Category Archives: initiatives

The Many Faces of Cycling, Most Beautiful Ones

I came home from a Saturday morning ride with friends, ate lunch, started reading and came across this.  An article called Pimp My Bike: Detroit’s Custom Cycles in Pictures in The Guardian.  Here are a few pictures from the article.  Photos are credited to Nick Van Mead, from the article.

slow-roll-detroit

long-chain

beautiful

Ashia, waving in the photo above, is quoted in the article saying she feels safer with groups, “It’s positive — and God Knows in Detroit, we need positive things like this.”

This blog is usually original posts, but obviously the Slow Roll movement in Detroit merits our attention.  They are innovating and reaching out to expand the conversation about our public roads, our cities and neighborhoods, economic renewal, social wellness, all propelled by bicycling.  This movement is bigger than any one group, in fact, it’s a global movement.

“It makes the city far more human…they have conversations, make eye contact…the people are friendlier” than they were before all these rides started, says Todd Scott of the Detroit Greenways Coalition (quoted from the article).  And my goodness, don’t we all need friends.

Resources/Credits–
Go read the article on The Guardian, it conveys the beautiful essence–  https://www.theguardian.com/cities/gallery/2016/nov/02/pimp-my-bike-detroit-custom-cycles-slow-ride-in-pictures
Photo Credits to Nick Van Mead
I’ve blogged about Slow Roll before.  Let’s be cities of friendly bicyclists.
Check out my post Green Infused Classic Cars for another innovator, a very famous one.
And more landmark journalism by Nick Van Mead and The Guardian–
America’s Road Trip: Will the US Ever Kick the Car Habit

Pedaler in Chief

“Bicycles will save the world.”  –Susan Handy, UC Davis Environmental Science & Policy

How poignant this Rush song is today.  It was written in 1985 when greed was being institutionalized in America.  I grew up a confused child in a troubled world.

After high school I worked as a roofer.  I started college.  At 21, I drove an 18 wheeler around America the beautiful, and epic Canada too.  But it was the bicycle–rediscovered at the age of 22 when I realized the car could not save me and was too expensive for me to operate anymore–that changed me.  It was a tool that helped me learn Emerson’s Self-Reliance from the inside by living it.  It’s not easy, and I don’t know where this journey is taking me, but it is a fun ride.

mais-scene

What if our next President charged the country with cycling more?  Make a difference, bike more.  We don’t need everyone to ride, we simply need to support people that are out there cycling right now and encourage people that will.  Especially our youth, and young at heart.

If you’re feeling cynical during this election cycle I recommend cycling more.  It builds us up and connects us to the greater world.  I would also recommend voting.  We have to make our effort and let go of factors beyond our control.  We can only dictate our own effort.  And it works.

2012 was a pivotal moment on my cycling journey when Joe Shannon, Flagstaff Cycling’s Pedaler in Chief, gave me an opportunity to race again, build a team and smooth out my pedal stroke.  We keep growing the movement and spreading the word.  What if the next President of the U.S.A. embraced this new title, Pedaler in Chief, and built a team with all Americans and World Leaders?   Who knows, maybe big money can help more too.  Let’s ask.

References–
Check out Dr. Handy’s research here:  http://www.des.ucdavis.edu/faculty/handy/
Joe’s team is linked here–
https://flagstaffcycling.squarespace.com/
Cycling joins together disciplines:  UC Davis’s Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior

Urban Landscapes in Living Terms

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Lao Tzu

One of the reasons I moved to Albuquerque was to work on urban sustainability.  The majority of the world lives in cities.  Cities are important places!  On a trip to Taos I had a chance to decompress beneath the extraordinary sky and consider urban life from a rural perspective.

Williams Lake

into the Taos mountains

Sage plains

I see our cities as an integral part of nature, and don’t think they need to be places where we want to escape from.  We can do better making them living and breathing landscapes.  The soundscapes, the night skies, the ecosystem functions of our cities can all be restored to produce high quality habitat that nurtures human life.  We don’t have to leave the city to learn about nature.  We are part of it.  Activities such as walking, cycling and growing food help us learn.  Cycling teaches me conservation and efficiency for example, since my energy is so precious and limited, and it reminds me to carry only what I need, to travel light.

majestic

streaming down

Cycling helps me tune in to places.  There are no walls around me when I ride.  I feel like I belong.  But when I visited the mountains above Taos, it was much quieter and I felt at ease and could pay attention to the subtle things a little more.  At our campsite I realized the automatic beeping from our car key fob was a significant disturbance to the soundscape, so I started locking the car with the key only, in simple mechanical fashion.  That way the car doesn’t beep.  Much better!  Sometimes we feel so overwhelmed by the magnitude of problems in the world we sabotage our journey towards solutions before we even start.  But big successes are made up of small victories.  Taking the opportunities presented, however tiny, add up, and carry us a long way.  Especially when we collaborate, embrace our cities and each do our part.

New Mexico Sunshine

Taos basin

Santa Fe aspen trails with indian paintbrush

Resources–
Here are some tips on making a difference from our National Parks.  https://www.nps.gov/subjects/sound/difference.htm

Building Lasting Partnerships

A big thank you to my friends at Conservation Science Partners and the Landscape Conservation Initiative for supporting the Southwest Bike Initiative.  They also brought their friends at Live Oak Associates, Inc., an ecological consulting firm, to strengthen our network.  Because of the team CSP put together, they are my bike org. of the month for May 2016.  Check out the article here announcing our collaboration promoting the role of cycling in conservation.

magenta Sandia

When I was choosing “categories” for this blog post, I started clicking every one.  This partnerships embodies all that I’ve been doing up to this point, and connects a series of journeys that began long ago.  I’m enthused to be working with such classy organizations and bright people.  LCI’s philosophy of mobilizing science through collaborative planning, education and practical experiences has been influential in instigating new approaches for solving environmental challenges.  CSP’s innovative structure and novel science applications has created a paradigm shift in how we do conservation.  LOA’s ecological expertise delivers practical solutions fostering environmental sustainability throughout California and the Western United States.  Together their collaboration is raising the bar for conservation science.

Truchas

Cycling is a great practical exercise for improving health, the environment, and building lasting partnerships.   Our cycling team builds grassroots coalitions, and increases collaboration between diverse communities around common objectives to achieve new vistas on what is possible.  Please follow SBI’s website and media to keep in touch with our development.

Kalamazoo Strong

“This is about the healing process.”  –Rider from Kalamazoo

“The roads are back to being ours again…this ride is tremendously energizing. ”  –Rider from Kalamazoo

The cycling community is amazing.  700 cyclists gathered in Kalamazoo to finish the Tuesday community ride.  This is one of the most courageous things I’ve seen, to direct the energy toward peace and healing, and to pull the community together for proactive solutions.

‘We didn’t ride with Lance.  Lance rode with us tonight,’ said a Kalamazoo cyclist.

Story here:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/lance-armstrong-rallies-kalamazoo-cycling-community-after-tragedy/

Earth Day Bike Ed Tips

I saw a cool sign in an Albuquerque neighborhood (photo below).  It reminded me how we’re evolving our consciousness to better accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians.  It starts with basic steps, including raising awareness.  Small changes gradually add up to very big things!

watch for bicyclists

Bicycles go everywhere cars go, and more.  Here’s a photo from Uptown Albuquerque, which is a high density and mixed use area that is also a hub for transit and the nexus of numerous bike routes including the 50-mile activity loop.  You’d expect to see bicycles here, and you’d expect to be able to bicycle here.  The road has two lanes and the right lane is not wide enough for a bicycle and motorized vehicle to share side by side.  On this road configuration expect bicycles in the right hand lane and expect overtaking vehicles to use the left lane to pass.

Uptown bicycling

When I bike through here I usually use the middle of the right hand lane.  It makes me more visible to other traffic, and gives me a buffer and room to react if a vehicle is pulling out from an intersection or driveway.  Plus my experience has confirmed what the evidence clearly shows, that riding to the far right of a lane that is too narrow to share leads to closer passes, increasing the danger of being sideswiped.  It can be counterintuitive to think that a bicycle positioned further out in the travel lane is safer, but in spite of our conditioning, statistically this is true.  When Steve Clark from the Bike League was here last April, he explained lane positioning as a way of communication.  Riding in the lane, rather than on the edge of the lane, makes it easier for faster traffic to intuitively understand that they need to change lanes to pass.  And when you have a lot of turning traffic like you do at Uptown, riding in the lane also decreases the likelihood that a motorist will overtake you and then suddenly turn right in front of you, aka the “right hook”, which is a common crash type.  When bicycles use the full travel lane it can help other traffic see and process you as a vehicle on the road and account for you.  Riding off to the side makes it easy to be overlooked.  Cyclists have to make these critical positioning judgments.  Other traffic responds to that positioning, and follows the universal traffic rule to yield to all traffic in front of them.  Traffic flow depends on cooperation and a set of common rules.

Constitution bike lane trash recycle

The photo above is from recycle day on Constitution, which is one of the best east-west bike routes across Albuquerque.  The bike lane has a few obstacles in it.  This is pretty common in my experience, and I don’t sweat it.  Bike lanes are a preferred use facility.  They’re intended to encourage people to come out and be a part of traffic on the road.  They’re not intended to limit where bicyclists may operate.  Believe it or not, I find everything I learned in Commercial Driving School, where I was trained to drive 18-wheelers, is perfectly applicable to being a safe cyclist.  What do I mean?  Well, I learned to look ahead, anticipate hazards, position my vehicle in advance, and signal my intentions.  So I am always on the lookout and looking far up the road to see if a bike lane is blocked, either with an obvious hazard like this one, or a more subtle but equally dangerous hazard like broken glass or a parked car with a door that could hit me if it was opened.  If there’s a hazard in my path, I look over my shoulder (“shoulder check”, or you can use a mirror) to check for traffic.  When you are changing lanes you always have to yield.  When it is clear I’ll signal left, and move into the general travel lane.  When it is safe to move back over, I’ll do the same thing, check for traffic, signal, change lanes.  It works well.

This is it

If we are on the lookout for cyclists, it makes it a lot easier and safer to ride.  Bicyclists are trained to be visible, to follow the rules for vehicles, and to be predictable.  One road, a variety of user types, with coordinated movements is the outlook for keeping safe while navigating different kinds of infrastructure and conditions.  More to come on this topic…here a few more pictures from a recent hike in the foothills east of Albuquerque.  Enjoy outside on Earth Day!

paintbrush windmill emergin

twotone

Spring bloom

Change Leadership in Comprehensive Planning

I attended the transportation focus group last Friday, which is part of the Comprehensive Plan update process.  The community conversation is happening at a pretty high level.  But to create the kind of changes we need, the work has just begun.  A few quotes came to mind.

“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”— Albert Einstein

Sunset April 14 at Grant Park

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”  — Mark Twain

Seven story pagoda

‘Learn all you can about where you are.  Make common cause with place.  Resolve to work with it for a long time…to make a living is to have enough.’ –Wendell Berry interviewed by Bill Moyers

Albuquerque nights

The photos are from recent sunsets in Albuquerque from Grant Park, right near where I live.  Here’s the Wendell Berry interview with Bill Moyers.  Wendell’s an innovative thinker about people and place, and wrote a book on sustainable agriculture, the Unsettling of America.

The Quiet Catastrophe

Door to Door by Edward Humes book cover“He ultimately makes clear that transportation is one of the few big things we can change—our personal choices do have a profound impact.”  —book review of Door to Door

Edward Humes has a book out today called Door to Door. The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation.  There’s an essay introducing the book in The Atlantic.  A main theme is the high prices we are paying for cars.  Knowledge about the cost of cars is critical to understand, yet somehow it alludes our conscious grasp.  Jim McNamara, a sergeant with the California Highway Patrol, says the car problem is “massive but diffuse. Whether it’s climate change or car crashes, if the problem doesn’t show itself all at once—as when an airliner goes down with dozens or hundreds of people on board—it’s hard to get anyone’s attention.”
Here are some quick facts.

  • since 9/11 more than 400,000 men, women, and children have died on America’s roads
  • California Highway Patrol spends 80% of their time responding to car crashes
  • MIT calculates that 53,000 Americans die prematurely every year from vehicle pollution
  • Car crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 39
  • each week car crashes take American lives at a rate equivalent to four airliner crashes

What do we do?  Change our perspective on driving.  Status quo fixes like adding traffic lanes “only attracts more cars.  It’s called the rule of induced demand and it’s like trying to solve overeating by loosening your belt,” Humes writes.  We can start by taking driving more seriously. Gone are the days when driving seemed carefree.  Building local scale economies for food and energy and simplifying our lives helps.  Think of this as opportunity for innovation.

Resources:  Edward Humes’ website has several press releases on his new book.
http://www.edwardhumes.com/
Facts and quotes for this blog post are from:
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/absurd-primacy-of-the-car-in-american-life/476346/
https://hbr.org/2016/04/why-the-future-of-e-commerce-depends-on-better-roads

the good outing we had Sunday at Golden Open Space stays with me for days

good outings, like Sunday’s walk at Golden Open Space, stay with me for days.  Still snow on the Sandias

Mobility as An Inclusive and Sustainable Concept

“Transportation in the world today is on the cusp of a major revolution.”  –Jim Hackett,  chairman of Ford Smart Mobility LLC, in Ford’s announcement of this new venture

“The world is becoming more crowded and urbanized, air quality is a global issue, and customer preferences are changing rapidly.  The Ford Smart Mobility plan was established…to address these trends and to make people’s lives better.”  —Ford Smart Mobility LLC press release

Ford is leading the auto industry in becoming more than about selling cars.  They’re adapting to the changing circumstances of our times by opening up to a more inclusive concept of mobility, akin to traditional energy companies investing in renewables.  This evolution of business strategy is about responding to social demands, staying relevant, and getting out on the leading edge.  According to George Will’s column in the Washington Post, car ownership is declining among young U.S. adults and Americans are driving less.  The average new car loan is huge, $28,000.  China is the largest market for new cars now, surpassing the U.S. and Europe.

The smart mobility concept follows Silicon Valley’s approach to technology.   Like social media technology serves to develop human conversation and increase sharing, mobility is being seen as a way to better connect human communities.  Before joining Ford, Jim Hackett, Ford Mobility’s chairman, was involved in shifting office environments from isolated cubicles to an open space system where employees had more freedom to choose where they worked, more stimulating social interactions, and increased opportunities for learning and collaboration.

As we evolve mobility in America, it is important to connect our changing experience with the world.   In China, the lure of the car as a status symbol seems as powerful as it was here in the 1950’s.  In a NY Times article, a Chinese consumer explains that life without a car is viewed as intolerable.   “It’s so that we don’t have to walk,” he said.  But we know cars work best as part of a broad and diverse portfolio of transportation choices.  For sustainability, cars have to compliment the most intelligent, simple and efficient transportation systems we know of, walking and bicycling.  And focus on giving everyone access to economic opportunity, social mobility, and healthier lives.  Communities with examples of how to do this will be in high demand and positioned to have a profound impact on shared prosperity on a global scale.

References:
Automakers Expanding in China May Soon Face Weakening Demand, by Keith Bradsher,
NYTimes, March 28
Car Automakers Redefine Mobility Again?  by George F. Will, Washington Post, March 23
Ford Smart Mobility LLC Established to Develop, Invest in Mobility Services; Jim Hackett Named Subsidiary Chairman, in Ford Media, March 11, 2016, Dearborn, Michigan

the built environment at Salinas Pueblo Missions was a blend of Puebloan and Spanish

the architecture at Salinas Pueblo Missions joined Puebloan and Spanish styles to create a new blend

 

Seize the Day

whoa

I’m pretty sure the slower I ride, the more time I have to absorb what I see.  Plus I have time to chat with people.  This is such an exciting time of year to Spring forward making life anew.  Change happens one conversation and one bike ride at a time.  Carpe diem, walk bike talk.

Trail Miles

Elena Gallegos glow

Seize the day

La Luz in the fold

The confinements of the road are also the conditions of its freedom.  –Kenneth Burke, 1966