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Posts Tagged ‘bicycle’

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Still image from video: BBC Hindi
This is Jyoti Kumari, a 15-year-old who cycled more than 700 miles from New Delhi to her village, transporting her injured father, a migrant laborer, on her bike.

Some kids take on a lot of responsibility really fast. That was the case of a girl from a poor family in India who told her mother she would bring her injured father home even if she had to bike halfway across India. There are many such children who never get a media spotlight, but for those that do, good things may follow.

As Jeffrey Gettleman and Suhasini Raj reported at the New York Times, “She was a 15-year-old with a simple mission: bring papa home. Jyoti Kumari and her dad had nearly no money, no transport, and their village was halfway across India. And her dad, an out-of-work migrant laborer, was injured and could barely walk.

“So Jyoti told her dad: Let me take you home. He thought the idea was crazy but went along with it. She then jumped on a $20 purple bike bought with the last of their savings. With her dad perched on the rear, she pedaled from the outskirts of New Delhi to their home village, 700 miles away.

‘Don’t worry, mummy,’ she reassured her mother along the way, using borrowed cellphones. ‘I will get Papa home good.’

“During the past two months under India’s coronavirus lockdown, millions of migrant laborers and their families have poured out of India’s cities, desperate and penniless, as they try to get back to their native villages where they can rely on family networks to survive. Many haven’t made it. …

“But amid all this pain and sadness now emerges a tale of devotion and straight-up grit. The Indian press has seized upon this feel-good story. … And a few days ago, the story got even better.

“While resting up in her village, Jyoti received a call from the Cycling Federation of India. Convinced she had the right stuff, Onkar Singh, the federation’s chairman, invited her to New Delhi for a tryout with the national team. …

“Reached by phone on Friday in her village of Sirhulli, in Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, Jyoti said in a scratchy voice barely above a whisper, because she still sounded exhausted: ‘I’m elated, I really want to go.’ …

“Her father, Mohan Paswan, a rickshaw driver from a lower rung of India’s caste system, was injured in a traffic accident in January and was running out of money even before the lockdown. … Jyoti came out from their village in Bihar to care for Mr. Paswan. She had dropped out of school a year ago because the family didn’t have enough money. Things got even worse after the lockdown, with their landlord threatening to kick them out and then cutting off their electricity.

“When Jyoti came up with the escape plan, her father shook his head.

“ ‘I said, “Look, daughter, it’s not four or five kilometers that you will drag me from here. It’s 12-, 13-hundred kilometers. How will we go?’’ ‘ he said in a video broadcast by the BBC’s Hindi service.

“The two bought a simple girl’s bike for the equivalent of about $20. On May 8, they set off, Jyoti at the handlebars, dad sitting pillion on back. Jyoti was pretty confident on a bike, having ridden a lot in her village.

“Many days they had little food. They slept at gas stations. They lived off the generosity of strangers. Jyoti said that except for one short lift on a truck, she pedaled nearly 100 miles a day. It wasn’t easy. Her father is big, and he was carrying a bag. …

“After they arrived in their village last weekend, her father went into a quarantine center. … Jyoti’s mother convinced village elders to let her quarantine at home. .. Then, a few days later, on Thursday morning, she got The Call.”

Read more at the New York Timeshere.

 

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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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Here’s another good one from WBUR’s “Only a Game.”

Bill Littlefield interviewed author Tim Lewis, who has written a book called Land of Second Chances: The Impossible Rise of Rwanda’s Cycling Team.

Littlefield starts out by discussing Rwanda’s history before moving on to the subject of bikes.

Bill: “Tell us about the country’s wooden bikes.”

Tim Lewis: “If you go to Rwanda today, you still see the wooden bikes. You don’t see them on the main road anymore because they’ve been banned by the president because he feels … it isn’t the message that he wants a modern, progressive country like Rwanda to convey. But on any roads off the main roads you see people using these wooden bikes. They’re hacked out of eucalyptus trees.

“People there love using them. … They’re like the mule of Rwanda. People use them to carry bananas or goats on the back or live chickens. … Part of the reason they’ve been banned from the main roads is that they’re so horribly dangerous. They have two speeds. One of them is not moving at all or kind of very slowly going up these hills. And the other of which is going downhill, and they’re so out of control that anyone in their path gets knocked over.”

Bill: “In the chapter titled ‘The Dot Connector,’ you mention Project Rwanda, the brainchild of Tom Ritchey. What was Mr. Ritchey’s goal?”

Tim: “Tom Ritchey is a real pioneer of bicycle design, in particular, mountain bikes. In 2005 Tom Ritchey visited Rwanda. And one of the things that really affected Tom was how much people in Rwanda loved riding bicycles. And so Tom thought, ‘Can I design a bike that would be affordable for Rwandans to buy?’ and that could really change people’s lives there — in terms of coffee farmers being able to pick coffee in the morning and get them to a washing station to get it processed, which can make a big difference … At the same time an idea popped into his head which is, ‘You know, these guys look like amazing athletes. What about starting a bicycle team?’ ”

Eventually, Rwanda did get a team. It’s a great story. Read more and listen to the broadcast here.

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Nathaniel Fink writes the blog Cycle Style Boston, “celebrating the everyday use of bicycles and the people who ride them.”

Recently he struck up a conversation with a devoted bicyclist I know. He describes how Kevin commutes by bike from Brookline to Dewey Square in Boston.

“He cycles every day of the year there isn’t ice on the ground. Rather than the direct route through Kenmore Square, he chooses a longer but more relaxing route route through Brookline to the BU Bridge, where he gets on the Charles River Esplanade bike path towards downtown. Says Kevin, ‘I feel like I have one of the most beautiful commutes in Boston.’ …

“I love Kevin’s attitude about cycling in the city: ‘I’m just a normal rider and I don’t wear a lot of special gear. I’ve ridden to work on days when the temperature was in the 100′s, and I’ve also ridden to work on days when the temperature was in the single digits.’ His internally-geared Cannondale commuter is a smart choice for daily usage.” More.

Kevin was delighted to be interviewed. He told Suzanne’s mom, “The guy who writes the blog is a professional photographer so he takes pretty nice pictures. The whole blog is really great, too. It’s a nice way to promote biking around Boston because it shows lots of regular people doing regular things on their bikes.”

I hope some biking folks who read Suzanne’s Mom’s Blog will take a look at Cycle Style Boston.

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Most of my family (other than me) does a lot of biking. John, for example, biked from Arlington, Mass., to Syracuse, N.Y., last week just because he felt like it. It took several days.

My husband bikes most weekends in good weather. And he reads a biking magazine where he saw a story he thought would interest my Swedish readers.

Writes April Streeter at Treehugger (reprinted by the biking magazine), “If you want to find an unassuming place where bicycling is a way of life and nobody makes a big deal about it, head south. The south of Sweden, that is, where the small university town of Lund has a big bicycle habit. They just don’t advertise it.

“In Lund, 60% of the populace bikes or takes public transport to go about their daily tasks. And then there’s Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city — only 20 miles southwest of Lund. Malmö also doesn’t have a reputation for fantastic biking. But some [Swedes] say it is the country’s best biking city — ahead of both Stockholm, the capital; Gothenburg, the second largest Swedish metropolitan area, and a host of smaller bike-friendly burgs.

“Just across the Øresund sound from Copenhagen, Malmö has always lived a bit in the shadow of the Danish capital. But in the last few years it has done a lot to take a place among the great biking cities of Northern Europe, mostly by its investment in infrastructure and pure commitment to get people on their bikes. That has paid off — cycling has increased 30% each year for the last four years, while car trips under five kilometers have dropped.

“Now Malmö is upping the stakes by putting up 30 million Swedish crowns (about US$4.1 million) toward the building of a four-lane super cycling highway between it and its bike-happy northern neighbor city Lund.” See the article here.

Here is a slide show on Lund, at the NY Times.

Ramboll/Screen capture

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Bike Share came to Boston last summer. I blogged about it here. I did wonder if people who used the Bike Share would be bringing their own helmets. It turns out that only 30 percent of Bike Share users do, compared with about 70 percent of those who have their own bikes.

MIT to the rescue! Thanks to a group of determined problem solvers, a bike helmet is in the works.

“The prototype of the product they call HelmetHub would dispense headgear to what until now have been the mostly helmetless riders of Hubway. …

“Much of Hubway’s allure is its immediacy,” writes Eric Moskowitz in the Boston Globe, “making even that side trip to the store — or the prospect of being saddled with a helmet after returning the bike — inconvenient for some users, said Nicole Freedman, who runs the city’s Boston Bikes program, which oversees Hubway.

“The HelmetHub prototype features a touch screen similar to those on Hubway rental kiosks, draws power from solar panels, and occupies half the space of a soda machine. And it works, dispensing helmets that adjust to fit most head sizes.” The prototype is almost ready to launch, and knowing the enterprising MIT mindset, it won’t take long. Read more.

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Nicole Freedman is a woman with a mission. A professional bike racer from 1994 to 2005 and a competitor in the 2000 Olympics, she was appointed by Boston Mayor Menino in 2007 to move the city from the bottom of the bikable-cities list to the top. In a few years, much has changed. Protected bike lanes have appeared all around the Greater Boston area, citywide biking events have enticed everyone from beginners to experts, and new bike maps are widely available.

Now Freedman and the New Balance company have brought bike sharing to the Hub. It’s not just for Europe anymore.

“New Balance Hubway is your Boston bike sharing system. Launched in Boston on July 28, 2011, with 61 stations and 600 bicycles, with an eye towards expanding into Boston neighborhoods and surrounding communities, New Balance Hubway provides you with an accessible and green transit option. Rent a bike near your home or office and pedal your way to the next lunch meeting, errand or shopping trip, or to visit friends and family.”

Read more here. Learn how you can borrow bikes and where you can return them.

But BYO helmet because Boston drivers are still Boston drivers.

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Last weekend my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson stayed in a cabin near Groton, New Hampshire, because John was going to be in a triathlon (swimming, biking, running) the next day. The cabin was in the woods near a lake. In the night, they heard a strange sound, and although she had never seen a moose, my daughter-in-law had a theory that it was a moose. When she got home, she did an Internet search, and sent me a little audio of the sound they heard in their cabin. Here it is.

If you e-mail me at suzannesmom@lunaandstella.com, I will use your comments in a post.

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Some mornings when I take my walk, it is still dark out. There is not much going on. Few cars — maybe just the newspaper delivery van, the bakery truck, or town employees flushing out the holes in the sidewalk where the flags go for special events like Earth Day or United Nations Day.

Most often, the other walkers are three elderly gentleman. One walks a King Charles Spaniel. One used to check all the bins for recyclable cans and bottles but has retired from that pursuit. One was a slow jogger a couple years ago but is now just a fast walker.

Then there is the lady on the bicycle. The lady on bicycle has a helmet, a bell, and a bicycle light. Also, she bikes on the sidewalk.

One dark morning I was walking along when I heard the screech of bicycle brakes behind me and turned to find the lady on the bicycle glowering. “I nearly ran into you!” she exclaimed indignantly. “You should wear a reflector vest when you go out in the dark!”

Now I take my walk in the street. There are no bicycles in the street at 5:30 a.m.

 

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