Cycling as medicine

I was riding with Zach up Gutierrez Canyon and he said, “If cycling was a pill, everybody would be taking it.”  That’s a neat saying, but after pondering it for a while, I thought cycling is way more fun than taking a pill or vitamin. The benefits of cycling are proven medically effective, and the evidence keeps mounting.

The Specialized Foundation uses cycling as a tool for children to achieve academic, health and social success through their Riding for Focus program.  The Foundation partners with Stanford University to better understand the effects of cycling on the learning process in children.  It’s pretty incredible to see the positive results of cycling becoming more visible.

Play is a huge part of learning!  Cycling play promotes mental health and overall wellbeing.  As a team sport, it builds social connections and a sense of belonging.  When we do high intensity intervals on the bike, the mind focuses on exercise and nothing else.  The goal-oriented part of the brain gets more oxygen causing a focus-shift away from the other parts that might be stressed.  This exercise-focused goal-orientation leads to mental relaxation.  The following study by Global Cycling Network goes into the details more.  Basically the same kind of exercise doctors prescribe for heart patients is also good for our heads, and more.

The bottom line is the value produced by cycling is so positively impactful, we’ll have to create a new economic model to measure it.  The rewards to the individual and society are only just beginning to be understood.  The bicycle is releasing so much human potential!  Kudos to everyone making an effort to harness it more, including the people riding bicycles.

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” –H.G. Wells

Further reading:
Kids are getting on bikes sooner and having more fun: https://bikeinitiative.org/2017/08/25/cycling-for-kids-strider-bikes-and-specialized-foundation/
Cycling as a national investment: https://bikeyogiblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/the-bicycle-is-americas-vehicle/
The Specialized Foundation: https://www.specializedfoundation.org

Cycling connects us with nature, too, which is good medicine

Bike-In Coffee hosts Semper Porro cycling team

Our motto at Old Town Farm is pedalers welcome.  We would like for that to be the motto of every city in America.  –Lanny and Linda, owners of Bike-In Coffee at Old Town Farm

On Saturday, April 27, two great things come together.  One of the top bicycle racing teams in America in 2019, Semper Porro, will be at Albuquerque’s Bike-In Coffee at Old Town Farm to connect with the broader community from 10am-12noon.  Join in the celebration of cycling fun!  Semper Porro will discuss how their mission of athlete development translates into helping people reach their fullest capabilities in life through healthy living, process excellence and community building.

Semper Porro Elite Road Bicycle Racing Team

When: Saturday, April 27, 2019 10am-12noon
Where: Bike-In Coffee at Old Town Farm ( http://oldtownfarm.com/bike-in-coffee/ )
What: Community gathering with cycling demonstrations, w/ optional ride at 12noon

More About Bike-In Coffee at Old Town Farm:  Bike In Coffee caters to cyclists, serving food and coffee from 9am-2pm every Saturday and Sunday on their glorious farm in the heart of Albuquerque with easy access off the Bosque Multi-Use Path.  The property has been farmed for at least 500 years, and the current owners have adapted it from a horse farm 35 years ago to the changing urban context, so people can connect with nature and one another through relaxation and sharing food and cycling culture, and enjoying everything that’s beautiful about Albuquerque, NM.

More About Semper Porro:  An elite road bicycle racing team with roots in the Southwest U.S., Semper Porro is Latin for “always forward”.  The Semper Porro team is in Albuquerque training for the Tour of the Gila bicycle race in Silver City, NM May 1-5. They’ve had an amazing season thus far, including winning the Redlands Classic while competing with many of America’s top cycling athletes. Semper Porro’s mission connects cycle sport to the highest ideals and values in life and uses processes that are universally applicable to building successful careers, relationships, reaching life goals and helping individuals and communities flourish.

References and further reading / viewing:

Hear Old Town Farm’s vision for New Mexico and Albuquerque as America’s leader in cycling:

Watch Semper Porro at Redlands:

The Tour of the Gila draws professional and amateur teams from across America to New Mexico for the some of the finest bicycling roads in the world with clear air, high altitude, and spectacular landscapes, great food and culture and an awe-inspiring atmosphere.  Cycling in New Mexico has deep roots and is an integral part of our communities.
https://tourofthegila.com

Semper Porro media:
https://www.facebook.com/semperporrotraining
https://www.instagram.com/semper.porro/
https://semperporro.com

Bike-IN landscapes: Bikepacking NM and the wild US

“Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe?”  –Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Unique in the New Mexico 2019 legislative session is House Memorial 10, which recognizes the contributions of bikepacking for outdoor recreation.  Bikepacking is a combination of camping and cycling, akin to backpacking, but gear is mounted on one’s bicycle instead of carried on one’s back! Outside Magazine covers the genesis of this grassroots, community-driven movement in New Mexico, which was born out of residents’ interest of getting to know this place better, and enjoying the abundant natural assets of quiet, dark night skies, and wonderful landscapes.  Bikepacking creates unlimited, sustainable travel opportunities while supporting local communities and small scale enterprises, and keeping nature intact.  It encourages us to slow down and take in the treasures of the places we inhabit, all while improving mental and physical health and well-being.

