Pedal Power

New York City has seen an increase in bicycle traffic and alternative transportation awareness recently, as the local government has stepped up its efforts to strengthen the city's environmental efforts. As a part of Major Bloomberg's PLANYC program, which launched in 2007 in hopes of creating a vision for the city's sustainability goals, and includes "long term decisions that will improve our economy, our environment, and our quality of life- all at the same time," the city has burgeoned support for bicycle travel on a multitude of levels.

Part of the plan includes an expanded network of bicycle lanes and trails throughout the city- with a total of 1,800 miles expected to be installed by 2030. And a program sponsored by the NYC Department of Transportation has led to the creation of new, innovative bicycle parking racks, which were ironically designed using recycled parking meters! The DOT, along with other cohorts, called for artists to compete in a design competition for a variety of bike racks to be used in all 5 boroughs, to increase the security of bicycle parking in hopes of fostering more bike traffic on city streets. Although the finalists have long been chosen and have had their designs installed all over NYC, you can still see photos of the finalists' work here. Now that's something to be proud of!

Despite earning a "Bronze" level designation for being a bicycle friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists, New York has had a dark past when it comes to cycling. The city has been known to have a high percentage of cyclist deaths, prompting a number of bicycle safety ad campaigns, as well as the installation of street memorials in the form of Ghost Bikes, which serve as haunting reminders of the dangerous nature of riding in the city. Since 2007 that city has drawn a lot of heat from the cycling community for its arrests of critical mass riders, bicyclists who organize "coincidentally" to form a large herd of bike traffic on the city streets. While engaging in a completely legal affair, these innocent folks have been arrested by NYPD cops for "obstructing traffic." As if bicycles themselves do not count as traffic.

Still, recent trends in NYC transportation policy have resulted in a variety of positive actions taken towards accepting a bicycle culture as a mainstream mode of transportation within the city, thus facilitating an increase in bike use. With the expanded bicycle lanes and necessary bike infrastructure, cyclists may feel safer and more taken care of on the streets. And with the increased security of the new, innovative bike racks which are popping up every where you look on city streets, there is a sense of comfort in bicycle parking. Already, 141 new miles of bike lanes have been added, and 2,011 bike racks have been installed! If trends like this continue to move us forward on bike traffic, then the PlaNYC goal of creating a "greener, greater NYC" will surely be realized sooner than we think!


Music for Your Mind

"Keep your head up, maintain & progress.... "

The Becoming. Awesome new music from the Infamous Few, a group of inspired young artists from the D.C./ Maryland area. The beats are fresh & the lyrics are real- sure to feed your mind and your soul. Check it out!

And for a sweet mixture of spoken word & original composition, check out Adjectives and Expletives- When I first Learned the Truth, featured here with some beautiful photo accompaniments. Check out the audio version here!


Happy Lent!

For those of us who follow any type of religious doctrine, sacrifice and penance are usually regarded as means of achieving a higher state of mind, and are used to attain a closer relationship with the spiritual self. This is true across many denominations, and for Christians that time of resolution comes with Lent. Starting on Ash Wednesday and lasting for 40 days until Easter, Lent is a time of penance and reflection. It is an opportunity for us to realize and take responsibility for our lifestyles and how they affect everyone around the world. That is why a Carbon Fast for lent is a great way to reflect on the impact of our day-to-day activities, and to make the positive changes that are necessary for creative a better world. It is a means of sacrifice, as energy consumption has become such a central part of our lives, but it is also a means of spiritual cleansing and social responsibility.

Here is a copy of a Lenten Carbon Fast Calendar, put together by some lovely people at the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program, which gives great "going green" tips for all of the 40 days of Lent! Whether you are religious or not, these simple suggestions are truly helpful, each being easy and interesting. The calendar is a tool we can use to reduce our carbon footprint, and to brighten our souls at the same time. It could also be useful for all 365 days of the year ;-)