March 24, 2009
My cycling friend who lives around the corner brought to my attention that Copenhagenize gave me a shout out of sorts. It makes me feel so special when stuff like that happens. I never really think about who reads this blog and how often... but it makes me so happy that people do read it and care to some degree about what I'm doing.
A few things happened within the past few days which got me thinking. First, a reporter from the Ottawa Citizen called to interview me about bike helmets. It was an interesting conversation because I'm not necessarily a helmet preacher.
I do think it's important to set a good example for kids and stuff. I do think that in North America, it's probably best to err on the side of caution because the cars aren't looking carefully at anything happening on the road. I like how my helmet actually keeps my hair in place so that it's not flying all over the place, resulting in my looking like a hobo after riding.
However, I do forget to put it on sometimes. On super hot days if I have all my hair pulled back in a high ponytail I sort of just run out the door and I'll be 10 minutes away from my house and realize I don't have it on. Also, in the winter I often put on a hat or a toque and subconsciously, if I have something on my head already, I'll just forget. How does one get so absent-minded? I don't know!
So my NOT wearing a helmet isn't a direct 'screw you' to society, I just forget. On the other hand, I feel as though helmet wearing can really limit peoples' views about cycling. While I think safety is good, if you happen to be riding without a helmet... I also don't think it's the end of the world. North American bike culture is very much (in my opinion) centered around fear and the need for all sorts of equipment to overcome the danger of cycling or the elements/outdoors. We have a lot of people who might either bite the bullet and wear a helmet that doesn't look particularly stylish (or else they just don't care, so whatever). Or you get people who don't want to bike without one... so they don't bike at all! The same goes for not being able to find the appropriate bike to suit one's lifestyle.
I keep finding links for more lady bikes. I just feel as though ladies who want to ride a road bike or a mountain bike... would already be doing it. I'm mostly obsessed with trying to encourage the average person to hop on a bike without any super special considerations. I often get asked about style and biking, but in essence I'm mostly about 'normal' biking. In my case it meant cycling in heels and dresses (my regular shoes and clothes). For other people that might not be the case. I just wish people didn't feel the pressure of needing to buy all sorts of stuff to ride a bike. Especially when it means compromising, like if you can't find a helmet that you like but you buy one anyway and then never wear it because you hate it. Then you never ride your bike because your helmet looks bad.
My friend, Leanne, sent me this link about women and cycling. It says all the right things! Except, it still features a picture of a super sport girl sweating it out on her commute. It doesn't have to be that way! Not everybody needs a bike with more than 5, 3, or even 1 gear.
Sometimes I feel as though there's a real all or nothing attitude about bicycle commuting. People will ask me about kinds of bikes that might be good for bike commuting (you know, wearing your normal clothes, going to work without showering afterwards, etc). Then they will interrupt me and say, "well, I already have a bike" or something similar. My response is usually, "why aren't you riding it?" Then I'll hear all about where they live and why they can't bike to work. But, cycling doesn't have to be about biking to everything, all the time, every day. Even if it's just biking for groceries more often or replacing short trips in the car with trips on the bike. Even if a small percentage of the population started doing this, I'm pretty sure we would all benefit!
Same with biking in the winter. It's cool when we take the bikes out in the snow, but I'll admit that I don't do it every day. To me, riding a bike is first and foremost a really fun thing to do. So if it's not fun I won't really do it. I'd rather walk or take the bus or carpool. So you get these people who are like, "but there's so much snow, I can't bike!" Nobody says everybody has to bike ALL year. Sure, if you can, then great! It's a good workout and can be fun depending on the conditions. However, even if some people in Edmonton just rode in the spring/summer/fall... I'm still convinced that would have a cumulative impact on peoples' wallets, health, and the environment!
So helmets or no helmets. Winter riding or seasonal only. Wind breakers or cashmere sweaters. Sidi shoes or strappy sandals. Cyclists can come in all shapes, forms, styles, and sizes. The important thing to remember is that no matter what your style you can ride a bike. I bet you'll love it!
March 17, 2009
I had to go to the lab yesterday for a series of 28 weeks pregnant tests. Walking to the lab that I like (there's this lady there that is so good at taking blood, you barely realize it's happening) takes about 20-25 mins. Walking in the snow actually slows me down quite a bit. No traction! Driving takes about 10 minutes once you factor in the lights and the parking. Well, factoring in the parking probably means 15 mins. The bike takes me 8.
Upon getting into the garage I discovered that my beater bike had a flat! Very demoralizing:( Particularly because it's so cold out there... hanging out in the freezing garage to change it doesn't strike me as fun. And the bike is SO filthy. And our little bike fixing stand is barricaded in the shed. Sigh. So I rode pretty Pashley through the yucky snow again.
Poor Pashley. She's such a trooper.
March 13, 2009
Yup, still lots of snow out there. Even though we're not biking, we DO walk! Here's Dougal and I at the park.
(Btw, that's totally Dougal in the background trying furiously, to dislodge a piece of frozen poo from the ground. It's so disgusting... but I tell myself he doesn't know that it's poo. Note to people with dogs, pick up after your pooch!)
