Category Archives: bikes plus science

Pedaler in Chief

“Bicycles will save the world.”  –Susan Handy, UC Davis Environmental Science & Policy

How poignant this Rush song is today.  It was written in 1985 when greed was being institutionalized in America.  I grew up a confused child in a troubled world.

After high school I worked as a roofer.  I started college.  At 21, I drove an 18 wheeler around America the beautiful, and epic Canada too.  But it was the bicycle–rediscovered at the age of 22 when I realized the car could not save me and was too expensive for me to operate anymore–that changed me.  It was a tool that helped me learn Emerson’s Self-Reliance from the inside by living it.  It’s not easy, and I don’t know where this journey is taking me, but it is a fun ride.

mais-scene

What if our next President charged the country with cycling more?  Make a difference, bike more.  We don’t need everyone to ride, we simply need to support people that are out there cycling right now and encourage people that will.  Especially our youth, and young at heart.

If you’re feeling cynical during this election cycle I recommend cycling more.  It builds us up and connects us to the greater world.  I would also recommend voting.  We have to make our effort and let go of factors beyond our control.  We can only dictate our own effort.  And it works.

2012 was a pivotal moment on my cycling journey when Joe Shannon, Flagstaff Cycling’s Pedaler in Chief, gave me an opportunity to race again, build a team and smooth out my pedal stroke.  We keep growing the movement and spreading the word.  What if the next President of the U.S.A. embraced this new title, Pedaler in Chief, and built a team with all Americans and World Leaders?   Who knows, maybe big money can help more too.  Let’s ask.

References–
Check out Dr. Handy’s research here:  http://www.des.ucdavis.edu/faculty/handy/
Joe’s team is linked here–
https://flagstaffcycling.squarespace.com/
Cycling joins together disciplines:  UC Davis’s Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior

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Building Lasting Partnerships

A big thank you to my friends at Conservation Science Partners and the Landscape Conservation Initiative for supporting the Southwest Bike Initiative.  They also brought their friends at Live Oak Associates, Inc., an ecological consulting firm, to strengthen our network.  Because of the team CSP put together, they are my bike org. of the month for May 2016.  Check out the article here announcing our collaboration promoting the role of cycling in conservation.

magenta Sandia

When I was choosing “categories” for this blog post, I started clicking every one.  This partnerships embodies all that I’ve been doing up to this point, and connects a series of journeys that began long ago.  I’m enthused to be working with such classy organizations and bright people.  LCI’s philosophy of mobilizing science through collaborative planning, education and practical experiences has been influential in instigating new approaches for solving environmental challenges.  CSP’s innovative structure and novel science applications has created a paradigm shift in how we do conservation.  LOA’s ecological expertise delivers practical solutions fostering environmental sustainability throughout California and the Western United States.  Together their collaboration is raising the bar for conservation science.

Truchas

Cycling is a great practical exercise for improving health, the environment, and building lasting partnerships.   Our cycling team builds grassroots coalitions, and increases collaboration between diverse communities around common objectives to achieve new vistas on what is possible.  Please follow SBI’s website and media to keep in touch with our development.

Building Community Through Safe Routes To Schools

Most people are worried that kids are going to be worse off than their parents…politicians have simply not paid attention to the best interests of kids…it is all short term decision making.
–Jim Steyer, from Common Sense Media, on Charlie Rose

Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) is a great investment in kids, and the benefits extend beyond healthy commutes to school.   This report from the National Center for SRTS documents how safe walking and bicycling strategies for kids can catalyze community-wide changes.   The report lists five opportunities SRTS presents for extending the benefits of healthy transportation.

Mai flowers one

  • SRTS provides a logical starting point for innovative infrastructure to improve driver and pedestrian safety behavior at crossings.
  • SRTS programs create opportunities to try behaviors and inspire community-wide change.
  • SRTS initiatives serve as starting point for using bold ideas to tackle difficult safety issues like speeding.
  • SRTS creates safe networks for walking and bicycling.
  • SRTS attracts a robust base of support by promoting broader community benefits.

from 5 Ways SRTS Can Help Advance Youth Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety Beyond the Trip to School 

Mai flowers three

Working with school age youth and their families provides a tremendous opportunity to listen to community issues from neighborhood-level perspectives.  It helps prioritize the safety of all street users and balances walking and bicycling considerations with motorized travel.  “SRTS programs bring together diverse people around a common cause: to improve the safety, health, and well-being of all children and their families.  They have helped improve local air quality; increase children and families’ physical activity levels; improve students’ academic achievement and reduce the number of days they are absent from school; reduce school transportation costs; and address the presence of street crime and violence in communities.”
(from Creating Healthier Generations)
 

Mai flowers two

Southwest Bike Initiative is happy to be partnering with ABQ Public Schools on SRTS!

