Wouldn’t it be nice…

…if every freeway, motorway crossing had one of these? I have heard from a Norwegian friend that these are plentiful there, he said, “for the moose.” I worry about the animals roaming in and around the Baltic countries that are erecting fences to stem the flow of migrants and refugees fleeing war and desperation. The animals too are now barred from passing through.

 

Ecological Bridge for Animalsvia: ScienceNaturePage

Posted by Living Outdoor on Saturday, April 2, 2016

Stockholm Beauty

IMG_5392I took these pictures on my bike ride into town yesterday. It was one of those phenomenons that I felt rarely occurs. A mix of thick mist hung low over Stockholm’s Lake Mälaren even as the sun rose slowly above it. Some ice remained from a weak winter that a group of birds rested safely upon.

Though verging on a late arrival for a meeting, I pulled over and wrestled out my iPhone with gloved hands, in order to capture the moment. These pictures do not do exactly that, only give you an inkling of the sheer beauty. Other cyclists did the same.

Had I been driving, this would remain a memory, to share only in words.

IMG_5391

The Amazing Benefits of Slowing Down Traffic, Measured in Money and Lives

Take a moment to read this article, The Amazing Benefits of Slowing Down Traffic, Measured in Money and Lives. It lays out in numbers what I already knew, that “safety gains of a road diet far outweigh the traffics costs.” Here is the article from CityLab.com.

http://www.citylab.com/cityfixer/2015/10/the-benefits-of-slower-traffic-measured-in-money-and-lives/408472/?utm_source=wired

http://www.citylab.com/cityfixer/2015/10/the-benefits-of-slower-traffic-measured-in-money-and-lives/408472/?utm_source=wired

http://www.citylab.com/cityfixer/2015/10/the-benefits-of-slower-traffic-measured-in-money-and-lives/408472/?utm_source=wired

 

Lovely London

Where were you, Boris Johnson, when I lived and biked in London? During my time there, nearly 15 years ago, I biked as much as I could. I cycled along the Thames and off the main roads, but it would have been impossible to get anywhere without setting wheel upon the zippy, skinny streets.

During those years there were no dedicated bike routes or bike paths, that I can recall—except, sort of, along the Thames. A pretty, flat, accessible place, biking just made and still makes sense. London Mayor Boris Johnson and city leaders agree. They are fully behind efforts to make London nearly as good, if not equal to the likes of bike utopias Amsterdam and Copenhagen. “The board of Transport for London approved a plan to spend £160m (around $240 million) on segregated bike lanes,” Britain’s ITV has reported. Maybe it’s time to move back?


 

Read more in this NPR.org blog article

Just Idling Away

Geneva MotorShow 2013 - Ferrari LaFerrari rear lights and exhaust pipeCC BY-SA 3.0 Clément Bucco-Lechat - Own work

Geneva MotorShow 2013 – Ferrari LaFerrari rear lights and exhaust pipe CC BY-SA 3.0
Clément Bucco-Lechat – Own work

I am struggling with all of the idling I’ve seen of late; people sitting in their cars, engine running, going nowhere. They fumble with phones, talk, text, or just sit waiting, air conditioning blowing, to pick up loved ones.

The problems with this are many: fossil fuel is consumed; it contributes to global warming; and whoever is nearby—dogs, children, babies in strollers, plants—breathe what is coming out of the tailpipe.

According to Wikipedia, “Each year idling uses up several billion gallons of fuel and contributes significantly to the transportation sector’s portion of yearly greenhouse gas emissions.” Still, I see it every day; parents comfy cozy in air-perfected vehicles while impacting the very precious environment our young people are running around in.

First I tried to address the problem directly, myself. Bad idea. In a first attempt, one warm day, I kindly asked of the driver in the car parked next to ours, if she would be so kind as to turn off the engine. She sneered as she tore into a piece of pepperoni pizza from the driver’s seat. She complied, but her sassy gaze made clear she didn’t appreciate my asking. Her daughter turned up several uncomfortable minutes later, chatting cheerily together after soccer practice, with my very own daughter. This attempt at combatting global warming singly turned out to be with the mother of my offspring’s friend and fellow teammate. Not a great way to start a relationship, to say the least. To add insult to injury, she was on her way as was I, to the end of season party—awkward. We subsequently began carpooling to practices. Hopefully she doesn’t think I’m a total dodo.

The second time I timidly approached the open window of a huge SUV, parked but running, right in front of a classroom, the door of the room open wide. I asked if he was aware that his tailpipe was pointing straight at it. He responded countering that the wind was blowing in the opposite direction. He did not turn the key of his car to off. I was told he was cooling down the interior of his auto for his daughter, who shortly thereafter, exited from that very room. My attempt at changing his mind was not effective, and I admit, it only made me feel awful again.

I’ve resigned myself to end my one-on-one advocacy efforts. I can’t change the world all by myself. I realize that now. Besides, my goal with this blog has always been to educate or rather, elucidate, so that others might be swayed to make adjustments on their own, because they understand the consequences of their actions.

There is always legislation. In Sweden köra på tomgång as it’s called, is not permitted in most parts of the country for more than 1 minute. There are signs posted near bridges that open for tall boats, and other places you might find yourself stuck waiting in a car, that remind drivers to give the engine a break. The Swedish law allows you one minute to decide if it makes more sense to shut off the engine and wait silently, without spewing fumes or using a dirty and limited resource.

There doesn’t seem to be anything similar in California. Though school buses are not permitted to idle in front of a school—”it is illegal for school buses to idle their engines in the vicinity of a school” it makes no mention of personal vehicles. Some of the cars around here are nearly as big as a bus, so I think personally, it might be worth expanding that law, at a minimum near schools and parks.

So here is my wish. Next time you pull over to fiddle with your phone—and I applaud all that do—if it is going to take more than a minute, why not consider turning off the engine? It will save gas (money), decrease your carbon footprint, and it is a simple, painless way to reduce emissions. It might be a little hotter inside your car temporarily, (if you live in a warm part of the country) but it’s going to get a lot hotter, fast, if we don’t start reducing those emissions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-idling

Bring on the Rain

This is month two of our second year of life in a dry, hot climate. It is what many would deem the perfect conditions to cycle in, year round. Of course I grumble, finding it too hot and sunny, resulting in sweat and sunburns on top of a lack of ample, safe infrastructure.

Such high temperatures are actually not historically typical for Santa Barbara. It is usually about 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 Celsius). One should expect about 17 inches of rain to fall from October to about April. But California has been in a drought for the last three years and we don’t know what awaits us this winter. I think it is safe to say that everyone here hopes for precipitation.

I thought a lot about inclement weather when I finally purchased a new bike. This beauty will not only get me up our mountain and through the rocky park, but it will enable me to carry a load, not on my back. It lacks one key item though—fenders. Naturally, the store did not carry any. They can be ordered, the salesman said. It is hard to imagine a bike shop in Sweden not stocked with various options to block the inevitable mud, slush and splash on so many days of the year in that part of the world. I’ve ridden in rain only once this year, and it was light and quickly subsided, the sun appearing in full force just hours later.

Nevertheless, I am thinking ahead, to the day we embark upon moister climes and this new Trek follows along. It is my reality—I am married to a Swede. It’s okay. I am eager to make two wheels a more regular transport option, and there, it’s much safer to do so. That is why when I came across this coverall suit on Cyklistbloggen I was relieved and excited. Maybe I won’t even need those fenders. In the meantime I’d love it if they came up with a lightweight, highly visible, sun protector suit!

The Bikesuit. One piece bicycle rain suit. from Smart Products on Vimeo.

“Bikelash” backlash!

Santa Barbara recently experienced a bit of the phenomenon now referred to as “bikelash” whereby opposition in the form of media commentary or otherwise is meted out on bike infrastructure or cyclists themselves. According to the folks interviewed in this happy video, however, it can be a good thing and bears addressing. Not only that, but this video shows off a great number of wonderful bikeways seemingly in different cities in the great U.S.A.

Talking About Bikelash In Your City from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.