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Showing posts from April, 2018

A silly streak in us

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The front tire wasn't a front tire as much as it was a kind of oversized windshield wiper clearing snow from the glass. The transformation was rapid, and complete. Now I was pedalling down a riverbank utility road, and now I was thinking how lovely it is when the brown city gets a fresh set of linens, and now my front tire was skidding across the ice hidden beneath the snow—and now I was clearly falling.

And now, sitting propped up in a emergency room stretcher, I was signing my name to a form without lifting the pen off the page before things went black under a veil of fentanyl and propofol.

The scan shows the dislocated shoulder bone back in place and the chunk of bone that had fractured off:


The fall happened on March 30. I was riding back home with a friend from a meeting of Coffee Outside. For more than three years a growing group of bicycle commuters in Edmonton have met on Friday mornings in all weathers and temperatures, usually in Faraone Park by the High Level Bridge, t…

The memorable Janette Sadik-Khan

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Janette Sadik-Khan is a lawyer. She moves easily in engineering circles. She led the New York City Department of Transportation for six years. There is no necessary reason with that professional pedigree that she should also be able to speak clearly. Lawspeak plus engineeringspeak plus transportationspeak plus zoningspeak can be the deadliest of communication cocktails. Numbed by acronyms, baffled by gab, fogged by vaporous words, listeners are quickly anaesthetized while the elect work their schemes unbothered because un-understood.
Sadik-Khan spoke to crowds in Edmonton and Calgary last week. She spun yarns from her storied tenure at NYC DOT. Bike lanes. Bikeshare. Summer Streets. Plazas. A new Times Square. Deck chairs. Paint. Bus rapid transit. A reinvigorated way of seeing public space for people. All the riveting stuff of her book Streetfight: Handbook For An Urban Revolution. Read it!

Part of Sadik-Khan's revolution is in language itself. In the book's preface, she rec…

Phatbiking

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I recommend phatbiking in the city.

Phatbiking is phatic communication experienced on a bicycle. Phatic is one of those Greek words. It means spoken or affirming. Phatic communication is a concept that captures the ways human beings use language not necessarily to convey information from person A to person B, but, rather, to affirm one another's existence.

The small hellos and how are yous? and what's ups?, the how are you doings? and the what's shakings? of everyday smalltalk are examples of phatic communication. These greetings are not offered or received as deeply probing questions or occasions for discourse. Instead, they work elegantly as so many ways to say I see you. And I see you, too. And we are here together.

Maybe we just want to be seen.

Phatic encounters come and go and have the evanescence of sound itself. But they matter. All the fancy ways we human beings polish up our words, all the rhetorical cargo we load into words to transport meaning to others, all t…

Things, including The Beatles, I met on my trip home

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The record sleeve for disc 2, side 1 of The Beatles/1962-1966 is not something you see discarded on the street every day. But there it was this afternoon on the ground near the new arena on 104 Ave, looking like an open wound. I crouched down and looked without touching. I admit it. I felt a strange kind of reverence as my eyes drifted across Help to You've Got to Hide Your Love Away, We Can Work It Out, Day Tripper, Drive My Car, Norwegian Wood. I saw cigarette butts and dead leaves, and those lyrics. I turned it over, knowing what I would find. Yep, Nowhere Man, Michelle, In My Life, Girl, Paperback Writer, Eleanor Rigby, Yellow Submarine. I wondered about the ripped corner. Who ripped it? Did they write on it? What did they write? How did it get here? Where is the vinyl? I looked around. No clues. What do you do when you're holding the Red Album record sleeve as traffic streams by on 104 Ave? I have no training for this. I placed it back on that piece of earth. Like a plaq…

Fragments from a fall

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The Fall

My left shoulder throbbed. From the hot pain rose the strangest image. A giant eagle had sunk its giant talons into my left shoulder, and then squeezed until I breathed out, barely controlled, a thin jet of frosty air. I had just fallen off my bike coming down a stretch of riverbank ice blanketed by morning snow. My front wheel slid. I lost control. I hit hard. I was on the ground, part of a debris field. My bike was on its side, its front wheel twisted backwards. The Go Pro handlebar mount was sheared off. The camera was half buried, still rolling. The tiny red light record indicator pulsed. The rear panniers were hanging by single hooks.  These are things I noticed when my shoulder was dislocated. It was so quiet, in the snow, in the trees, under the sky.

This is what it looked and sounded like from where I sat, and then didn't.



Before

I was part of a perfectly lovely morning in the city. Jeff at Sugared & Spiced had opened the shop early for Coffee Outside. I talked…

Everyday Strava

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I will not forget the feeling of pedalling up Sunwapta Pass. Feeling was all there was. Pain feeling. And the feeling of being alone and in a test of will against that switchbacked ramp of asphalt and stone between Banff and Jasper. Out of gears now. And now just trying to keep a semblance of cadence. Passing automobiles heaved. I could hear them working from behind and then watched as they moved alongside and out of sight. Don't look up! Look down. The vicious slope is not as obvious looking straight down. Look down, look down. So, I looked at cracks in the pavement and at wooden guardrail posts and shards of shiny glass. I watched tiny pieces of highway gravel inch backward as I pedalled ahead, knees straining, lungs stretching. Wheels turned like second hands. Eternal alpine grandeur surrounded me—and I watched gravel and glass go by. I measured my progress in bits of glass and gravel. My heart pounded. Legs turned. I breathed staccato: in-in-in-out. My Miyata 1000 kept going. …