Archive for June, 2008


Jun 30, 2008

Doctor, heal thyself


The latest issue of the British Medical Journal has a double-page spread feature on how docs can tackle climate change. The two articles feature an illustration of a bicycle.

Mike Gill, visiting professor of public health at the University of Surrey, wrote:

“Health professionals were powerful catalysts to society changing its view on smoking…Most of us do not yet think of our high carbon lifestyle as an addiction…

“Just as doctors smoked in front of patients, many of us still drive to work in large cars.

“If you drive your car less, take more exercise…you will avoid the effects of obesity and help mitigate the effects of climate change.”

In the article ‘Ten practical actions for doctors to combat climate change’ authors Jenny Griffiths, Alison Hill and Jackie Spiby of the Health and Sustainability Network, and Mike Gill and Robin Stott of the Climate and Health Council, write:

1. Inform ourselves about the basic science of climate change, the health benefits of taking action, and the urgency of doing so.

2. Advise our patients. Better diet and more walking and cycling will improve their health and reduce their carbon emissions.

3. Use less energy ourselves…

4. Drive the car less; fly less; walk or cycle more…”

The Benefits of Bicycling

That’s a pic of a cycling doctor. And below there’s another one. See, cycling is contagious.

Alwinton 41 - Version 2



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Jun 30, 2008

In time for CAS, Dr Arnie Baker releases updated ‘Landis v the liars’ book


Later today the Court of Arbitration for Sport will deliver its verdict in the Floyd Landis case [he lost]. Even if cleared [he wasn't], Landis will for ever be a doper to many [not to me]. That’s partly because the many don’t tend to read around the subject [I did, I know far more about spectrometers than I ever thought possible].

For those that do like to read around the subject the name of Dr Arnie Baker will be familiar. He’s a good friend of Floyd Landis and was shocked by the way his case was handled, especially the way the science was handled.

Last year he wrote a book about the affair, documenting the ‘wiki defense’. This has now been updated and ought to raise concerns from anybody who truly wants to root out drugs in sport.

100_7460

“I showed, in roughly 60 scientific arguments, how the LNDD laboratory was sloppy and failed to meet basic scientific standards,” says Dr Baker in an email.

“I showed how the LNDD laboratory never even identified testosterone in Floyd’s urine according to minimum, established WADA standards.

“The CAS hearing has provided new, relevant, and significant information.”

This information has been placed in Baker’s revised book, available as a free download. There are more than 100 new pages.

Here’s Baker’s synopsis:

They Lied
· There is evidence of scientific misconduct/malfeasance.
· Vanishing acts: Records have disappeared.
· Magical appearances: Documents appear to have been fabricated.
· False statements: USADA, its experts, and the lab appear to have repeatedly made false statements.

My opinion and belief is based on more than two dozen apparently fraudulent/fabricated documents and frankly-false statements.

I document the evidence, comparing the at-issue LNDD/USADA statement or document side-by-side with the proof of fraud, false, or self-contradictory statement.

They Botched the Test in the First Place
The report is so full of errors that other conclusions are impossible. Among dozens of examples:
· Sample numbers are wrong.
· The chain of custody is flawed.
· Quality control standards failed, and the failures were ignored.
· Files have been overwritten/erased.

They Never Even Identified Testosterone Properly
Two types of tests performed: The T/E (testosterone/epitestosterone) ratio test and the IRMS test.
· Testosterone peaks were not identified according to minimum standards in the T/E ratio test. The AAA panel threw out this test.
· Since the AAA hearing, the lab has admitted that it no Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) or validation study for peak identification in the IRMS test.


More info at TrustButVerify.



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Jun 27, 2008

TdF vid optimised for Apple TV


I’ve re-released the ‘Best Tour de France footage ever?’ video, the one that’s had 118,000+ views on YouTube. But the YouTube version is short and lo-res. A higher-res, nine-minute version was released on iTunes in May last year but it was iPod size only.

I’ve now done a version for Apple TVs. It’s available right now, for free, on Quickrelease.tv’s home on iTunes.

The video is made up of ‘rushes’ from the IMAX movie with the production name of Brainpower but which morphed into Wired to Win when it was released to IMAX cinemas in 2006. Much of the video footage never made it into the final movie…because it featured Tyler Hamilton.



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Jun 27, 2008

Birthday boy loves bikes


Prime Minister Gordon Brown wanted to celebrate his first year in office with a bang, so he spent his official anniversary with Britain’s golden track stars.

