Stylocycle’s Blog


New year… what?
January 2, 2011, 8:06 pm
Filed under: around town, Hop on the bus Gus

I never really expect things to happen all of a sudden just because yet another day has turned over on the calendar. It’s just another day, people.
However, much of the world does get all excited about the ‘new year’… so hey: smoke ’em if ya got ’em, I guess.

I’ll admit that this year I’ll be very interested to see how the local discussions about public transit progress. I happen to favour the development of a central LRT with a more grid-oriented bus service that would connect to the LRT with a few rapid bus routes heading east-west, and with localised routes for neighbourhoods bounded by those rapid bus routes. I can see rapid buses making sense on Northfield, Columbia, University, Victoria and Ottawa and the LRT to take us from the very North end of town to at least the bottom end of King St. in Kitchener.

Apparently 3/4 of the local population works in the Cambridge-K/W region, and the existing bus lines on the main corridor can’t keep up with demand, meaning that people continue to drive instead. I happen to have a bus that stops almost outside my front door, and if I take that bus and transfer to the mainline I can make it to work in 22 minutes (including a walk across campus from where I get off the bus). In good weather I can walk to campus in 28 minutes (i.e., when the sidewalks are clear and I don’t have to navigate snow, ice, or puddles). In bad weather it can take as much as 45-50 minutes to walk to campus and the bus will still get me there in under 30.

But my bike? Well my bike gets me to campus in about 15 minutes, and a smidgeon less than that to get home, and that’s door-to-door, with no walk across parking-lots or fields, etc.

Therefore, it’s almost always my bike that I use… but someday I imagine that I’ll be too old to do everything by bike. We’d like to give up the car, too. So for us, having an LRT line makes most sense. Thing is, I think it makes most sense for the region, too. Lots of people want to give up their cars, but keep them because the bus schedules are unreliable and because the transfers are terribly inconvenient. The only reason the bus works so well for us is that we live only 2 blocks away from the main line with something like 5 routes to choose from to get to our work-places.

LRT will not require more and more bus drivers or more and more buses to be added, and won’t require paving over even more space in order to create designated bus-routes all over the place. There’s a pretty compelling argument favouring LRT in Today’s local paper (www.therecord.com). It outlines these and other observations that make the initial outlay for LRT the better financial and service choice.

All this said, I don’t have much faith in my fellow humans. Too many feel entitled to their private little living-rooms on wheels. Selfishness and griping about “my tax dollars” will persuade regional politicians… and the idea that bus-riding, bike-commuting people aren’t paying taxes will prevail.

I sure hope I’m wrong.

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So many things…
November 24, 2009, 2:58 am
Filed under: comments around town, commute by bike, Get outta town!, Hop on the bus Gus

‘K. My month has been one long laundry list of stuff to do.

Read through and judge the merits of dozens and dozens of grant applications.

Assess a small boatload of graduate research proposals.

Deal with the sale of my grandmother’s house, the movement of her stuff out of the house, and (we hope) settling her into a nursing home in December if she survives to that point. She’s currently in hospital (where she has been since the 36-hour heart attack at the end of August).

Deal with the impending loss of my grandmother… about which I’m alternately accepting and enraged.

Join and participate in the campus cycling committee.

Take our ‘monthly’ trip to the St. Lawrence market for the first time since September.

Adopt and get my grandmother’s 11-year-old Siamese cat settled into our house.

Try to help my mother deal with all that is going on while her husband is on a 3-week long trip in the US with his family of origin.

Settle accounts on my research grant. I swear that next time I need to build in funds to pay a CPA. Arg.

And then there’s the continuing saga of settling into the new house. Let me sum up with this: may I *never* have to set foot in an Ikea again in my life.

But on my tag points let me say the following:

I’ve been getting loads of comments around town on the silk flowers I have woven into my bike basket. I’m not sure if they encourage drivers around me to relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy the day, but as I go about my business, running my errands hither and yon, the flowers and the basket do make people seem more cheery.

Commuting by bike is becoming popular enough on my campus that it seems we are slated to get a covered rack to park at least 20 bikes in a central location. That means that there are enough of us who ride in the snow to make the structure a feasible budget expense. We’ve also persuaded the physical plant people to stop dumping the ploughed snow onto the bike racks in winter.

Commuting by bike is always practical and made my life in the borderlands of town more bearable, but now that we live in a central location, I find that cycling brings me tons of joy. I’m on my bike now more than ever, not just to and from work. I can easily hit 4-6 places with a distance of a few kilometres between each, but nothing long, dull and lifeless like the ride that used to take me across the North end of UW campus where there was nothing but empty, bleak space, people’s back fences, and cars. Now, I regularly run into friends, and walk or ride part of the way home. It’s just really, really nice.

Getting outta town remains one of the ways the living here is still bearable. If I lived in a town that wasn’t within an easy VIA or bus ride to a major cultural centre, I’d go bonkers. Tomorrow I’m going to head into Toronto to meet with a friend who is over from the UK for a few days to take care of her mum post surgery. We’re going to sneak off for some time at the AGO, and do our bi-annual catching up.

But my favourite thing about this month is that my long-time friend of 31 years is going to come visit me on Thursday. She’s a surgeon in Toronto. People tend to think that surgeons drive fancy cars. My friend has a morning surgery to do and when she’s finished, she’s going to hop on the inter-city bus to come to visit me for the day. I can hardly wait, and I love that it just blew my 17-year-old son’s mind when I told him that my friend was coming and that she’d be taking the bus. Some day he (and the rest of the world) will wrap their heads around the fact that we don’t all want to isolate ourselves in cars, that we don’t measure our freedom by the ability to drive, and that we like public transit.



Well seated. Thanks Greyhound!
March 25, 2009, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Get outta town!, Hop on the bus Gus

I had some errands in Toronto yesterday and so took the opportunity to pick up my new bicycle seat to replace the one that came with the Batavus (and which I’ll transfer to my old Trek to take it up north this summer for trail riding). The seat that came with the Batavus is itself comfortable enough, but the springs are a little rigid and the roads here rather more than pocked and pitched, so I could really feel it in the tuckus.

I went to Curbside Cycle as I intended and ended up settling on the Brooks seat because the Lepper seemed actually to be too softly sprung after years of people testing it out in the shop. Keep in mind folks: this is the last seat I intend to buy.

This is the seat I bought, though I took the women’s model which costs rather less than the men’s because it is smaller.

I also took some pictures of the very stylish new bikes that Curbside has in for spring:

Rides that look like sweets.

Rides that look like sweets.

I also stopped in at the Frangipane pattisserie to get some nice things for my students to sample — comparing *food* to that stuff we get in the mass-produced market, that destroys our earth and can sustain neither our bodies nor our souls.  The lovely owner at Frangipane was happy to oblige my desire to take some snaps of her creations. Her pâté de fruit shaped like butterflies and bunnies made me cry they were so delightful, but I gave all the remains away to my students today so that they could taste something so divine as a fruit sweet made from nothing more than gelatine and puréed fruit, set and crusted with a little sugar.

Frangipane's delights

Frangipane's delights

Spring!

Spring!

I also had the good fortune to be able to meet up with my dear friend, Michele (with one ‘l’), who had flown in from Thunder Bay. I haven’t seen her since flying up for her wedding 3.5 years ago, but we do stay in touch. It was really great to hit the AGO with her and see what I think will be a very controversial art installation. We also wondered in and through and pondered at length the permanent piece I wroter about before: The Index. I’m glad that one is permanent because liek many of the pieces in the Thomson gallery, I want to visit it again and again.

Here is the lovely Michele:

Skullanimals!

Skullanimals!

Yesterday was a perfect day. And I got to and fro courtesy of Greyhound Canada. If I can’t get from a to b on the Blue Beauty, I’m more than happy to take a seat on the bus.



I *enjoy* public transit
January 13, 2009, 12:18 am
Filed under: Hop on the bus Gus

I wrote the following today in response to Miss Sarah’s post over at Girls on Bicycles. Sarah was writing about how people feel sorry for her when they find out she rides the bus around town, and how her mum frets about her riding a bike hither and yon. Miss Sarah has some interesting observations, and to those, I added my own. It seemed appropriately timed, as the road conditions today were too dangerous for cycling in to work so I took the bus instead. What follows was my response to Sarah’s post.

I *like* riding public transit! On my bus ride home today I watched a sleepy little girl nodding off in her father’s lap while he whispered sweetnesses into her ear — these made her smile sleepily, and it was a very dear thing to see. I like to say hello to the bus drivers, and I like to be picked up and dropped off only steps from where I need to be.

I feel sorry for all the cranky people in their little motorized living-rooms.

I also firmly believe that we make nothing that is wrong with our urban planning any better by encouraging every last one of our teenagers to get a license as soon as possible. And with the rate of teen death by motor vehicle accident (2nd only to suicide), I think there’s an argument to be made that giving a teenager a car is an act of hostility, not love.

We have a car, yes. It spends most of its days parked in the driveway. It gets used about once a week, even in winter. It is indispensable for getting to our little shack in the woods (over 300 km away), and for our once-a-month visits to the St. Lawrence market in Toronto, but we use it so infrequently that we are considering moving to a rent-as-needed arrangement.