photos from day rides. With bikepacking those envoys of beauty, the stars, string our days together

Bikepacking speaks to the most important issues of our times.  You don’t need expensive equipment to enjoy it, so it’s affordable and accessible.  Think of the health boom bikepacking creates!  A health boom could expand indefinitely and include all people, residents and visitors, natives and newcomers.  A health boom has no down side. Bikepacking preserves natural habitats and biodiversity, and utilizes the existing network of trails, dirt roads and paved connecting roads from population centers.  Through bikepacking adventure, we learn to take better care and pay attention to all we have, including our subsistence infrastructure.

Bikepacking contributes to health, economy, and communities all in one activity, and seems to honor the essence of things.  It contributes to the upbuildling of human lives and community and the conservation of nature for future generations, while increasing the capacity today for appreciating the life we are living.  Bikepacking is not an extractive activity, rather it is regenerative.  We can also train for it right here in the villages, towns, cities and countryside where we reside.  Cycling has many practical uses, and is beautiful poetry, too.

Bikepacking brings people IN to the landscapes we call home and we see the world with new eyes from a bicycle.  We sharpen our ingenuity and hone our skills.  We learn to sense better when a rain storm is coming, to know when to pitch camp for the evening.  Truths flow out of the recesses of our consciousness in the backcountry, and we realize there is a tranquil sense of unity throughout nature, one that flows in us and through us and that we are a part of.  We meet people while bikepacking and build up the fabric of engaged, supportive community.  Biking in nature helps us appreciate things and know ourselves.

“The charming landscape which I saw this morning is indubitably made up of some twenty or thirty farms.  Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none of them owns the landscape.  There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet.  This is the best part of these men’s farms, yet to this their warranty-deeds give no title.”  RW Emerson, Nature

 

References and Resources:
House Memorial 10 recognizing the importance of bikepacking in New Mexico
https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/memorials/house/HM010.pdf

Outside Magazine “New Mexico Wants to Make Bikepacking Mainstream”
https://www.outsideonline.com/2391248/legislators-trying-make-bikepacking-go-big

I’ve written about my cycling day trips.  I would like to try overnight trips by bikepacking.
https://bikeinitiative.org/2016/12/18/cycling-from-home/

A couple Team CSP-SBI New Mexico cycling ambassadors took a wild ride just yesterday
https://www.strava.com/activities/2205526850 “Cabezon loop extended aka luxury gravel”
https://www.strava.com/activities/2205408125 “Exploring that other side”

I could see some write-ups on bikepacking here, in the ‘slow travel’ section
https://www.theworldinstituteofslowness.com “the fastest way to a good life is to slow down”

New Mexico a leader in great outdoors

If passed by legislators, the Outdoor Equity Fund would also be created–the only fund of its kind in the nation that would be designed to spur the development of New Mexico’s next generation of conservationists. –Angelica Rubio and Stephanie Garcia Richard, on the proposed Office of Outdoor Recreation, in “Op-Ed: Access to the Outdoors is a Basic Human Right

A group ride on the Paseo de la Mesa trail on Albuquerque’s West Side (author’s photo)

It’s been a busy year in New Mexico watching our newly elected officials take office.  Representative Angelica Rubio rode her bicycle 300 miles from Las Cruces to Santa Fe to kick off the legislative session!  The Legislature and Governor have been working in concert to introduce and discuss landmark legislation, including Senate Bill 462 to create the New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division in the Economic Development Department.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham with New Mexico Zia symbol on jersey (from Governor’s facebook)

In addition to the proposed Outdoor Recreation office, there have been a series of bills and memorials designed to leverage our State’s bountiful natural beauty and resources.  House Memorial 10 recognizes the “importance of bikepacking to cultural resources, physical activities, conservation, and tourism”, while pointing out the importance of road and trail connectivity.  House Bill 192 creates a uniform rule for safe passing of bicyclists, while also protecting motorists by including guidelines for not passing slower traffic when there is oncoming traffic in the adjacent lane.  This is good for everyone, as it is widely acknowledged in the transportation profession that interventions protecting “the most vulnerable road users will benefit all road users” (National Transportation Safety Board SS1701, Reducing Speeding-Related Crashes).