When I look at other blogs with snowy streets I'm always thinking, "That's not so bad! I'd bike in that no problem..." but, snowy streets are always in a state of evolution so I shouldn't preach. Right now we've got this awesome, thick brown sludge on the main roads. This is my front walk. That snow is THICK. Oh yes it is.
Dougal with ice chips in his beard.
March 10, 2009
So we're back to having -30 C/-20 F ish weather, with wind chills on top, etc. Don and I were leaving an event on Saturday night and were walking one and a half blocks to city hall to go grab the car and within that 2-3 minute interval (it felt like a really long time) the wind was blowing right through my wool dress coat. Brutal!
These super cold days come in little waves and Don and I tend to buckle down and hibernate in the bungalow with DVDs and coffee drinks. Everybody talks about moving away from Edmonton when it's cold like this... and although I'm not the first person to run outside without my coat on and dance around on the front lawn, I realize the cold is temporary.
This is life at the bungalow while we're waiting for things to unfreeze a bit.
Snuggling with Dougal.
March 5, 2009
This is what wednesday was like over at the bungalow. Late breakfast of orange-cranberry scones and lemon curd (all home made) and a delicious coffee drink. Our friends Bryce and Brian had seriously gotten into making wicked coffee at home several years ago. We would go over to their place and hone in on their stash all the time... until they decided to move to Toronto because Bryce got a part playing a hobbit in the Lord of the Rings musical.
As a remedy to this loss, we decided to use a bunch of garage sale money from when we first consolidated properties (when you have 2 of everything) and purchase our own little commercial espresso machine. We first got the Rancillio Silvia with a fantastic matching grinder and it provided us with a few years of espresso magic. Then, we decided to upgrade to the Wega Mini Nova and have it plumbed into the water system. We love coffee. And on the urging of Bryce and Brian who are currently still living in Toronto, we are now members at the Merchants of Green Bean. This means we get green beans and roast at home, so coffee is gorgeously fresh and tasty!
The coffee thing is a blessing and a curse. It means that when everybody is out and about and wants Starbucks I'm kind of like, "uh... okay" because I'd rather drink the coffee from my house.
Anyway, after a breakfast, Dougal and I walked over to redbike to pick up the beater Raleigh and then rode it home. The bike guys made a ball out of elastic bands covered in tape for D. After a good romp and putting my Stockholm Design House Carrie basket onto the bike, we were on our way!
March 4, 2009
This is Don! He looks pretty technical... but he rode the Batavus and not his mountain bike. He had his suit at city hall so he just wanted to ride in his wind proof jacket and change at work. Don is less concerned with style than I am. But to his credit, he does just hop on the bike in his normal clothes, which is what I generally advocate. If he's not working, Don could just live in jeans and a t-shirt and bed head. He is like a lumberjack. Camping really becomes him.
Council is deciding on whether or not to invest (and to what extent) in the sorely needed improvements to bike infrastructure here in Edmonton.
We have lots of 'bike lanes' that just end suddenly. Broken links in trails. Weird signage. And even our bike lanes aren't like specialized painted lanes, they're just streets that happen to have a sign on them with a little bike. These changes are really important because they're a long term investment that will have significant environmental and health benefits for people who are encouraged to try biking, even if it's seasonally, as transportation. Edmonton has tons of great trails and a beautiful river valley so the recreational biking in the city is thoroughly enjoyed by 'sport' cyclists. However, it's the increased use of bikes as a viable mode of transportation and a vehicle on a regular daily basis that we really hope for.
Funny. People freak out because they read that the plan is $100 million over the course of 10 years. But... even if there's grumbling, nobody really freaks out about paving new roads out to new subdivisions for cars. And those new roads take wicked beatings with the weather and the encouraged use of cars, which means dumb traffic, not smart traffic. Fixing up bike infrastructure is using what we already have, but pimping it!
Anyway, nobody likes to spend lots of money on anything in this city. And for some people maybe it seems frivolous, but I see it as an investment in the future of the city and I think it would be healthy for the city to make a commitment to reduced emissions and active transportation by approving plans like this. Sure, there's a global economic crisis, but this strikes me as a way to plan ahead. I know it's hard for some people to get their head around.
Go read all about the wonderful work Don is trying to do with the bike plan.
March 3, 2009
My great friend Dave is turning another year older this week so I invited him out for some pasta dinner at Chianti's for a chilled out acknowledgment of the occasion. Since Don was going to meet us and he happened to drive yesterday, I decided to forego the bike and took my bus and then walked up 82nd ave 4-5 blocks.
I made Dave an apple crisp and also gave him a jar of lemon curd from the batch I had made yesterday afternoon. This makes me sound like I'm really nice and everything (because I love baking and such), but poor Dave is also diabetic so he needs to make sure he injects himself with lots of life sauce before he enjoys these gifts.
Here's a crappy self portrait taken with my iPhone... the lights on the bus aren't that flattering. Oh well! I'm afraid to say my parka generally dominates any 'style' factor in my outfits as of late. It's not NOT stylish, it's just such a frequent item I wear. Even when it's much warmer the parka breathes because it's down filled. And I love the hood, wind be damned when I have it on! My point is, when I stand in front of the closet choosing a coat... I usually, by default, go for my beloved parka.
The scarf is cashmere... does that earn me any style points?