Archive for November, 2009

Do gas fumes cause road rage?

November 25th, 2009 by hughillustration

As if we needed another reason to oppose the organization of our cities around cars and gasoline… Wired reports:

Amal Kinawy of Cairo University found that rats exposed to gasoline fumes were more aggressive than those breathing clean air and more likely to show signs of anxiety. What’s more, their brains experienced changes in neurotransmitters in the hypothalamus, hippocampus and cerebellum. Although Kinaway limited her research to rats, she says the findings could apply to humans and be a factor in road rage.

“Heightened aggression may be yet another risk for the human population chronically exposed to urban air polluted by automobile smoke,” she said. “Millions of people every day are exposed to gasoline fumes while refueling their cars.”

That’s interesting, because I think studies have shown that rats that ride bikes for an hour each day exhibit the opposite tendencies — friendliness, sociability, and extreme cuteness. Just sayin’.

Sweet Bike to the Beach Video

November 24th, 2009 by hughillustration

Awesome video by Mike Matas (via Meli’s Bikes and the City blog)! Reminds me of the warm weather that has only just ended.

SFPD Hopes To Meet “Leaders” of Critical Mass

November 23rd, 2009 by hughillustration

SFAppeal has a big headline at the moment: “Has SFPD Tracked Down The “Leaders” Of Critical Mass?” I got all excited when I heard that, since I’ve always wanted to meet a genuine “leader” of my favorite leaderless phenomenon.

But I was disappointed yet again when I learned that the SFPD hasn’t “tracked down” anyone:

SFPD Deputy Chief John Murphy reclaimed the mic to respond, saying that “that’s been brought to my attention, so I’ve been working on that also…specifically. it’s the Critical Mass event that’s the most troubling of all events, when the group goes out en masse. But I’m hoping to meet with the group leaders and basically convey to the group leaders the concerns of the people that get stuck in traffic.”

Deputy Chief Murphy clearly says that he is “hoping to meet” with someone — not that he has anyone in mind. Well, hope springs eternal, but I think the Deputy Chief will wait a long time before he finds anyone to talk to. In case anyone needs reminding, Critical Mass organizes itself when thousands of people show up each month at Justin Herman Plaza to ride home together. Decisions about route have been made spontaneously by the people at the front of the ride for years now, and there simply is no one in charge of this genuinely leaderless event.

But if Murphy is determined to find someone to talk to, we recommend that he bring his bicycle down to Justin Herman on the last Friday of the month and ask for “Spartacus.” That ought to do the trick!

Video of the Budapest Critical Mass

November 18th, 2009 by hughillustration

Here’s some video of the Budapest Critical Mass ride that Joel wrote about last week. One of these years I will make it over there to see it for myself!