Category Archives: Socioecological Dimensions of Bicycling

Burn calories, not carbon pledge

What is to give light must endure burning.  –Viktor Frankl

I just took the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s pledge to help create healthier communities and a healthier planet.  You can take it too.  They ask everyone to help by using active transportation modes (walking, biking, skateboarding, be creative?!) when we can to save carbon and get fit.  Here’s the pledge link:  www.railstotrails.org/pledge

I worked for RTC on a trail survey in Albuquerque.  They are a fine organization taking a forward-thinking approach by repurposing abandoned railways as multi-use pathways.  I also have great memories of an excursion on one of RTC’s projects near Reno, where I used to live.  It is called the Biz Johnson Trail.  It was a great adventure, but back before digital cameras!

Short ride, or long ride, work trip, or recreation trip, or a blended experience, remember, every little bit counts!  Here’s what I wrote on my RTC pledge statement.  They ask you to write a few words about how you will help burn calories and save carbon–

“I ride as much as possible, and share my rides on Strava.  Strava helps make my cycling more visible, and the data collected can be used by community planners.  Strava also helps me get inspired by seeing the activities of others.  My wife and I share one car, and when we are not cycling, we take transit.  Good transit systems are essential to supporting public transportation goals.  I also blog about my cycling activities at bikeyogi.com and work as a community organizer, educator, and transportation analyst at Southwest Bike Initiative, a 501(c)(3) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  swbikeinitiative.wordpress.com/

I miss the TT bike

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The Spirit of the Bicycle

Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe?  –Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Bicycles remind me of the Canadian rock band Rush.  They’ve never had the marketing machine elevating them to pop star status, but their audience grows over the years through consistent competency, practicality, artistry, value and pure fun.  They simply perform well.

west-looking

And so it is with the bicycle.  I was talking with a bike shop manager during a ride.  His ideal customer is someone just getting started and wanting an entry level bicycle, $400 or so.  They ride it until it wears out.  Through their experience, they have a clearer idea for the next one.  I told him that was my story.  I started riding almost 20 years ago on a Specialized Rockhopper.  It cost about $400.  Now, 20+ bikes later, I’m on a Specialized Tarmac.  Technology is wonderful, but the most important thing is your bike fits you, and is mechanically sound.  How much money you spend is irrelevant.  The ride characteristics come from you, the rider, from your heart and soul.  A good bike lets you do what you want to do.  It is intuitive, honest, trustful.  You are the instrument making the sound.  You make the bicycle go where you want to be.

wilderness-edge

The places we can go are fabulous!  When I was driving 18-wheeler across America for a living, I saw a lot of country.  But I missed most of what was out there.  The bicycle allows you to immerse yourself and get a 360 degree experience of the landscape surrounding you.   Cycling experiences make our senses and minds more impressionable.  It keeps us fresh, youthful.  If I would have had a bicycle with me on my 18-wheeler rig to ride during layovers, loading times, and rest days, I could still be truckin’.  We live in the best of both worlds.  We have macro-transportation capabilities to span the globe, and can find intimacy and serene pleasure too if we take the time to be quiet, humble, and explore under our own useful and fitting powers.  Keeping a balance is key.  We have to choose wisely, and accommodate ourselves to the world.

fr-445-specialized-action

The bicycle allows us to build an understanding of the world minus the scaffolding.  The structure of the cycling experience is almost unmediated.  What a brilliant, fun technology.  The bicycle is sustainable transportation.  It is practical and worthwhile.  My how we need it!

champions

tall-view

If you want to be a champion to future generations and create important changes now, be a champion of the humble bicycle.  Let people make music with the bicycle.  Embrace this technology and abide by it.   Unlike the rock band Rush, bicycles do not grow old.   We are on the precipice of big change in the world.  Bicycles help us move our story in the right direction and produce more positive outcomes, win-wins.  Bicycles build optimism, health, and–

  • get us out of our bubble
  • activate our inherent mobility powers
  • shift our perceptions so we tune in
  • stimulate creative thinking
  • help us meet new people, feel connected to our communities, and be a part of the world
  • assist us in creating change
  • deliver benefits in health and wellness, sustainability, and creative development

Bicycles put humans in a positive light.  Days are gifts as we pedal forward.  The bicycle abides.

at-the-dunes

resources:
Check out Specialized for bicycles.  The spirit of the bicycle is you!

