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Posts Tagged ‘bicycle’

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Photo: Jeremy Copeland
Patrick Torres, Erik Miron, Bergen Moore, of the band Vignes Rooftop Revival, on the way to a gig in downtown Los Angeles.

Around the time Suzanne and Erik were planning their wedding, I met a musician’s mother in what I called my Cancer Dance Class. He and his band mates were Berklee grads, and they had a group called Shamus, which I can no longer find on the web. Suzanne loved their music as much as I did and even asked the band to play at her wedding.

Oh, ha, ha. You can just imagine how much they would have charged to bring all their instruments and band members by plane from California! (Suzanne settled on a local band called the Booze Beggars.)

I’m thinking that a band that travels by bicycle like the one in the following story might have been cheaper to hire than Shamus, although I admit I can’t see them bicycling from California to the East Coast.

Lisa Napoli wrote about the bicycling band at National Public Radio (NPR).

“Some musicians arrive at their gigs in a tricked out tour bus. Others, if they’re lucky, in a limo. But there’s a popular band based in downtown Los Angeles that relies on a lower-key, low-carbon form of transportation.

“In car-crazy L.A., the band members either bike, walk or skateboard to all of their gigs.

“The lively acoustic group, the Vignes Rooftop Revival, began by accident five years ago, on a rooftop of a loft building on Vignes Street in rapidly gentrifying downtown Los Angeles.

“A group of neighbors, including musician Erik Miron, would enjoy meals with other building residents, as the dramatic city skyline shimmered in the background.

” ‘After awhile the instruments would come out,’ said Miron, who came to Los Angeles to study music at the University of Southern California. ‘We’d start goofing around and it evolved into something where we decided to take it down from the roof to the bars and restaurants.’ …

“One gig led to another, and accompanied by a rotating cast of musical friends, the band now play 200 shows a year. …

” ‘It’s funny. We’re almost like an Amish jazz band,’ said Miron, who has a full, wiry beard that makes him look right out of Pennsylvania Dutch country. ‘We don’t use cars or electricity so much.’

“Miron said the Vignes Revival didn’t set out to be so green. He and the core members of the group just found it easier to get around without the use of a car. …

“Driving a car leaves him ‘mildly grumpy,’ while arriving by bicycle, he said, is a refreshing way to indulge his love of being outdoors.

” ‘It’s nice to move under your own power,’ he said, as he loaded up his guitar, banjo and trumpet in a trailer he hitches up to his bicycle. He also adds in a few succulents in pots adorned with the band’s logo for good measure. At each show, they give them away. …

“Bass player Bergen Moore uses different wheels to get to the show: a hand-made, hand-painted skateboard. That has been his preferred mode of transportation for a while, even when he lived in hilly San Francisco. Now, he’s got his instrument affixed with wheels, too. …

“Nary a pothole, nor the occasional motorist agitated at their speed, daunts these musicians. For a gig that was ten miles away, they made their way via a combo of human-powered transit and the Los Angeles Metro system.

“They do enjoy playing the tavern around the corner. Then, they get to indulge in an even simpler commute: walking.”

More at NPR, here.

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Could food delivery by bicycle be the wave of the future? Wayne Roberts, Canadian bicycle delivery maven from grade 7 to grade 12, thinks so.  Here’s what he wrote recently at the Torontoist.

“Bicycles never used to be thought of as central to the food system, but the Internet has allowed this particular wheel to be reinvented as a prime tool for localizing food systems while reducing traffic jams, cutting global warming emissions, and providing jobs.

“This innovation comes to light on account of Uber’s recent decision to reduce the fee it provides to UberEats bicycle couriers,” which has caused  controversy.