Puerticito road off the Turquoise Trail, NM 14 (author’s photo)

There’s more good news!  New Mexico recently published its first Statewide Bicycle Plan, and House Bill 192 will boost its implementation process.  The NM Bike Plan “includes the goal of making bicycling a more comfortable and attractive mode of transportation”.  Creating educational campaigns with instructions for safe passing is an important part of the “implementation of driver education strategies as a means to improve bicyclists safety” (from NMDOT – Traffic Safety Divison, NMBOT Bill Analsyis, HB 192).  There are many organizations in New Mexico already teaching transportation safety.  By joining our efforts together and with a concerted focus on promoting access to our natural environment, things are looking up for using the simple bicycle as an accessible, economical, and super fun way of getting people outdoors!

A mural in Albuquerque, NM with my bike (author’s photo)

This is a good video by Austin’s PD with instructions on safe passing.  In New Mexico, the required minimum passing distance will be 5 feet, up from Austin’s 3 feet, providing even more protection

References and Resources:
The lead quote is from this article in Outside Online, a magazine based in Santa Fe
https://www.outsideonline.com/2389421/new-mexico-outdoor-equity-fund-op-ed-rubio-richard

Outdoor culture is good for our spirits, and putting our economies in synch with quality of life initiatives
https://headwaterseconomics.org/economic-development/trends-performance/recreation-counties-attract/

The National Park has a guidebook to develop bicycle and pedestrian access.  Webinars are available
https://www.nps.gov/subjects/transportation/bikeped.htm includes NPS Active Transportation Guidebook

Albuquerque Journal published a story on the Outdoor Recreation office proposal
https://www.abqjournal.com/1277104/governor-lawmakers-propose-new-office-to-promote-outdoors.html

This study by the National Transportation Safety Board is a pivotal reference for traffic safety for all https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-studies/Pages/SS1701.aspx

Albuquerque itself is a city with one of the best open space systems in the nation
https://www.kunm.org/post/using-historical-photos-explore-albuquerques-future

2018 NM Bike Plan http://dot.state.nm.us/content/dam/nmdot/BPE/NM_Bike_Plan.pdf

Bicycles at the Super Bowl

“With our goal being to get to a person as quickly as possible, these bikes are essential”.  –Atlanta’s Mobile Medic Response Team

“I’m not going to say I mastered it, but I did conquer it!” –ATL’s Mobile Medic Response Team

References:
Thanks to my fellow LCI’s in Bike Club for sharing this video.  Bike Club’s focus is building confident cyclists and great Tulsans through community engagement
http://www.bikeclubtulsa.com

Expanding the cycling movement

The bike movement, which was accustomed to being a little movement, hasn’t necessarily figured out how to be a part of the broader landscape of social change.  –“Bike Advocacy’s Blind Spot

Southwest Bike Initiative is about increasing and expanding the positive impacts walking, cycling, and great transit add to our lives.  To do that, we have to open up the dialogue and see how sustainable transportation benefits and fits into the fabric of our whole communities.  To grow the relevancy of cycling in particular, we have to build a coherent, united bike movement first.  That’s why the new partnership between USA Cycling and the League of American Bicyclists is exciting.

USA Cycling is the national governing body for the sport of cycling in the United States, and the League of American Bicyclists is a nationwide bicycling advocacy organization.  By formally uniting efforts, they are recognizing how integral all the different aspects of cycling engagement contribute to growing the movement.  Cycling is a holistic activity that brings together so many elements of what is important to upbuilding human lives and communities.  But so often we separate out cycling into categories such as “transportation” and “recreation” even though that is not really how it works in our daily lives.  In reality we know cycling is both transportation and recreation, and often simultaneously. Think of cars, for instance, which are driven for commutes and recreational purposes.  Cycling works the same way.  And just like cars, bicycles are also about design, art, expression, desire, in addition to being very useful mobility technologies!

And that is where I think we are going with the cycling movement.  It reaches way beyond cycling! It is about seeing every form of human movement as integral in our transportation systems, and understanding transportation’s impact on our lives together.  The larger question is how we adapt our mobility technologies to meet our needs without imposing undue costs on ourselves or others.  Bicycles show us how to use mobility technology as a technology of contact that deepens our engagement with health, our surroundings, the well-being of the whole environment.

In this way cycling is a primer on how to behave in the travel environment.  Bicycles lend themselves to teaching us how to travel respectfully in the context of everything else we need in the places we live, work and play.  Cycling activates our senses.  We tune in.  It connects us.  Cycling teaches us how to manage vehicles in balance with our vulnerable human selves, our animality, our emotionality, so that we feel connected with our surroundings, and our own inherent mobility powers. Learning to drive bicycle vehicles teaches us how to use all kinds of transportation, including motor vehicles, in a lower-impact, kinder and more sensible fashion.  Cycling helps us learn travel skills with respect for ourselves and others.  Sharing the road is about coordinated movement.  The skills we learn through cycling can be applied everywhere.

