Big Blue Has the Blues

A couple of weeks ago cruising  up to the big No Frills, when I gunned her into traffic [okay 12mph is "gunning" to her] up the hill at Dundas.  Then poor Big Blue started chugging.

Now Blue is usually very quiet. She hardly makes any noise at all except for the odd fender rattle through potholes or her merry honka! honka!

I took her down to the shop but the bike mechanic couldn’t hear the noise no matter how much I tried to tell him she only made that noise going uphill at full throttle.

So I brought her home and worried. She seemed to be drooping.

Well, within a week poor Blue was making retching sounds every time I hit her throttle. She still puttered along but she seemed too nauseated to hit her usual cruising speed.

Today I took her back to the shop.

She obviously has a cracked [it's visible now] axel housing  [I think that's what it's called, it covers the piece of axel between the motor and the wheel] on one side and I don’t know what else. The shop mechanic wanted me to bring her Monday but I couldn’t bear to part with her until Tuesday since I have something to do Monday she would have to stay overnight.

So I begged to take her in on Tuesday so I could pick her up at and bring her home to rest after surgery.

Funny how I’m starting to view her as my father viewed his cars. He saw them as mechanical horses. He actually called them “Nellie”–the name of his favorite horse. I tend to see my computer the same way.  As if it was fussy some days and makes weird noises if unhappy. My computer is not fond of windows and likes his secondary linux system better. Perhaps he has a Penguin soul.

Anyhoo, I have to pedal Blue until she has her operation.

I suppose it’s over-the-top to buy her a get well card or perhaps a rubber flower to cheer her up, attached to her basket?

Honka!_moan_Honka!

Honka!_moan_Honka!

Grocery Land

So I finally took the big plunge for groceries.

As I locked up,  I met a lovely elderly Italian Trikerster! He had put together a huge cargo trike with a welding torch and old bicycle parts he found in the garbage. He’d attached a big aluminum cargo holder on the back and was hauling off at least 100lbs of groceries between the back boot and a big box bungy corded between his legs on the frame.

He told me he has 3 car batteries and a motor rig ready to hook up this summer because the arthritis in his knees is becoming too painful for him to pedal uphill anymore.

I tried to catch his name so I could put it here but he pedalled off before I could catch it.

I was embarrassed really. Here was my n00b-looking trike and he had this spiffy, decrepit, well-loved trike that looked like it would be at home in the backwoods attached to a donkey. He’d even built a special piece to “roll” off the boot full of groceries straight into his house.

Here’s to human ingenuity!

A Toast to Ingenuity

A Toast to Ingenuity

‘Lost In Space’ Including Video

Finally, even with my editing program only working at half-baked capacity, here’s the [high quality at YouTube] video that belongs with this entry:

Mashup of stills and video.

Thank you to a great guy for the creative commons music, more of Wilson Noble’s great songs can be found HERE:
http://www.jamendo.com/en/artist/Wils…

Since I couldn’t figure out how to move this to the top post, I just re-posted so no one would have to hunt for it.

I started out plenty early to get down to the Revue so I could film Critical Mass as they pulled up en masse whizzing, waving and bellringing down Roncesvalles. Whoa, said my video editing brain–gotta catch that footage. It will look tres coolers!

I actually left at 4:45 pm. Now, one would think I’d make it from Jameson and Queen in a few minutes.

Well, perhaps normal cyclists would.

The trike got stuck in the doorway getting it out. After 15 minutes of struggling it out, I safely packed video gear, tools and other assorted crap into the basket and bungy corded everything in tightly.

On the way, I stopped at a bike shop because my lock isn’t good and I bashed it up pretty badly when I had my driveway crash. My helmet was thrown in free with the trike so I wouldn’t get busted getting the trike home. It would easily be a winner in the “ugliest hockey helmet on the planet” catagory at the NHL. Plus, helmet instructions  always say that if you bang up, you must replace them.

I should be grateful to the head pot. When I wheelied on the driveway and skidded through the broken gravel it kept me from spilling my few working brain cells out on the pavement.

So……………….

