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.
For those of you who are following the three whole posts I’ve written since November and for those who have commented even when things seem dead on this side of things, thank you! I’m still getting back into the swing of things since the move.
Today I’d like to recommend some links that I’ve enjoyed recently for your reading pleasure or dinner party banter preparation.
Readings on Winter, Snow, Getting Stuck, and the Importance of Options
I really enjoyed Erik Weber’s piece yesterday in Greater Greater Washington about the different realities of a crippling snowstorm when you depend on a car to get to the suburbs (you get stuck, sometimes up to 13 hours as happened to many in the DC area) or you live in the city where you have the options of car, bus, train, bike, walking, and in some cases, even skiing to get around.
This excerpt is long but I think important and fits in quite well with topics I have addressed all over this blog: that dependence on cars — or any one type of transportation — is extremely limiting. What we need here in the U.S. and everywhere is the ability and availability for people to choose how they want to get around and be able to do that safely.
Cars give people mobility. But what’s more important is accessibility. Sometimes these are the same: if I live 10 miles from a grocery, and I own a car, I have access to the grocery.
But if my car breaks down, it snows a foot and a half, or I’m suddenly unable to drive for another reason, I no longer have access to that grocery. Because I’ve relied on a single means of mobility, when it is no longer available, both my mobility and accessibility are severely diminished.
Many people often argue that smart growth proponents (like me) are trying to force people of their cars in favor of biking, walking and transit. But, to me, growing smarter really is just providing more legitimate options. I don’t necessarily want to live in a place where you can’t have a car. Nor do I want to force other people to do so.
I do, though, want to live in a place where you don’t need a car, a place where, when driving is no longer an option, we are not imprisoned by our built environment.
Me too. What about you? Has snow made getting around harder? What’s your experience?
This is a link that I’ve been meaning to draw attention to for awhile.
This is a post from August that was recommended by a reader from a blog called “A Midwest Story.” It’s an analysis of public transportation perception in the U.S. and abroad, there are three posts before this one that address different facets of public transportation.
The American perspective:
The fact that American riders are poorer indicates that in U.S. public transportation services are focused on people that are unable to drive a car – because they cannot afford one or because they are to young or to poor. Now, if we eliminate the riders under 18, and we consider the the other market segments – the poor and the disabled – in correlation with American culture , the conclusion is striking. In the U.S. public transit is considered by the public as well as their representatives as an alternative for the society’s destitute no different than public assistance services such as welfare and food stamps.
And the German perspective:
Unlike their American counterparts, Germans are more likely to use public transit indifferent of income or car ownership and, to a much larger extent, as a viable alternative for commuters. The way that politicians and their constituents regard public transportation is also different. At the local level, it is an alternative which lowers congestion in urban area and the pollution damage to historical buildings. At the state and federal level it is a green, sustainable alternative. And for riders it is, beyond being the only option for the poor and disabled, a comfortable alternative to spending empty hours commuting by car
Bicycling […] is astoundingly, incontrovertibly good for you. A 2009 review of the scientific literature found that the slight increase in risk from bicycle crashes is more than offset by the vast improvements in overall health and lifespan when you ride a bicycle for transportation. In fact, the health benefits of bicycling are nine times greater than the safety gains from driving instead.
The real thing that’s killing us is that we continue to create places that impose barriers to actually being able to move your body. High-speed streets without sidewalks or crossings. Walkable neighborhoods where there is literally nowhere to go. Gyms accessible primarily by car.
It’s me, Lolly, your friendly neighborhood bicycle advocate!
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!
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.
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.
Streetfilms just released their newest film about Pittsburgh! I worked for a while trying to convince Clarence Eckerson, Jr to come see how beautiful Pittsburgh is and to see the exciting and vibrant livable streets movement here.
If you’re not familiar with the work of Streetfilms, now is the time to start. They’ve made nearly 340 short films about livable streets around the world. It’s part of a genre I’ve been calling “Infrastructure Porn”.
Clarence came to Pittsburgh to film the video in November and today released his 7 minute snapshot of the city. It’s certainly worth a watch. Check out my post from last month about some of the excellent work of Streetfilms:
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…
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.
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?
Although drilling in the Marcellus Shale is expected to generate revenue in the trillions, Pennsylvania’s Governor elect Tom Corbett pledges not to tax the companies who are extracting this gas at great profitability, saying “A tax right now I don’t believe is appropriate”. He also concludes that taxing would “chase these companies away.”
Personally, I say, okay. If they are unwilling to pay the state and the people of Pennsylvania for the resources that they take and profit from — they shouldn’t be here.
One thing is certain, Pennsylvanians need the money.
The city of Pittsburgh is in a constant state of budget crisis, public transportation is being slashed by 35%, the pension fund is not funded and social services in every realm are being eliminated. The state capital of Harrisburg is on the verge of bankruptcy and the city of 50,000 is $280 million in debt (NY Times).
Leslie Haines, Editor of Oil and Gas Investor, stupidly asserts that “If they [Pennsylvania] do too much of a tax, people will go back to Texas, or they’ll go to Colorado and Wyoming or they’ll go to Alberta, wherever.”
But that is simply not true. They can’t leave — there is too much natural gas sitting under Pennsylvania for drillers to pass up.
I encourage you to watch these two videos produced by the Real News Network.
I want to share a couple of their videos with you so you can see how quickly positive changes can be made when there is political will.
Streetfilms made a video three years ago called the “Case for Separated Bike Lanes” which depicts the dangerous and chaotic nature of New York’s city streets and showcasing the successful implementation of beautiful, safe, green, and accessible bike infrastructure. Sounds boring, right?
Take a look at this video, compare the view of New York streets to that of other cities seen in the video: Paris, Boulder, CO, Copenhagen, and others. These cities have made creating safe space for bicycles a priority just as we are accustomed to having safe places to walk: sidewalks.
No one would imagine motor vehicles and walkers sharing the same space and similarly it makes no sense for bicyclists to share the same space with either walkers or motorized vehicles.
Notice how cars and trucks were constantly taking over the space allotted for bicycles? How a little paint on the road made no difference and provided no safe space to travel by bicycle — but how a curb, a concrete barrier, a buffered zone, a row of trees made a world of difference!
NOW, look at the amazing change just three short years later. New York is a biking mecca. Kids can ride safely, parents can ride with their kids, people can commute to work without risking their lives.
Pedestrians, then bikes, then parked vehicles, then motorized vehicles motorizing.
All we need is a little determination to make bicycling, the incredibly cheap and healthy mode of transportation accessible to all.
We can do it here in Pittsburgh and we can do it everywhere.
We should do it here in Pittsburgh, and we should do it everywhere.
Because we need safe and accessible transportation choices for all.
The town of Dimock, Pennsylvania is a sickening example of what happens when we allow corporate profits to take precedence over human need. Cabot Drilling of Houston is accused of poisoning the drinking water resulting in high levels of methane, iron and aluminum.
“In the last year Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has determined that Cabot was responsible for several spills of diesel fuel and drilling mud and for an 8,000-gallon leak of hydraulic fracturing fluids being prepared by a contractor, Halliburton, that seeped into a fresh water stream in September”.
(See ProPublica for more information on the town of Dimock)
But on Wednesday, November 3, people from around the country gathered in Pittsburgh on to speak out against the destruction of our water, our air, and our land for cheap natural gas and for the profit of a few at the expense of many.
“Thank you Pittsburgh! Thanks to you the rally was a HUGE success. An incredibly passionate and diverse group came out today, young and old, urban and rural, coming from states as far as California and as close as Ohio. We all came together to protect our constitutional right to clean air, pure water, and a healthy environment and to protest the exploitation of our environment and ourselves by the gas companies.
If you weren’t able to make it today then stay tuned because this is only the beginning.
There is much work still to be done and yesterday’s election certainly didn’t make things easier, but this an issue that affects everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, income, or political affiliation and we at PSEC strongly believe that it’s an issue worth fighting for. In the words of Margaret Meade, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Common Dreams: ”Pennsylvania has a total of 46,055 square miles. Approximately 75% of our state – 34,000 square miles – sits on Marcellus Shale. Within the next 10 years, the gas industry plans to cover this area with up to 100,000 Marcellus wells. That’s 2 – 3 wells per every square mile in our state,” said Debbie Borowiec, a resident of Westmoreland County, PA. “We should be switching to clean, safe, renewable energy sources, not destroying our state for gas.”
I woke at 5:30am and before 9 am, I had walked two miles, attended two yoga classes, and patronized four local businesses!
It’s getting better.
I started the day by walking to Yoga Hive, a new yoga studio recently opened by Kimberly Musial. Since they just opened, they have a special rate and you can try it out for $10 for two weeks. Just ten dollars — for unlimited classes!
So after a lovely first sweaty class, I stayed for the “Guided Meditation” which was so soothing and effective at quieting my constantly rushing mind that I think I may have fallen asleep. It was an incredibly restful feeling and left me feeling like I didn’t have a care in the world. I was even able to block out the car sounds outside on Penn Ave — a feat that is nearly impossible for me.
After yoga, I grabbed the newspaper from a convenience store, a cup of coffee from Voluto to sip while reading the Post-Gazette. My stroll home was lovely, too, and I stopped at People’s Grocery for an onion to assemble my future magnificent breakfast.
The Breakfast Brigade: Bagels, Mushrooms, Habaneros, Oh My!
I have a swell breakfast routine and it involves listening to NPR while whipping up a fairly elaborate bagel based meal and then reading the newspaper while eating.
Here’s my incredibly addictive breakfast:
An everything bagel (or two), sliced, toasted.
Cream cheese (onion and chives!)
Thin slices of apple
A delicious cheese (I usually use Havarti with Dill or some cheddar)
Habanero (if you like it, I can’t have a meal without one)
Cilantro (if you like it, if you’ve got it, I love it)
Sauteed mushroom (these last two if you want to get really fancy, I do)
After you’ve toasted the bagel, cover it with cream cheese.
Slice the apple paper thin and place 2-3 slices all over the bottom half of the bagel. This will cover the hole of the bagel and allow you to cover it with even more food.
Throw some onion on top of that for crunch and flavor.
Add mushrooms and spinach.
Cover all of the food with thin slices of your extra cheese to melt. Put the bagel back in the toaster oven or broiler and melt the cheese.
Add cilantro and minced habanero to the top and then cover with the other half of the bagel.
Slice in half and savor the massive six inch high bagel. I wish I had a picture to show you but I get so excited about my bagel that I eat too fast!
Now I’m walking to work because sometimes I like to move even more slowly than my bicycle.