Resources:
National Center for Safe Routes to Schools:  http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/
direct link to the report report from NCSRTS:  Advancing Safe Walking and Bicycling for Youth
Post photos:  from the phone of Sansai Studio, Spring bloom at the University of New Mexico

How Clean is The Air

The Santa Fe Institute has an upcoming seminar on Quantifying Air Pollution Exposure in Cities  Through Large-Scale Data on Human Activities.  They are using mobile phone data to track human movements to better quantify exposure to ambient air pollutants.  “The power of big data for activity tracking in air pollution exposure assignments has yet to be unleashed”.   Science is cool.

When I’m cycling I’m super attenuated to the quality of the air I’m breathing.  I can smell if a person is smoking a cigarette in the car in front of me.  Our sense of smell is amazing and our lungs are sensitive organs.  So when a pre-particulate filter diesel powered vehicle goes by I try not to breathe too hard.  But when I’m cycling and walking this is almost impossible to do.

Walking back from 1millioncups this Wednesday I encountered this group walking on Central Avenue

Walking back from 1millioncups at FatPipe ABQ Wednesday I encountered this youth group walking on Central Avenue

Manufacturers for pick ups and passenger vehicles now include particulate filters on vehicles to clean up the exhaust stream.  And the fuel refineries began delivering ultra low sulfur diesel to 100% of the US on road market in 2010.  Between 2007-2010 heavy duty trucks and buses were phased in with diesel engines that are 90% cleaner. California has a safer standard and aggressive implementation program.  “By January 1, 2023, nearly all trucks and buses will need to have 2010 model year engines or equivalent” in the State of California.  California has 9 out of the 10 most polluted cities for particulate according to the America Lung Association.

Of course the main legacy issue are older vehicles still on the road, and also unmaintained vehicles.  I would love to see financing from all sectors–philanthropic, business, public–combine to facilitate faster change over to quicken the transition to cleaner air for everyone.  Studies like the Santa Fe Institute’s give people better information to manage the proactive changes.  There is no amount of pollution that is good for us.  The USA stands up for human dignity.

I would like to visit Sequoia National Park without emerging from a polluted central valley, seeing produce growing in smog, and worrying about the smog affecting human health and the ancient trees.  I would like to ride my bicycle and walk without worrying about damaging my lungs.  I would like all people to be free to live where they want without being discouraged or impacted by air pollution.  This is possible.  By directing science to benefit human health and by taking action we can determine a better present and shape a brighter future.

Resources:

The World Health Organization has statistics on deaths and illness related to ambient air pollution.  Fine particulate matter from internal combustion engines has serious impacts on human health. http://www.who.int/gho/phe/outdoor_air_pollution/en/

http://www.epa.gov/otaq/highway-diesel/

http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/onrdiesel/onrdiesel.htm

http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/city-rankings/most-polluted-cities.html

The Gift of the Rift, or East and West Exuberance

There are so many places to bike in and around Albuquerque.  Early Monday morning before sunrise I pedaled up the Paseo de las Montañas toward the Sandia Mountains and watched sunrise near Elena Gallegos park.  And this morning I rode west crossing the Río Grande and warmed up underneath the basalt rock Volcano Cliffs.  Still using my cell phone for photos.

well rounded

bones

Albuquerque is built on gravel and sand in the Río Grande rift valley, which is one of the youngest and largest continental rift valleys on earth, geologically similar to the East African rift valley.  The river has followed the rift valley south from Colorado.  It is no wonder this place is so ecologically diverse and interesting, with these geological processes at work.  The Sandia Mountains are the oldest rock around Albuquerque and make up the eastern edge of the rift valley.  They are fault block mountains and 1.4 billion years old.   The trails in the High Desert and Elena Gallegos areas are so well maintained I can get up there with my trusty Trek bike.

morning opening

hidden

dear trek

all lit up

The volcanic fields on the west side in the following pictures are relatively young.  The volcanoes erupted 140,000-220,000 years ago.  The magma worked its way up through a fissure crack and spattered through a series of cones.  The three main cones–Vulcan, Black, and JA–are subtle yet beautiful imprints on the western horizon, clearly visible from almost anywhere in town.   The Río Grande channel erodes the lowest area between the Sandia and Volcanoes and the edge of the river’s erosion is the volcanic escarpment on the west mesa, or Volcano Cliffs.

colors

pretty color mix

over done

I was amazed encountering these flowers today.  We have Broom Dalea (purple sage), Jimson Weed, Sand Sage, and abundant sunflowers.  This is my first August here in Albuquerque and the landscape’s variation through the season is remarkable.  The volcanoes didn’t look like this earlier this year.  The diversity between the east side of the valley and the west side is stunning.  It makes for a quite a special place to live and ride, and makes it difficult to pick the better side.  Both incredible.  I’m building posts covering the bike infrastructure on both sides.

Collage Mound True

basalt sunflower trails

upper reach

Sources:
Check out the New Mexico Natural History museum’s page on ABQ’s volcanic field: http://nmnaturalhistory.org/albuquerque-volcanic-field
West Side Ride:  https://www.strava.com/activities/366589747/embed/38af43a2617e9ce7c937129439cbc28f3f5aaa8c East Side Ride: https://www.strava.com/activities/365771025/embed/d06dde695373b3504de545740822933db6e3093f