Friday, December 28, 2007

"Cyclists and POBs"

When talking to people about cycling I've tried to sum up the differences between those that take responsibility for being a vehicle on the road, and those that don't. I found a very cogent take on this at the blog of bike designer Dave Moulton, and copied it below. The direct link is here.


I have been a cyclist since my early teens; most regular readers of this blog are also cyclists.

I don’t know about you, but I get tired of my reputation being tarnished by another group who should not even be categorized as cyclists.

Owning a set of golf clubs does not qualify someone to call themselves a golfer. A person might own a musical instrument, but they are not a musician unless they can play it. Yet anyone who throws their leg over a bicycle is immediately labeled a cyclist.

“As easy as riding a bike, anyone can do it,” is a common expression. Riding a bike in today’s heavy traffic is anything but easy; it requires considerable skill and a lot of moxie.

As a cyclists I am always lumped together with what I call POBs; (People on Bikes.) there is a big difference. I read in the paper of a “cyclist” killed in a traffic accident; I am left to wonder, is this really a cyclist or a POB? (Person on a Bike.)

They could be called "Pedestrians on a Bike," which is a contradiction in terms, but POBs behave like pedestrians. Most pedestrians don't follow too many rules; they wander around willy-nilly all over the place.

Some places have jaywalking laws, but apart from that, there are not too many rules enforced on a pedestrian. They will be on the sidewalk on one side of the road, when suddenly they will see a gap in traffic and without warning or signal will dart across the road to the opposite sidewalk.

As for traffic lights, most pedestrians don't even look to see if they are red or green, but rather look to see if there are any cars coming, and will cross with complete indifference to the color of the light. Sometimes they will not even look, because cars tend to give way to a pedestrian.

The result is, when a person gets on a bike they behave like a pedestrian; they ride on the sidewalk, they ride on the wrong side of the road against the flow traffic, and they ignore traffic signs and signals. At night they don't use lights, because after all, most pedestrians don't carry flash lights after dark.

Cyclists see themselves as a vehicle on the road, whereas, POBs see themselves as a person just trying to get from point A to point B and it’s too far to walk. They are often focused only on their destination, oblivious to everything else around them.

Sadly, statistics show that when a bicycle rider is killed on the road, it is often the victim’s fault. Running red lights, riding against traffic, or suddenly entering a road without warning in front of an oncoming car. This gives a false impression that cycling is dangerous. It is POBs that are getting killed, not cyclists.

A cyclist and a POB may look the same; what they wear or the type of bike they ride does not necessarily distinguish the difference. Some POBs even think they are cyclists.

These are a splinter group known as APOBs. The “A” is for Anarchist, Arrogant, or Asshole, pick any one. They grew up as POBs, later bought expensive bikes and started hanging out and riding with cyclists. However, they never became true cyclists because they disregard the laws of the road, at all times.

Worse, they somehow see themselves as above the law; they give all cyclists a bad reputation. Being ignorant of the law is one thing, but knowing better and still disregarding the rules and laws of our society is anarchy plain and simple.

If you know someone who is an APOB; then maybe you need to get together with a few other cyclists and hold an intervention. Tell them they can’t be a cyclist part of the time, and POB the rest; they have to pick a side.

The strange thing is many POBs drive cars, and when they do for the most part they follow the rules of the road. This furthers my belief that POBs see themselves as pedestrians on wheels, and think the rules on the road don’t apply. As “Motorists,” they suffer the same fate as cyclists; lumped together with PICs. (People in Cars.)

Motorists get in their cars and do nothing else but drive. Their full attention is on the road; they are the good and careful drivers. I see motorists as being the same as cyclists; they are just using a different form of transport.

PICs, on the other hand, drive as if they are still at home or at work. They talk on the phone, eat, drink, shave, and put on makeup. Another way to describe it; POBs ride their bike as if they are walking, and PICs drive their car as if they are sleepwalking.

Organizations who put out accident statistics should adopt the term POBs and PICs, in addition to the terms cyclist and motorist. We would then see that cyclists and motorists sharing the road is not the problem. It’s those SOBs the POBs and PICs.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Radio interview

Last Tuesday around noon I received a phone call from Adrian Harewood, the host of CBC Ottawa's afternoon show "All In A Day". He had invited Charles Akben-Marchand, fellow cycling activist and President of Citizens for Safe Cycling, to speak on the show about winter cycling, and when setting this up Charles had had given him my number. So Adrian and I chatted for about ten minutes and then he asked if I'd like to be on the show as well! But of course, says I, making a quick schedule change and heading there for 3:00.