Uniting the cycling movement is a beginning for uniting citizens in the public realm which serves as our transportation environment.  This is where we begin to see we are really no different, and learn how to better interact with each other.  It is not about one particular use or only one way of moving, rather it is about people being free and learning how to live with dignity, so we feel like we are not just moving through, but are here to stay.  It’s about belonging and feeling good about our lives and the prospects for our children’s future.  The cycling movement is leading the way.

The cruiser criterium at the Iron Horse Bicycling Classic was spectacular

References and resources:
USA Cycling and the Bike League join forces:  https://www.bikeleague.org/content/usa-cycling-and-league-announce-partnership

The opening quote is from an article in City Lab that asks good questions about how the bike movement can include more people and address social inequalities.  https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/07/is-bike-infrastructure-enough/565271/

Lots to think about regarding how cycling knowledge, skills, and practicing a more sustainable transportation culture can be building blocks for reaching UN’s Sustainable Development Goals:

From my personal blog, here’s an attempt at discussing movement as a metaphor for change, and weaving together a more sustainable world:  https://bikeyogiblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/14/cycling-and-walking-to-get-our-bearings/

Protecting people on our streets

…pedestrians are 2-3 times more likely to suffer a fatality when struck by an SUV or pickup truck than when struck by a passenger car…The higher risk of fatality associated with being struck by an SUV or pickup also applies to a vulnerable population — children.  In a study conducted by Columbia University, school-age children (5-19 years old) struck by light trucks were found to be twice as likely to die as those struck by passenger cars.  The risk was even greater for the younger set (ages 5-9); their fatality risk is four times greater from SUVs and pickup trucks than from passenger cars.  –Detroit Free Press, “Death on foot: America’s love of SUVs is killing pedestrians

Although the title of this story from the Detroit Free Press oversimplifies the cause of the rise in deaths of people who are killed while walking in America, the story is very substantive, probing the complex causality associated with traffic safety for pedestrians.  The type of vehicle we are driving is a factor, but so is street design, driver awareness, driver training, vehicle mass and speed, and traffic culture.  One factor the article doesn’t address is exposure.  We don’t know how much people are walking or cycling because we don’t measure it systematically, like we do cars.

The good news is there is a lot we can collectively do to make our roads safer.  New York City reduced pedestrian deaths nearly in half in four years with a combination of enforcement targeted at driver behavior, lowered speed limits and training for cab drivers. Other cities such as Seattle have implemented ‘road diets’, also known as ‘right sizing’, to calm traffic and improve conditions for people walking and biking.  NHTSA (the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration) is planning to overhaul its vehicle-safety rating system to include a new score for pedestrian safety.  There is global innovation happening around designing vehicles to protect the safety of people outside of them, including modifications of the vehicle shape and material composition, as well as implementing new technologies such as automatic braking.  Creating great transit systems can be one of the most effective strategies, so people don’t feel like they have to drive, especially higher risk driving populations like elderly and younger people.

This is a monumental opportunity to advance traffic safety and take on the challenge of making transportation greater.  Designing healthy places is crucial for supporting public health and wellness and economic productivity.  The best way to get exercise is by integrating it into our daily routine, and nature has designed human beings with the mobility powers for getting ourselves where we want to go.  Buildings are wonderful and often the focal point of some of our most talented designers and architects, but the places in between–that circulatory system of paths, trails and roads–is the architecture connecting our worlds together. Reversing the trend of dangerous roads means designing places that inspire us to use our own powers, and interact with a reverence for life, offering people the freedom to choose the healthiest means to get where we want to go.

We are facing a global crisis today […] because of how our ethical systems function.  Getting through the crises requires […] understanding those ethical systems and using that understanding to reform them.  –Donald Worster, “The Wealth of Nature”

Credits and Resources:

The graphics, leading quote and most of the data are from this article:  https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2018/06/28/suvs-killing-americas-pedestrians/646139002/

The Mid-Region Council of Governments of New Mexico (MRCOG) has been working on a Regional Transportation Safety Action Plan:  https://www.mrcog-nm.gov/transportation/technical-services/safety-analysis

The New Mexico Department of Transportation has adapted a Road Diet guide:
http://dot.state.nm.us/content/dam/nmdot/Plans_Specs_Estimates/Design_Directives/IDD-2018-16_Road_Diet_Guide.pdf

The New Mexico 2040 Plan has goals to “provide multimodal access and connectivity for community prosperity” (goal 4) and “improve safety for all users” (goal 2), and goes on to say “Walking is an essential mode of transportation and a component of nearly every kind of trip…NMDOT will seek to make pedestrian mobility safe, enjoyable, and convenient…”
http://dot.state.nm.us/content/dam/nmdot/planning/NM_2040_Plan.pdf
more info. here: http://dot.state.nm.us/content/nmdot/en/Planning.html

The Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP) is active in New Mexico:
https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_4/step.cfm?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery