Friday, December 10, 2010

Left-wing pinko cyclist...

There is nothing like a right wing, fascist, lead-footed dinosaur to spark a little rally. Thanks Don!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A cool, lush evergreen oasis...

Of the many things that make Vancouver such an ideal place to live and cycle there are few that genuinely equal Stanley Park.  But —I am slightly embarrassed to admit— even though I have been a resident here for over 20 years I had hardly ever ventured further than the 9 kilometres of seawall.

The seawall can be a challenging route for a bike outing if you pick the wrong time of day —or time of year.  And that time is pretty well anytime it looks like a great day for a bike ride around the seawall because what you will find is that great minds think alike.  It gets busy... extremely busy!  You might not mind that if you're prepared to travel at 5 kilometres an hour, be jostled and thwarted by packs of wandering sightseers and tourists who, it would appear, are only just now learning to ride a bike and haven’t quite worked out the whole straight-line-stay-to-the-right thing; and be aware that your delightfully polite jingly bell is barely perceptible to the joggers and rollerbladers swaying obstructingly ahead of you, hood-up buds-in.   So I prefer to go in the early morning just before the balance of the great unwashed begin the daily crusade. Two and a half million of them a year.

Approaching Siwash Rock viewed from my bike on the seawall
A few weeks back I found myself at Prospect Point and was surprised to discover that it didn’t look at all as I remembered it.  The violent windstorm in December 2006 severely damaged more than 10% of the Stanley Park Forest, downing over 10,000 trees as well as damaging the Prospect Point escarpment and seawall below.  It took two years to fully restore the park and the point was completely refurbished.  

Looking west from the Prospect point viewing platform.
Leading up to Prospect Point are 27 kilometres of bark-mulched interior paths that run through the 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of towering cedar, fir and hemlock forest.  Resting at the bank of the sheltered Beaver Lake watching the ducks paddle around in the quiet marshy pond, I was hard pressed to believe that I was only minutes away from the frenzy and hustle of Vancouver’s downtown core.

Beaver Lake
For a bicycle outing you’ll find the trails a bit more undulating than the seawall (a gentle pseudonym for: there will be hills) although a good deal more peaceful and rewarding. Nevertheless what goes up must come down; but please take it slowly.  These trails aren’t for mountain bike completions or lycra-lout time trials.  
Pedestrian, equestrian... which side for cycling?
Here is a brief history of Stanley Park from the Park Board web site:

“In 1886, Vancouver's first City Council made a momentous decision by petitioning the Federal Government to lease 1,000 acres of a largely logged peninsula for park and recreation purposes. On September 27, 1887 Stanley Park was officially opened establishing the fledgling city's first official "greenspace". Council decided to set up an autonomous and separately elected committee to govern all park and recreation matters in Vancouver. And so the Vancouver Board of Parks & Recreation was born, the only elected body of its kind in Canada. The system now includes more than 200 parks (over 1300 hectares) but its heart remains in the cool, lush, evergreen oasis of Stanley Park, named for Lord Stanley, Governor General of Canada in 1888 when the park was officially opened.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sunrise on the Greenway...

Looking east on the Central Valley Greenway 7:15 am

This is a sight that I am regularly blessed with especially at this time of year.  Too often I just lean back into my headrest (yes, my bike has a headrest... and it's not cheating), smile, take it in and keep on rolling. But this morning I remembered that I had a camera with me.  It was pretty dark so without a tripod I had some trouble holding the camera still and there was some digital noise due to the lack of illumination....  but it's still a pretty fair reflection of what I get to see many mornings while on my way to work.  It was pretty cold and early so there weren't too many other cyclists out and on this section of my commute I see few cars. So it's a very peaceful part of my day.  

Would you miss this if you were in a car?  I think so.  But even if that weren't true a motorist certainly wouldn't feel as much a part of it, hidden as they are in their shells, as when you're in it, moving through it under your own steam, feeling the crispness on your skin and the smell of the wet leaves in your nose.  

Soon, with the clocks falling back an hour and the days getting shorter I will get to see the setting sun perform a similar show on my ride home. To anyone who has put their bike away for the season I would offer this as exhibit one in "Year-round-cycling v. Fair-weather-cyclist."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Night and Day...

Jim Watson, the newly elected Mayor of Ottawa, has a 10 point plan to increase and improve cycling in our nation's capital. It reads like a cycling wish list. You can check it out here.

“Safety is at the heart of this initiative,” said Watson. “I am concerned that the recent string of bike tragedies is having an effect on confidence. We can’t wait for safety. If the balance tips and people start to view cycling as risk, or antagonism builds with motorists, then we’ll suffer a real loss here in Ottawa."

"With the incredible beauty of Ottawa and the surrounding area, we simply have not made enough of the explosion in cycling tourism,” said Watson. “We can be a hub, and you think of it especially at this time of year with a natural colour show easy distance that is hard to match to the east, west, north and south of us in Ottawa. We need to jump start confidence in Ottawa as a safe and fantastic place to cycle.”

Compare that to what Toronto has voted for.  Toronto's new mayor Rob Ford says, "I can't support bike lanes. Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it's their own fault at the end of the day." He is also on record as saying "cyclists are a pain in the ass" and made 'no more cycling routes' an election promise. This guy is a real piece of work but if T.O. cyclists get too frustrated they can always move to Ottawa or Vancouver like I did.  There may be some dark days ahead for Torontonians of the velo-persuasion. Good luck. You'll need it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Head down, hood up, buds in tuned out...

My commute everyday includes long sections of multi-use paths.  I encounter, everyday, some order of the following; pedestrians, rollerbladers and cyclists who wear headphones.  Of the many things that I scan for while cycling I have, for some time now, added to the list "wires coming from ears."  When detected I approach cautiously expecting dramatic changes in direction and speed.  That's not all that uncommon for your average conscientious cyclist.  What makes things worse is that my lovely bell doesn't raise an eyebrow.  Often my well exercised bark garners no response. That usually leaves me two options: slow down to a near stop and creep past so as not to frighten them or use my air-horn.  I have yet to try option two but I have been tempted.  Unfortunately, option one, no matter how well executed, seems to scare the bejesuz out of them.
I don't buy all of the "a cyclist nearly killed me" stories that seem to be rampant these days (especially on certain media's article response sections).  I have been a pedestrian for over 50 years now and have never been nearly killed by a cyclists.  It can't be just dumb luck.  It does worry me that this is a not uncommon attack from the anti-cycling crowd.  Fabricated, imagined or not, it sticks when it's flung.

That said, this from the Dallas Morning News:
A Dallas jogger who was severely injured in a collision with a bicyclist on the Katy Trail last week died Sunday, according to the Dallas County medical examiner’s office.

Lauren Huddleston, 28, died at 6:51 p.m. at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Huddleston was hit Thursday evening, apparently when she abruptly turned into a cyclist’s path in a section of the trail near Routh Street.

She was wearing headphones and may not have heard the bicycle approaching, police said.

She was taken to the hospital with critical head injuries.

The family bears no malice toward the cyclist.

I try to remind myself everyday that pedestrians --regardless of how unhelpfully they behave-- always have the right of way.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Air-Head Alert!

I just don't know what to make of this...

My question is what happens if you're sitting in Starbucks enjoying a latte and you sit up too fast?  Exactly what is the mechanism that triggers this thing?

Well at least you will look great ($450 later).
... and yikes!
Which way to Area 51?

I suppose we can say thanks for trying guys.  But why stop at wearing it when you're riding a bike?  After all, isn't it pedestrians, and more so motorists, who get more head injuries?   These would be great for drunks.  Even better for drunken boaters.  Maybe you could have a built-in blue-tooth headset so you could call 911 while you're lying in ditch.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rush Hour...

I've seen bee hives that looked less organized than this.

So where are the helmets and lycra? If anyone ever asks you what bike culture is, show them this video.