Our segment was recorded and posted to the CfSC website.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Xmas songs

Ah, Christmas songs. Some are quite beautiful, even if the lyrics are a bit hard to take for this lapsed Unitarian. One of the most over-baked songs is O Holy Night, and it usually gets the full treatment of bellowing voice backed by orchestra, pipe organ, boys choir, The Radio City Rockettes, etc.

So it was with great delight that I discovered perhaps the most, umm, excruciating rendition of this classic! I don't know who the singer is, but you can tell that he CAN sing, but just chooses to do it in a so-bad-it's-good way (I especially like his leap into the falsetto range for the last part). For their own safety, lock up your children and hide the pets, then have a listen:

O Holy Night

And along with that, why not the Bob Rivers version of Walking in a Winter Winterland, with slightly revised lyrics?


More of Bob's demented Xmas tunes at:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"The Christmas Gift?"

(I've had this stashed in a folder for years and have forgotten its source.)

A young man wanted to purchase a Christmas gift for his new girlfriend. Since they had not been dating very long, he decided, after careful consideration, that a new pair of gloves would strike the right note - romantic, but not too personal.

Accompanied by his girlfriend's younger sister, he went to the Bay and bought a pair of white gloves. The younger sister bought a pair of panties for herself. During the wrapping the clerk mixed up the items, and the sister got the gloves, and the girlfriend got the panties. Without checking the contents, he mailed the package to his sweetheart with this note:


I chose these because I noticed that you are not in the habit of wearing any when we go out for the evening. If it had not been for your sister, I would have chosen the long ones with the buttons, but she wears short ones and showed me how easy they were to remove. These are a delicate shade, but the lady I bought them from showed me a pair she had been wearing for the past three weeks and they were hardly soiled. I had her try yours on for me and she looked really smart.

I wish I was there to put them on you for the first time, as no doubt other hands will come in contact with them before I see you again. When you take them off, remember to blow on them before putting them away, as they will naturally be a little damp from wearing. I hope that you will wear them for me on Friday night.

All my love.

PS. The style is to wear them folded down with a little fur showing.

Monday, December 17, 2007

"let it snow let it snow let it snow"

We got smacked with a big storm yesterday, with the heaviest single-day snowfall in years. I had to get to an important rehearsal in the next neighbourhood, and cycling was not the best option. I could've walked or waited forever for a bus, but then inspiration hit...

My neighbour Scott was digging out his car and saw me heading to the basement door and asked if I was going to get out my bike, and I said "no, my skis!" He took this photo:

As I made my way into the Glebe neighbourhood I stopped on Lyon St. for a photo op. Looking ahead:

Looking behind (not much difference, eh?)

Looking down:
Coming home later that evening was a bit more of a challenge, as the plows had scraped most roads down to a thin layer of snow. The first trip had been bad enough for the ski pole tips striking through to pavement, and now I had to watch for the bottoms of the skis themselves. Fortunately it wasn't bare in very many places and I got home just fine.

This was not my first time skiing through urban streets. Who needs groomed trails anyway? ;)


Here at my new place the trikeport I built is underneath where the roof runoff occurs. A neighbour had warned me that a lot of ice can hang there, so while the port's roof is only 1/4" plywood (with a tarp over top) the framing is 2x4s across with 2x6 supports. For the winter I laid a sheet of 3/4" plywood over top to help spread the weight of any ice and snow that might build up until I could clear it.

And as winter showed up this year not with a whimper but with a bang the accumulation has been strong. Clearing the snow has been easy, but the flat roof of the rental house is not well insulated, so there's a lot of dripping water off the back on all but the coldest days, and I was caught off-guard at how much ice was layering up underneath. Late last week I discovered that the entire top of the trikeport was covered to a depth of at least three solid inches. And on top of that a fat stalagmite was building up from the main drip.

Here's the blob up close:

Its source:

This accumulation explains the pick-axe I found in the basement when I moved in! I happily took that beast in hand and started hacking away at the solid ice. This photo shows the thickness of the layer:

Making progress, but then had to stop for the day:

The following afternoon, with some overnight snow and yet more dripping:

30 minutes of hacking later and the blob is gone!

