest reflections from the band members themselves.

Friday, November 07, 2008

What Does the Election Mean?

Like so many people I've been basking in the glow of the election and pondering what exactly the Obama presidency might mean to the future of our country. While I would like to believe the election is a clear repudiation of 8 years of...well, the list is so long...but at the very least, an administration that championed anti-intellectualism and dragged the Republican party and America along towards that end. There are a whole host of things to be pissed about this past few years but for me, as an educator, that is really unforgivable.

Much has been said about Bush's legacy. It's telling that this article claiming he is the worst President in history was published in April of 2006. Two and half years later the case against Bush is even stronger.

So what does the election of Barack Obama mean? It's too early to say for sure. The most eloquent reflection I've come across in the aftermath of Tuesday is this one. A couple of choice excerpts about what Obama's election means:
"We have taken it back from the mean-spirited demagogues who were willing to tear the American people apart to stay in power.

"We have taken it back from the apostles of selfishness who pretend naked greed is noble individualism.

"We have taken it back from the deluded hawks who cavalierly sent our youth off to die in a war that should never have been fought.

"We have taken it back from the incompetent officials who lived up to their antigovernment credo by bungling everything they touched.

"We have taken it back from the reactionaries whose intolerance, xenophobia and religious zealotry have been encouraged by a distorted Republican Party for far too long....

"That vision represents a return to the idea that Americans are bound together by more than just a flag, that we are all part of the same community, and that the strength of a community, like the strength of a family, is measured by its members' commitment to each other. The America envisioned by Obama is one in which the privileged care about the plight of the less fortunate because that care, that solidarity, is an inseparable part of who we are as Americans....

"His words revealed the gaping fissure in conservatism's moral vision. Conservatives claim to be the upholders of a threatened traditional morality. But their economic ideology is inherently amoral. Their refusal to see American society as a community implicitly rejects both the Christian injunction to "love thy neighbor as thyself," and the oldest moral commandment in the world, the Golden Rule. A party and movement that have rejected the idea that its members should care about their poorer neighbors, or simply denies that the less privileged are our neighbors, is one that has lost its moral compass."

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

So Much To Say!

There is so much to say and think about last night's historic win but I'm too exhausted from the past few weeks of anxiety I've been enduring. Perhaps later, when I can get my head around what just happened in this country.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - Radiohead - Electioneering

Ah, this is from 1997, the days of excitement following the release of OK Computer. I remember them well. OKC still feels fresh to me after a decade which is one of the reasons I consider it on the short list of greatest albums ever. Ironically this is probably the weakest song from the album but it seemed appropriate since we're on the cusp of electing a new President.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

R.I.P. Obama? - The Nevada Race Gets Uglier

This is the scariest thing I’ve seen this Halloween. The crazies (and desperation) are really coming out.

These photos were taken a couple of blocks from my home. Sigh…I don’t know if the neighbor who did this realized that it goes beyond a tragic attempt at humor into a menacing threat on the life of (hopefully) the next President of the United States. Whatever their intent it’s dumb and despicable. And the window photo (below) took me a second to figure out what it meant but once you do...well, doesn't it just speak volumes? The same car was painted "NOBAMA" a couple of days ago.

Let’s make sure that Nevada goes blue this year! Vote Obama on Tuesday.