An incredible montage of what bicycles can be: safe, enjoyable, cheap, convenient, everyday transportation for young people and for old, for families and fashion slaves, in a city largely unpolluted by the exhaust and noise of cars. Courtesy of Amsterdamize. Also, not a bad argument for getting a DSLR!
- Overcoming Obstacles to U.S.-China Cooperation on Climate Change – Guidelines from the Brookings Institute for the US and China to cooperatively address climate change and clean energy issues, without being combative. Executive summary sounds good, whole thing is 80 pages long. Given the positive economics for many energy efficiency measures, I thought there should have been a little more focus on the often erroneous assumption that addressing these issues has to be costly. (tagged: energy sustainability china policy climate efficiency brookings )
- Amendment to Eliminate Bike Infrastructure in Stimulus – DeMint (R – SC) and Coburn (R – OK) are trying to kill all bike infrastructure investment in the stimulus package. Call them and your own senators and make sure it doesn't happen! (tagged: politics bicycle infrastructure policy transportation stimulus )
- The Transparent Society – The essay that later became Brin's book of the same name, in which he argues that first, universal surveillance is coming, whether we like it or not, and second, that a world which is transparent – in which surveillance goes both (all) ways, is vastly preferable to one in which the illusion of privacy is maintained, and the powerful are the only ones with access to our information. (tagged: technology privacy transparency surveillance brin wired )
- Make Love Not Porn – Hardcore (esp. internet) porn has unfortunately come (ha!) to substitute for sex-ed in our culture, so says Cindy Gallop. I think she has a point. And so she made this website, to try and point out the flawed generalizations that one might arrive at from being "educated" by online porn. I think it's worth noting also though, that the diversity of pornography on the web has steadily increased over time, and there's a lot of positive and realistic, and non-exploitive depiction of sex out there now, if you want to look for it. In particular Abby Winters, Beautiful Agony, and I Shot Myself come to mind. It's ironic (absurd?) that the site has an "18+ only" clickthrough on the front page. (tagged: porn sex love ted education )
- Dept. of Energy to draft energy efficiency rules… 30 years late. – I can't believe I'd never heard of this. Apparently for the last 30 years, presidents have been refusing to direct the Dept. of Energy to draft enforceable energy efficiency regulations, despite being directed under law to do so by Congress. Finally in 2005, 14 states sued, and won, and Bush still failed to comply in a timely manner. How many other instances of the executive branch (both democrat and republican!) completely ignoring Congress on important issues are there? It's rare enough that Congress gets anything right – that the president should ignore them when they do is unconscionable! (tagged: politics policy energy nytimes green efficiency standards regulation )
- First annual Letter from the Gates Foundation – I hate Microsoft, but in the great American tradition of evil corporate fortunes being given back to good causes, the Gates Foundation works on some difficult, important, and interesting problems. I've been curious exactly how and why their focus on population has faded away over the last few years. Not sure this letter (suggested by and modeled after Warren Buffet… who doubled their endowment last year) really answers that question. I get the feeling that the change is partly for PR reasons – that they remain focused on the issue, but don't think it's really productive to make that statement prominently. (tagged: philanthropy health microsoft bill gates population )
- WRI on Bus Rapid Transit v. Light Rail – Given the difference in cost, I really don't understand why BRT doesn't get more consistent consideration in transportation planning. Hopefully someone will notice this study (and hopefully the study is done well…) (tagged: transit transportation brt rail sustainability bus green )
- Bill Gates unplugged – Talked about two problems: malaria, and lousy teaching in America. Not so interested in Malaria (we know what we need to do, we just don't really care… and if all it does is increase human population, is that really a success?), but our inability to make teaching work well reliably is really annoying… (tagged: education ted teaching schools bill gates )
- Till Children Do Us Part – Yeah, having kids can keep you together… out of obligation, or desperation if you're an unemployable 50s housewife. But jeez, who ever thought they actually help a marriage? (tagged: children marriage love )
- Dumping the Refrigerator for a Greener Planet – Well of course I *could* do without a fridge if I wanted to, but why not just get a super-efficient one, or understand better what *actually* needs refrigerated, or design a fridge that takes advantage of the outside temperature for condensing or evaporating coolant, or build an insulated north-facing root cellar into your earth-sheltered house, or use a zeer evaporative fridge, etc. Story seems a little one dimensional. (tagged: refrigerator energy sustainability green environment efficiency )
- Extended Producer Responsibility – I wonder just how much of my predilection for German bike parts comes from their EPR policies, and how much comes from the German design ethos, and how separable those two things really are? (tagged: bike germany green sustainability recycling policy bicycle )
The weather in Denver is so fickle! 20°C on weekend, -10°C the next. Makes for interesting wardrobe choices. Either way though, the Denver bike paths are fricking awesome!
The Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger
Governor, State of California
California State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Support: AB 1358 (Leno)
I am writing to encourage you to lend your support to the Complete Streets legislation (AB 1358) which has just cleared the state assembly. Changing the built environment within our cities to accommodate non-automotive modes of transportation is a crucial step that California must take in reducing our per-capita greenhouse gas emissions, as well as helping our citizens to reduce their dependence on increasingly expensive foreign petroleum products.
As gas prices have risen, more people than ever in California are choosing to leave their cars behind, and explore cycling, walking, and public transportation options. Unfortunately, all too often they discover that their cities have been designed and built with little consideration for those who are not driving. I know, because I have been commuting by bicycle in southern California since 1993.
Complete streets aren’t just about cyclists though, they’re better for the elderly, and for children too, as well as those for whom car ownership, maintenance, and insurance are a significant economic burden.
I was recently disappointed when the LA Metro board refused to commit to spending a portion of the money to be raised by the proposed sales tax increase (measure R on the ballot this fall) on pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. Per dollar invested, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure moves more people to and from their destination than any other mode of transport. The climate and topography of southern California are gentle, and ideal for cycling and walking, but apparently, our city planners will not invest in that infrastructure unless they have been mandated to do so by the state. I hope you will help create that mandate by signing AB 1358 into law when it crosses your desk.
Zane A. Selvans
We had our first Basic Wrenching class yesterday at the Caltech Bike Shop. I think it went pretty well. Maybe a little bit chaotic, and a few too many people – but that’s okay. Someone brought chocolate chip cookies, and someone else brought chocolate banana bread! A great start!
I helped 9 people take their front wheels off, remove their tires and tubes, and then walked them through patching one of the many tubes that we had laying around at home with holes in them. Steve from Open Road graciously gave us some patch kits and chain lube and tire levers for the effort. John McKeen walked people through adjusting their brake and shifter cable tensions, and Katherine gave people bicycle anatomy walkthroughs. I think Ian kind of floated from one place to another. There were at least 20 people total. Hopefully most of them got something out of it.
The shop itself is almost completely barren – everything but the tools was jettisoned for the South Hovse remodel unfortunately, and the Moore-Hufsteadler funding hasn’t come through. They (I think rightly) pointed out that we really need to have some procedure in place to keep the tools from diffusing away. I don’t really want to call it “theft”… but when people can borrow things, they do tend to end up making a kind of random walk away. That’s just (social) entropy. But we really do need workbenches, and a couple more stands, and a big toolbox, and pegboards that haven’t had all of the tool outlines turned into phalli. So I hope we can agree on a structure that we’re willing to implement, and they this is acceptable.
There’s lots of room in the “rafters” of the shop to hang bikes, if we can get some hooks and cables set up somehow, safely. I think it would be great if we could operate like the Bike Oven, letting people work on abandoned bikes we get from Security, and then buy them for cheap. And it would be nice if we could have a selection of patch kits, tubes, and tire levers, that people could buy at cost (or at least cheaply).
Maybe what we really need is a separate bike shop “membership”, with a minor fee to cover consumables like oil and patches and grease and gloves, etc., and to serve as an official designation for the people who have access to the shop. Then, at least once a week, I think we should commit to having a mechanically inclined person down there willing to help anybody else out who wants to work on their bike, so that it’s a Caltech Community resource, instead of just a closed club.
I think I’ll see if I can show up (extra) early next Monday, and do a little tool organization, and make sure to bring the work stands from home, and maybe my own personal tools, since it seemed like we really were lacking some basic stuff – or it just wasn’t findable.
Because my bicycle is my only non-pedestrian transportation, and because I have only one bicycle, major maintenance is terrifyingly imperative. It strands me. My annual tear-down, cleaning, and re-build is a focusing event. You might say this argues for having more than one bike, and I might agree, except that any time I’ve had more than one bike, it’s felt like having a mistress (or so I imagine). Continue reading Bicycle Building Trance