Archive for April, 2008


Apr 18, 2008

Canadians are shocked by true costs of motoring, but won’t stop for toffee


The Canadian Automobile Association has released its annual Driving Costs statistics.

The costs are so high, newspaper columnist Richard Starnes said: “It’s almost enough to throw out the car in favour of a bike.”

But he opines that’ll never happen:

“For most of us, it’s the price we are willing to pay for our lifestyles.

“We may opt for a smaller car in future — and the latest sales news suggests that’s what is beginning to happen across North America. We may also become more careful with how far we drive and we may try to carpool more.

“But none of us, I wager, is ready to give up our beloved car.”

CAA president Tim Shearman said:

“We hope that these tools will help Canadians develop safer, more environmentally friendly and potentially less expensive driving habits that will help them to reduce their cost of ownership.”

The Ottawa Citizen delves into the stats:

The vehicle is driven less than 16 kilometres a day to work…For any kilometres over 18,000 per year add $26 per 1,000 km for the Cobalt and $33 for the Grand Caravan.

Gas costs are based on 110.1 cents per litre.

The annual variable operational costs for each kilometre we travel based on 18,000 km a year [are]

If you owned the Cobalt, it would cost you 9.95 cents in fuel, 2.36 cents in maintenance and 1.49 cents in tires for a total of 13.8 cents per kilometre.

If you owned the Caravan the figures would be 12.97 cents, 2.82 cents and 1.91 cents for a total of 17.70 cents.

Now we need to add annual fixed ownership costs…

For Cobalt owners (or the equivalent) the costs are: insurance $1,741, licence and registration $118, depreciation $3,661 and financing $942. That translates into $17.70 a day and $6,462 a year.

For Caravan owners the costs are: insurance $1,644, licence and registration $120, depreciation $5,504 and financing $1331. That translates into $23.56 a day and $8,599 a year.

You can buy a very nice bike for $8,599…and you’d lose the spare tyre in the process.



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Apr 18, 2008

Oi, TV presenters, pay attention to the road!


Do you want to know one of my pet hates in transport? I have lots of them - like fellow cyclists running red lights or motorists thinking the ‘no car lane’ sign doesn’t apply to them - but my teeth really grate when I see TV presenters doing point-of-view pieces to camera. When driving.

In the movies, actors who are filmed driving aren’t actually doing so. The car will most likely be on a truck, with a camera crew sat on the car’s bonnet. TV film crews dispense with this basic safety requirement and simply hook up a small camera so the TV presenter can do the POV piece while driving.

Think talking on a cellphone while driving is distracting? How about trying to look good on camera, think about something useful to say AND pay attention to the road?

There’s a lot of it about. And it’s not just TV presenters, it can be interviewees also. The thing is, once broadcast, you’d think that would be pretty good evidence to take to the police as driving without ‘due care and attention.’ Anybody ever heard of such a prosecution?

To see an example of it in action I could embed any number of BBC Top Gear clips but, for a pretty fresh example, here’s a clip from a Viddler employee. I’d hate to be a ‘vulnerable road user’ in Canton, Ohio. That’s where Brandice drives…



And here’s the rub. @brandice isn’t a TV presenter. She may work for Viddler, but she’s a ‘citizen journalist’. With the rise and rise of online video - ten hours of video gets uploaded to YouTube per second - there will be plenty of other idiots out there who think they can drive and vlog at the same time. NOTE: Sorry, the video has been deleted, either by Viddler or by Brandice. It showed a twentysomething woman driving and videoing herself talking into a camera at the same time.



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Apr 17, 2008

Do you obsess over your best bike? Or just like looking at it lots?


Simon o’Hagan, deputy comment editor of British newspaper The Independent, has just said some great things about the Bicycle Anatomy video on the Indie’s blog.

This gives me an excuse to embed it here again.


Bicycle Anatomy for Beginners from Quickrelease.tv on Vimeo.

I love the way Simon let’s slip he’s just a little bit in love with the droolsome shapes of his mount:

“I don’t think I obsess over my bike…I do find myself sitting and gazing at it sometimes.”



