Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Please don't run me over

Two weeks ago a 15 year old high school student named Austin Miller was run down and killed while he was riding his bike. Last year, young Austin wrote an article entitled "please don't run me over" for his school newspaper. Via Cyclelicious.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Direct Action against Urban 4WDs

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau found that half the 36 children killed in driveway deaths between 1996 and 1998 were struck by large 4WDs. They have also found: "The proportion of alcohol intoxication amongst 4WD drivers involved in fatal crashes (29 per cent) was higher than for all other types of vehicle.

4WDs spew out 43 percent more global-warming pollutants - 28 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon of gas consumed - and 47 percent more air pollution than the average car, using 1 million barrels of oil a day.

  • An average 4WD is more than twice as likely as a car to kill the driver of the other vehicle in a collision.
  • 4WDs are four times more likely than cars to roll over in an accident.
  • 4WDs are three times more likely to kill the occupants in a rollover.
  • 4WDs crashing into cars accounts for the majority of fatalities in vehicle-to-vehicle collisions.
There have been any number of articles about how selfish and ignorant it is to be driving a 4WD in the city. There are hundreds of anti 4WD websites. Sadly it seems that the kind of people who drive these bloated, fuel guzzling behemoths are too arrogant to listen. Most of these vehicles are owned by people who live in the richest suburbs in Sydney.

The only way to get the message home is to target the individuals who are driving them. I'm not saying you should physically attack them, (even though their choice of transport can, and is having a direct physical effect on all of us) You don't even have to damage their property (even though their overweight cars are damaging our roads forcing us to subsidise their selfish behaviour) No, all you need to do is follow the lead of people like the Indians of the concrete jungle

After all the "theft of air" is not illegal. You should probably leave a letter explaining why you've let the tires down. Maybe you can write something like this:

Letter to SUV owners:

Your SUV kills!

We have deflated one or several tyres of your SUV. Don’t take it personal. It’s your car we don’t like. You are certainly aware of the large amount of fuel it consumes, so we don’t have to enlighten you about that. But either you are ignorant of, or you don’t care about the fact that all the gas you consume by driving around in your SUV in the streets of the city has devastating consequences for others. Scientists are entirely sure that we are very close to pushing climate change across a threshold, into a phase where it will be totally out of control.

When the glaciers melt, people’s source of water disappear. When the deserts spread, agricultural fields become uncultivable. When the sea level rises, homes are inundated. Result: billions of refugees, countless deaths. It’s already estimated that 160 000 humans die every year due to the effects of climate change, according to the WHO.
As an affluent Swede you will survive longer then most. Those most vulnerable, and already worst afflicted by the global warming caused by Northern affluence, are the people of poor countries. In the end, however, climate chaos will affect us all, poor people as well as rich.

This does not have to happen if we impose a radical cut on carbon emissions. Now. Not tomorrow. That’s why we have disarmed your SUV by deflating the tyres.
Since you live in a city with a functioning and accessible public transportation system you will have no problem getting where you want without your SUV.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bike pics

Here's some more bike fashion pics borrowed from here and there on the World Wide Web. I do try to link each image through to it's source but I can't always remember where I found them or who sent them to me. If you see a picture of yours here I'm happy to link to you if you want.

"When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking." — Sherlock Holmes, 1896

Sydney Alley Cat

Last week we had an excellent alley Cat here in Sydney finishing up at the Verona Cinema in Paddington for the Sydney premiere of MASH. My friend Rod went along and took a few photos after the race.

Rod's fixie

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Australia says Sorry

Yesterday our new government was welcomed into Parliament House by an Aboriginal welcoming ceremony. This has never happened before. Both the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Opposition Leader, Brendan Nelson have promised that it will become a permanent feature of all future openings of the federal parliament.

Today they finally apologised to the Stolen Generation. It's been a long time coming.

As late as the 1970s, the forcible removal of Indigenous children was still being justified as helping the children. The road to a national apology was paved by former Labor prime minister Paul Keating when he gave his famous Redfern speech 16 years ago.

"It was we who did the dispossessing," he said in his speech.

"We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases and the alcohol. We committed the murders; we took the children from their mothers."

It is nearly 11 years since the 'Bringing Them Home' report was tabled in the Federal Parliament. Today many politicians were fighting back tears as they read parts of it to the house. Back in 1997 then-prime minister John Howard and his government refused to accept the report's recommendation to deliver a formal apology on behalf of the Parliament.

The report detailed the horrific stories of hundreds of people taken from their families and placed in institutions, adopted or fostered. Many fell into the hands of the Church and suffered terribly, they were forbidden from speaking their own language and told that Aboriginal culture was "Evil." Girls who tried to protect their younger sister's from beatings were bashed and locked in solitary confinement. Sexual abuse was rife. Many children died. Letters from their parents were burned and the children were told their parents were dead. Just take a minute to imagine how we (white Australians) would feel if the Japanese had taken Australia during World War Two and done that to us...

The inquiry's commissioner, Sir Ronald Wilson, described what happened as genocide. "It's important to answer these undermining comments and statements with the truth. Again it has been stressed today that the truth is the only foundation for reconciliation," he said at the time.

Among the 54 recommendations was a call for a national apology and compensation. But throughout his term, and despite massive popular demonstrations by Australian citizens, John Howard refused to offer a formal apology. It was our National shame, on top of this John Howard persecuted refugees and tried to break the Unions. The very Unions who made this country one of the most egalitarian societys in the World.

John Howard consistently responded to descriptions of the horrors Indigenous children experienced at the hands of white authorities as "a black armband view of history." Those of us who dared to disagree were labeled as unpatriotic. I'm not a nationalist but I do love Australia and I want to be proud of my country. But I want to love it warts and all. Quite simply I wanted the Truth to be acknowledged.

During the last 11 years we went through a period known here as "The Culture Wars," where various right wing historians funded directly by the Conservative Government (and promoted to offices far beyond their capabilities) attempted to rewrite our history and blasted anyone who refused to subscribe to their version of events. The ABC came under constant attack because of it's determination to broadcast what was simply the true version of events. These blinkered responses of denial are still widely held by many white Australian's who do not want to acknowledge the more shameful chapters of our Nation's history. This denial has diminished us as a civilized society and Australia as a nation. Today was like waking up in another country. A country we can be proud of.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered the apology to a packed House. His speech was witnessed by all Australia's surviving former prime ministers with the exception of John Howard. Some in the audience wept during the apology and there was passionate cheering and a standing ovation after Mr Rudd's words.

To those of you reading this in the USA, I hope this feeling is coming for you too. It's unimaginable the weight of a spiteful, negative government being lifted off your shoulders and replaced with leaders who look to the future and inspire you with pride in your Nation. It feels like the end of a war or an escape from prison.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Obama on Bikes

Obama Gets A Boost From the Crucial Bicycle Swing Vote
“As president, Barack Obama will build upon his efforts in the Senate to ensure that more Metropolitan Planning Organizations create policies to incentivize (? must be an American word ?) greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of roads and sidewalks. He will also re-commit federal resources to public mass transportation projects across the country.”

Obama on his trike via Bike Diary

In reply to an email from Chris at Trailtapes Obama says

Dear Chris,

Thank you for contacting me regarding S. 858, the Bicycle Commuters Benefits Act of 2007, which expands the tax incentive now available for public transit and drivers also to bicycle commuters. I believe the Bicycle Commuters Benefits Ace is sound policy and thus I have added my name as a cosponsor of this bill.

The benefits of commuting by bicycle is almost an endless list — reducing harmful emissions, reducing congestion, reducing petroleum consumption, promoting personal health — but our public policies have evolved to where smart and sustainable transportation uses are discouraged. Roads are designed without pedestrian or bike paths, office and shopping parks are designed around the automobile, and even the best transit systems may be incompatible with bike use. It is time to revisit all federal policies to better accommodate the energy and environmental health priorities of the 21st century.

Again, thank you for writing. Please stay in touch.


Barack Obama

United States Senator

All over the USA, American voters rushed into the street to celebrate that they will actually have the opportunity to vote for a candidate with brains.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Bike of choice

I dropped in to Cheeky Transport this afternoon to get Minerva's gearing lowered a bit . Dave had found some smaller cogs to put on the back wheel as I had complained that I was running out of gears when I was powering down hill. He switched the 18 tooth cog with a 16 tooth one and now she is perfect. I got some big black metal pedals too as the single sided ones were annoying me a bit. Anyway when I arrived they'd just finished building a bike for the lady from Choice magazine. I met her on the day I went in to pick up Minerva for the first time. She was shopping for a bike and asked if she could try Minerva. "Sure you can" I said, then she announced that she hadn't ridden a bike since she was about 10 years old which made me feel a bit nervous..."My precious new bike!" Everything went ok though and she liked it so much she ordered one just like it on the spot. Minerva is the one on the right.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A tough commute

When I headed out to work this morning it was drizzling a bit but I didn't bother pulling out the wet weather gear. Things went pretty smoothly as I cruised into town.
I usually ride in the streets that run along the inner west train line because they are quiet tree lined streets and the hills are pretty easy. The streets were wet and the air smelled fresh and clean. I had no idea what I was heading into.

I always enjoy Gladstone St because it's a popular area for Artists, hardly a day goes by that I don't spot some new piece of Artwork. Not today though, today it was a disaster area. A truck had snagged the power lines and brought them down all along the street. I rode through nice and slow making sure not to touch the ground.

The media were there filming the chaos. Nobody I knew though. Anyway I threaded my way through the debris and continued on. Whipped through Newtown Square and down the bike path on Wilson St then onto Shepherd which dumps me out on Broadway. Here there was another surprise waiting for me. Mountain St was roped off and crawling with cops and fireys. The whole street was littered with broken glass and twisted metal. I found out when I got to work that a Nandos chicken shop had exploded. The blast was so big it knocked over the fence on the other side of the road. Over 1,000 people were evacuated from the area.

The ride home in the evening wasn't so eventful, not at first anyway. I noticed some big new paintings in Bedford St. Gotta love an "Alice in Wonderland" theme...

As I headed through Petersham I saw big black clouds and heat lightning rolling along the horizon ahead of me. As I rode through Yeo Park my fancy new German lights decided it was dark enough to switch themselves on. Then the storm hit, within seconds I was pretty much soaked to the skin except where my spray jacket covered me. Luckily I had a plastic bag to stuff my bag into so it stayed dry too.

I made it home and poured about two cups of water out of each boot. The girls had already switched on the sauna for me so I hopped straight into the warmth while daughter number one considerately dried Minerva. She is new after all...