I meander into the bike store. There were people running in and out picking up things and generally it was pretty busy. A nice fella, in between running back and forth managed to help me pick a helmet, decent lock and water bottle holder. All I need now, is a mirror. I just wasn’t up to that after spending what I knew to be too much time and money, fiddling about with the rest of the details.

[Note to self. NEVER, EVER try buy things at cycle shops on Friday night.]

Off I wander outside and run into an old friend. We have a chat. I  realize that I have no bag for any of the stuff I bought at the bike store. I figure out ways to pack it in the basket without anything sliding around with the potential to crunch my video gear, then peddle and throttle my way up Roncie.

There’s a film crew setting up.  If I ride around them I will be skidding through potholes driving into opposing traffic.  I get off, pull up on the sidewalk and begin shoving 100lbs+ of e-trike uphill on the sidewalk.

If anyone says e-trike are for the lazy again, I’m going to back over them several times at the next available incline. If they get back up I’ll consider conking them with 10lbs of bike lock.

At the first safe opportunity, I pull out from behind a parked car . A block later,  I skid sideways through the umpteenth pothole big enough to hide a Honda,  scaring the crap out of the driver who has been honking behind me riding my ass since I got back on the road.

He pulls ‘WAY over to the centre line. Justice has now been returned to my triking world.

I ride all the way to Bloor and realize, I’ve missed the cinema.

I turn back around and start wandering south. I see some cyclists. Whoo Hoo, cyclists! Honka honka! I nearly smash into a parked car because I need to move the horn closer to the handle grips so when I thumped over the sewer grate, I only had one hand on the handlebars–on the throttle side.

Boot braking in my Doc Martens, I save myself the embarrassment of crashing in front of a small crowd of athletic-looking cyclists. Now I know why they make the soles on boots that thick. I also know why the Tour De France crowd think the rest of us are lunatics and deserve to be de-wheeled.

The trike, being massive,  has nowhere to park with all the bikes around. I find a sign post half a block down the street from the cinema.

I take out my lovely new Fort Knox-busting lock. It has some ridiculous hunk of plastic attached that I can’t get off. I take out my Swiss army knife. Even that won’t cut the doo-dad off.

Why don’t they just make locks out of that stuff? It would be lighter and at this point I’m wondering if anyone could cut through it with industrial bolt-cutters and a blow torch. Oh yeah, and the lock has FIVE, count ‘em, FIVE keys. None of which are of any use to me because I can’t get the plastic grip-tie off.

Behind me I hear whooping and bells ringing. Drat! Here come the  Critical Mass riders, waving and peddling. I don’t even have my video camera out.  I can’t get the freaking lock on. I grab my cheap, beat up old lock and lock up.

Now I have 10lbs of superlock and nowhere to put it. I stash it in the camera bag. Now, where to put the water bottle holder? Into the camera bag.  I’m also now the proud owner of a funky blue helmet that matches the trike, but where oh where do I put the old pot top?

Ah hell. I leave it in the basket. If someone wants to steal it–they need it worse than I do.

I unpack my toolkit/light/emergency bag. My camera bag now weighs more than the trike. Pack mules in Andes would go on strike for being forced to wear this much baggage.

I am now not only without decent video footage. I am late for the film.

I wander up and down both sides of the streets getting photos of cool bikes, signs, the front of the cinema.

I go inside.

The staff are very friendly. I offer to “check-in” my video camera but they say it’s okay.  I’d buy popcorn but my poly-grip has worn off from all the nervous teeth clenching I did skidding through the Roncesvalles potholes.

There’s no seats left. I stand near the back doors where I’m getting evil looks from the people in the aisle seats because my reflective day-glo sweatshirt is blinding them. My cycle helmet, cinched to my waist pouch, keeps banging on the wall. My back is starting to ache from all the industrial steel stuffed in my camera bag.

I go out to the snack bar and buy a bottle of water. There’s a popcorn cup with a note that says, “If you don’t tip us, we’ll tell you the end of the movie.” I tip them and ask, “Okay, what’s the end?” Nobody knows because they haven’t seen the film. Somehow, I feel deeply offended by the false advertising.

