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ARTICLES OF NOTE

What a lovely Monday, Ladies! Here are some interesting articles to start off a wonderful week.

1) HAPPY SIMCOE DAY!

In Canada, it’s a three day weekend. The occasion? Celebrating John Graves Simcoe – an army officer turned urban planner. He plotted the amazingly accurate grid lines of cities like Toronto, creating an effective network for the movement of goods and services that gave an edge to the region and continues to shape the city to this day. What a nice and obscure bit of history, ay?

2) URBAN AGRICULTURE – THE NEXT FRONTIER

Restore run-down neighborhoods? Provide jobs and useful skills to our most at-need neighbors? Walkable, livable spaces and streets that connect the community, reduce crime, and spread smiles? Businesses implementing a triple bottom line? Yes, please!

Hooray Chicago! The city has green lit the Green Healthy Neighborhoods Plan, a livability and development framework to make Chicago a place people want to be, particularly in areas historically ravaged by poverty & crime. By creating zoning for market farms and rooftop gardening, farming isn’t just for rural America anymore! Additionally, some great groups are getting residents who are in need of skills and jobs immersed in the process. Oh, and one more awesome thing: it’s all based around a giant green space, bikeway, and pedestrian path.

3) 10 BACKPACKING HACKS

For your next bike touring, bikepacking, or hiking expedition – these ideas are awesome! Turn your Nalgene bottle into an instant lantern? Dryer sheets as bug repellent? Sleeping bag stuff-sack as pillowcase? Lovely :)

3) LIVABILITY LOVELINESS IN BUENOS AIRES!

Check out all the lovely bike, ped, transit, and open space improvements in Argentina’s capital! Great inspiration :) :

Buenos Aires: Building a People Friendly City from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

4) THE VALUE OF GETTING LOST

Check out another sublime book summary from Maria Popova, this time of the insightful A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit. The book discusses the importance of wading into uncharted territories – for growth, understanding, adventure, and love. As the books says,

Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.

Have a lovely week, Ladies (& Lady-lovers)!

XOXO

Want more? Follow us on twitter & pinterest. And more articles, photos, and videos available on our twitter-based news site – TheUrbanExplorer.org

Simple-planter-ideas-for-small-gardens-shoes-organizers

A LADY AT HOME: RESOURCES FOR GARDENING YEAR ROUND

As a Lady living a simplified life, growing your own food can be a lovely life addition – another notch for your self-reliance tool belt. It’s also a way of connecting with your surroundings and the seasons, which can prove useful on any number of nature adventures, too.

So in the spirit of living an adventurous life – be it in the kitchen, on two-wheels, atop mountains, immersion in new and unique DIY & hobbies, or in your backyard – I present this lovely resource: A personalized what-to-plant guide for your specific location! Courtesy of Mother Earth News.

The bottom of the linked page above has a ton of other useful links for seasoned gardeners and nature newbies alike, including the when to plant app – a great resource you can utilize when shopping for seeds!

And if you’re intimidated by the idea of growing salad fixin’s in your apartment, condo, or small space, this e-book makes it simple and accessible. Noms: no yard required.

Keep exploring, trying new things, and enjoying the ride, Ladies!

XOXO

LADYGYVER: HOW TO RIDE A BIKE IN A SKIRT

Don’t have a bicycle garter? No worries, Ladies!

Here’s a great how-to for keep your skirt down and Lady-parts concealed whilst wheeling through town. All you need is a penny, a rubber-band, and a fabulous skirt.

Some additional tips from my experiences:

*Sporting a mini, flyaway skirt? Sit your underweared behind directly on the seat, allowing the skirt to flow around you. Trying to tuck limited fabric beneath you often creates a cheeky street show.

*Long skirt or maxi? Tie the base in a knot (not too tight – make sure you can still pedal!) to keep it out of your rear wheel.

*Pencil skirt? Unzip or unbutton at the waist and wiggle the skirt down a bit for added coverage. And wear tights, leggings, or adorable undies, since this skirt is the biggest flashing culprit I’ve donned.

Do you have any tips from your fabulously frocked rides? Share them in the comments below :)

Keep riding and looking lovely, Ladies!

XOXO

Morning coffee clearly calls for fancy hats

FANCY HATS FOR EVERYONE!

Thanks to a dear Lady friend of mine for sending this along!

There are plenty of helmet accoutrements out there, (including great reflective bows!), but nothing meets these excellent and amusing fancy hat covers from Bandbox. “Elegance in Safety” – even the tagline is grin-inducing.

Riding to the Kentucky Derby? Covered!

Huffy-ing it to High tea? Done!

It’s like the tweed ride all year long! Whether its for costuming purposes or a legitimate love of exquisite hats, check these out.

Keep fun-ifying and enjoying your ride, Ladies!

XOXO

Car_Emissions

A BIKE COMMUTER’S GUIDE TO LUNG HEALTH

Spontaneous reunions with passing friends, navigating new neighborhoods, scouting side street shops, waving cars on during passive-Portland stop-sign duels, the satisfaction of a gentle (or ferocious) Lady-sweat from moving your body, breathing fresh(ish) air

Two-wheeled travel is lovely, but breathing steel-box exhaust is not. And while the air INSIDE steel-boxes is actually more toxic than that wafting from the tail-pipe, it behooves the regular Lady (or Lady-lover) stuck inhaling this industrial excrement on a daily basis to promote better breathing through preventative care.

Below I’ve listed three awesome herbal remedies you can make at home – an herbal tea, a simple steam, and a respiratory syrup – for those inclined to DIY. Some of the odder herbs can be found at local herb shops and in bulk through MountainRoseHerbs.com.

For pre-made options, check out Traditional Medicinal’s Breathe Easy tea.

 

Keep breathing easy and enjoying the ride, Ladies!

XOXO

 

CYCLE EASY TEA

1 tsp Lungwort

1 tsp Licorice Root

1 tsp Ginger, freshly grated

DIRECTIONS: Place herbs in a tea ball or tea bag. Add to 8oz boiling water, steeping for 10 minutes. Drink daily.

 

CITY-DWELLER RESPIRATORY STEAM

5-10 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil

4 cups Boiling Water

DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Place face over bowl and cover head and howl with a large towel. Steam face while breathing deeply for 10 minutes. Use daily or weekly.

 

LUNG WELLNESS SYRUP

First, make an infusion -

10 tsp Thyme (12 tsp if using fresh herb)

10 tsp Horehound

1 entire clove Garlic, crushed

2.5 cups Boiling Water

Cheese Cloth

1 large bowl

 

Now, make it a syrup!

2 cups Raw Honey

1 medium sized Sauce Pan

1 sterile Mason Jar

 

Infusion Preparation: Combine boiling water, thyme, horehound, and garlic. Boil for 15 minutes. Let cool, then use a cheese cloth to strain infusion into large bowl, wringing as much water as possible from the herbs. Return infusion to sauce pan and place on low temperature setting.

Infusion –> Syrup: Add 2 cups raw honey to infusion. Heat gently and stir constantly until most water has evaporated, creating a thickened texture. Pour the finished syrup into a sterile mason jar. Store in a dark, cool place for up to 6 months.

DIRECTIONS: Take 1 heaping spoonful daily to support respiratory health.

 

MODULAR CARGO BIKE? YES, PLEASE!

When not taking part in imaginary two-wheeled space adventures atop my metallic pink streamer-handled-huffy, this Lady loved to build random creations with her older brothers’ left-over Legos.

So imagine my resplendent glee upon seeing not only an adult lego-like toy, but one that happens to also be a bicycle.

This is so incredibly awesome ! Check out the link, Ladies (and Lady-lovers) to read about the N55 designed XYZ Cargo bike!

Want a simple cargo bike? It can do that.

Want a fruit stand, ice-cream-pedalmobile, roving-library, portable-banana-stand? It can do that, too.

How about an INSTANT PARK?! It does that, too!

Absolutely fabulous (and fun) concept & design. Lovely!

From the article:

Like all modular systems, XYZ nodes enable people to build things based on the principle of a few different parts repeatedly used to create an overall structure, similar to construction sets like Lego, Meccano and Erector. Because of the open and modular design, the XYZ Cargo Cycles are easy to customize and to rebuild. For example, a cover or a body to improve wind resistance and protect from the weather can be applied — turning the cargo cycle into a velomobile

Several modules have been developed that can be put on top of the XYZ Cargo Trike to transform its functionality: a roof and table module, a passenger seat module, a kitchen module with table, roof and sink, and a platform module. The latter transforms the cargo cycle into a 1.5 x 3 m large movable space, while from a legal point of view remaining a bicycle. The platform module was used to create a ParkCycle Swarm, which empowers people to build an instant public park whenever and wherever they want to.

 

The possibilities are endless, and the cost/design is accessible. So what would you make with your build-a-bike XYZ?

Erector set meets bicycle

Erector set meets bicycle

Keep innovating, playing, and pedaling, Ladies!

XOXO

BIKE LANES MAKE STREETS SAFER… FOR EVERYONE

These may make everyone safer... and happier.

These may make everyone safer… and happier.

Ladies of Toronto, our Lady heart goes out to you.

First your idiot mayor removes newly installed bicycle lanes on Jarvis Street, wasting city resources and removing more-equitable* options for Ladies throughout the city. Then your idiot mayor is caught smoking crack (perhaps explaining the aforementioned situation). Now, more Ladies on two wheels, Ladies on foot, and Ladies in steel-boxes are crashing into one another along the bicycle-lane-memorial-that-is-Jarvis-Street.

Le sigh, ay. Can’t a Lady of the north catch a break?

Well, Ladies, it turns out there IS a lesson to be pulled from this caddywhompus affair, and it may help make the case for future bicycle infrastructure: data shows that bicycle lanes may help make streets safer for all road users. 

Huzzah! A somewhat pyrrhic victory, but a victory all the same! And considering your permanently-santa-cheeked leadership, any victory is worth celebrating!

According to data from the City of Toronto obtained between 2008-2013, crashes have increased along the infamous Jarvis Street for street users of ALL modes. Quite frankly, this blows all around. But what is so interesting is the ability to look at crash rates pre, during, and post bicycle lanes. The data looks something like this:

Hmmm... me thinketh me sees a correlation...

Hmmm… me thinketh me sees a correlation…

This well-reasoned article from The Grid breaks down the data, what it means, and the timeline for the whole Jarvis Street fiasco.

His conclusion?

There’s a lot we don’t know: Could a greater proportion of collisions involving cyclists have gone unreported when the bikes lanes were there? Could Jarvis losing its reversible centre traffic lane have made things less confusing, and, as a result, less dangerous? Could it all just be a coincidence? It’s possible.

But from what we know now, Jarvis seems to have been a safer street with bike lanes on it than it was before, or has been since—and that goes for everyone who took it, were they pedestrians, cyclists, or drivers. In other words: it was a win-win, but not anymore.

In line with what we are already seeing, bicycle infrastructure is magical for communities, Ladies (& Lady-lovers), and everyone and everything else.

Perhaps the presence of people on bikes leads to reduced speeds, forcing drivers to pay more attention to prevent running over another person (since no one wants to run someone else over… or maybe that’s not totally true…), but regardless of the mechanism, two-wheeled citizens being seen and being treated equitably in our transportation models is a true win-win. For everyone.

These lane removals were justified by the mayor with a parallel, lower-traffic lane going in to appease bicycle riders. But that’s the thing – we should be making MORE space and networks for less-damaging modes, not continuing to fail to meet a base level of safety and accessibility for anyone but those in steel.

And removing bicycles from main streets and commercial corridors? It just reinforces the mentality of lovely Ladies being “out-of-place”, accessory, and a problem that must be put “out of the way” of “real traffic”. Take note, Portland (and this, too, though great infrastructure on BOTH roads would expand our network, and would be lovely).

But I digress. Till your weebles mayor is ousted under the weight of his own stupidity, Ladies of Toronto, at least you’ve got some proof that can help stop future bike lane removal. And it may just help Ladies (& Lady-lovers) around the globe, too.

Keep riding, fighting for equity, and smiling for it all, Ladies!

XOXO

 

*Perhaps we should say less-abhorrently-absent routes, since our two-wheeled infrastructure is nearly non-existent, and usually an afterthought (though this mentality would be just lovely :) ).

LADY EDITORIAL: 3 WISHES FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Wreaths tacked upon doors, grills, and fenders. Lights stranded meticulously… or haphazardly. Seasonal dustings of warmth atop tops of trees and bushes; neighboring properties swallowed in blizzards of night-time fluorescence (and unfathomable utility bills).

Torrential breezes muffled-yet-audible near globes and larger-than-life-size rotund men in red suits, made more roly-poly in appearance with seams stretched taut, rhythmically rocking with each gust. These inflatable totems contain the “holiday spirit” much like our belts contain our widening ham/tofu/cookie-filled bellies – limits tested and eager to explode.

Walking and riding past each individual display, I can’t help but notice the variations on “holiday” each presents, and how they speak to the lives of the people within.

*A single strand thrown lopsidedly across an overgrown tree: 20-somethings sharing a home, “hey, we decorated!” attempt at creating a more adult home.

*A cascade of perfectly positioned lights from corner-to-corner and back again: wealthier couple with children whose father or mother has made this able-to-enact-whilst-watching-the-kids hobby a yearly tradition, expanding in exorbitance from year to year.

*A modest, imperfect wrapping of several trees and shrubs: 30-somethings, likely a couple, expressing their nostalgic holiday memories while creating new traditions of their own.

Of course this is assumption, but it’s fun to imagine. And all of this nuance, this imagining, these lovely displays soak in more fully when passing atop two-wheels (or two-feet). Taking time to notice. Taking time to absorb all the life, in all its displays, around us. Taking time… it’s something I do too rarely, and something we all need a bit more of.

I feel blessed to live in a place where I can walk (mostly) safely and ride (mostly) without fear, and to live surrounded by so many people who are so different, yet so open, so non-judgmental of the idiosynchronicity of others. Where you can embrace your quirks and uniqueness fully, and where you’re not only free of the pressures to be-as-you-should, you’re more respected for fully being whoever you really are.

There is so much to be grateful for so much of the time. And from this foundation of gratitude, I’d like to share 3 wishes I have this holiday season. Feel free to leave a comment with wishes of your own.

1) I wish our streets were safer. For everyone.

Morgan Maynard CookJoseph “Joey” Randall Ransly StoneViJay Dalton-Gibson. The list of victims goes on, and on, and on, and on. Every time it breaks my heart. Every time I think about the families left without loved ones during the holidays, left with empty chairs at the dinner table, and empty spots in circles gathered round roaring fires and festooned trees. Spots that will remain empty forever. A void that never stops feeling… empty.

My parents were nearly left with that void a year and a half ago when a careless driver ran a stop sign into a neighborhood greenway… into me.

We’ve learned to just accept this carnage and tragedy, at a rate of over 88 people killed per day (that’s about 4 deaths per minute), not to mention the enormous numbers of serious, life-long injuries. Why? Because we want to be able to travel when we want to, and most importantly, because we want to drive ourselves to the places we need to go (and in many places, because that is our only option). Equity in access to transit and safe biking and walking facilities is abominable, and more and more the ability to walk near your home is becoming a privilege.

Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Columbia, came to speak in Portland a little while ago, and I remember being taken aback by one particular statement he made: “cars kill people”.  “That’s a bit inflammatory,” I remember thinking. But overtime, the statement sunk in, and it became apparent that the sentiment wasn’t radical. It was truth.

If you are riding a bike, if you are walking, if you take a bus, if you take a train – all of these options contain a chance of death and injury to yourself and others (so does living). But walk into someone on a sidewalk, accidentally run into someone on your bike… the consequences of inevitable human error are far less disastrous when not backed by thousands of pounds of environment-muffling steel. 

We will always fail. We are human. But when we fail at 40mph, even at 20mph, in steel, people are far more likely to die, including people just engaging their legs as they’re intended (or those playing, as children often do, in their own front yard).

I still drive occasionally, and I grew up driving for nearly all of my trips. I know how hard it is to see the realities of something considered a touchstone of American life. An essential. The truth is uncomfortable, and it implicates us all: Every time we drive our car, we put other people and ourselves at risk. Not only due to crashes, but due to the pollution we cannot see that gives us and everyone living around us cancer, breathing ailments, and more.

We can do so much better, and we owe it to ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities to try. Just try. What if we drove less? What if we spent less on roads for steel-boxes and more on education? What if more people could live longer and better because they added activity to their day during their commute? What if you could save your own life, your mother’s life, you friend’s life, a stranger’s life by taking an extra 5, 10, 20, 30 minutes to get to where you’re going? Wouldn’t that be time well spent? And what if our city policy prioritized equitable transit for all, with preference for expenditures based on greatest benefit to surrounding communities (walking first, transit second, bike facilities third, high-speed rail fourth, driving last)? It’s a lot of change, which is not and will not ever be well received at first, but more importantly it’s progress. For our health, our budgets, our happiness.

This holiday season, all I wish for are representatives WITH VISION, the kind who see the damage of a freeway running through downtown and stop saying “we have to account for SOV driving demand” and start asking “how can we eliminate the demand in the first place?”.

Most importantly, I wish for streets that unite us, where we can gather and see one another, and where we can live and commute without the daily reality of wondering whether or not we’ll make it home alive.

2) I wish I could remember how lucky I am. Everyday.

In the words of the venerable Kanye West, “time is the only luxury.”

My family. They’ve supported me through the hardest year of my life, they’ve frustrated me to no end, and they’ve given me love for being exactly as I am. How often do I forget how many people do not share this luxury? How many people wish they’d had the opportunities, support, and care that I have taken for granted?

How many people have no families to even have the option of going home to? And my dearest friends who have become my family out west… we all like to feel we could do it alone, but the reality is we can’t. I forget to open my eyes and see all the goodness in my life from time to time, and all I wish for this holiday season is to remember to see it more often.

Legs that (luckily) still work and take me where I’d like to go. A roof over my head and lovely people to share it with. The opportunity to educate myself everyday. Access to warm showers and heated rooms. Sidewalks and neighborhood greenways and transit that free me from the constraints of car travel. Amazing and not-so-amazing neighbors and strangers who smile at me for no reason, or say “hello” as they pass me by. There are so many things everyday that make life worth living and bring me happiness. Much as I savor my surroundings when pedaling past, it’s time I savored my living as it passes me by.

3) I wish that I could do more and be a more active part of improving the lives of everyone in my community.

Finding the time to volunteer, to push for change, to shape the world in my backyard. That time is there, and I often find a way to be involved. As I once heard a young poet say, “your observation becomes an obligation.” If I know it is wrong and I know it can change, then it is my duty to refuse to be silent. All I wish for this year is to continue that drive, not to give up because I am frustrated, and to keep trying to be the change I wish to see. I hope more of you will join me, and I hope we can all work together to create a better future for ourselves and future generations.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and as always, Ladies (and Lady-lovers): Remember to enjoy the ride.

XOXO

ANOTHER TRAGEDY IN OUR STREETS – A PLEA FOR CHANGE

Share, Ladies (& Lady-lovers). No one should ever fear for their life, or lose their child, just because they’re walking or riding a bicycle.

An emotional plea from the parents of Allison Liao, a 3 year-old who was recently run over and killed in a NYC cross-walk. This video is hard to watch, leading this Lady to tears. It is also a moving argument for why our streets need to change.

Streets are for people. It’s time we took them back.

FROM THE VIDEO:

The police know the driver was in the wrong, they issued him two traffic tickets… Ali paid the death penalty for crossing the street. It is unbelievable that the driver’s penalty is two tickets, and our daughter is gone…

So, our message to all drivers is simple. Please, before you get behind the wheel, and realize that the machine you are about to operate can kill people. We may drive everyday, but we need to be conscious of the enormous responsibility we have when we get behind the wheel. We urge drivers to pay attention to the road, and to SLOW DOWN. YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS, they have the RIGHT OF WAY and it’s the right thing to do. Your vehicles weigh one ton of steel, the average human body weighs a fraction of the vehicle and is made up of fragile flesh and bones. New Yorkers are always in a  hurry, but we challenge drivers to pause and ask: IS IT WORTH IT?

Is it worth RUNNING OVER A CHILD because you are running late? Is it worth picking up the phone when it could mean a family must pick out a grave for their child? Is it worth texting a friend when that message could force a father to text a date and time of their child’s funeral? Is it worth looking at the phone when it causes a mother to look at their daughter in the ER as they try to resuscitate her daughter?

We ask you to pause, because if the driver who killed our happy daughter on that fateful day had PAUSED, perhaps I would not have to stand before you today. Where did he need to go in such a hurry that he couldn’t stop for a few seconds to let an elderly lady and her granddaughter cross the street? We challenge drivers to pause and ask, is it worth it? Because the next person killed by a reckless driver may be someone you love.