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Apr 17, 2008

Bikes not bombs


Kibbutz Be’eri is a great place to ride a bike. There are bike paths that wind through wheat fields and pass by eucalyptus trees. There’s a bike shop and a cyclists-friendly cafe.

But business is down right now. Is it any wonder? Kibbutz Be’eri is just 8kms from the Gaza Strip.

This tiny sliver of land, home to 1.3m Palestinians, is in the news at the moment. Hamas fighters and Israeli troops are at each other’s throats.

Yesterday an Israeli tank fired a shell that killed a Palestinian cameraman and three other people. Every death is shocking but, being a cyclist, I am somehow hard-wired to sit up and take notice when something bad happens to somebody on two wheels. The TV images of two teenage boys, killed as they were minding their own business, was personalised for me by the fact the lads were riding a bike. One was pedalling, the other getting a backie.

This is a normal thing for teens to be doing. In the UK you’d get a ticking off by a policeman if caught doing it. In the Gaza Strip you could be hit by an air-exploding tank shell. One second riding along with your mate, the next second lying in the road dead.

In the mid-1980s I spent a year in Israel. I did a lot of bike touring in the West Bank, something that would be impossible now. I rode my first mountain bike there, a Specialized Rockhopper specially imported by my bike-mad friend, Gil Bor, author of one of my favourite bedtime reads Bochner formulae for orthogonal G-structures on compact manifolds.

After university, in 1993, I went back to Israel to write the Berlitz Discover Guide to Israel. This was researched from a touring mountain bike.

Today, cycle touring in parts of Israel is tougher than it once was. Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reports that bookings are currently 50 percent down at LaMedavesh (Hebrew for ‘Pedal’) bicycle centre at Kibbutz Be’eri .



LaMedavesh owner Erez Manor said:

“Today most customers are experienced riders who come alone. Families and children prefer to ride elsewhere.”

The forthcoming Passover holiday would normally be peak time for Medavesh. Manor thinks business will be well down but that a few religious people would come.

“They aren’t afraid like the non-religious are.”

Israel is a fantastic country to cycle through. In Quarto Publishing’s ‘Classic Mountain Bike Routes of the World’ (2000) I did a chapter on Israel’s putative long-distance bicycle route, the Israel Bike Trail, a dream of Jon Lipman of the Carmel Mountain Bike Club. Some of it couldn’t be ridden today because of safety fears.

The 850km Israel Bike Trail - modelled on the Israel National Trail, a hiking route created by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel - runs from Metula in the north of Israel to Eilat in the south.

Last week plans were revealed for lots of local links to the Israel Bike Trail. This new network of joined-up routes is being promoted by the Ministries of Tourism, Environmental Protection, Transportation, Finance, Culture, the Nature and Parks Authority, and the Jewish National Fund.

Getting more people on bikes is a good thing, especially if it helps the political situation. And it can.

US-Israel religious charity Hazon (Hebrew for ‘Vision’) quotes 19th Century politico Theodore Herzl, founder of Zionism, who said “the light bicycle that brings new life.” Light bicycles? Yep, we can all relate to that.



Hazon is the creator of the bi-annual Israel Ride, an organised ride across Israel, mainly attended by Jews, mostly from America, but Arab Israelis and Arabs from other nations also take part.

Hazon is a supporter of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, situated on Kibbutz Ketura in Israel’s Southern Arava valley. This organisation has a logo with its name in English, Hebrew and Arabic. It champions peace, saving the planet and cycling.

David Lehrer, director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, said of the Israel Ride:

“It brings together lots of things that the Institute is all about, the environment, getting people to see Israel in a way that they can’t normally see, you see it very differently than from a car seat. It’s bringing diverse people together – from the US, Israelis, Jordanians, Palestinians – a chance to learn from each other, a chance to see that we have more in common than separates us.

“It’s the opportunity to come together on an issue that concerns all of us and that affects all of us, the environment, the earth, and this particular part of the earth – only by working together, Jews and Arabs, can we protect our shared environment. Nature knows no boundaries.”

Hazon founder Nigel Savage said:

“This is what happens when the People of the Book become the People of the Bike.”

(People of the Book is an Islamic phrase to describe the Abraham-linked religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam).


Talking after the Israel Ride of 2005, Danny Ronen of Oakland, California, said:

“Me and Muatassim, a Palestinian, ended up staying in the same room together and spending time getting to know each other, and realizing that we are incredibly similar. Me being Jewish and him being Muslim is a non-issue. But you can’t build relationships without personal connections.”

It’s good to see that cycling isn’t just a sport, a form of transport, a means of keeping fit, it can also bring people together. Amen to that.

Map sourced from Walla, the Israeli equivalent of Google Maps.



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Apr 16, 2008

Folding bike race is back for Rapha’s Nocturne




But let’s hope it’s not as wet as last year, as seen in the video above.

The kick-off event in June last year suffered from a tropical downpour but still saw 40 suited competitors battle it out in front of 5000 cheering spectators around Smithfield Market in central London. The ‘Le Mans’ start meant riders had to run to their bikes, unfold them and then set off around the challenging Smithfield Nocturne course.

The 2008 Smithfield Nocturne - to be held on 7th June - will now feature qualification heats leading to a grand final.

The folding bike race will be just part of an action-packed race programme which will culminate in an elite criterium featuring top British cycling stars. There’s also a media crit on road bikes, and I’ve been invited. Should I take part? No, I’d get my legs ripped off by the likes of Matt Seaton. I’ll enter the folding bike event instead: it’s easier to fake a mechanical, I can just say I fitted the wrong kind of elastomer bungs…



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Apr 16, 2008

How keen a cyclist are you?




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Apr 16, 2008

BikeBiz stable-mate gets Chopper out




As the executive editor of BikeBiz I get to hand out the Industry Achievement Award at October’s BikeBiz Awards 2008, which will be held alongside the Cycle Show.

BikeBiz is owned by Intent Media of Hertford and this publishing company has a bunch of market-dominating trade mags, including MCV, a weekly trade mag for the gaming industry.

This mag held its awards bash in London last week and kicked off the posh event with a brilliant video, featuring gaming industry bigwigs singing and playing air-guitar. I love the fact there’s a bike reference right at the start of the vid. The Nintendo marketing team dressed up as school kids and one exec puffed and panted on a Raleigh Chopper.

It’s an extremely well-produced video and will be required viewing for industry types. I’m chuffed that I sold BikeBiz to such a top-notch outfit.



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Apr 15, 2008

400th posting special: Do the bike blog quiz




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Apr 15, 2008

MTB pioneer’s body is found in shallow grave


Professor John Finley Scott disappeared nearly two years ago. His murderer has since been convicted and sent to prison, but there was no body.

Professor Scott’s body has now been discovered in a shallow grave near his house, reports Sacbee.com.



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Apr 15, 2008

Las Vegas: it sure ain’t green


Interbike will be held in Las Vegas this year and next. After that? Who knows?

Could be Denver or Anaheim, says Lifeboat Solutions Lance Camisasca on BRAIN.

Denver would be good for industry rides, although not as warm as this one to Lake Mead and back:



Carried below is the latest news from Nevada’s City of Lost Wages. Who else thinks a dedicated seafood buffet in the middle of a bakin’ hot desert can’t be good for the planet?

“From Indonesian freshwater prawns to Pacific salmon, Alaskan king crab, Canadian snow crab, shrimp from China and slipper tail lobster from Southeast Asia, the Village Seafood Buffet purchases more than 200 tons of fresh seafood annually.”

And while the MGM Grand may attract Interbike attendees with the first ‘Ultra Pool’ in Las Vegas - 53,000square feet of aqua-hedonism - exactly how bio-aware is the provision of “two saltwater pools – and six cascading waterfalls” in a city that already has enough pointless water features? Read the rest of this entry »



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