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VCB eNews, Vol 13, #17 - Overly-Protective?





Volume 13, #17  -  Overly-Protective?...




Editorial: Overly-Protective?

Are You Still There?

Winter Wimps?

Loose Chain Links

About That Funny



“Nobody's life is ever all balanced. It's a conscious decision to choose your priorities every day.” 

~ Elisabeth Hasselbeck






People are terrible at making personal decisions about safety and security.  They take crazy precautions to avoid trivial risks, and show foolhardy indifference to clear and present dangers.  People stay home when there’s an inch of snow (despite $1000 worth of snow tires on their cars), but they text madly as they fly down a 100-series highway.


It’s not just personal decisions.  As a society, we structure decision-making around safety and security in ways that encourage decision-makers to look at only one side of what are actually complex and subtle equations.  As a result, we don’t get balanced decisions.  Society ends up shouldering the tangible and intangible costs of not having considered other factors. 


This is a social problem. Parents no longer let their children out of their sight, because of mostly imaginary fears about bad things that might happen but probably won’t.  As a result, children arrive at university, community college, or the world of work without ever having made a decision about their personal safety.



ED: Excerpt from The Contrarian blog of February 9th, 2016






Let’s say we transfer the above by forbidding children to cycle to school because of fear of something could happen.


On one side:
Odds that your child will be abducted while walking to school on a given day in Canada: less than 1 in a billion


On the other side:
Odds that your child (male) will die of cardiovascular disease due to physical inactivity:  one in 2 (approx)


Odds that your child (female) will die of cardiovascular disease due to physical inactivity: one in 3 (approx)




See what is done in Denmark….


Together with the other 6th grade students at La Cour Vej School, Felix took part in the Danish "cyklistprøve" - or Cyclist Test.


The test has been around since 1947. It's not mandatory but many schools choose to do it. When kids are in the 1st grade they get a week of initial cyclist "how-to" regarding rules of the road, etc. Then, in 6th grade, they rock the test like today.


More at:







The question on CBC’s morning show today was:  “Are we making a nation of Winter Wimps?”


The question was very much in line with the Editorial that was written last evening.  Anyway, all you guys cycling in the winter, or wanting to, are working on the opposite.   


A Wink from Gerry in Vernon BC


Dear dedicated winter cyclists,


Congrats to all of you for your dedication and commitment.  I am rather late in the season to send a note but then some encouragement in mid-winter can be a good thing.  I share your passion as I did it year-round in Manitoba for 18 years - 11 complete years of never missing a single day to get to/from work, 5-12 km away.  I call that my "Mount Everest challenge".  It all started from a dare in 1992 that I could not possibly do it - and the rest is history.  I did not join the B52 club as I will miss a few weeks in the summer but I continue to cycle all year long - now much easier in the Okanagan Valley.  I had told Jacques that I would send a few comments from my past experience, so here goes.


The Bike

A mountain bike is a must, although initially I did a few crazy years on a ten-speed - nasty tires to say the least and in retrospect, not good risk management at all.  The salty slush will beat up your bike, which is why I have always used older bikes that folks were going to dispose of - still do.  No lock needed as no one wants to steal them!!  Good "grippy" tires are good enough for me and I do deflate the tires a bit, which gives better handling and control in snow.  I suppose that studs would be better, especially over icy roads or hard packed snow, but I never used them.  Another must is a good mirror (about $15 at MEC) - as this allows you to keep your eyes primarily on the road surface ahead and turning the head with heavier and bulky clothing can be a challenge.  Keeping an eye on traffic coming from the rear on busy streets can help you to exit early and keep out of trouble (ie buses or big trucks not planning on moving over - no 3 ft law in MB).  Fenders would be another must, along with a good basket for your bag/backpack and extra clothing and tools.  I always carry a spare tube, pump and basic tools to do a tube change (5-6 flats a year not uncommon for me). 


The Clothing

On days below -30 in MB, I would get cold thumbs despite the super big mitts.  I finally discovered that encircling the hand grip in a normal fashion would block the blood circulation to my thumbs.  This problem disappeared when I started to simply rest my entire palm on the handle (keeping the thumb above vs below the handle).  I was still able to control the bike easily and brake without a problem as the fingers are still gripping.  Dressing for extreme conditions with windchills below -50 at times presented some special challenges but from trial and error, I found ways to compensate ( ie eyeball surfaces want to freeze at those temps and goggles don't work - a heavy-duty balaclava and scarf did the trick).  I finally started wearing a high vis vest and helmet (both fluorescent green!) and that made a huge difference as too many drivers are not expecting a lone cyclist on the winter roads - add flashing lights and lighter coloured clothing in low vis conditions.  I never dressed to be pretty whatsoever - it was all about being comfortable with layers of breathable clothing as required.  I used what I had at home (long underwear, sweat pants, ski pants, full-face balaclava, scarves), etc...  


The Maintenance

I used lots of car engine oil on the chain to keep the salt in check.  It makes it quite dirty but I would just wipe it down often and re-oil as required.  I repair my own "beaters" with spare parts that I have collected from bikes being disposed of.  It is not that difficult to learn and the tools pay for themselves very quickly.  Touch up with good quality metal paint keeps the bike looking respectable and keeps rust at bay.


Why Cycling in Winter?

And finally, to stay motivated - some may need it more than others.  I found it easy enough as cycling to work and to run errands became part of my healthy lifestyle.  Over time, getting somewhere by bike vs vehicle was always the first thing that came to mind, even if it meant changing clothes at the other end.  Cycling quickly became my primary means of transport.  I should get a little sign that reads "ZENN Vehicle" (zero emission no noise) and attach it to my basket on my "SUV" bike.  For most years going to work, whatever I would save on gasoline and wear and tear on my car, would go into a special investment account labelled "TOYS". On average, I counted 20 cents per km (10 for fuel and 10 for the car).  At 4-5000 km per year over 15+ yrs, the amount adds up pretty quickly in a good investment fund.  I now reap the benefits of those savings.  I would register my car for pleasure use vs business and that $150 saving also went into the account.  You know some of the other benefits of cycling over driving - healthy and clean mode of transport, cost-effective, no windows to scrape, no need to plug in, parking is easy and free, no need for CAA, never get stuck or need a boost, no insurance req'd, etc...  


Pardon me for taking up so much of your time - I hope that you did not miss out on a ride in the process.  I can answer individual questions if you wish to reply to this email.  Happy and safe cycling.  

Gerry Bohemier in Vernon, BC.  







A green helmet

We've seen bike helmets with wooden shells before, and we've also seen foam made from wood pulp.  Now, however, Sweden's KTH Royal Institute of Technology has teamed up with Stockholm-based startup Cellutech to combine the two.  The result is a helmet made entirely from wood.



Sunday is Valentine’s Day.


Always remember that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than the men who mention it...


Be nice, guys!







Little Thelma comes home from first grade and tells her father that they learned about the history of Valentine's Day.


"Since Valentine's Day is for a Christian saint and we're Jewish", she asks,  "Will God get mad at me for giving someone a valentine?"


Thelma's father thinks a bit then says "No, I don't think God would get mad. Who do you want to give a valentine to?” 


"The whole Isis group", she says.


"Why them?",  her father asks in shock.


"Well", she says, "I thought that if a little American Jewish girl could have enough love to give them a valentine, they might start to think that maybe  we're not all bad, and maybe start loving people a little bit.  And if other kids saw what I did and then they sent valentines to them, they'd love everyone a lot.  And then they'd start going all over the place telling everyone how much they loved them and how they didn't hate anyone anymore.”


Her father's heart swells and he looks at his daughter with new found pride. "Thelma, that's the most wonderful thing I've ever heard.”


"I know",  Thelma says, "and once that gets them out in the open, the Marines could blow the shit out of them."




February 11h,  2016



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