Archive for March, 2010

Bike there!

I got all excited this morning when I found out that Google maps is now supporting biking directions. Then, of course, I discovered that it’s not available in Canada yet. Boo! Had a lot of fun playing around with it though, as I’m planning a cycling trip through Vermont in a couple of months. It looks like they are assuming a cycling speed of about 10 miles an hour, which at first I was thinking was pretty slow, but of course I’m used to thinking in kilometers anyway and actually 16 km/h is probably very reasonable for that kind of hilly area. (I’m planning my route to go through as many state parks, national forests, bird sanctuaries, etc as I can manage, and those all seem to be centred around mountains.) So I’m for sure looking forward to using this tool. Can’t wait for it to be available in Canada too.

It’s really impressive the ripples this has made. It’s hard to separate cause and effect in something like this, but just a few days after Google launched the new bike options, the US Department of Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, announced a new policy toward bicycling:

“Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized. We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.”

About time, is all I can say. If only our government could follow suit. Come on, Harper, you’ve been tagging along after the US on all kinds of bizarre policies for the last few years; how about following them on something worthwhile?

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And…action!

So I’m watching the hockey game the other night (go Habs!) and a commercial comes on for the Conservative government’s “Economic Action Plan”. (They’ve decided to spend our tax money making ads telling us how wonderful they are, you see.) So the announcer’s listing off all the ways the Conservatives are helping the economy, and one of the things he mentioned was “We’re improving roads and bridges!”

Sorry…roads and bridges? You’re bragging about that? Isn’t that, I don’t know, one of the absolute basic things the government is supposed to take care of? That’s like me expecting to be congratulated for showing up at the office in the morning and opening my mail. When did fulfilling the minimum expectations of your job become something to be singled out for special praise?

Of course, the sad part is, given the catastrophic failure of foresight that the Conservatives’ “environmental policy”, maybe this really is the best they can manage.

In other news, check out this article from Examiner.com mentioning Right Relationship!

Oh, and the STM (the Montreal public transit authority) has just announced that it will now be announcing service outages via Twitter. So if you get a tweet saying “Attention a tous les voyageurs: Mmph mrph mrmble mrph mph” you’ll know why.

Virtual fossils

Click here to read the transcript of that live chat at the Guggenheim that our own Peter G. Brown was moderating last week.

For those of you in Montreal, Peter will also be speaking on March 24 at Dawson College, at 11:30 am. I don’t have the room number yet; keep watching this space.

Rights of Nature

From the Towards an Eco-Economy blog comes an interesting referral to UK environmental lawyer Polly Higgins and her proposal to expand the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to all life forms.

60 years ago the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was born out of the devastation of the humanitarian crisis of the Second World War. Now we have a planetary crisis. Over the past 35 years there has been an ever increasingly loud voice of those calling for proper protection of the planet. There are over 500 pieces of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ law, social documents and individual manifestos that refer to the environment, but until now there has not yet been a comprehensive codification of the Rights of the planet, nor a recognition of our role as trustees and the responsibilities that brings with it.

Go there and watch the video; it’s well worth it.