Showing posts from July, 2016

Drivers In The Illiteracity

While city leaders invite bicycle riders to sedate themselves by being part of the conversation about a safer future, basic laws that protect citizens on bicycles are routinely ignored. Please excuse me if I am more worried about pedalling on 102 Ave right now, with motorists right now, than imagining what autopia might look like.

During afternoon rush hour, motorists in the curb lane of 102 Ave must turn onto 105 St, leaving the lane ahead safely free for other citizens, including those on bicycles.

Please enforce the laws on 102 Ave. That is the minimum that Vision Zero should mean.

The Plato Seminar

I was in deep trouble as a political philosophy undergrad when Book VII of The Republic hit me, and that was all she wrote. The allegory of the cave happens in Book VII. That's Socrates's treatment of the eternal human condition. It's a sad story. Only the elite whose souls somehow emerge into the light of reality see things as they are. The rest of us are kept below in the theatre, our necks chained, a fire burning behind, our vision trained ahead to a wall on which dances shadow puppets we mistake for real objects. 
Some in our Thursday night Plato seminar used the allegory to free themselves and climb into careers as political science professors. Me, I loved the sentences. They are in it from childhood with their legs and necks in bonds so that they are fixed, seeing only in front of them, unable because of the bond to turn their heads all the way around. Their light is from a fire burning far above and behind them. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a road abo…

The Beautiful Game Changer

We've all seen this video. It shows a young Portuguese fan consoling a grown French fan after Les Bleus lost the Euro 2016 championship, leaving their followers weeping and alone.

The boy is young enough to still react with a touch to suffering the moment he comes across it.

The man is old enough to gently receive this gift, calculating his own pain to be suddenly less real than the imagined pain of a boy left bewildered had his side lost.

On one hand there is the gift of a gesture; on the other, the effacing gentleness of a gift received.

And in the hand of the person holding the video camera is the touch of one who notices from slightly above a scene worth saving, holding it apart from the criss-cross flow below of losers going one way and winners going another.


I almost missed everything again. This happens to me at airports.

I expelled myself inch by inch down the aisle of the small plane and emerged onto its railed stairway to see a tarmac worker below waving two wands. In baton semaphore, he ordered the string of passengers to walk along a path marked by thick white paint and into a covered passageway. This is what everyone did. This is what outlines do.

Under the canopy, I was moved up a ramp, compelled to follow the flow of shuffling feet and bumping suitcase wheels ahead. We all turned switchback-style up toward the next turn.

And then the thunder of an airplane gathering its power and departing the earth shook the enclosure. Through a crack in the wall I saw the Southwest Airlines jet as it pointed into the sky. Blue and red and yellow.

I almost missed that I was someplace else.

Edmonton Vision Zero Quiz #10

The intersection at 99 St and Whyte Ave is a tense place. You can feel it. 

Date: Edmonton, July 9, 2016

Encounter: I have started walking in the crosswalk on the green light as the advance light facing left-turning automobiles has switched from flashing green to green.

Your Vision Zero question: Does the left-turning automobile behind the taxi yield to the crosswalk pedestrian?

As always, no wagering please.

Here is your answer:

Thanks for playing along.

Guest Blog: Go, Cubs! Go, Baseball!

(Editor's first note: My friend Robin Stevenson is a great baseball fan. What looks routine and boring and everyday in major league baseball is really high skill, she says. Because in overthrows, wild pitches, passed balls, missed cutoff men, double plays not turned and the rest of errorville chaos is always ready to show its mangled face. That it stays hidden is art. Robin guest blogged at the beginning of the season. She returns now at the All-Star break with this account of watching baseball from afar and watching baseball up close. And, yes, I almost forgot, Robin cheers for the Cubs.)

As we head into the All-Star break, we have already witnessed a season with its share of amazing plays and incredible moments.

We are living in an era of ace pitching. In the first week, Clayton Kershaw faced Madison Bumgarner. Jake Arrieta pitched a no-hitter in April (still the only no-no this season). Pitchers are pitching, and they're raking (scoring homers), and they're playing ever…

Edmonton Vision Zero Quiz #8 and #9

Here is a double shot of the ongoing Edmonton Vision Zero Quiz. Spoiler: the answers are no, and no.

Date: Edmonton, July 4, 2016

Encounter: I have gotten off my bicycle, triggered the crosswalk light, looked both ways, and have set out across 142 St at 91 Ave this morning.

Your VisionZero Quiz Question: Does the left-turing vehicle yield to the pedestrian in the crosswalk?

As always, no wagering, please.

And here is your answer:


Date: Edmonton, July 4, 2016

Encounter: A pedestrian moves south to north into the crosswalk on 109 St at 102 Ave this afternoon.

Your VisionZero Quiz Question: Does the left-turning vehicle yield to pedestrian in the crosswalk?

As always, no wagering, please.

And here is your answer:

Thanks for playing along.

Vision Zero Quiz #7

The intersection at 97 St and 132 Ave is big. If vehicles with the advance light don't stop advancing, they eat into the time that walking citizens have in the crosswalk. This is routinely dangerous.

Date: Edmonton, July 2, 2016

Encounter:  I am looking back at the intersection to see three pedestrians waiting for the walk light to indicate they have the right of way.

Your VisionZero question: How many vehicles don't stop advancing, forcing the pedestrians to dutifully wait, decreasing the already short time they have under cover of the walk signal?

As always, no wagering please.

Here is your answer:

To my untrained eye, three vehicles move from outside the crosswalk to inside the crosswalk while the pedestrian signal shows walk. The east-to-west moving pedestrians are forced to wait, meaning they don't get even halfway across the intersection before the flashing hand appears,

Forced is the word. Enough of this might is right.

Thanks, as always, for playing along.

Saturday Morning Coffee...Mug

Saturday morning coffee is a mug's game.

Behind only, Do I get out of bed? and How did they possibly insert that old guy in the mirror?, the foggy question, Which coffee mug do I use? is the most important question of the grizzled day.

I have a few favourites to hold onto.

The Picasso cup reminds me of the day Shelagh told me about the flower in the Guernica painting. Was it, too, a casualty of the war, or was it the first sign of regeneration?

 This is a true mug mug. It comes from the Lincoln Memorial. Speaking of civil war.

 I use this mug on Friday mornings when the Coffee Outside bicycle riding gang gets together to drink coffee outside and talk about bicycle riding. There is a certain circularity to our time together. The Sprocket Podcast sticker gives it some Portland charm.

We were already out of the Chase Bank building in downtown Chicago after watching a live recording of the wonderful Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!, the NPR quiz show, when we walked back in to get thi…

Edmonton VisionZero Quiz #6

The rudest intersection I encounter as a pedestrian is on 103 Ave and 124 St in Edmonton. Hands down. It is typically choked with angry traffic. Vans don't yield. SUVs don't yield. Bus drivers and a dude in a military jacket with the Canadian flag on the shoulder don't yield.

But this morning felt different. It was Canada Day and the intersection was virtually empty. There was just me, walking my bicycle in the intersection while flashing yellow lights flashed. And only one vehicle anywhere else to be seen.

Date: Edmonton, July 1, 2016

Encounter:  I have pushed the crosswalk lights and gotten about half way across the street, moving east to west.

Your VisionZero question: Does the motorcycle driver yield to the pedestrian as required by law?

As always, no wagering please.

Here is your answer: 

Yes, I didn't have to break stride. And, yes, I didn't have to jump out of the way. Nothing dramatic happened. And that is the point. Not yielding to pedestrians has become so …