Number 10 Downing Street reports: “PM has met Bradley Wiggins, Lucy Pendleton and other members of the GB cycling team at their practice session at the Manchester Velodrome.”

That’s Victoria Pendleton, but never mind.

Brown is up on bikes at the moment, clearly angling for a ‘Cameron’ rub-off.

Yesterday he said:

“The place of cycling in our society is set to grow, and I am committed to doing everything possible to encourage that.”



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Jun 27, 2008

Electric cars will still cause congestion


et-street_lowres

Oil is on a slippery slope to depletion but our dependence on it isn’t wholly addictive. It’s not the gloop we love, it’s what it can do for us. It’s blown into plastic bags and powers our cars but if a magic alternative was found tomorrow we’d ditch the black stuff without a thought.

This is evident from the way we’re rushing to feed our cars instead of feeding the world. But biofuels are not a long-term solution to our thirst for car-juice.

And electric cars are not environmental saviours. They may be quiet but the energy to power them has to come from somewhere and that somewhere is not yet hillsides covered in solar panels or fields of wind turbines.

Not only do we have to wean ourselves off oil, we have to kick the car habit, too. Personal mobility shouldn’t start and stop with motorcars. Aside from the waste of petrol, the use of cars in city centres is incredibly wasteful of space.

The government and industry funded Energy Saving Trust released a future-looking report this week urging Brits to cut out wasteful energy practices. ‘Emission Impossible, a vision for a low carbon lifestyle by 2050′ believes electronic devices of the future will dispense with standby mode and there will be lots of other consumer-driven, planet-friendly lifestyle changes.

But the report’s graphics don’t inspire confidence. The Energy Saving Trust may have put a cyclist on the cover but inside the report (see pic above) an urban residential street is shown packed with futuristic cars, no doubt powered by electricity or other ‘alternative’ fuels.

A lone recumbent rider is shown about to knock down a woman carrying (hemp?) shopping bags.

The electric cars look a bit smaller than today’s cars but they’re still multiple occupancy and they’d still cause gridlock.


emissionimpossible

According to Phillip Sellwood, the CEO of the Energy Saving Trust, we won’t be wearing sackcloth and sandals in the future:

“The good news is that if we start to take action now to lower our carbon emissions then we needn’t adopt austere lifestyles or make unpleasant personal sacrifices… In fact, I believe that a low-carbon lifestyle could actually improve the quality of all of our lives. Imagine living in warm, affordable, comfortable homes – with access to a range of travel choices, whilst at the same time sustaining our environment.”

OK, so energy efficient light bulbs will soon be ubiqutious; wind turbines will be on every rooftop; supermarkets will no longer hand out free turtle-stranglers, but unless we radically reshape the way we get around city centres, no amount of oil replacements will solve our transport woes.

Traffic and transport psychologist Dr Ian ‘long blonde wig’ Walker, a lecturer at the University of Bath, has got it spot on as usual:

“Cars are fundamentally badly designed in various ways (e.g., their need for huge slurpy soft tyres to stop them flying off the road), and one of their basic design faults is that they take up the same amount of valuable road-space to convey one person as five.

“The car is so amazingly dominant in our collective psyche that their use is totally habitual and alternatives, despite being plentiful, much cheaper and logically more appropriate, simply never occur to people. So everybody carries on using completely, wildly, infuriatingly inappropriate vehicles to get around and our cities get less and less pleasant and accessible.

“People are going to have to realise that if they travel alone 95% of the time, it is better for everyone - including them - if they get a one-person vehicle and hire something bigger on the odd occasion they need more space. It’s such a shame that we’re going to have to go through masses of congestion and heavy-handed legislation to make people act rationally. Bah.”

Now, I’m not anti-car (well, OK, I’m a little bit anti-car) and totally pro-bicycle (hmm, got me there, too). I own a seven-seat people carrier. But I drive it as little as possible and only very rarely in town. It’s a long-distance vehicle, for anything under five miles I’ll ride my bike.

I wouldn’t dream of “nipping into town” in my car. That would be madness. But I’m in the minority. For the majority who continue to want to drive in city centres the only way to stop them will be design. Not design as in pretty pictures, but design as in bollards. Driving short distances needs to become a little less possible.