All done:

Of course, the next day a thin film of ice was covering everything...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Music gear for dance class

For the past three years I've been providing musical accompaniment for a dance class. The first two years I used some hand drums and small percussion toys, and also made the occasional melodic gurgle on a tin whistle or alto recorder. Last Spring I wanted to add a keyboard to the set-up, but the only one I had was my old Kawai K4, which was wired into my computer for recording. Having to continually disconnect and reconnect it each time I took it out did not seem like fun, and I didn't have a decent amplifier for live use anyway.

I decided instead to try one of those cheap synths with built-in speakers. The one I bought secondhand worked well enough, but was not quite loud enough to do the job. And after being banged around a bit in transport it developed the annoying habit of shutting itself off every now and then. So when the new season began this past Fall I had to make a decision: buy a more powerful version of the above cheap synth, or get a regular synth and buy an amp.

My elderly K4 has some great sounds, but not the nicest keyboard touch. So it would become the gig synth and I would get a new MIDI controller keyboard for home use (I have a nice bunch of soft synths in the Mac, so no need really for a sound-generating snyth). I lucked out in that a friend gave me a full 88-key controller on indefinite loan that was surplus to his professional needs, so the money saved from that was set aside to help buy an amp (more on that later).

But to get this stuff to the class I needed cases! Yes, I could go and buy new or used ones (if I could find the right size when looked for used), but my usual resourceful thriftiness kicked in and I made my own. In the basement of my new place I found some large sheets of coroplast, so I cut two down to size, scoring them with a knife and then holding the corners together with duct tape. Once both pieces were done each was lined with blue camping foam, and both halves are held together with a bungee cord.

The old K4 goes into a plastic bag just in case any water seeps in, and since I was running out of foam the last strip was cut up and taped in pieces inside the lid.

Now, back to the amplifier...

Because all my gear is usually moved by bike I need to keep the weight down. So no 300-watt amps please! After a bit of research and talking with pro keyboard friends it looked like one of the Behringer amps would be good, but both the local stores did not have the one I wanted in stock. Since class time was closing in I tried the advice of Dave at Dave's Drum Shop and bought a rig he recommends to drummers needing to amplify an electronic drum kit; it's one of those subwoofer / satellite speaker systems used for computers and game machines! While such a system is not really made for gigging it sure is small and lightweight, and I figured that if it didn't work out sonically I could always find another use for it. The one I settled on was a Logitech Z4:
It actually sounds quite decent, and adequately fills the classroom with sound (though I found this past weekend that it was just barely loud enough for the space in which we had our semi-annual Community Day). And having all those separate pieces meant it needed to be consolidated into one package for easy transport, so once again duct tape to the rescue! I also taped some screening over the satellites since they had open fronts:

Then I of course had to make a case for this as well:
A dead innertube was used for a handle, and taped in place underneath to keep it from coming off the box entirely when it was slipped aside to get the lid off.
The entire set-up has worked out just fine. It sounds good, and is lightweight and easy to transport. Some days I feel almost too clever for my boots...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Canuckcracker success!

I don't have the official numbers, but it looks like the IJO show was a sell-out! Professional photos will soon be on the IJO website, but in the meantime here are some quick ones I took.

Dress rehearsal was on the same day as the gig. The show was at 2:00pm, with the dress at 11:00am! That's when the dancers and actors and orchestra all finally met, and so we did not have a lot of time. Above, the sax section runs through some parts while everyone is setting up. And yes, it's obviously not a typical dress rehearsal in that not everyone is dressed up yet. ;)

The trumpet section warms up.

Fearless leader / bassist Adrian Cho tunes his Santa hat.

Scott Florence from "Company of Fools" did a fabulous job as The Villain.

Intermission, and a view of part of the crowd. The entire first rows were all little kids sitting on the carpet. The dancers performed on the wood floor right in front of them, and the band was behind the dancers.

Friends Andrea, Brad, and Keri take in the intermission fun as the kids run around imitating the dancers.

At show's end the daughter of an orch. member was curious about the drums, so I took one drum off the riser, gave her the brushes and she wailed away.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

IJO - Canuckracker!

This coming Sunday afternoon the Impressions in Jazz Orchestra has a cool Holiday show. It's a new and very Canadian interpretation of the famous Nutcracker Ballet, though we'll be playing Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's revamp of Tchaikovsky's music, with Modern and Swing dance instead of ballet.

"A uniquely Canadian story about friendship, multiculturalism and inclusivity, with a high-tech moral, a comedic villain, and a Mountie Nutcracker."

Complete info at the IJO website.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A few weekends ago I was in Toronto for a family visit, and to help crazybikerchick complete her homebuilt trailer (based on the design details at my website). I'll get to the bike photos in a moment, but first...

I had heard of the new addition to the Royal Ontario Museum, but had not yet seen it. It's interesting, at the very least:

Walking down Yonge St., and a larger-than-life Freddie Mercury at the Canon Theatre (formerly Pantages, where Phantom of the Opera reigned for many years after the theatre's renovation):

Walking along Queen St. East on the bridge over the Don Valley River and Parkway. The sign says "weaving traffic be aware of cyclists". What? Cyclists are not allowed on either the DVP or the connecting Gardiner Expressway. Does it mean motorcyclists?

Saturday afternoon cycling around, and came upon a neighbourhood bike store. Here's the sidewalk sign:

With a cool CCM tandem in the window:
On to Urbane Cycles to help the bikerchick look at folding bikes and bents. The Bacchetta Giro was very nice:

But this was my fave, the Bacchetta LWB:
I really liked how this bike felt. If I wanted to buy a new bent I think this would be the one. We also tried the RANS V2 Formula 26 (not pictured), and that was also a nice ride. I think it would be great for long tours, but perhaps not so nimble in urban traffic (where I spend the vast majority of my time) compared to the Bacchetta.

Finally got to see a Bakfiets cargo bike in real life:

And lastly, Carey Chen, one of the owners / mechanics of this co-operatively run store. Some of Carey's hot rod Raleigh Twentys are featured on my folding bike webpage.

Oh, and after mentioning the trailer, I should mention that I've sent Tanya my photos and she should be blogging its build soon.

UPDATE: I've been reminded that I did not mention my transportation while in T.O. I used both of Tanya's old folding bikes, one being an Auto-Mini and the other a Raleigh Twenty. The Twenty is better built, but is heavier and has some drivetrain friction. The 'Mini seems a bit quicker, and is also geared lower. I used it on Friday to visit people downtown, then got a lift to my older brother's place for dinner, then rode it back to Tanya's. And yes (as T. mentioned in the comments) flying down the Bayview extension hill along the way. Well, perhaps not flying, but going as fast as I dared on an elderly folding bike that is too small for me, and whose mechanicals were a tad suspect. Funny how I've done up to 80 kph downhill on my recumbent, but 30 kph on the old folder had me putting the brakes on...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fall ride

My friend Andrea and I have been lucky to be able to do so many rides together this year. We meet every Friday if we can, and find somewhere to go (or just meet and chat if it's raining). In early October we did a loop from her place near the Champlain Bridge, up into Gatineau Park to see the changing colours, then across and along the path beside the Gatineau River.

Close to Lac Leamy we found that the path had crumbled or washed out, and a temporary bridge was in place. It was quite interesting, because it exposed a large culvert through which a small stream passed. This stream did not run outside of the culvert, so I'm not sure what caused the earth to collapse.

We them made our way to Lac Leamy, and since it was such a beautiful day (27C on Oct. 5th!) we did our usual beach stop. A. decided that the water was OK, and after taking photos I too went in, though it was cool enough to keep us to below the knee...

Monday, November 05, 2007


It's the time of the year when these furry rats / cute little suckers run around collecting food, so why not two silly photos? Good thing the second one isn't real... :P

Blogger is being dopey

Blogger's photo uploading feature has been buggy for the past few weeks, and they keep saying it's fixed then it breaks again (this is rather amazing for a billion dollar company). So until they resolve the issue the current workaround is to upload photos to Picasa, and then manually put the HTML links in the posting. This is more time consuming, so it'll take me a bit to get caught up...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Cost of the Iraq War

Larry Beinhart, author of "Wag the Dog" (on which the movie is based) and others, sums it all up quite succinctly at the Huffington Post.

Follow-up to Bikes to Africa

I've put up a small photo essay at the re-Cycles site, and Bicycles for Humanity also have photos of the collection day fun at their website.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fun with the IJO

First up, some photos from the Impressions in Jazz Orchestra's Big Band gig in September with the Swing Dynamite gang. Everyone had a great time, and the dancers got pretty crazy with the power of a live Big Band booting them along!

Next up, the October 2nd gig featuring the music of Gil Evans. There was a lot of music to read! Some of my charts were five pages long for one tune, which made for some interesting logistics, especially as many of the tunes segued from one to another. I had to use two music stands (photos taken during afternoon dress rehearsal):

Bassist Gert had the same problem, and the same solution:

I had to move my left-side cymbal over to make room:

Last, IJO photographer Brett Delmage sent me this interesting shot he took of me: