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VCB eNews, Volume 12, #41 - Bicycle Utopia




Volume 12, #41: Bicycle Utopia

Shelley Porter, Editor



Editorial: Bicycle Utopia
VCB Progress Report - Education & Safety

Rides Captain’s Report 

Wheeling Around the Mira

Trauma Injuries in Nova Scotia

Bike Culture Finds - The Blue Route

Loose Chain Links

Bike Buy and Sell

About That Funny


“Reality is what people who lack vision see.”

  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana






Elly Blue wrote Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy in response to her observations about how the economy in North America revolved around the way we move: by automobile. When it was published in 2013, the economic crisis of 2008 was still fresh in the minds of North Americans. Rattled citizens were open to alternatives in transportation, some large cities (e.g New York) were making infrastructure changes that favoured cycling in order to reduce congestion on city streets, and encouraging people to bicycle to school and work was the new normal in public health initiatives. The cycling revolution hasn’t happened quite yet, but there is movement in the direction of a cycling utopia.


Elly Blue was keynote speaker at the 2014 Nova Scotia Cycling Summit. She is small, wears glasses, and has a diffident smile. Her unassuming presence belies a keen mind and determined spirit, as her publishing activities attest. Her website,, is a compendium of past and present projects and cycling blogs. You can shop for books, stickers, and sewing patterns (OK, one sewing pattern – but I was still startled to see this on the drop-down menu!). 


One of Taking the Lane’s publishing products is an annual anthology of short stories, Bikes in Space. Described as “feminist bicycle science fiction”, the 3rd edition of Bikes in Space has just been released, and the call for submissions for the 4th edition has gone out. The theme for Volume 4 is “Utopia/Dystopia”. Blue urges writers to create “golden visions of feminist pedal powered communities” . . . or the opposite. 


A bicycle utopia would probably be quiet, and clean. No roar of internal combustion engines, no exhaust fumes – or at least very little. A bicycle utopia would be busy – many human-powered vehicles would do the work of local deliveries and individual transportation. This could create a lot of employment, though how well-compensated it would be is hard to say. A bicycle utopia would need a lot of small shops over a fairly small distance, to serve citizens traveling to and from work and doing their household errands on bicycles. There used to be four stores and two garages in Westmount. Now there are no garages and one store. The car means a 5 km drive to a big-box store is feasible. In a bicycle utopia, that might not be the case. For some people I am sure that makes such a world not a utopia at all, but consider the gains in public health if we had to cycle a couple of kilometres for that errand instead of driving a car.


A bicycle utopia would have smooth asphalt (less damage from large, heavy vehicles), tree-lined boulevards, and efficient travelways. We might accept burning up greenhouse-gas-forming petroleum in our cars using inefficient routes, but when it’s the energy created by the cereal you ate for breakfast providing the power to get from point A to point B, one tends to be a bit more adamant that urban planning make those points as close to one another as possible. Bicycles would dominate and claim right-of-way on city streets in a cycling utopia, with transport trucks few and far between, perhaps even restricted to special routes where they cannot interfere with regular – bicycle – traffic. Downtowns would be vibrant places with bike racks, bike share networks, and streets free from parked vehicles ready to door the hapless rider.  Cyclists would feel safe.


In a bicycle dystopia, streets would be narrow, dominated by automobiles, dirty, and potholed. In traffic, might would mean right. The larger the vehicle, the less respect it grants to vulnerable road users. Communities would be isolated from commercial areas and from one another by road systems that discouraged active transportation. Retail outlets would be limited to big-box stores with vast parking lots made only for motor vehicles. Downtowns would be deserted, rundown places where cyclists and everyone else feared for their wellbeing. Greenhouse gas emissions would continue at current rates or even rise, because infrastructure created exclusively for automobile travel leaves us with little choice but to drive everywhere we go. 


Wait a minute . . . that sounds an awful lot like the way things are now. Want to move the direction of transportation from dystopia to utopia? Ride your bike!



