36 minutes of bliss

Source: foreveryoga.com

Source: forever-yoga.com

One definite advantage of my work place is that it is located directly adjacent to several hundred acres of park land. As a result, I can wander, relax, bike, read a book, or participate in other activities during my lunch hour. When it is sunny and warm (but not too hot), I particularly like to lay on the seat of a picnic table or on a park bench to soak up the rays, listen to the birds, and feel soft breezes drift across me. After such a brutal winter as we just completed, these noon time siestas are at the very top of my list.

As a result, I usually get about 36+/- minutes of bliss and solitude to relax and recharge my batteries during the noon hour, before I must return to the office to eat lunch. Those 36 minutes are like a touch of heaven on Earth. Needless to say, during Earth Day or Earth Week, I appreciate the blessed beauty, peace, and serenity of our lovely planet even more during these lunch siestas.

Happy Earth Day 2014 to all.

Roadside Americana – discount department stores

en.wikipeia.org

Source: en.wikipeia.org

The discount department stores listed below represent memories of the golden age of sprawl (if there is such a thing as a golden age for sprawl). Many of these were local and/or regional chains that grew out of a full-line department store in order to compete with the national discounters. For example, in my hometown of Indianapolis, Ayr-Way was started by L.S. Ayres. They eventually had stores all over Indiana and much of Kentucky.

Source: eastwashingtonstreet.org

Source: eastwashingtonstreet.org

Personally, I recall many trips with my parents to the Ayr-Way stores in Nora or Augusta, which are both on the far northside of Indianapolis. These two stores, as with the entire Ayr-Way chain, were later absorbed and converted into Target. Due to heavy competition from Walmart, Target, and Meijer, many of these chains are long gone and the only reminder are sad, shuttered/abandoned units along an old commercial highway. Others are now occupied by flea markets or second-hand stores.

Source: beatricedailysu.com

Source: beatricedailysu.com

See how many you many of these stores you remember and please feel free to forward any others that I might have missed. The list does NOT include five and dime stores like Ben Franklin, McCrory, G.C. Murphy, Kresge, Kress, or Woolworth, as those were a different retail niche, though some of those chains did start successful discount department stores like Kmart, Murphy Mart and Woolco.

Source: writtenward.com

Source: writtenward.com

Here’s the list with links to their history and the year they were closed or taken over. The ones I have shopped at are shown in italics.

Two less cars!

0419141724aOne of my favorite bicycle advocacy catch phrases is “One less car!” In celebration of this worthy and sustainable effort, Kathy and I spent yesterday (Saturday) accomplishing all our errands on our bicycles. Between us, we totaled more than 27 miles of travel on our bicycles, riding to places like the florist, Kohl’s, the bank, my apartment, her house, Douglas J, the Trek store, and other businesses in the area.

Source: pioneerpress.com

Source: pioneerpress.com

All in all, it was a very rewarding experience that we intend to duplicate over and over again, thus removing our two cars from the local roadways on those days where we ride about town instead of driving. Combined with our regular bike commuting to/from work, we are hoping to eventually limit our car usage solely to longer trips, inclement weather (particularly in winter) or travel-related purposes.

Source: zazzle.com

Source: zazzle.com

Considering 50 percent of all trips are three miles or less in length, just imagine the positive impacts that could occur if each and every one of us dedicated just one day per week or one day per month to run all our errands by bicycle…or by transit…or by foot. Such an act would lower our individual and collective carbon footprint, improve our health, reduce congestion, demonstrate sustainability to others, and serve as a positive reminder that not all transportation must be done by the almighty automobile. Will you join us?

Hey, Kohl’s – how about a bike rack?

unnamedRode my new Trek Allant to the local Kohl’s store this morning. I ended up parking and locking it inside the vestibule, as there are no bike racks and not even any signs near the entrance to park my bike safely. Of course they have cigarette disposal units near each entrance for the unhealthy set, and they kept broadcasting how green and environmentally conscious they are on their intercom system, but not a single bike rack to be found. Only acres of asphalt and concrete.