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Jun 26, 2008

BBC.co.uk article asks ‘Is this the age of the train?’ but plugs bikes most


Sort of.

Headlined ‘Is this the new age of the train?’, the story leads with:

With motorists facing rising fuel prices and rail companies reporting growing passenger numbers, are we entering a golden age for public transport in the UK?

Last year, the National Road Traffic Survey recorded its first drop in car use since it began its annual study.

Motoring organisation the AA found that more than a third of 17,500 surveyed members had made a decision to start leaving their cars at home.

Much is made of the rise in rail passengers but then the article says Britain’s creaking rail infrastructure might not be able to cope with more rises in numbers and that folks are turning to bikes instead. The article finishes with a quote from Patrick Trainor of Evans Cycles:

“We have definitely noticed an increase in buyers in the last few weeks mentioning [the rising fuel price] as a factor in their decision to buy a bike…

“People who wouldn’t previously have considered buying a bike realise it now makes financial sense, particularly at the cheaper end of bikes.

“Because petrol prices are going up, it can cost £50 to fill up a tank. So people are finding they can buy a bike for the equivalent of a month’s worth of petrol.”

Evans doesn’t specialise in fifty quid bikes. In fact, I may be mistaken, but I think that’s the price for a puncture repair in an Evans store.



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Jun 26, 2008

PM feigns interest in a low carbon future


PM Gordon Brown has today told Brits we must go green. He has seriously upped investment in wind farms but is short on ideas in other, more controversial areas.

In a speech delivered at the Government’s Low Carbon Economy Summit on London’s South Bank (full transcript here), Brown said going green was a “chance to seize the economic future - securing our prosperity as a nation by reaping the benefits of the global transition to a clean economy.”

He likened the forthcoming green revolution to the industrial revolution, the coming of the car and the advent of the computer:

“Look at the way this happened in the past: when the steam engine, the internal combustion engine and the microprocessor transformed not just technology but the whole economy: the way society was organised and the way people lived.

“Now we are about to embark on a fourth technological transformation - to low carbon energy and energy efficiency. And in their wake - as before - will come a myriad of changes in the way we live, the way we move around, the way we run our businesses, the things we produce and consume - which will make the low-carbon economy a new engine of productivity and economic growth.”

So, was there an announcement of a huge pile of money to get Brits out of their cars and on to more sustainable forms of transport? Er, no.

Despite all the recent Government announcements about more cash for cycling (£120m was announced in January), the money allotted is pitiful compared to the economic benefits (said to be£1.3bn in this report) that would accrue from more people cycling more often.

The British Government caves at the first whiff of fuel protests from motorists and this ain’t something that’s going to change in a hurry. Politicians say they’re planning for the future, but for ‘future’ read ‘their future’, not ‘our future’.



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Jun 26, 2008

Cycling in civvies


I have a column in The Guardian today. It’s about women cycling in short skirts and who aren’t at all smelly.

The mention of a ‘poetry in motion’ YouTube video didn’t include a link, so here’s an embed:



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Jun 25, 2008

Get in the mood for Le Tour


The Tour de France starts in Brittany on 5th July. I’m a lucky bugger, I’ll be there.

I’m getting warmed up for the event by re-watching this video:



I billed this as ‘Best Tour de France footage ever?’ and it’s had 117,000+ views on YouTube. But it’s only the short and shonky version. The higher-res, nine-minute version can be found on Quickrelease.tv’s home on iTunes.

The video is made up of ‘rushes’ from the IMAX movie with the production name of Brainpower but which morphed into Wired to Win when it was released to IMAX cinemas in 2006.

The IMAX movie, as you’d expect, is larger than life and truly stunning. But it was distributed much later than first billed. Following the initial shooting in 2003 there had to be an extensive reshooting of scenes to accommodate the removal of Tyler Hamilton from the movie.

At the time Hamilton was embroiled in a drugs hearing, which he sadly later lost. Had he embarked on the same course of action as Floyd Landis - request for an open hearing, wiki-style posting of all hearing evidence on his website so experts could crawl all over it - the outcome may have been different. Well, perhaps not the outcome because Read the rest of this entry »



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Jun 24, 2008

The many and varied benefits of bicycling


OK, so I’m preaching to the converted here:

The Benefits of Bicycling

But feel free to pass on the pic - inspired by this illustration - to those ripe for conversion.

PS
If I’ve missed any benefits add them in the comments below and I’ll update the pic.



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