The Many Faces of Cycling, Most Beautiful Ones

I came home from a Saturday morning ride with friends, ate lunch, started reading and came across this.  An article called Pimp My Bike: Detroit’s Custom Cycles in Pictures in The Guardian.  Here are a few pictures from the article.  Photos are credited to Nick Van Mead, from the article.

slow-roll-detroit

long-chain

beautiful

Ashia, waving in the photo above, is quoted in the article saying she feels safer with groups, “It’s positive — and God Knows in Detroit, we need positive things like this.”

This blog is usually original posts, but obviously the Slow Roll movement in Detroit merits our attention.  They are innovating and reaching out to expand the conversation about our public roads, our cities and neighborhoods, economic renewal, social wellness, all propelled by bicycling.  This movement is bigger than any one group, in fact, it’s a global movement.

“It makes the city far more human…they have conversations, make eye contact…the people are friendlier” than they were before all these rides started, says Todd Scott of the Detroit Greenways Coalition (quoted from the article).  And my goodness, don’t we all need friends.

Resources/Credits–
Go read the article on The Guardian, it conveys the beautiful essence–  https://www.theguardian.com/cities/gallery/2016/nov/02/pimp-my-bike-detroit-custom-cycles-slow-ride-in-pictures
Photo Credits to Nick Van Mead
I’ve blogged about Slow Roll before.  Let’s be cities of friendly bicyclists.
Check out my post Green Infused Classic Cars for another innovator, a very famous one.
And more landmark journalism by Nick Van Mead and The Guardian–
America’s Road Trip: Will the US Ever Kick the Car Habit

Morning Ride Together

Play is the highest form of research.  –Albert Einstein

We all want to have healthier communities.  The question for us was how to integrate health in a meaningful way into our outdoor recreation planning process.  –Alex Stone, RTCA planner

The morning bicycle ride together is a cool solution for the hot topic of improving public health.  It creates an opportunity to breathe fresh air, get the body and mind flowing, and spend time with friends.  It stokes that virtuous circle of enjoying outdoor amenities while conserving them.

dry-farmed-quionoa-in-sebastopol-ca-photo-credit-michelle-davidoff_handout

Dry farmed quinoa, Sebastopol, CA.  theguardian.com  photo credit:  Michelle Davidoff

Saturday morning I biked the Sandia Crest.  Beautiful to see so many cyclists out.  This time of year cyclists are training for the Ironhorse Bicycle Classic in Durango and summer events to come.  The weather was breezy, but that makes you dig deeper and builds up your strength and character.  The challenge of adapting to the natural elements enriches the bike life, just like the fluctuations in weather helps crops like the quinoa pictured above become more vibrant.

ground cover

I met a group of cyclists on the observation platform at the top overlooking Albuquerque.  They were having their picture taken.  What a unifying accomplishment, getting to the summit of the mountain together.  We talked about the progress of bicycle friendliness in New Mexico.  It makes it easier to get outdoors, leave the car in the driveway, and get some healthy exercise.

flowers I saw walking with Mai

We exchanged names and now we’re connected on Strava.  Strava is great for connecting with people, getting ideas for rides, and keeping a log of your routes and rides.  It is also good for referencing your times on local climbs.  It is not really for competition though, except competing with yourself, trying to improve.  Racing your bicycle in a sanctioned event is true competition.

Cholla flower sun

After the ride I recovered with some nice music.  Cycling up the Crest is a healthy high, and a great way to make indelible memories with friends and build a sense of place.  Then it is time to rest and recover, let the miles sink in.  On Monday morning you’ll feel like you did something extraordinary on the weekend, and you’ll come back stronger, ready for the next ride together.

La Luz trail

Resources–
Opening quote from Breaking Down Barriers–Parks and Recreation Connecting with Public Health
Strava is free.  All you need is a device with GPS (cell phone).  Meet new friends & play.

The Return of Cycling Transportation

“When we bring the buffalo back, we’ll bring the people back because we’ll re-learn how to structure our lives.”  –Jim Stone, Yankton-Sioux Tribe, Return of the Bison

The bison is America’s new national symbol, sharing the stage with the bald eagle.  This is a great story.  It’s the story of conservation as a guiding principle of our nation.  It’s the story of a nation embracing the character of a place and relearning our native culture and inheritance.

Native to America

Photograph: Josh Barchers/AP from a story in The Guardian online, “Return of the Bison”

I would love to see the bicycle adopted as our national vehicle.  Like the bison, the bike is a way to structure our lives.  Bicycles have been with us, but it is taking time for us to appreciate them and give them the large scale transportation networks they need to reach their fullest potential.

Crazy Cactus on La Luz

For the last seven weeks I was “bikeless” while I healed from an injury.  I drove a car more than usual, and found myself feeling disconnected, separated from my surroundings.  I felt anxious.  You would think separation from aspects of life in the city would increase comfort, but it fed my fear.  I was startled by beginning my day hurtling down the highway at 70mph amongst 80,000 pound trucks and 6,000 pound SUV’s.  I didn’t feel safer, rather I felt more afraid.

Specialized with Sandia Peak on La Luz

I started riding my bicycle outside again this week.  I feel so much better.  Cycling transforms road anonymity into neighborly relations.  I’m moving at safer speeds, and the mass of my vehicle doesn’t constitute a danger to myself or others.  I’m nimble and freer.  Cycling helps me feel a part of my surroundings and that I’m making a more humane transport environment.  Cycling restores my connection with the beauty in Albuquerque.  It makes good sense to me.

La Luz bliss

Credits–the first photo is from an article in The Guardian called Return of the bison: new American national symbol tells story of strife and credited to Josh Barchers/AP
The other photos are from my first rides this week.

Roads as Generators of Health

There’s a new guideline out for structuring the design of the built environment around the goal of cultivating health and wellness.  It is called The WELL Building Standard.  One of Albuquerque’s original innovators, Kris Callori at EDI Integrative Consulting, recently earned her WELL AP credential according to Albuquerque Business First’s People on the Move report.

bright array

Elena Gallegos paintbrush

The International WELL Building Institute is a public benefit corporation whose mission is to improve human health and well-being through the built environment.  WELL is a “fourth sector” organization.  They combine the organizational powers of corporations with the orientation of nonprofits by focusing their mission and goals on delivering benefits for the greater good.

Elena Gallegos paintbrush fire

You can download the WELL standards from their website.  Their work touches on the interface of buildings and the transportation system.  Transportation systems are one of the most influential parts of the built environment in terms of wellness and human health.  Can you imagine what it would be like if we built streets around walking and bicycling first?

Elena sprinkles

Indian Paintbrush array High Desert
Photos:  from a walk this Spring in the Sandia foothills above Albuquerque

CenterLines, the Active Transportation Digest

CenterLines, the National Center for Bicycling and Walking’s biweekly news bulletin, covers current developments in the world of active transportation in North America.  It’s a one stop source for all things bicycling and walking and more.  If you’re just beginning to investigate active transportation, an experienced professional, or somewhere in between, CenterLines is a smorgasbord of opportunities, ideas, and ways to make new connections.  It covers research, policies, events, conferences, job listings, trainings, news and ways to get involved.  Here are a couple content examples from the most recent CenterLines issue published on March 23.

* Health Impacts of Active Transportation in Europe
This study measured the health impact of increased bicycling and walking in six European cities.  Increases in cycling to 35% of all trips improved health the most of all the scenarios analyzed in the study.  The research team concluded that “Increased collaboration between health practitioners, transport specialists and urban planners will help to introduce the health perspective in transport policies and promote active transportation” for substantial benefits.

* The International Mtn. Biking Assocation (IMBA) World Summit is in Bentonville, AR
November 10-12, 2016 Arkansas welcomes the IMBA summit, which gathers together mountain bikers, public land stewards, the business community and advocates of all kinds.  I was just in Arkansas visiting my grandmother and it is an incredible place to bicycle (blog posts here).  When IMBA came to Santa Fe in 2012 the local scene “got discovered.”  Certainly Northwest Arkansas will experience a similar recognition for their beautiful countryside and the way local communities have wholeheartedly embraced cycling as a way to explore the Natural State.

*CenterLines has a Quotes R Us section.  “Our ultimate goal is to improve the economic and environmental health of American communities and the personal health of the people who live there.  To achieve this, we will reconnect America with trails in the same way that railroads once connected people and places.”  –Keith Laughlin, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy President

CenterLines is free, published online and open to the general public.  It is a good place to start and come back to when you want to grow your understanding of the quickly expanding frontiers of the active transportation world.  The presentation is not flashy, but the content is deep, diverse, and leading edge.  The National Center for Bicycling and Walking is my Bike Org. of the Month for March 2016.  Keep up the important work that you are doing.  Arigato.

benches

Spring bloom outside of Mesa Vista Hall on the main campus of UNM in central Albuquerque