Cow Massage Design

Cows, living in most industrialized farms, don’t have very good lives. Sweden-based designer Andreij Nylander, the recent recipient of the Red Dot Award, has created a massage post for dairy cows that allows them to relieve those hard to reach itches when needed.

“In my thesis project Care for Cows, I developed a design concept to improve the living situation for dairy cattle, and examined how people benefit from designing for them,” the designer explains.

Although a small and seemingly relativity simply design, the ramifications for the animals are long reaching, including generating a sense of autonomy for the creatures, control over their bodies and the ability to have some intellectual and physical engagements within the close confines of their stalls and often stark quarters.

“When you see the Care for Cows‘ massage brush being used, anyone can see it is enjoyable for the cow,” Nylander explains. “The brush is made from rubber and with 40mm holes and rough texture, although primarily designed for a head and neck massage it also cleans, helping remove parasites and increases blood circulation.”

Visit: http://www.andreij.com

Via NotCot & RedDot

October 30, 2011

Reasons To End Factory Farming

Over thirty experts from the public health, environmental, and animal welfare movements, are debating the consequences of factory farming at the first National Conference to End Factory Farming. Below are some of the discussion highlights and information emerging from the conference.

Top Five Ways to End Factory Farming

Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder Gene Baur: “The best way to end factory farming is to make the system transparent and accountable, and to align agribusiness practices with our citizens’ values and interests. The cruelty of industrial animal agriculture is an affront to basic human decency. It is inefficient, unhealthy and unsustainable, and costs our nation hundreds of billions of dollars every year.”

Whole Foods Market Co-CEO John Mackey: “The best way to end factory farming is to first create more humane alternatives to it in the marketplace.  The great majority of people are very unlikely to become vegans for the foreseeable future.  It is therefore essential to create more humane alternatives that help raise peoples’ consciousness about what factory farming really does to animals by providing strong contrasts to compare against.  Until there are widespread humane alternatives to choose from most people will prefer to remain wilfully ignorant and very little is likely to change.”

Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter: “Factory farming is a threat to public health, the environment, and the rural communities upon which our food system desperately depend. The next farm bill must urgently reverse the policies that have given all of the advantages to intensive farming operations while pushing out the small and mid-sized farms that are the backbone of a system that provides us safe, healthy and sustainable food.”

Sierra Club Water Sentinel Lynn Henning: “The best way to end factory farming is to eliminate government subsidies, incentives, and tax breaks for CAFOs [Confined Animal Feeding Operations]. CAFOs are NOT sustainable. We must rethink agriculture to teach the next generation to farm. Family farms have fed this country for generations.”

Farm Sanctuary National Shelter Director Susie Coston: “The best way to end factory farming is to show people that farm animals are intelligent, emotional beings who possess just as much desire to enjoy life as the dogs and cats who we know a bit better.”

Five Things You May Not Know About Factory Farms

John Ikerd, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri, Columbia: “Factory farms are not necessarily more economically efficient than smaller-scale independent family farms. Factory farm operators use their political influence and their ability to manipulate market prices to drive more efficient family farmers out of business. Food prices are no lower with factory farms than with independent family farms.”

Jim Motavalli, contributor to the New York Times, Audubon Magazine, Mother Nature Network and NPR’s Car Talk, and author of the forthcoming book High Voltage: “Since the popular image of farms is of old-time barnyards populated by happy pigs and chickens, most people don’t even know that factory farming exists. They’d be horrified if they knew how their food is produced, but the industry does an excellent job of keeping them from that reality.”

International Fund for Africa President and Co-Founder Dr. Anteneh Roba: “The one thing most people don’t know about factory farming in Africa is that it even exists. The one thing most people don’t know about factory farming in the USA is how extremely cruel it is.”

Greenpeace Senior Legislative Representative Kyle Ash: “Public health and animal welfare are inseparable. Forever, industry has tried to divide communities over factory farming, with false claims that industrial food production reduces the need to destroy our air, water and lands. The truth is that factory farming makes every public health problem worse. Shutting down factory farms is a common solution to some of our greatest animal and environmental abuses and we should work together to shut them down.”

Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder Gene Baur: “Most people don’t know how terribly animals are treated on today’s factory farms, and that they are legally excluded from basic humane protections.”

Top Five Problems with Factory Farming

John Ikerd, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri, Columbia: The biggest single problem with factory farming is that it shows no respect for the sanctity of life — either the life of farm animals or human life. Factory farming treats feedlots as biological assembly lines, where the animals are simply machines that produce meat, milk, or eggs for nameless, faceless consumers, with no respect for the people who work in them or live in the communities where they operate. This lack of respect for life undermines the ethical and moral fabric of society.

International Fund for Africa President and Co-Founder Dr. Anteneh Roba: “It causes environmental disaster.”

Jim Motavalli, contributor to the New York Times, Audubon Magazine, Mother Nature Network and NPR’s Car Talk, and author of the forthcoming book High Voltage: From an environmental point of view, the worst thing about intensive animal agriculture is it’s huge inefficiency. It takes five pounds of grain to produce a pound of meat, and a 10-acre farm that could feed 60 growing soybeans would support only two people raising cattle. Reducing American meat consumption by just 10 percent would free up enough grain to feed 60 million people.

Greenpeace Senior Legislative Representative Kyle Ash: “The unnecessary torture and abuse of other animals is one of the worst human atrocities of our time. Humanity’s self-aggrandizing misconception that humans rule the world with no moral responsibilities to those with whom we share this planet is reinforced by how we treat other animals, and this ironic view is facilitating destruction of the planet even for ourselves.”

Michael Greger, M.D.: “When we overcrowd thousands of animals into cramped filthy football-field sized sheds to lie beak-to-beak, or snout-to-snout atop their own waste it can present a breeding ground for disease, a perfect storm environment for the emergence of new strains of influenza and other animal-to-human diseases. These so-called factory farms are a public health menace.”

Public health, environmental, and animal welfare movement experts are holding the first National Conference to End Factory Farming: For Health, Environment and Farm Animals in Arlington, Va., on October 27-29. For more information, visit www.factoryfarmingconference.org

October 27, 2011

Ellen DeGeneres Talks Turkey

Popular American television personality Ellen DeGeneres is lending her considerable clout to raising awareness about the cruel plight of turkeys during the holiday season. The compassionate vegan, for the second consecutive year, is serving as Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-A-Turkey Project spokesperson, inviting everyone to adopt, not eat, a turkey during holiday season.

“Did you know that every year between 250 and 300 million turkeys are bred for slaughter in the United States? More than 46 million for Thanksgiving alone,” explains DeGeneres.

For the past 25 years, the Adopt-A-Turkey Project has interested both carnivores and vegetarians alike, while providing support for the care of more than 1,000 rescued turkeys and inspiring people everywhere to make more compassionate choices.

For a one-time donation of just US$30 (€21.57), adopters, or a recipient of their choice, will receive a special Adopt-A-Turkey certificate complete with a color photo of a rescued turkey who resides at one of Farm Sanctuary’s shelters with some fun details about their adopted turkey.

“We’re thrilled to have Ellen’s support again this year,” says Farm Sanctuary co-founder Gene Baur. “Here at Farm Sanctuary, we live with turkeys, so we know they are interesting and intelligent. Sadly, the meat industry subjects turkeys to intolerable cruelty and treats them like inanimate objects with no feelings or personalities.”

To get involved visit www.adoptaturkey.org or call the Turkey Adoption Hotline at 1-888-SPONSOR.

Visit: www.farmsanctuary.org

October 26, 2011

Recycled iPhone Case

Well even if your iPhone isn’t very green – at least its carrying case can be. The iPhone 4 Case is made from 100% recycled trash.

Dubbed the RE-case, the iPhone 4 Case is the first in a line of products made from a new type of material called POLLIBER, a post-consumer thermoplastic and semi-carbonized waste fiber composite that is left over from rice farming by-products.

The post-process rice husks increase the mechanical properties of polypropylene, stopping it from breaking down in everyday use. At the end of its life it can be recycled.

October 25, 2011

We Can Do Better Than Factory Farming

Over the last half-century in the U.S., small farms have been replaced by large, industrialized operations that treat animals and the natural world as mere commodities.  This factory farming system, which slaughters animals by the billions, costs us all dearly.

The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP), which included experts like former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman, conducted “a comprehensive, fact-based and balanced examination of key aspects of the farm animal industry,” which concluded: “…Industrial farm animal production systems are largely unregulated, and many practices common to this method of production threaten public health, the environment, animal health and well-being, and rural communities.”

Against Our Better Natures

Factory farms confine animals by the thousands in massive warehouses. Millions are packed in cages and crates so tightly that they can’t walk, turn around or even stretch their limbs.  According to agribusiness research, more than 40% of consumers think that our country is on the wrong track in terms of how we produce food, with another 20% uncertain about the soundness of our food supply.  And yet the majority of people are not acting on these misgivings.

Agribusiness counts on this complacency, but we can’t afford it. In thoughtlessly consuming what the industry puts in front of us – in choosing to ignore the suffering it exacts – we are complicit not only in the denial of the sensitive, intelligent nature of the animals who become our food but also in the denial of our own natural sensitivities and intelligence.

Against Our Better Interests

Beyond this moral dilemma, factory farming has significant implications for our welfare and the viability of our planet. As just one example, stressed and confined in filthy, cramped quarters, factory farmed animals are constantly at risk for disease. Agribusiness relies on the regular administration of drugs and chemicals to keep the animals alive and productive. The majority of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to farm animals. This overuse has been linked to increased drug resistance in common bacteria, a phenomenon that diminishes our ability to treat illness in humans.

According to a United Nations’ report, factory farming is also one of the top contributors to our planet’s most significant environmental problems, including “land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution and loss of biodiversity.”

Raising animals for food is terribly wasteful, demanding vast quantities of increasingly scarce resources, including water, topsoil and fossil fuels, and the exorbitant quantities of excrement generated by factory farming poison our land, water and air, threatening both ecosystems and human communities.

For Change

By educating ourselves, urging our elected representatives to support reforms, and requesting more plant-based foods in our grocery stores and restaurants, we will be the change our food system needs.  Through farmer’s markets, CSAs and community gardens, we can cultivate a food supply that centers on eating plants instead of animals; that supports our health instead of undermining it; and that helps us preserve the natural world and our relationship to it – a food system that connects us to the best we have to offer each other.

Gene Baur, founder of US-based Farm Sanctuary, and more than 30 experts from across the public health, environmental, and animal welfare movements, will be speaking about the consequences of factory farming at the first National Conference to End Factory Farming: For Health, Environment and Farm Animals in Arlington, Va., on October 27-29. For more information and to register: www.factoryfarmingconference.org.

Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, campaigns to raise awareness about the negative consequences of factory farming. He has conducted hundreds of visits to farms, stockyards and slaughterhouses to document conditions, and his photos and videos exposing factory farming cruelty have been aired nationally and internationally, educating millions. His book, Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food, a national best-seller, is a thought-provoking investigation of the ethical questions surrounding beef, poultry, pork, milk, and egg production — as well as what each of us can do to promote compassion and help stop the systematic mistreatment of the billions of farm animals who are exploited for food in the U.S. every year.

October 22, 2011

The Protein Myth Review

It was only after much disputed research leading to the US Surgeon General’s (and British) warnings against cigarettes in 1962 that the public, and the medical profession, finally stopped denying the fatal results of smoking. The same thing needs to happen, explains author David Gerow Irving, about the dangers of eating meat. “Meat and dairy products cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes,” he assures us in The Protein Myth, adding that many chronic diseases “can be … reversed by eliminating animal protein from the diet.” Irving takes us meticulously through the science behind these assertions, and about a quarter of the book’s 444 pages details the references upon which he bases his message.

Many well-known studies have shown clearly that meat and dairy consumption increase the incidence of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and breast, prostate and colon cancer:

“Low protein diets inhibited the initiation of cancer … (and) dietary protein proved to be so powerful in its effect that we could turn on and turn off cancer growth simply by changing the level consumed … casein, which makes up 87% of cow’s milk protein, promoted all stages of the cancer process … the safe proteins were from plants…”

Why then do doctors, nutritionists, politicians and bylaw officers not warn the public with labels against indulging in a diet which costs western health care systems billions of dollars a year? The simplest answer is that billions of other dollars are made in raising and selling meat.

It takes a long time to reverse public attitudes based on decades of mistaken “food group” recommendations, and, most inconveniently of all, most people like the taste of meat. People will deny any number of facts in order to sustain habitual pleasure behaviors, and the information put out by organizations like the American Institute For Cancer Research is confusing about the relative benefits and dangers of meat eating. Why? Because the disease industry organizations are serving two (or more) conflicting masters: corporate partners that fund them and public health interests.

People have accepted years of brainwashing about needing protein for energy and strength, yet few could actually explain what a protein is. Protein molecules are continually made in cells, according to the instructions of genes, out of chains of smaller molecules called amino acids. They create our physiological forms and facilitate all metabolic reactions within bodies. These are the chemical compounds that have facilitated life since its emergence in the oceans 3.5 billion years ago.

We are accustomed to hearing that “you are what you eat,” but whatever you eat you are all (generally) protein. We have been told that animal sources are “better,” yet plant protein too is protein (where do we think animals get it?). To consume protein via animal bodies (along with fats, genetically engineered feeds, factory-farmed hormones, medications) is to create the imbalances that manifest in conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease because, for one thing, we need much less protein in adulthood than during the growing years and the excess (apart from fueling tumor growth) leads to “accumulation of toxic protein byproducts”.

We are slowly becoming more educated about all this: nutritionists now recommend cutting down on red meat and reducing fat. At the same time however, UN agencies and transnational corporations work to extend the cattle, pork, egg and dairy industries to new parts of the world where, as a result, scarce water is being used up and landscapes polluted by tons of toxic animal wastes.

The U.S.’s Food and Drug Agency, Agriculture Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are in the business of both regulating agriculture and lobbying for farmers, which amounts to a clear conflict of purposes. Meanwhile, “nonprofit” agencies such as the cancer societies, which support enormous staff and administrative expense, have budgets intertwined with those of drug companies and agricultural lobbies keen to cleanse their public image by raising funds for the disease foundations. (Irving supplies names of corporate presidents who sit as trustees of the American Cancer Society).

Additionally, the advertisements of drug companies are crucial to the bottom line of the most esteemed medical periodicals, while profits for the companies depend on producing medications that people will continue to need. In developing these drugs, pharmaceutical companies experiment cruelly on millions of animals worldwide every year. In a nutshell: the drug industry captures, breeds and imprisons sentient animals as test subjects to market drugs that treat the ills we get from eating the billions of animals brutally raised and slaughtered in the meat industry. This takes place in a context wherein business interests and public health interests do not mix. Which interests do governments protect?

The U.S., by some standards the world’s most powerful country (and containing its biggest pharmaceutical and slaughter industries) only ranks 46th in the average citizen’s life expectancy. What could more starkly show how closely animal welfare and human health interests are negatively intertwined? Also contained in Irving’s analysis, is the staggering waste of public funds and charity donations for research that employs a lot of staff but has never cured a single disease.

The Protein Myth explores all these complex linkages, is dense with fact, and should itself come with a warning: the descriptions of the tortures endured by animals on meat farms and in research labs are not for the squeamish reader. Yet these are things we need to know about, especially if we are to spend our charity dollar wisely, design healthy diets, rein in government spending on self-interested agricultural and pharmaceutical corporations, and spare the planet the worst causes of global warming: animal-produced methane and the destruction of forests for agricultural land which services impossibly out-of-control human population growth.

We also need to remember that most of us will die of one of the major diseases: rampant cells will lose control or our hearts will suddenly seize up, but research indicates that these things will happen later rather than sooner if we avoid meat.

Drug companies and the “cure” fundraisers want us to assume unconsciously that there is a product or procedure which could make us live forever, but neither wonder-drug nor indeed a plant-based diet will accomplish immortality. The point is that with a little wisdom, humility and compassion, we can live in harmony with the rest of the living world and our companion species on this planet.

The Protein Myth shows us the connections between wisdom and biology, corporations and ethical choice. It is not an entertainment (although some of the bizarre research projects scientists dream up may make you laugh — in disbelief), but it repays the effort of close reading. Keep it on hand for the references as well as text, for all those times when you need to explain to acquaintances why you choose not to eat meat, dairy and chicken.

We have just one free copy of The Protein Myth by David Gerow Irving to giveaway. Please send us your name and we will make a draw on November 5th, 2011. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date on our contests and giveaways.

October 18, 2011

Conference to End Factory Farming

For the first time in history, world-renowned experts are gathering in Arlington, Virginia, for the National Conference to End Factory Farming: For Health, Environment and Farm Animals. The conference, organized by Farm Sanctuary, is scheduled to bring together more than thirty experts from the environmental, public health, and animal welfare movements from October 27th through October 29th, 2011.

The conference is the first of its kind to focus exclusively on factory farming and the problems surrounding the industry through a diverse program of speakers from each of these areas of expertise. The discussions will focus on the detrimental effects on human health, poor animal welfare and the adverse impacts on our environment due to factory farming.

Speakers and attendees include Congressman James P. Moran, Whole Foods Markets’ Co-CEO John Mackey, Wenonah Hauter Food and Water Watch Executive Director, Marc Bekoff author of numerous books including The Emotional Lives of Animals, John Ikerd, Ph.D. professor emeritus of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri, Columbia, Wayne Pacelle president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Nathan Runkle Founder and Executive Director of Mercy For Animals and many more speakers.

The cost to attend the National Conference to End Factory Farming: For Health, Environment and Farm Animals is US$150 (€113), including meals.

Visit: http://factoryfarmingconference.org/

GreenMuze.com is a proud sponsor of the world’s first National Conference To End The Cruel and Inhuman Practices of Factory Farming.

October 5, 2011

Amy Walker On Bicycles’ Interview

Amy Walker is the editor of the recently published On Bicycles: 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life and is also co-founder of Momentum Magazine which focuses on transportation cycling and covers all aspects of urban bike culture throughout North America. We caught up with Amy to ask her a few questions about the importance of cycling in urban environments.

This book is about ways that bicycles can change people’s lives. Why do you think people’s lives need to change?

Many tribal human societies based their traditions around living in harmony with nature. The modern attitude assumes that humans have dominion over the elements and the plant, animal and mineral kingdoms. Since about the 1960s we’ve been scientifically measuring and understanding the negative impact that our industrial manufacturing, transportation, ways of using materials and ways of growing food have on the earth, air and water.

In 2006 the film An Inconvenient Truth made the issue of climate change a topic of discussion at dinner tables across mainstream America. With such clear and incontrovertible evidence that human activity is a threat to our own survival and to the wellbeing of all the diverse and amazing life forms with whom we share this planet, we have the choice to ignore the facts or to do whatever we can to reduce the environmental impact of our lives. We can do this by living more simply. Biking for transportation is one way to take a load off the environment – and have a lot of fun while doing it. Since people’s lives are always changing anyway, my interest is to shed light on a path for positive change that I have found to be effective and joyful.

If bicycling is so great, why isn’t everyone doing it already?

Everyone is not bicycling already because our cities and suburbs were designed around cars and favor automobile drivers so it’s not always possible or feasible to make bike trips to work, school, shopping, etc., given the distances between these destinations, the quality of the road space and surface, and the traffic patterns which currently exist.

Though many cities are bikeable, there is some planning and re-engineering which must occur to make our North American communities truly bikeable. Where this is being done, you’ll see the cycling population rising. Where it is not being done, you’ll see people forced to rely on automobiles for their transportation. In many cities, towns and suburbs there are not even safe ways to walk from home to a variety of destinations. The 20th century obsession with automobiles created suburban sprawl and rights of way that only accommodate cars. Cyclists need safe, continuous networks of bikeable roadway (shared with cars) bike lanes, or multi-use paths.

Another reason why everyone’s not already biking has to do with attitudes and perceptions rather than facts. People often don’t bike because they think it is dangerous though it is not. People think that biking is physically difficult and you need to be an athlete to bike to work (bicycling is the most efficient form of travel and many people who bike to work never even break a sweat!).

People perceive cyclists as unusual and this is true – cyclists are not the norm – but as more people start cycling for transportation, everyday biking is becoming more commonplace every year. This is a positive shift and a very important one: people are often reluctant to do something different but once they see their peers, friends and family members doing it, it feels a bit safer and easier for them to try it.

How has cycling changed your life?

Cycling has given me a way to stay fit that is fun and easy. Choosing to bike in a place where the majority of people drive has helped me to question many of the common assumptions and conventional ways of living in North America. By riding a bike every day I freed myself from owning a car and being connected to the problems associated with that: oil dependency, resource extraction, pollution, space issues, deaths and injuries from collisions etc.

Cycling has introduced me to some wonderful people who also question the world around them and celebrate it joyfully and meaningfully. My bike friends are the ones I want to build the future with. They are intelligent compassionate and responsible people who are also action heroes with great legs!

What is your advice to people who are just starting to bike?

Get a bike route map and find the most car-free routes possible to your usual destinations like work, school and shopping. Many people who switch to biking continue to take the same routes as they would in a car because of habit. Taking a designated bike route is often safer, more relaxed and fun.

Learn to lock your bike securely (lock the frame AND wheels) and get the best lock you can afford. There’s nothing more discouraging than having your bike stolen before you’ve even had the chance to really enjoy it.

Wear comfortable clothing or bring a change of clothes. Wear layers when the weather is colder.

Learn whether buses and commuter trains in your area carry bikes in case you get too tired to ride or want to only ride one way. Having support from public transit can make the decision to ride that much easier.

What clothes should I wear to bike?

While there is a lot of special gear designed for cycling, you don’t need to wear anything special to ride a bike. Most people in Europe and Asia ride bikes in their everyday clothes and you can too. There are a few things you can keep in mind to make your ride more convenient and comfortable, but don’t let a wardrobe crisis keep you from enjoying your bike. Keep loose, flowing, flapping clothing from getting caught in your bicycle’s moving parts.

You can also buy a bike with a full coverage chain guard or have one installed on your bike – you can wear whatever you like and you’ll never have to worry about your clothes getting caught in a greasy chain again.

Sports cyclists wear padded shorts (or chamois –pronounced “shammy”) but these are not necessary for recreational riding and most commuting. If you ride for over an hour you might want shorts with a chamois, but for anything under an hour your regular clothes will do. I tend to buy clothes that I know will work well on a bike. I choose stretchy or flared skirts that come down only to the knee, Capri pants or pants that have some stretch to them and are not too tight.

My bike is also in an upright position so that makes it possible for me to wear most street clothes comfortably. Riding bikes with a more aggressive riding position will stretch clothes and create gaps between jackets and pants.

What kind of bike is best for riding in the city?

The best kind of bike for riding anywhere is the one that you love. Some people ride what seem to be impractical or unsuitable bikes – yet they ride it faithfully every day because they love them – and why not? That being said, a practical choice for a city bike is one that is comfortable to ride. I recommend a bike that has an upright riding position because it puts less strain on the rider’s neck and back when shoulder checking in traffic. Also consider the bike’s weight: a lightweight frame will be easier to pedal up hills and easier to lift onto busses and bike racks. If your city has lots of hills, a bike with a wide range of gears will be better than a single or three-speed. In the city I prefer to ride a lightweight road bike with upright, backswept handlebars. Some would call this the “English Roadster” style. The reason I love it is that I get more efficient use of my leg power and I can still sit almost straight up and see everything around me.

What do we need to make bicycling possible for everyone?

•    We need to ensure that roadways, bike lanes or cycle paths are of an adequate size and design to accommodate bike riders from age 8 to 80.

•    We need to provide secure bicycle parking and storage space at destinations including our homes, workplaces, schools, shopping centers and entertainment areas.

•    We need to educate more people including new and experienced cyclists about how to ride safely on our roads and pathways and about their rights and responsibilities.

•    We need to educate drivers of private and commercial vehicles about the presence of cyclists on the roadway and how to safely navigate around them.

•    We need to encourage people to cycle more by creating a culture of respect and consideration toward cyclists and all road users.

Where is the best place to ride a bike?

If you are asking “where is the best place in the world to ride a bike?” I might think of Copenhagen, Amsterdam or Germany, or I might suggest that Portland has become a very nice place to ride a bike, or New York City.  But I also think it is wonderful to be able to ride a bike somewhere near our own homes. To open our door, hop on a bike and pedal down to the shops, the beach or to visit friends is convenient and pleasant. Among the qualities that make a place good for riding are the freedom from broken glass, uneven pavement, unpredictable movements of cars and pedestrians and car doors.

It is very pleasant to ride on a pathway that is well-designed and designated for cycling in a community which has respect for the cyclist. Another “best” place to ride your bike is where your curiosity leads you. Bikes allow for exploration. They are light, small and nimble so they can get through small spaces and they are fast and efficient so they allow us to cover a lot of ground. Bikes are also open-air theatres, so it is fabulous to ride a bike through fragrant, warm spaces where there are lots of trees, flowers and sunshine.

October 3, 2011