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Open Streets (are) for People

22 Jul

This post about Open Streets is on my new blog at

Minimize Stress, Maximize Fun

Let’s Open the Streets for People!

According to urban planning heartthrob Gil Peñalosa, Open Streets means “people traffic replaces car traffic, and the streets become ‘paved parks’ where people of all ages, abilities, and social, economic, or ethnic backgrounds can come out and improve their mental, physical, and emotional health.”

“Open Streets” as a concept has been around since the mid-60s when Seattle created the car-free celebration “Seattle Bicycle Sundays.” While a smattering of similar events popped up around North America that decade, they didn’t last long. Bogotá, Columbia introduced their own version, Ciclovía, in 1974 and has been a primary source of inspiration for today’s Open Streets initiatives. Bogotá’s Ciclovía ambitiously closes 70 miles of the city to cars and opens them to one million participants every Sunday.

I was so smitten with this idea that I gathered together some like-minded individuals to organize the first Car-free Day in Washington, DC in 2007. It started…

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The Private and Public Horror of Cut Trees

19 Apr

There are few things more depressing to me than walking by trees that are being butchered or cut.

I just can’t take it when I walk by a scene like this:

20 Dead Trees Under BART Tracks

Tree Amputation at its Finest

I dont really like the 30mph either...

How could 20 dead trees benefit anyone?

Continue reading

Bike Parking and Plants: Everywhere For Everyone

3 Feb

I just found a new website tonight called Materialicious. It’s about architecture and design. Apparently you can post anything from their site on your blog so I will thank them (THANKS!) for that and allow some of their collected work show you some of my dreams for the present and future (as soon as the next five seconds!).

So I want this, everywhere. Just perfect:

I love plants and I love bikes and I like when more plants mean more bikes and more bikes mean more plants as they do with this clever invention that was nominated for the The Design Museum’s ‘Design of the Year 2010’.

PlantLock – “provides attractive & secure bicycle parking in the home garden, at work and in public places.”

Great! I need bike parking everywhere I go and I want plants everywhere I am.

These could line city streets all over. The could also be on residential streets where bicycle parking is most often absent. Clean up the air with more plants and provide parking everywhere so biking anywhere will be an option for everyone.

New Year, New Plans, New Un-inventions, New Everything

14 Jan

Part I: The Greeting and Re-introduction!


It’s me, Lolly, your friendly neighborhood bicycle advocate!


Photo taken by the lovely Elly Blue


I’ve been away for quite a long time. I hope you’re well. I am doing quite well myself. Something about November and December makes it absolutely impossible for me to interest myself in writing on my blog. I avoided it in 2009 and mostly in 2010 as well.

I’m back now and there are a number of wonderful things I would like to share with you in the coming weeks and months.

Part II: Direction and Plans: Un-invent and Write Away!

Photo of wasted human effort and mind-wrecking sounds by Flickr user hectorir

There are also some things that are less wonderful I might touch on as well.

Such as the electric leaf-blower.

I hate hate hate these abominations (too strong? NO!) and if I could, I would un-invent the leaf-blower. There are some other things I would like to un-invent in order to enhance the human experience and I will occasionally focus with much vigor (and maybe even some vim) on these topics as they occur to me, when I am by a computer.

What else?

Tiny picture of the issue in which I wrote about Washington, DC back in my youth

This year, I’ll be starting a short column in the spectacular magazine Momentum which is a magazine by and for people who use bikes for almost anything but sport! If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out. It’s one of only two magazines that I wait by the mailbox to receive and then read cover to cover.

I’ll be writing with very very active and eloquent Elly Blue, photographer of above photo, author of the popular “How We Roll” column on Grist, general bicycle activist and entrepreneur, and my “advocacy pen pal.” I’m excited to see what comes of it!

Part III: Questions and Resolutions

How are you doing? Did you have a good new year? Any exciting plans or projects coming up?

I’ve made some rather strange and grueling resolutions which I’ve already told about 1.3 million people about but I’m loathe to say on the internet… lest it make it too hard to give up! But I’m considering it for the social pressure possible in the internet tubes and because I feel so great that I think I can’t keep it a secret.

Stay tuned, next week for the potential resolution-reveal, or at the very least, my review of Capital Bikeshare from Washington, DC. Here’s a sneak peak of me getting ready to ride from Chinatown to Adams Morgan.

Photo taken by Kurt Steiner, an outstanding transportation planner in Boston





Thank You Pittsburgh For Banning Marcellus Shale Drilling

17 Nov

This is great news for current and future residents of Pittsburgh whose elected officials listened to residents and voted unanimously to ban drilling within city limits! 9 for the ban, 0 against!

This is (finally!) a victory for people over corporate interests and profits.

I am so proud of all the people here who worked tirelessly to educate and mobilize their friends and neighbors and to hold their elected officials accountable. This is so inspiring for community activists everywhere.

To those who attended public hearings despite state and industry intimidation, went to protests, signed petitions, wrote letters to the editor, attended community meetings, went to public viewings of Gasland; to Josh Fox for making the film that exposed so many of the problems with fracking, and to the business owners that hosted meetings and Gasland viewings:

Thank you so much.

As you know…

Photo by Marcellus Protest

Thank you to Councilmember Doug Shields for sponsoring the bill banning the drilling, for putting the health of people and our natural resources ahead of money, for prioritizing people over profits.

Thank you to Council President Darlene Harris for supporting the ban and rebutting gas industry claims that the ban would cost jobs: “There’s going to be a lot of jobs for funeral homes and hospitals,” Mrs. Harris said, referring to health concerns associated with gas production. “That’s where the jobs are. Is it worth it?”

The people of Pittsburgh have said no, it’s not worth it, and the City Council listened and voted with the health of the people and the region in mind.

Thank you to all the Councilmembers who voted unanimously to oppose drilling within Pittsburgh.

Section 27. Natural Resources and the Public Estate The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvanias public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, however, is unconvinced and non-committal and might consider vetoing the ban, but I urge him to side with the people on this issue and not be swayed by the lure of a temporary influx of cash.

We don’t want jobs destroying our environment, compromising our soil, blackening our air and lungs, and contaminating our drinking water.

We want investment in jobs that build up the community, that nurture and educate children, that beautify our lovely city, that bring people together, that make the most of our natural resources, rather than trashing them for short-term financial gain.

Mayor Ravenstahl, do not veto this bill.

Support this ban and support the people of Pittsburgh.

This story has gone global and it demonstrates that ordinary citizens do have the ability to stand up to wealthy private interests.

How to work towards a drilling ban in your own town?

Check out Marcellus Protest

Here are some tips from Pittsburgh organizer Gloria Forouzan

Background and analysis of Marcellus Shale industry by the Real News Network

Watch Gasland and share your story

Write letters to the editor

Talk to your neighbors

Educate yourself

Pittsburgh Streets are for the Strong

20 Sep

Or those with strong brakes.

Click the image to enlarge
Top 10 US steepest streets
Via fixr structural engineering cost guide

Mississippi River of Dead Fish

16 Sep

from TreeHugger by way of NOLA


With all the stuff poisoning in our water supplies, I sure am glad I stopped eating fish six years ago.

Hawthorne & 7th Bike Box

9 Sep

Hawthorne & 7th Bike Box

Originally uploaded by gregraisman

This shiny bright green bicycle lane shows that bikes belong on the road.

Hi Portland!

Tax Cuts are Not the Solution: The Country That Pays Together Stays Together

31 Aug

While our crappy economy continues to crash, tax cuts are not the solution.

They’re not the solution for the middle class.

They’re not the answer for the moneyed class.

They’re not even close for the corporate class.

It’s time to pay up, everyone.

Taxes are how we buy services together.

How we buy roads, how we buy bridges.

Without taxes, trash will go uncollected in many places.

Without taxes, we would have no public schools, no police.

Parks, libraries, trails, road maintenance, unjust wars, we pay for these thing together.

If you want to restore America, restore taxes, but tax justly.

If we don’t pay for these things, we will continue to dive deeply into debt with other nations who finance our invasive incursions into other nations.

End tax cuts and tax incentives and tax subsidies for all corporations that bury their assets offshore.

It’s time to stop the downward spiral of politicians promising tax cuts in order to be elected. No one can pay for all of these services on their own, and if they can, they ought to be taxed more.

Now is the time for just and robust taxation.

Video: Don’t Honk at Old People

27 Aug

My friend Irene pointed me in the direction of this unintentional PSA. The story is that a girl is filming some cute boys skateboarding and turns around to witness this scene. It might be fake, but it still gets the point across. Go granny!

Enjoy and share (especially with anyone with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement):

UPDATE, August 29: So it DOES turn out to be fake. According to commenter Gene W, “It’s an old IKEA commercial. Airbags don’t really work that way (you have to be moving).”

Still gets the point across: don’t honk at old people.

We Don’t Have to Accept the World We Inherited

19 Aug

Someone commented yesterday on a post I wrote back in January with the riveting title  “New Study Shows 20 mph Speed Limit Drastically Reduce Injury and Death“. Said commenter seemed to think that the idea of embracing slower speed limits, even if it has been shown to dramatically reduce death, was crazy.

The post cited a study published in the British Medical Journal revealing that the introduction of 20 mph zones was associated with a 41.9% reduction in road casualties, and that the greatest reduction in fatalities was in younger children.

Just because we’re used to driving 25mph or 30 or 40mph in cities or towns where people live, just because that’s what we see around us, just because our parents did it — doesn’t mean that we’re stuck with it forever.

We can learn and grow. When we find out new information that can help save people’s lives, we can progress, we can evolve, and we can adapt to incorporate those life-saving behaviors into our lives and routines.

This world belongs to all of us, and we need start living consciously as though we share it with 6 billion other people.

We can, and should change it.

If you’re interested, here is a rather gruesome video montage that someone sent me yesterday. It’s disturbing and illustrates some of the dangers of speeding and distracted driving. (Warning: real footage mixed in with PSAs and some bits with actors)

Tonight: Disposable Film Festival in Pittsburgh

12 Aug

Note: This is cross-posted from the Bike Pittsburgh blog because it’s too good to miss and it’s already been written by the lovely Redding Jackson.

Join us Thursday August 12th, at 8:30 pm for Pittsburgh First Screening ever of the Disposable Film Festival!!  Raffle for a 2011 Globe Bike and more!!

The Pittsburgh Edition of the Disposable Film Fest is happy to be part of BikeFEST 2010!  Supported by Globe Bikes, we will be hosting a raffle with bikes, parts, and services donated by Globe and other local vendors!  Bring your blanket and sit in the abandoned Leslie Park Pool in Lawrenceville, located at 4600 Butler St.   We will also be screening 20 minutes of work from local filmmakers!  There is no admission fee, but bring some cash if you want concessions like espresso and snacks from the Morning Glory Coffeehouse in Morningside.

Selected by MovieMaker Magazine as one the country’s “coolest film festivals,” the Disposable Film Festival was created in 2007 by Eric Slatkin and Carlton Evans to celebrate the artistic potential of disposable video: short films made on non-professional devices such as one-time use video cameras, cell phones, point and shoot cameras, webcams, and other readily available video capture devices. The DFF offers a forum to celebrate the creative potential of this new mode of filmmaking through screenings, competitions, and other events to showcase the best work within the disposable genre.  Based in San Francisco, the Disposable Film Festival travels internationally to Paris, London, Brussels, New York, Beijing, and other cities worldwide.

What is Disposable Film?

In recent years a new kind of film has emerged: The Disposable Film.  It has been made possible by new media (webcams, point and shoot digital cameras, cell phones, screen capture software, and one time use digital video cameras) and the rise of online distribution (YouTube, Google, MySpace, etc.).  These films are often made quickly, casually, and sometimes even unintentionally.

What does DFF have to do with BikeFest?

The Disposable Film Festival screenings are best in a Bike-in-movie setting.  It is also sponsored by Globe Bikes.  This is a unique, from the bottom up festival. Even to be included in the screenings, the medium is completely attainable!  People might take photos and films all the time with their phones but they don’t realize that they have the potential to make it something even more.  Some of the films are made with cameras on bike -helmets but the movies are not necessarily bike related.

What makes Leslie Park Pool a good venue for the festival?

In SF- they projected the films on the side of a building with the amp (sound system) attached to the back of a bicycle.  The Leslie Park Pool is a decommissioned pool turning a new leaf in its life.  No longer a place for swimming, the pool is becoming a space for events such as Deep Sky Google’s Star Gazing party and Spillapalooza, a fundraiser for the spill in the Gulf, as well as The Accordion Pool Party.  Susan Englert and Deb Knox are the Leslie Park Pool Collective and have been reinvigorating the space with new opportunities.

Bring your blanket and enjoy!  We will be selling some concessions as well as our sponsors having tables around the pool. Also, keep an eye out for THE RAFFLE!!!   We are raffling off a brand new globe bike and other accessories donated from local shops!

What: Disposable Film Festival, presnted by Globe Bikes

Where: Leslie Park Pool – 46th St and Butler St

When: Thursday, August 12 @ 8:30 PM

How Much: FREE, but bring $$ to be entered into the great raffle

I can’t wait to win a globe bike! I want this one to be in my life and to be my wife:

This mixte with an integrated basket has no overt branding!

Drilling for Natural Gas in the Marcellus Shale: What’s It All About and What Can We Do

11 Aug

Note: This piece was first published by Gloria Forouzan in the Lawrenceville-Bloomfield community newspaper The Bulletin.

In Pittsburgh, gas drilling in the Marcellus shale has recently become big news. Why?

1. It’s in our backyard. The Marcellus shale is a region of natural gas reserves that extends through much of Pennsylvania. To date, drilling has occurred in rural area, but now drillers are turning their attention to urban areas.

2. Money. Gas in the Marcellus range is estimated to be worth 3 trillion dollars.

Fracking in Amwell Twp, PA, photo from

3. “Landsmen,” who try to get residents to sign leases allowing gas drilling, have been making the rounds in Lawrenceville, where at least 60 drilling leases have already been signed. Over the last two years, millions of gas industry dollars have been appearing in our state’s legislators’ campaign coffers.

4. Danger. Gas wells in Clearfield and Dioga counties, as well as Moundsville, West Virginia, had major accidents in June. One explosion caused toxic drilling fluid to spew 75 feet into the air for 16 hours. Imagine such an explosion within Pittsburgh’s densely populated neighborhoods.

What can we do about it?

Get the facts. The gas industry tells us that they’ve been drilling for decades.

What they’re not telling us:

Today’s gas drilling must go deeper than ever before, fracturing shale 7,000 to 8,000 feet under the ground (A mile is 5,280 feet).

A new process called “fracking” is used to extract the natural gas. “Fracking” takes millions of gallons of our clean water and mixes it with sand and dangerous chemicals. This mixture is forced into the well under much higher pressure than ever used before.

First the well is drilled down vertically to a depth of at least 7,000 feet. From this main well it’s drilled horizontally in several directions. It winds up looking like an underground spider of gas lines that can extend up to a mile. A well on the banks of the Allegheny could easily reach into most of residential Lawrenceville.

Currently, there are few federal or state protections regulating the gas industry’s use of our land, water, or air. The gas industry has been spending millions to lobbky our state representatives and senators to keep them from regulating and taxing natural gas. Most Pennsylvania cities have too little recourse to limit drilling.

What can you, as a resident, do?

Talk to a lawyer before signing a lease. Landmen are not there to protect you or do you a favor. They’re working on behalf of a multi-trillion dollar industry.

City Council plans to hold a public meeting on the issue, most likely in September. Call Patrick Dowd’s office for the details: 412-255-2140.

Talk to your state legislators: Rep. Dom Costa, 412-361-2040; Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, 7171-787-5470; and Senator Jim Ferlo, 412-621-3006. Let them know that you’re watching and you vote.

Ask the gubernatorial candidates for their stance on urban gas drilling. As of May 2010, Tom Corbett’s campaign received $361,207 from the gas industry and Dan Onorato’s received $59,300.


Want some more information?

Check out these sites for more information and to join your neighbors in opposing this devastating procedure that makes money for a few while destroying the resources of the many.

Marcellus Protest.

Marcellus Shale info site

Splashdown PA

Allegheny Defense Project

Center for Coalfield Justice


If you’re a Pennsylvania resident, you can sign this petition which simply states “We the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania call for a complete moratorium of all natural gas and oil drilling activities, including exploration, until a time when the processes involved do not affect the environment (including land, air and water) and the health of the population in any negative manner what so ever.”

For a fun way to find out what other communities have done in the face of natural drill leases, check out Frick Park on August 27. Local organizers are putting together a screening of the movie Gasland on August 27 in Frick Park.

We Want to Know What You Think: Importance of Writing and Reading Letters to the Editor

6 Aug

Do you read the newspaper? You know, the paper kind. The one that you can hold in your hands, curl up with on the porch, scribble on, and do the crossword?

With the diversion of millions of websites providing distraction and different news for different opinions, the local newspaper remains the best way to publicly address millions of your closest neighbors.

I relish reading the letters to the editor, I love finding out what other people are thinking about the main issues addressing our local, national, and international communities.

“I should write in and SAY SOMETHING”

I always, always, always think that but I never do. I haven’t in years, and I bet a lot of you haven’t in years too, right?

*This is not me

Without the letters of regular people to the editor, the newspaper an outlet of some massive corporation (now, anyway), a one way dispersal of information from the big money-backed guys down to us.

That’s why the letters section is always one of the most popular and valuable sections of any newspaper paper as people everywhere seem to crave knowledge of what their neighbors think.

When we, you and me, gentle reader, don’t write letters then we are just talking to ourselves. I know there are other people out there who care about creating a better planned and more just and free world for everyone everywhere.

We can vote in occasional elections where politicians may or may not act as we want them to, we can vote with our money by how we choose to spend it and also how we choose NOT to spend it. But another way of making your opinion count is by voicing it to others.

Please do.

Even if you are a person used to reading this blog, rather than commenting, think about the value of adding your voice to the discussion, both here and in the newspaper. We want to know what you think.

Tree Chop in Progress in Lawrenceville

5 Aug

One of the only lovely shade trees in Lawrenceville on Fisk Street is currently being “pruned” to make way for ugly wires.

I don’t have a working camera on me so I tried to use the camera on my computer and got this picture.

It is still full at the top but pretty soon it will look like these poor trees around the city. (see last week’s post on Unintentional Topiary: When Trees are Butchered)

Now they’re almost done and this tree looks like it was hacked to pieces by someone with a significant rage problem.

This is a horrific business and maybe not as glamorous or compelling as the oil spill but is just another indication that we as Americans continue working to bend nature to accommodate our need for luxury. This is infuriating and devastating to watch.

Maybe it’s time that we start figuring out how we can afford fit ourselves in around nature.

I’ll get a picture when they’re all done and post that later.

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