Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ride On

Just over a week ago I rode in the Ride to Conquer Cancer which benefits the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Luckily, over 220 kilometres I didn't have a single "mechanical" and only a couple of times did I have to tell my legs to "shut up". Hopefully, this video above will give some insight on what the ride was like.

The work of the people at Princess Margaret and advancements they've made in the treatment of cancer have been remarkable but there is still a lot to be done. That's why this ride is important. That's why the money everybody gave is important.

Years ago a friend asked me if I cared about money, and I said, "Yes, yes I do."

He asked, "Why? Money can't buy you happiness? It can't buy you love?"

I knew my answer then, and I know it now. Money buys freedom. But it buys more than that. Money buys the resources we need to find new treatments and fund research. I think it was Pierre Burton who wrote about the coercion of poverty, and if funding or lack thereof is one of the things coercing how we cure a disease, that seems to be the easiest of many complex problems to solve.

The total amount raised in this year's ride was over $19 million. It's said to be the largest fundraising event in Canada. While I was enjoying myself out on the open road, I also enjoyed meeting so many other riders, some far more experienced than me, and some just starting out. It was a privilege and humbling and I'm glad I was able to do it with the help of everyone who contributed.

My personal "history of fundraising" is fraught with unsold boxes of chocolate covered almonds or raffle tickets so I was pretty intimidated with the minimum goal you agree to when you sign up for the ride.

Thanks again, again and again.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Begriming One City at a Time

“Apparently Rabinowitz's hearing is going because she can't hear how ludicrous she sounds. ”
I don't live in New York City. Sometimes I wish I did, though now is not one of those times. The furor (or is it "F├╝hrer"?) over the bike-share program in New York right now is running unusually hot. While some are already claiming its success, others, namely bitchy old Conservatives, or people who have lost parking spots are claiming the program is more evidence of the dictator Bloomberg running roughshod over citizen rights. In this video, Pulitzer Prize winning conservative journalist Dorothy Rabinowitz uses phrases such as "Fascist" to describe Bloomberg, saying the bike program "begrimes" the city, controlled by the bike lobby which is an "all powerful enterprise". Who's running NYC anyway? Is it Mayor Bloomberg, the dictatorial Fascist or the all powerful bike lobby? I doubt two such undeniably evil forces could peacefully co-exist. Someone please explain to me why Conservatives are so quick to trot out words like "Fascist", "dictator" or "Socialist" when they are displeased with progressive policies? I'll never understand the guile and hatefulness of the Conservative mind. What, exactly is so frightening about a bicycle? A few hundred bicycles are "begriming" the city, but a century of the internal combustion engine is fine? I hate to tell you this, Dot, if you don't mind me referring to you with that belittling nickname, but that thick layer of grime covering New York City limestone and granite (which is probably from Indiana anyway) and smudging your summer whites is from automotive traffic, not bicycles. Apparently Rabinowitz's hearing is going because she can't hear how ludicrous she sounds.

Another claim I keep hearing is that the racks of Citibank bikes are a fire hazard? I assume that if cars were parked there, they wouldn't be a hazard because they could be towed away? Or that "New York isn't Paris, or London, or Amsterdam". If New Yorkers really think their streets are more dangerous than London's, I have news for you. New York streets are like buttercup filled meadows compared to the insanity that is London streets.

None of this unexpected from the WSJ however. I'll never really understand the ire of conservatives versus bicycles? Bicycles are completely unthreatening. There has been one death of a pedestrian from being struck by a cyclist in over a decade in Toronto. Dozens more pedestrians and cyclists are injured or killed by automobiles every year. Bikes without bicycle lanes don't take any of the road away from cars or trucks, and even less than that when in bike lanes. Bicycles do not impede the traffic of commuters, emergency or commercial vehicles. Bicycles do not cause road congestion or fuel price hikes – which, conservatives fail to notice, is caused by a failure of Capitalist markets and the near monopoly of three companies colluding on prices and supply via their refining facilities. Sadly, it is true that some cyclists ride like assholes and disobey traffic regulations. I'm only glad that drivers are there as shining examples of vehicles that never roll through stop signs, red lights, never park illegally, always signal when required, make safe lane changes, never go the wrong way on one-way streets or hardly ever drive on the sidewalk. That was sarcasm. A dull tool used to explain simple arguments to stupid people.

What is Rabinowitz so angry about? That she has to look before opening her cab door? No, it's that bike racks look distasteful in fairytale New York. Horse shit from mounted police or Central Park buggies is okay. Gaudy electronic advertising is mandated in Times Square not that the Times is located there anymore. Let's be honest. She doesn't care about fire hazards or cyclist deaths. She just doesn't like the way the bike-share stations look. She also doesn't like Mayor Bloomberg and his "nanny-state" policies. My guess is Dorothy Rabinowitz likes Tiffany's, breakfast at Balthazar, seeing shiny limos transporting high-priced whores to coked-up overpaid financiers, gleaming hotels which have neither rat shit in the basement nor bed bugs in the linens, rows of yellow cabs idling in the streets and lovers sitting on benches looking at the Brooklyn Bridge – though why they can't look at the Brooklyn Bridge from the back of their limo is beyond me.

It remains to be seen whether New York's Citibank Bike-Share program will be a success or a failure but I think you have to wait and see. Or you could be like Dorothy Rabinowitz and spew bile and rhetoric without reason or intelligence.

Update: As expected, the Bike Snob has had a lot more fun with this over at his blog Bike Snob NYC. Enjoy.