“But there’s another issue that got revealed here, which is the transportation system best suited to strong neighbourhoods and a vibrant and resilient food system. …

“The trip that’s a real killer from a space, energy, and hassle point of view — even worse than the short trip from the local warehouse to the local retailer — is the brief car trip from the customer’s residence to the retailer and then back home again. …

“If you want to calculate the embodied energy involved in moving food, the energy to move a two-ton car four miles to bring back 10 pounds of groceries is by far the most polluting trip any grocery item from anywhere has ever been on. …

“Putting food stores and restaurants back on main streets that are walking distance from densely populated neighbourhoods could be good for many reasons: good for fitness, getting to know neighbours, and building neighbourhood cohesion, which in turn is good for child safety and local response to emergencies. …

“To be resilient, cities need to localize as many services as possible to make them independent of outside control when it comes to the basics of life. Getting access to food is one of the basics, and the means of doing that should be as localized as the food and companies that get it customer-ready.

“The last mile needs to be in the hands of the people who live there.”

More at Torontoist, here.

Photo: Kat Northern Lights Man from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

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Dan Holin, who used to run a Concord-Lowell volunteer partnership called the Jericho Road Project, is now director of special projects at UTEC in Lowell. (UTEC doesn’t use the longer title its youth founders originally came up with, but since people ask, it was United Teen Equality Center.)

UTEC describes itself as a nonprofit that “helps young people from Lowell and Lawrence, Mass., trade violence and poverty for social and economic success. It works to remove barriers that confront them when they want to turn their lives around and offers young people paid work experience through its social enterprises: mattress recycling, food services and woodworking.”

On May 15, Acton’s Pedal Power joined members of the Concord-based Monsters in the Basement bicycling club to share their bike-repair expertise with young people who wanted to acquire bikes and learn to maintain them. Holin, a serious biker himself, organized the event to give UTEC young people two things that he said they normally lack: transportation and fun.

At the event, one of them, Sav, recounted his story of change. Before UTEC I never talked to anyone,” he said. “I was a problem child on the streets. I was hanging around with gangs, selling drugs. I don’t do that now. Seven months ago, I moved from a place with nothing positive. Atlantic City. I let my family know I’m ready to live life. It was hard for me to get into something good: I’ve got a lot of tattoos and a record. But I’m in the culinary program here. It’s a family. They make you feel like you are somebody that has a chance. They give me love like a family. They changed my life for the better. There are so many new things to do here. Yesterday I went kayaking.”

More here.

Sav, in sunglasses, got a good bike at UTEC’s bike event in Lowell on May 15. The bike will provide transportation to his job at UTEC. It will also provide some much needed fun.

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Germany is opening a 62-mile bike path. That’s what I call a long ride.

See what Charlie Sorrel (“previously found writing at Wired.com, Cult of Mac and Straight No filter”) has to say about it at Fast Company.

“Germany, the country famous for its speed-limit free stretches of Autobahn, is building car-free Autobahns for bikes. The Radschnellweg (‘fast bike path’) RS1 runs 62 miles between the cities of Duisburg and Hamm, passing through eight other cities along the way.

“Cycling is big and growing in Germany. In Berlin, the school run is more likely to consist of a parent on a bike with two child seats than in an SUV. Cycling is done for pleasure, but also as just another way to get around. Cities already have extensive cycling infrastructure, and in the countryside, you can find wide, smoothly-paved bike highways.

“According to the ADFC, one kilometer of road costs around €10 million. One kilometer of bike highways runs to just €1.8 million. …

Says the ADFC’s (Germany’s bike association and advocate group) Ulrich Syberg. ‘When it’s ready, the world will look upon the Ruhr area and wonder, how many people can you motivate to switch from the car to the bike, and much this will relieve congestion in city centers.’

“How much congestion? A 2014 study into the lane by the Federal Ministry of Transport says that it could replace up to 52,000 car journeys. But that’s not even the best part. The study also estimated that savings due to the health benefits of cycling could be as much as five times the cost of building the bikeway.” More here.

Photo: via Radschnellweg
The Radschnellweg (“fast bike path”) RS1 runs 62 miles between the cities of Duisburg and Hamm, passing through eight other cities along the way.

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A nonprofit book service in Portland, Oregon, has recognized that “people living outside” are as likely to enjoy a book as people who live indoors.

Kirk Johnson writes in the NY Times, “A homeless man named Daniel was engrossed in a Barbara Kingsolver novel when his backpack was stolen recently, and Laura Moulton was determined to set things to right.

“Ms. Moulton, 44, an artist, writer and adjunct professor of creative nonfiction, did not know Daniel’s last name, his exact age, or really even how to find him — they had met only once. But she knew the novel, ‘Prodigal Summer,’ and that was a start. So, armed with a new copy of the book, off she went. Such is the life of a street librarian.

“This city has a deeply dyed liberal impulse beating in its veins around social and environmental causes, and a literary culture that has flourished like the blackberry thickets that mark misty Northwest woods. It is also one of the most bike-friendly, if not bike-crazed, urban spaces in the nation, as measured by commuters and bike lanes. All three of those forces are combined in Street Books, a nonprofit book service delivered by pedal-power for ‘people living outside,”’ as Ms. Moulton, the founder, describes the mission. …

“ ‘It’s not just a little novelty act — “Oh, that’s so Portland and cute,” ’ ” says Diana Rempe, a community psychologist. “Taking books to the streets, she said, sends the message that poor and marginalized people are not so different from the ‘us’ that defines the educated, literate mainstream of the city, whether in its hipsters, computer geeks or bankers.”

More here.

Photo: Thomas Patterson for The New York Times
Laura Moulton and Matt Tufaro in Portland, Ore. Ms. Moulton founded Street Books, a nonprofit book service for “people living outside.”

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Late Sunday night, Kevin, a colleague who is a bicyclist, completed the Midnight Ride.

It’s an event that started a few years ago when one guy suggested to some fellow bikers that they bike the Boston Marathon route the night before the big event.

Stacey Leasca of the Los Angeles Times has the story.

“For the last six years, the Midnight Marathon Bike Ride has covered the Boston Marathon course the night before the race, as a way for more Bostonians to take part.

” ‘It was a way for me, who is not a runner, to connect with Boston, to connect with all this marathon energy,’ said Greg Hum, the ride’s originator.

“Although the Boston Athletic Assn., which oversees the Boston Marathon, has never officially sanctioned the ride, it has become a celebrated tradition to help kick off Marathon Monday.

“The night before the 2013 race, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Assn. even provided riders with a special commuter train to get them to the start of the route.

“This year, however, race officials and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency asked that the ride be canceled, and the MBTA did not offer its Midnight Marathon train. …

“But the Midnight Marathon had momentum that he and the agencies could not derail.

“Once word spread that there would be no train from downtown Boston to the starting line, riders began organizing carpools, vans, trucks and even a few buses via social media to help get them to the start.”

Kevin said Hum really wasn’t an organizer, just a guy whose idea grew, and he didn’t know any way to call it off. So it happened. There were people cheering along the route, even that late. Kevin got home at 2 a.m., exhilarated. His toddler woke him bright and early on Patriots Day, the day closely associated with another midnight ride.

More here.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Here’s an idea: music made with a bicycle.

Mario Aguilar writes at Gizmodo, “Riding a bike is a musical experience in more than a metaphorical way: Brakes squeal, spokes click, derailleurs clang. Composer Johnnyrandom sampled himself ‘playing’ his bicycle and the results are positively gorgeous. …

“It’s hard to believe that all of [the] sounds are made by a bicycle. Some of them are strictly the byproduct of the bike’s mechanical operation, like the sound it makes when you release a brake lever. Others are created when you play different parts of the bike with a musical accessory.

“For example, Johnnyrandom records the low-pitched flutter of a pick scratching on a spinning wheel, and tunes the bicycle’s spokes so he could play them with a bow like a string instrument. After capturing the sounds with a portable recorder, the different sounds were arranged and sequenced using software. This two-minute mix gives you a feel for the wide sonic that he was able to create.”

In typical bloggy fashion, I got this from Andrew Sullivan, who got it from Gizmodo (which also has a kinoscope of Frank Zappa, on the old Steve Allen tv show playing a bicycle, and a video of how Johnny Random works), who got it from This Is Colossal. Where will this message in a bottle land next?

(Be sure to check my post on composer Kenneth Kirschner, here, for more contemporary music using unusual instruments.)

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