I have been trying to persuade the store to add bike racks ever since it opened approximately 8-10 years ago.  I have spoken to staff, written emails, and left customer comment cards – so far without any success. This despite the documented evidence showing bicycling is good for business.

So here’s my new tactic – broadcasting how much I spent in their store as a bike riding customer in hopes to shame them into action. So Kohl’s – I spent $140.00 at your store this morning – do you think you could afford a bike rack or two now?

Great seaports from space – North America’s Pacific Coast

Here are some great satellite images from Honolulu, Hawaii; Long Beach, California; Los Angeles, California; Mazatlan, Mexico, Oakland California; Tacoma, Washington; and Vancouver, British Columbia. Enjoy!

Honolulu and Pearl Harbor, HA - Source:

Honolulu and Pearl Harbor, HA – Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Long Beach, CA - Source: en.wikipedia.org

Long Beach, CA – Source: en.wikipedia.org

Los Angeles, CA - Source:

Los Angeles, CA – Source: en.wikipedia.org

Mazatlan, Mexico - Source: mazatlantoday.com

Mazatlan, Mexico – Source: mazatlantoday.com

Oakland, CA - Source:

Oakland, CA – Source: unknown

Tacoma, WA - Source: aeerialarchives.com

Tacoma, WA – Source: aeerialarchives.com

Vancouver, BC - Source:

Vancouver, BC – Source: urbanlifesigns.blogspot.com

How about insurance incentives for bicycling?

Source: usastreetsblog.org

Source: usastreetsblog.org

Among my many ponderings about cycling and bike commuting, one topic that bugs me on a semi-annual basis is why I am not eligible to get a lower auto insurance rate for commuting to/from work so often by bicycle? In calendar year 2013, I bike commuted 73 times to work or 33% of the time, while in 2012 my bike commutes accounted for 40% (or 87) of my work commutes. Given the greatly reduced time, mileage, and wear/tear on the car as a result of bicycling to and from work, why don’t I qualify for some sort of discount from my auto insurer? Yes, I have asked them in the past.

The same holds true for health insurance. Shouldn’t those of us who practice a healthier lifestyle be rewarded with lower rates or some sort of discount? It would be one thing to only ride now and then to work, but when it equates to 20 percent or more of your total commutes, there should be an “x” factor built into the actuarial tables which rewards those who cycle to and fro. Granted, some type of substantive proof would be necessary, but a notarized document from an employer could suffice. The HR Department where I work certainly is aware of my bike commuting.

It seems to me, if there were a 5% or 10% discount on auto insurance rates for being a consistent bike commuter, overall ridership and safety produced from the corresponding increase in cyclists would be beneficial to all. Growth in ridership would also contribute to improved health and fitness in the community, which should drive down health care expenditures, which should (in a perfect world) lead to lower health insurance rates.

There may be some examples of discounts already being offered here and there around the country, but it is hardly universal and certainly is not marketed extensively like good driver, good student, multi-policy, and other available discounts. To me, it is long past time for the insurance industry to shift gears and start pedaling some innovative and new ideas for those of us in the cycling community. If it does not embrace such an approach, then perhaps state regulators should consider requiring such an option be made available.

Are they insane?

Source: freep.com

Source: freep.com

Who in their right mind would “plan” to store radioactive nuclear waste within one mile of 20% of the world’s freshwater supply? Apparently, there are some people in Canada who think that’s a sane notion.

This storage facility would be situated across Lake Huron from Detroit’s freshwater intake location and upstream from Toledo, Cleveland, Erie, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Hamilton, Toronto, Oshawa, Kingston, Montreal, and Quebec City. Even the most minuscule error could taint the drinking water for all these urban centers for decades.  Doesn’t anyone recall what happened earlier this year in Charleston, West Virginia when a non-radioactive chemical pollutant that got into that city’s water supply?

Source: mnn.com

Source: mnn.com

This has to be the stupidest idea ever put forth since the dawn of time. Given the geographic enormity of Canada, why doe this have to be located in such a vulnerable location.

One would hope the regulatory bodies in Canada would toss the idea aside as ludicrous, but in today’s money-centric world, who the hell knows? If you are opposed to this insane plan, please speak up and quickly! Here are some pertinent organizations: