Slowly but surely Metrolinx is becoming a household brand-name as it offers greater visibility for it’s exciting expansions of Ontario’s mass-transit infrastructure. Through new services in it’s operational GO Transit division, which is already very well known to all Commuters here in Southern Ontario, Metrolinx is also making a big push to break away from the commuting pack into much more leisurely and adventurous modes of rail travel as well. Not only can GO Transit enthuse weekend sightseers, but it’s also purposely re-geared itself for the pleasures of cycling as well. Most obviously with the provision of specially equipped trains that can carry our bikes down to spectacular routes and scenery that surround Niagara Falls!
GO Transit now offers an additional trip on Friday evenings to facilitate longer weekend getaways both down to The Falls, as well as offering a quick weekend train trip in the opposite direction back into Toronto from the Niagara Peninsula. From June 24 to September 5th passengers can take their bikes along to tour The Falls and Vineyards of this famous wine-growing area at no extra charge! So let’s consider the new experiences that easy service opens up to even the most casual cycling enthusiast…
CLICK to sample the "Introduction"
It should come as no surprise to any of his fans that David Byrne wasn’t going to take the staid conventional route to publishing a “book”. His newly released Bicycle Diaries (out as of Sept 28/10) is a fully illustrated account of his worldviews that musically extends itself via it’s companion ‘audiobook’. This hybridization goes a long way to proving that the almighty written word can indeed embrace the complimentary strengths of Mixed Media to produce something that transcends the sum of parts. It also offers us a much easier “read” while doing housework…
Though many Authors have created “audio books’ by simply reading their text, David Byrne has gone much further in developing this format by artfully combining his creative vision and immense musical acumen, and using these as sonic illumination for sensory backgrounds. Creating contextual mood and emotion that elevates the simple audiobook into the rarefied echelon of a bonefide artform, in its own right. Though radio drama has been creating “theatre of the mind” for decades, this work was fully constructed around audio treatment with an almost ‘documentary’ sense of rich authenticity. In a much more visual (nay, over-televised) age, perhaps it’s time to reconsider the power of hybridized Mixxed Media that’s produced to support the visual richness of the printed artifact, rather than compete with it’s depth and complexity.
Perhaps eventually we might even need a better label for this “audiobook” format. One that would better define an aesthetic such as the one found in Bicycles Diaries” which creates aural landscapes, weaves musical tapestry throughout, and seamlessly supports Byrne’s traveling meditations as a constantly moving experience that transcends the base narrative. At the very least what we see here is another brilliant addition to a budding genre that will surely also stand as a cultural icon for others to enjoy, and perhaps even build upon….Like so much other great Art.
I was recently inspired by a photograph taken of a city street that carried a clear an beneficial message for anybody who saw it…All without any need to explain the self-evident and underlying message. Unfortunately, rather than delving into the superb PR methods that were used to develop that message (and it’s sense of collective order and civic pride), I’ve instead been overcome by the bitter sense of revulsion created by the PR methods used to support and condone the temporary Police State that was invoked during Toronto’s G20 Summit. A lingering stain which continues to mark both our own city’s badly shaken sense of security, as well as marking out what little true journalism we can actually expect our the Mainstream Media after seeing how blatant violations of civil rights were either upheld or even condoned by some members of the Media as examples of a necessary Social Order. It seemed that only Reporters on the ground amidst the carnage were reporting a clear picture of the events. The CTV are one of the few and notable examples of Media coverage that at least attempted to present a bigger picture to the slanted mainstream coverage…
Just recently, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) was glad to announce that 91% of its buses will soon be equipped with bike racks for this Summer, and despite how little they may actually be getting used, during this ongoing and surprisingly slow adoption phase, the TTC remains upbeat on the service. At just over $2 million for the upgrade, most Cyclists and Mass Transit proponents consider this a pretty economical way to encourage new ‘multi-modal’ Ridership for years to come. Yet even the most positive pundits would likely have presumed that this initiative had already shown sufficient feasibility to proceed to this level of service though, so many people are wondering why the TTC has installed these racks right across their entire fleet before showing some early success on key routes. Most people didn’t even realize that Toronto had bike racks until they started seeing them for themselves. The resulting question then, is why has the adoption rate for this service been so sluggish to during this period? Is this simply a mishandled piece of Public Relations?
Obviously, the hardcore Cycling Commuters aren’t going to trade in their winter tires for metropasses, and all the existing TTC Riders probably won’t suddenly swayed into taking a bike along with them on their regular daily commute just for kicks. Yet surely there are all sorts of new possibilities and benefits that this service opens up for consideration, even though we’re left to find these for ourselves. At the very least, these Bike Racks would appear to be a simple and (relatively) economical way to either draw more Riders into the transit fold, or benefit current users with the option to cycle in or away from their first or last stop, all while laying some basic groundwork for the future of grass-roots growth in Transit ridership overall….So what’s the holdup in moving ahead with it?
Is there an issue with Public Perceptions?
Or does the problem start down at the source of most Mainstream Media Content nowadays ?
Our News Media has clearly been pandering to the Public desire to “Go Green” by chasing down existing stories to support a more ecological point of view, yet what has it done to actually update our social views on Consumption and the prevailing Car Culture? In order to at least take a more productive personal view of our worsening traffic congestion problems, let’s try to put aside our presumed right to drive around in our already over-crowded urban centers in near-empty automobiles as solo occupants. Pausing for a moment to consider an alternative way of traveling, where instead of driving ourselves around in big empty cars and struggling to find parking at every stop, we instead saw ourselves enjoying the freedom of biking around our local destinations after piggy-backing on buses for the longer haul distances in between…and from there considering what other resources are available to feel the needs, currently being met with generally wasteful and problematic automobile traffic.
I hate to admit it out loud…but as an Urban Cyclist here in Toronto, I actually enjoy city traffic! Now most people can derive vicarious thrills from the safety of sofa’s or when securely held in by seatbelts, but I’ve come to only appreciate a true challenge if I know I’m risking something real. Of course I would never endanger others, and only ever gamble with my own hide, bike, and pelt because the constant challenge of NEVER impacting the smooth flow of people and traffic around me is what keeps me honest. But that’s not the main reason that I can enjoy traffic…
It’s mainly because, like almost all bicycle riders in the city, I actually bend the rules just enough to make MUCH better time through the downtown core by slipping past those who need to queue up at signal lights, and crawl along in traffic. I also get enormous satisfaction from the challenges of slaloming through obstacles and dangers, and putting my ass on the line with every calculated gamble I make. Since the consequences for a misstep by a Cyclist will always be far worse, the hard pavement keeps me dead honest.
But I digress…
Let’s get back to finding our way past our collective hatred of Traffic…
Or: How I Stopped Worrying, and Learned to Love Traffic!
As discussed in “Confessions of and Urban Cyclist”, our traffic flow issues could actually represent what’s wrong with our Society in general! So, by focusing on fixxing traffic issues, we could also trigger other inter-dependent solutions, and unleash a wave of positive Social and Ecological changes that would roll right across the board! Before leaning into this potential tipping point though, first let’s try to eliminate one of the main sources of stress caused by our growing traffic problems.
You see, as an Urban Cyclist, I seriously resent the simplistic Us & Them rhetoric that the Media and Politicians like to foist on ALL of us, in order to polarize traffic issues into ‘sides’ – mostly just to further the agenda’s of pandering politics, and partisan “journalists” as it would seem.
Whether it’s Motorists killing Pedestrians, or ‘Transit’ sidetracking funds needed for roadway upgrades, or Cyclists trying to hog the already congested roads, there’s no end to the ways people can be turned against each other in Traffic. This is obviously an artificial fabrication (manipulation?) that’s meant to segregate people’s needs, so that they can be more easily sold on ideas, and encouraged to adopt simplified personal positions on larger and more complex issues. It also strikes me as rather parasitic (of the Press and Politicians) to prey on the frustrations of Motorists, and the fears of Cyclists in order to win suburban votes, or offer a forum to vent their pent up aggravations about Transit failures. Or just to gain short-term credibility with the “Green” demographics.
So even though I distrust many politicians, and the bureaucratic tax-trough artists who surround them, I can still see the positive potential behind developing a common cause here, and applying civic and communicative processes of Politics and Public Relations to somehow alleviate our pervasive traffic issues. Not just because it will make our streets safer, friendlier, and cleaner. Not because the manner in which we address “Car Culture” will eventually also save our Ecosystem from certain doom at the hands of Petro-Chemical Giants. But because, I just want to be able to enjoy motoring out of town without being constantly astounded by the appalling driving habits of others. Which brings me to why I needed to stop hating traffic so much, before I became entirely disenfranchised with Humanity in general…