I stand behind the door and try to watch the film through a small window, moving for those who need access to the washrooms and small children who are getting bored and want to play tag in the lobby.

I wait, hoping that I can get interesting  footage as people come out of the doorway, leaping wildly onto their bikes and zooming madly away.

People drift out, stand on the sidewalk talking and wander off for beer and coffee. It’s too dark for good video, anyway.

A nice man and his son talk to me for a bit. The younger man remembers my HONKA HONKA signature and wants to know if I’m going to the Earth ride tomorrow night.

I want to say, “yes” but after today’s adventure–I’m not sure I could make it as far as Bloor and Spadina without a horse tranquilizer.

I’m pretty sure if I take that much sedation, I won’t be triking anywhere soon.

Legal Checks and Balances

CC WikiCommons

CC WikiCommons

There’s an initial problem with

motorists and the Highway Traffic Act, how it’s enforced and how it’s written.

That problem is that motorists are sitting in a weapon.

Now, we don’t “play nice” legally speaking, with people who walk around with loaded rifles for hunting purposes then claim they “didn’t mean to shoot anyone.”

There are people who require the food from hunting to survive.  How many people actually depend on their car for survival?

Although a car is a form of transportation, it is a deadly form of transportation to anyone else who is not shielded by a ton of steel.

In over 50 years of driving, my father had 2 minor collisions. In one he was illegally hit from behind. In the other, he gently backed out of the driveway and hit an oncoming vehicle in a residential neighbourhood that caused a dint.

No one was ever hurt. Yet he drove every day through cities for work-related purposes. He lived in a neighbourhood where children frequently played right on the street without looking and where there were almost no stop signs and nary a speed bump to be seen.

Driving a motor vehicle is a privilege not a right.

Public transportation, walking and cycling are rights because people have the right to transportation that they need to survive. That is why there are still laws on the books regarding the care of horses at hotels.  There are still pockets of society that depend on horses for transportation. If the gas runs out, those laws might come in handy.

We wouldn’t, as a society, hesitate to charge and convict someone who viciously abused their horse in public. In the ancient of days, and in some communities, we’d be condemning them to a life of starvation.

A horse isn’t stupid enough to gallop headlong into another horse. Rarely will they even “run over” or go near, a pedestrian or cyclist.

Yet, we find it acceptable to “give rights” to those who are driving machines capable of mass murder. We don’t want to “step on their rights” at the expense of people using non-gas powered vehicles that are more vulnerable.

The sooner we look at the “communal good” on this subject, the sooner we can begin to embrace the democratic process around everyone’s safety

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License

Alteration by written permission only.

Commercial use by written permission only.

The Law Is An Azz

One of the top struggles for those wishing to cycle, is knowing that if anything happens to them–they are, in both the legal and physical sense, road pizza.

Yes, civil liability is one way to force motorists to obey the law. However, it’s far from effective as they are driving an intimidating ton of steel. That’s as foolish as saying that knowing there was a pending lawsuit would have stopped OJ from murdering his wife.

Contrary to the Highway Traffic Act, cycles and e-scooters are not “vehicles” in the same sense as an automobile and should not be treated as such. Do the following scenarios prove that both vehicles are  ‘Equally dangerous’ to you?

  • What happens if you ride a bike into a telephone pole doing 30mph? What happens if you drive a car into one at the same speed?
  • What happens if you ride a bike into a pedestrian? What happens if you drive a car into one at the same speed?
  • What happens if two cars collide?
  • What happens if two cyclists collide?
  • What happens if a bike and a car collide?

Having laws that pretty much equate cycles and e-scooters with motor vehicles is not only ludicrous, it pretty much assures that drivers will never take cyclists seriously since cyclists are barely a threat to their paint job. Behind their wall of steel and tempered glass hitting a person riding a bike not much more dangerous than being hit by a flying Coke can.

The big difference is this. A car has a driver and/or passengers. On a cycle, the vehicle IS the driver. Someone in a car has protection from debris, sewer grates, potholes, other vehicles, weather and countless other protections. A cyclist does not. The cyclist, is in a very real sense vulnerably naked since s/he is not covered in a huge plate of steel armor.

Cyclists are essentially, pedestrians with wheels. We are not lightweight tanks with the capacity to kill half a dozen people if the brakes fail.

Any time that a car hits a cyclist, it’s pretty much assured that the cyclist will be injured. The same cannot be said, in the reverse.

Now, I suggest, if this present trend of not criminally charging drivers with hitting cyclists continues, and the government refuses to change the laws regarding cyclists–that the victims of vehicular crimes come forward and start a mass action lawsuit against the government for crimes against humanity or some such legalese due to the implementation of the Highway Traffic Act.

They might actually take THAT seriously.

For more on other countries and their laws protecting cyclists see:

http://www.policy.rutgers.edu/faculty/pucher/Irresistible.pdf

Activism 101

Thanks to EnigMatic from ibiketo for the inspiration on this one.

This is the long version of my post.

As Cicero said, “Either the people are the slaves of the government, or the government is the servant of the people.”

“]Thank You to Steve Rhodes [CC License]

Having been to countless homeless/poverty committees in the past 10 years that have spent millions, if not billions of taxpayer dollars in this province/city with damned little to show for it I have utterly no faith in the power of politically based committees. HAC is a case in point. How much money have they spent to do nothing? How many activists have wasted their time with presentation after presentation?

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got–and that’s usually NOTHING.

Committees are powerless to make policy changes. All they can do is present watered-down recommendations to politicians. If I see one more self-serving media charade about another committee on poverty I am going to woof my cookies.

When they call now I tell them, “Are we going to walk out and do something? Because if we’re not, and you’re not willing to walk out the door and TAKE something, I’m not willing to talk. Talk is cheap. 70,000 families waiting for housing is 70,000+ too many. Walk out the door with me and we can cut it down to 69,990- today.”

*What do I suggest? I’ll tell you. Develop a vision and sell it.*–EnigMatic from ibiketo.

Precisely. Stop letting bureaucrats and politicians define the visions of the citizens. Let the cyclists define the dream.

I have respect for Critical Mass. One day a month they *take* the streets. They don’t beg, whine and although some may sit on committees, once a month they show their power to take the streets back. Do you all know how inspiring that really is? Even a cyclist pulling up for a bag of Fritos is bound to wave.

Why don’t we get serious like the no-car Sundays in Kensington? They didn’t ‘committee’ that to death. The citizens of Kensington took it.

Why are we begging our own elected officials to do the right, environmentally friendly thing? THEY are the public servants. We don’t owe them anything other than their more-than-adequate paycheques.

  • How soon do you think it would be before there would be bike lanes if hundreds of cyclists “flash raided” the major arteries of Toronto during rush hour one day a week?
  • How quickly do you think they would move on legal bike lanes? How seriously do you think they’d take cyclists then?
  • What would have happened if instead of supporting GM which, by it’s very nature, lives in the past and must go down unfortunately, that money was diverted to non-gasoline dependent infrastructure?
  • How fast do you think decent bike lanes and e-vehicle registration would happen *then* in major cities?
  • Gas vehicles are not sustainable. Cycling and e-vehicles are. Why are we begging for crumbs from the vehicular table?

The theory of a successful social/political movement is very simple. It’s two-fold. First the radical elements [anarchists, Black Panthers, AIM etc] demand change by direct action. This forces the state to deal with those who are moderate.

Before the following happens we need only make one decision. Do we want the whole road or do we want extensive cycling lanes?

In this case, direct action cyclists take over the roads while the moderates fight for bike lanes. Yet, both agree most of the time about the dream they share. They simply disagree on tactics and support the outcome, regardless. What the state hopes to do is to wear down the resistance over time or split the ranks by using the media.

Be smart. Don’t buy into the “you’re the good cyclists–they’re the bad cyclists” argument. If we stay solid, it’s an unbeatable poker hand.

It’s the history of political change 101.

Just ask the Bolivians how they took their water back.

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