Bicycle dystopia? (S.Porter, photo)



Sign of an emerging bicycle utopia. (S. Porter, photo)






Thank you for being a subscriber of Velo Cape Breton eNewsletter.  See what we've been up to over the past year.  Please have a look at the Report on Edcation & Safety below and let us know if you have any questions.


Again, thank you for your support of Velo Cape Breton Bicycle Association.  Together we can accomplish so many great things to make our communities better places to live.  Join Velo Cape Breton here.


Happy Cycling!





It is amazing how quickly time flies. We get caught up with everyday life and before you know it, you are wondering if the editor is going to chew you out for being late with your segment of the newsletter. (As of this moment I have not received any threatening e-mails or phone calls). This issue is also number 30 for me, which is truly amazing. Thirty weeks have gone past in a flash and there have been a lot of things that Velo can cheer about - from bike lanes to rumble strips and a lot of great rides.


 Thirty weeks from now will find plans being made for the new biking season, the new committee for the next year's Lobster Roll Ride will already have been in existence for several months and plans for the opening banquet will be in progress. The yearly potluck and awards ceremony will just be over and no doubt everyone will be preoccupied with the winter weather and hoping it won't be as long as last year's was.


With any luck there will be few good-byes and many hellos to new friends and opportunities. So Nota Bene, people, and Carpe Diem, for Time and Tide wait for no-one.





Women on Wheels take note!  Ride and social. Don't miss this!!!!


Enjoy the scenery of the Mira.  A very nice loop, you can ride at your own pace with other WOW riders.  Approximately 30 K.   Meet at Mullins Store in Albert Bridge on Saturday August 15th at 9:30 am for a 10:00 am start. Bring some money for lunch as we will Meet after the ride for a bite to eat.


Note, in the event of rain this ride will be cancelled.


Also, Tuesday night rides resume on August 18th at 6:00 pm at Noelle's Country Market.


See you there!

-Shelley Johnson, WoW Coordinator





by: Dr. Chris Milburn


I read the recent research article on trauma injuries in NS children with some dismay.  The message was that hockey is much safer than we think, and cycling is a lot more dangerous.


The methodology of the study was somewhat questionable.  With any study on injury rates, one needs not just a numerator (how many injuries) but a denominator (how many people actually do the sport).  If I say that showering is much more dangerous than mountain biking because I have seen far more serious injuries from falls in the shower than I have from mountain biking, is this sensible?  Or is it just because more people shower than mountain bike on any given day?


Most kids in NS own a bicycle, and lots of them cycle regularly.  The frequency of playing hockey is much less, except for the small proportion of the population who plays seriously.


I have seen one serious injury ever from a kid on a bike - a broken leg.  Otherwise just cuts and scrapes, and one broken wrist now that I think of it.  And every serious bicycle injury I have ever heard about in working around ER's involved a car.  So IMHO it's not the bike that's dangerous, it's the cars.


Compare that to quite a few broken bones, torn ligaments, separated shoulders, etc from hockey, and many serious injuries and deaths from ATV's and snowmobiles (which very few kids do), and cars!  Part of the difficulty with this study is that it didn't include deaths in the stats as far as I can tell.


In my experience, the NUMBER ONE most dangerous activity for broken bones and significant joint injuries in kids is skiing and snowboarding.  One busy day at Ben Eoin often means multiple patients coming to ER to see us.  But all in all, it's still a very safe sport if done responsibly, and I would highly encourage kids (and parents) to do it rather than sit on the couch.


A stat to keep in mind when deciding what's "risky".

Odds of dying in a bicycle crash in Canada: somewhere from 1 in a million to one in 1.5 million Km travelled by bike

Odds of dying early of heart disease or stroke in Canada:  one in 2 for males and one in 3 for females

Amount you can decrease your odds of dying early of heart attack or stroke by cycling regularly:

-up to 35% risk reduction, depending on the "dose"


So do some math, get off the couch and get on your bike.  And stop worrying about your kids.  They'll live longer by biking regularly than by sitting on the couch.


Chris Milburn






This section features bike-friendly places and spaces, as submitted by our members. You can write in and tell us about a retail or service outlet that encourages cycling, whether it be by offering cyclist-friendly food, safe pathways, or just being there when you need it (like a public washroom).



The Blue Route provincial cycling network will connect Nova Scotia’s communities through designated cycling routes on secondary highways with paved shoulders, low traffic volume roads, hard surfaced trails, and city streets. The concept of the Blue Route is based on the award winning Route Verte in Quebec, which brings in upwards of $200M in tourism revenue each year and is seen as one of the best active transportation networks in the world.

Once completed the Blue Route comprise a ~ 3000km network of signed bicycle routes, connecting riders with communities across the province.

The first segment of the Blue Route that was inaugurated last Thursday (August 6th in Pictou)  connects Pictou to East Mountain (Bible Hill) along segments of the provincial road network (Route 376 and Trunk 4) and the Jitney Trail (co-managed by the Town of Pictou and the Pictou County Trails Association). The entire route is 56 km in length, which includes 53km on provincial roadways and ~3km on the Jitney Trail.

Although this is a relatively small length of bicycle route, it is a significant realization of many years of hard work, partnership development, and collaboration. Any journey starts with taking that first step…

Exciting times!

ps.  Follow the development of the Blue Route by subscribing to the Blue Route eNewsletter.  (  click Get Involved  and enter your name and email.

More info at The News.




A handy little yoga routine for athletes:




So proud to own a Toyota:


Make bicycle things:


Crash data report from Australia:


Watch out for Goshawks, too:





 (Ads will run for 3 weeks; if your item has not sold in that time, please resend the ad to the editor. Thanks!)


FOR SALE: Giant Cypress comfort bicycle. Excellent condition. “Men’s” frame, 17in. Tuned up by professionals and stored since May 2015. $175.00 Contact





One day a cyclist, who had been stranded on a deserted island for over 10 years, saw a speck on the horizon. She thought to herself, 'It's certainly not a ship.' As the speck got closer and closer, she began to rule out even the possibilities of a small boat or raft.  Suddenly there strode from the surf a figure clad in a black wet suit.  Putting aside the scuba tanks and mask and zipping down the top of the wet suit stood a drop-dead gorgeous man!
He walked up to the stunned cyclist and said to her, 'Tell me, how long has it been since you've had a good glass of red wine?'  'Ten years,' replied the amazed cyclist.

With that, the muscular fellow reached over and unzipped a waterproof pocket on the left sleeve of his wetsuit and pulled out a bottle of Gaspereau Vineyards Lucie Kuhlmann.  The cyclist took the bottle, slowly tilted it to her lips, and took a long sip.  'Lordy,' said the castaway, 'that is so good! I'd almost forgotten how great a wine can be!'

'And how long has it been since you've had a piece of Belgian chocolate?' asked the man. 

Trembling, the castaway replied, 'Ten years.'  Hearing that, the man reached over to his right sleeve, bicep bulging, and unzipped a pocket there. The man removed a foil-wrapped bar and handed it to cyclist.  She opened the wrapping and took a big bite. 'This is to die for!' shouted the cyclist, 'It’s truly fantastic!!!'

At this point the lithe and powerful man started to slowly unzip the long front of his wet suit, right down the middle. He looked at the trembling woman and asked, 'And how long has it been since you went for a ride?'

With tears in her eyes, the cyclist fell to her knees and sobbed, 'Oh, sweet lord! Don't tell me that you've got a bicycle in there too?'




Shelley Porter,

Editor, Velo Cape Breton eNewsletter

VCB Cycling Ambassador.

August 13th, 2015





Velo Cape Breton is the island-wide voice of cyclists, working for better cycling in our great island. Visit our website that will introduce you to some of our activities.   If you have any question(s) or suggestion(s), please contact us

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