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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Recognizing Pedal Power's Economic Potential

Bicycling Tourists Are Older, Wealthier, and In Demand
November 30, 2015 -- By Marsha Mercer 

Cities and states have long urged their residents to ride bicycles, as a healthy form of recreation and as a green alternative to driving. Now they’re recognizing pedal power’s economic potential.

Tourism officials and cycling advocates sometimes refer to tourists on bicycles as “wallets on wheels.” That’s because they stay longer in a state and spend more per day than other tourists. Oregon, for example, has found that bicycle tourism contributes $400 million a year to its economy—roughly $1.1 million a day. It was the first state to create a Bike Friendly Business Program that helps businesses market to bicycle tourists.

Other states are pursuing similar strategies. In September, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper declared that Colorado would spend $100 million over four years to make itself “the best state for biking in the country.” 

Washington, ranked the most bike-friendly state for eight consecutive years by the League of American Bicyclists, in July committed more than $500 million in state and federal funds over 16 years for biking and walking projects. Also this summer Florida approved $25 million annually to connect bicycle paths around the state into a new, statewide network.

“Biking can be such a positive force, and I think being the best biking state is going to fuel economic growth and tourism,” Hickenlooper said. “It’s going to lead us toward a cleaner environment, and it’s going to help us be the healthiest state in America.”

Touring cyclists, who tend to be older and wealthier, are especially valuable to a state’s economic health. They stay in smaller towns and support locally-owned bed-and-breakfasts, motels, cafes, craft breweries and shops. Other tourists tend to patronize national chains, economic analyses have found.

In Montana, which welcomes about half a million bicycle tourists a year, “it was an eye-opener that bicycle tourists spent more” than other tourists, said Norma Polovitz Nickerson, director of the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana.

“This might not be the largest tourism niche, but everybody’s interested in boosting the local economy. Bicycle touring has very little impact on the landscape, and it comes with a nice economic bonus,” she said.

Nickerson conducted a study in late 2013 that found touring cyclists in Montana were on average 52 years old, spent on average $75 per day and stayed eight nights or more. Touring is defined as spending at least one night away from home, state residents included. The average nonresident vacationer during summer months spent $58 per day and stayed six nights in the state, the study found.

After the study’s release, Montana created more bike-in camping spots at state parks, and the Department of Transportation is working toward changing its policy on the placement of highway rumble strips to be more bike-friendly, Nickerson said.

Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, an avid cyclist, has tried for years to raise his state’s profile as a cycling state. A robust system of bicycling trails would not only make cycling safer and more fun but would help recruit younger people to move to Florida, he said.

This year Gardiner, a Republican, pushed through a change in the way vehicle registration fees are spent to redirect $25 million every year to a statewide network of bike paths. “It’s a lot of money for a long time,” Gardiner said. “This will put us onstage with other states.”

Mix of Funding

Funding for bicycling and walking projects comes from federal, state and local sources. It’s difficult to compare spending by state because some report stand-alone bicycle and pedestrian ventures while others report them as part of larger highway plans, the Alliance for Biking and Walking said.

States spend, on average, less than 2 percent of state budgets and about 2 percent of federal funds on bicycling and walking projects, the group said.

But the numbers are increasing. “Some states now recognize that bicycling is an attribute that cannot only make a state healthier and fitter but can also draw high-quality employers, economic growth and tourism,” said Douglas Shinkle, a transportation policy expert for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

“The new way of thinking emphasizes looking at bicycling as a legitimate means of transportation and worthy of transportation dollars,” Shinkle said. “That’s much more the case now than 10 or 15 years ago.”

In Washington state, for example, the 2005 transportation package included $72 million for biking and walking projects over 16 years, whereas this year’s package, over the same time frame, funneled $500 million to such projects.

Blake Trask, state policy director of Washington Bikes, said the most recent package garnered support from both sides of the aisle. Local chambers of commerce, tourism offices and businesses all want to promote their local economies through cycling, Trask said.

Democratic Mayor Jeri Muoio of West Palm Beach wants to make her Florida city of 102,000 residents one of the most bike-friendly in the nation. She was among the officials from 13 U.S. cities who visited Copenhagen in September on a Knight Foundation-funded trip to learn how the European city makes bicycling easy and safe.

“People take bicycles in Copenhagen not because it’s a green thing to do or it is good exercise but because it’s the easiest way to get from Point A to Point B,” Muoio said. “We’re still tied to our cars.”

Indeed, many critics of bike-friendly measures argue that scarce transportation dollars should pay for relieving congested streets and highways and shoring up unsafe bridges for motorists who pay gas and vehicle taxes. Bicycle advocates counter that they own cars as well as bikes and that they do pay taxes. Political views also play a role.

“We don’t want federal dollars paying for local projects,” said Mike Krause, vice president of operations for the Denver-based Independence Institute, a proponent of free markets and limited government. “It’s not right to make taxpayers in California and Maryland pay for bike lanes in Colorado.”

Seeking Safer Streets

Massachusetts has set a goal of tripling the number of biking, walking and mass transit trips between 2010 and 2030. But cyclists in the state often complain about dangerous streets, so Massachusetts is studying bike paths that are separated physically from both motor vehicles and pedestrians. Such protected lanes have been in use in Europe for decades but are rare here.

The state’s transportation agency this month issued the first statewide guide to designing and building such lanes. “Many people—including me—are reluctant to bicycle adjacent to busy roadways alongside fast-moving traffic. That’s where separated bicycle facilities come in,” Stephanie Pollack, Massachusetts secretary of transportation, said in an introduction to the guide.

But Randal O’Toole of the libertarian Cato Institute questioned the wisdom of that approach. O’Toole, a devoted cyclist who said he has never commuted to work by car, said separate bike trails are expensive and many cyclists don’t end up using them. O’Toole also is opposed to narrowing city streets for separate bike lanes because that could increase traffic congestion.

Rather than building “glitzy projects,” he said localities should choose streets parallel to major thoroughfares and minimize the number of signals and stop signs cyclists encounter there, remove rumble strips and widen shoulders. If you want to encourage tourism and spur economic growth, he said, sponsor bike races and other events to bring in cyclists and temporarily close off city streets.

“What needs to be done is figure out ways to make streets safer for bikes without being hostile to cars,” O’Toole said.

Safe-passing laws are another alternative to separate bike trails and lanes. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring motorists to allow 3 feet when passing bicycles, as of October 2015, according to NCSL. Pennsylvania went a foot farther to a 4-foot passing law. Nine other states generally require motorists to pass at a safe distance.

Texas is among 16 states that have no safe-passing law. State Sen. Rodney Ellis, a Democrat, has tried unsuccessfully over the years to persuade Texas legislators to pass safe-passing and other bills to promote cycling.

Ellis loves to bike, and he knows one way to change minds: Get elected officials “passionate about biking on a personal level.” Then, he said, they could make the next step and be passionate about policy.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Cycling is Like Fertilizer for the Brain

It's no secret that cycling makes you fitter. Research shows that it also sharpens your thinking and melts away stress. Here's how to maximize the many other benefits of cycling.

By Selene Yeager, Bicycling Magazine

Every morning Canadian neuroscientist Brian Christie, PhD, gives his brain an extra boost. We're not talking about tossing back multiple strong shots of espresso or playing one of those mind-training games advertised all over Facebook. "I hop on my bike, go to the gym for 45 minutes, then ride the rest of  the way to work," says Christie. "When I get to my desk, my brain is at peak activity for a few hours." After his mental focus sputters to a halt later in the day, he jump-starts it with another short spin to run errands.

Ride, work, ride, repeat. It's a scientifically proven system that unleashes some unexpected benefits of cycling. In a recent study in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, scientists found that people scored higher on tests of memory, reasoning, and planning after 30 minutes of spinning on a stationary bike than they did before they rode. They also completed the tests faster after pedaling.

Grow Your Mind
Exercise is like fertilizer for your brain. All those hours spent turning your cranks create rich capillary beds not only in your quads and glutes, but also in your gray matter. More blood vessels in your brain and muscles mean more oxygen and nutrients to help them work, says Christie.

When you pedal, you also force more nerve cells to fire. As these neurons light up, they intensify the creation of proteins like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and a compound called noggin (yes, really), which promote the formation of new brain cells. The result: You double or triple the production of  neurons—literally building your brain, says Christie. You also release neurotransmitters (the messengers between your brain cells) so all those cells, new and old, can communicate with each other for better, faster functioning. That's a pretty profound benefit to cyclists.

This kind of growth is especially important with each passing birthday, because as we age, our brains shrink and those connections weaken. Exercise restores and protects the organ, says Arthur Kramer, PhD, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Our research finds that after only three months, people who exercised had the brain volume of those three years younger," says Kramer, referring to a study that examined the brains of  59 sedentary volunteers between the ages of 60 and 79 who either did an exercise program or were inactive for six months.

A bigger, more connected brain simply works better. "Adults who exercise display sharper memory skills, higher concentration levels, more fluid thinking, and greater problem-solving ability than those who are sedentary," says Kramer.

Ride Your Way Smarter
So if a little exercise boosts your mental acumen, will going longer and harder earn you Mensa membership? Not so much, says Christie. More isn't always better, especially in the short term, he says. The same study that reported brain benefits from a short exercise session also revealed that more intense efforts can temporarily compromise memory and information processing, something Christie has seen firsthand.

Christie's teenage daughter also starts her day with exercise—specifically rowing practice, usually with searing interval sets. But instead of leaving her brain firing on all cylinders, the workout leaves her a little stalled out when she arrives at school. "Short term, you're on a U-shaped curve for exercise and mental benefits," says Christie. "Too little and your brain doesn't get what it needs to work optimally. Too much and your body has sapped the glucose and other resources it needs, so it's hindered until it recovers." The sweet spot for sharp mental acuity right after exercise is about 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic riding at roughly 75 percent of your maximum heart rate, or an effort of 7 on a scale of 1 (standing still) to 10 (going all out).

Positive Spin
Of course, there's a lot more to mental fitness than just improving your smarts. Plenty of science backs the idea that a good ride can also have emotional benefits. Cycling can elevate your mood, relieve anxiety, increase stress resistance, and even banish the blues.

"Exercise works as well as psychotherapy and antidepressants in the treatment of depression, maybe better," says James Blumenthal, PhD, professor of behavioral medicine in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. A recent study analyzing 26 years of research finds that even just some exercise—as little as 20 to 30 minutes a day—can prevent depression over the long term.

At the moment, scientists don't completely understand the exact mechanisms, but they do know that one of the benefits of cycling is that it boosts the production of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. "As soon as our lab rats start running on their wheels, they get a 100 to 200 percent increase in serotonin levels," says J. David Glass, PhD, a brain-chemistry researcher at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

As you pedal past the 20-to 30-minute mark, other mood-lifting chemicals like endorphins and cannabinoids (which, as the name suggests, are in the same family of chemicals that give pot smokers their high) kick in. When researchers asked 24 men to either run or pedal at a moderate intensity or sit for about 50 minutes, they found high blood levels of anandamide, a natural cannabinoid, in the exercisers, but not in sedentary volunteers.

Even better, regularly riding your bike helps keep hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in check, which means you'll feel less stressed and you'll bounce back from anxiety-filled situations more easily.

The sweet spot for sharpening mental acuity right after exercise is about 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic riding at roughly 75 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Remember: Although it's healthy, exercise itself is a stress, especially when you're just getting started or back into riding. When you first begin to exert yourself, your body releases cortisol to raise your heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels, says Monika Fleshner, PhD, a professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. As you get fitter, it takes a longer, harder ride to trigger that same response. "For people who are active, it takes a greater crisis to trigger the cortisol response as compared with sedentary people," says Fleshner. "So now you can go into a stressful environment and be okay. You can endure a lot more before you kick off a stress response."

What's the cycling prescription for happiness? The authors of a recent review study on exercise and depression came up with the following guidelines to ward off the blues with aerobic exercise: Do three to five sessions a week. Each session should be 45 to 60 minutes long and keep your heart rate between 50 and 85 percent of your max. Of course, that's just a minimum recommendation aimed at the general public. You can go ahead and ride to your heart's—and mind's—content.

"Make the most of the hemp seed, sow it everywhere." - George Washington. Environmental and Economic Benefits of Hemp

Hemp is the same plant as marijuana, its scientific name is "cannabis sativa." For thousands of years hemp was used to make dozens of commercial products like paper, rope, canvas, and textiles. In fact, the very name "canvas" comes from the Dutch word meaning cannabis, which is marijuana. That's correct, real canvas is made from marijuana!

Many years ago hemp/marijuana was unjustly banned. However, hemp has recently been rediscoverd as a plant that has enormous environmental, economic, and commercial potential. What follows are some fascinating facts about hemp/marijuana - facts that will shock most people:

The potential of hemp for paper production is enormous. According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, one acre of hemp can produce 4 times more paper than one acre of trees! All types of paper products can be produced from hemp: newsprint, computer paper, stationary, cardboard, envelopes, toilet paper, even tampons.


Paper production from hemp would eliminate the need to chop down BILLIONS of trees! MILLIONS of acres of forests and huge areas of wildlife habitat could be preserved.

Trees must grow for 20 to 50 years after planting before they can be harvested for commercial use. Within 4 months after it is planted, hemp grows 10 to 20 feet tall and it is ready for harvesting! Hemp can be grown on most farmland throughout the U.S., where forests require large tracts of land available in few locations. Substituting hemp for trees would save forests and wildlife habitats and would eliminate erosion of topsoil due to logging. Reduction of topsoil erosion would also reduce pollution of lakes/rivers/streams. Fewer caustic and toxic chemicals are used to make paper from hemp than are used to make paper from trees - LESS POLLUTION!

Hemp can also be substituted for cotton to make textiles. Hemp fiber is 10 times stronger than cotton and can be used to make all types of clothing. Cotton grows only in warm climates and requires enormous amounts of water. Hemp requires little water and grows in all 50 states! There are now many stores in the U.S. that sell hemp-derived products such as clothing, paper, cheese, soap, ice cream, cosmetics, and hemp oil. Demand for these products - not even in existence in 1992 - is growing rapidly.

Hemp naturally repels weed growth and hemp has few insect enemies. Few insect enemies and no weed problems means hemp requires NO HERBICIDES and FEW or NO PESTICIDES!

Cotton requires enormous pesticide use. 50% of all pesticides used in the U.S. are used on cotton. Substituting hemp for cotton would drastically reduce pesticide usage!

Hemp produces twice as much fiber per acre as cotton! An area of land only 25 miles by 25 miles square (the size of a typical U.S. county) planted with hemp can produce enough fiber in one year to make 100 MILLION pair of denim jeans! A wide variety of clothing made from 100% hemp (pants, denim jeans, jackets, shoes, dresses, shorts, hats) is now available.

Building materials that substitute for wood can be made from hemp. These wood-like building materials are stronger than wood and can be manufactured cheaper than wood from trees. Using these hemp- derived building materials would reduce building costs and save even more trees!

Hemp seeds are a source of nutritious high-protien oil that can be used for human and animal consumption. Hemp oil is NOT intoxicating. Extracting protein from hemp is less expensive than extracting protein from soybeans. Hemp protein can be processed and flavored in any way soybean protein can. Hemp oil can also be used to make highly nutritious tofu, butter, cheese, salad oils, and other foods. Hemp oil can also be used to produce paint, varnish, ink, lubricating oils, and plastic susbstitues. Because 50% of the weight of a mature hemp plant is seeds, hemp could become a significant source for these products.

Most hemp-derived products are NONTOXIC, BIODEGRADABLE, and RENEWABLE!
Unlike virtually all hemp substitutes, growing hemp requires very little effort and very few resources. Most substitutes for hemp (sisal, kenaf, sugar cane) grow in limited geographical areas and none have the paper/fiber potential of hemp. Hemp can be grown in all 50 states!

Unlike many crops, hemp puts little strain on the soil and requires only moderate amounts of fertilizer. Less fertilizer use results in less runoff into waterways and groundwater; therefore, less water pollution.

Hemp produces more biomass than any plant that can be grown in the U.S. This biomass can be converted to fuel in the form of clean-burning alcohol, or no-sulphur man-made coal. Hemp has more potential as a clean and renewable energy source than any crop on earth! It is estimated that if hemp was widely grown in the U.S. for fuel/energy, it could supply 100% of all U.S. energy needs!

Marijuana has dozens of proven medicinal uses. Marijuana is more effective, less toxic, and less expensive than alternative synthetic medicines currently used. A recent poll revealed that over 50% of U.S. physicians would prescribe marijuana to their patients if it was legally available. People who suffer from arthritis, AIDS, rheumatism, leukimia, multiple sclerosis, cancer, glauocoma, and other ailments can benefit from marijuana as medicine. But because of our insane marijuana laws, people in need of this medicine are denied it. Marijuana is classified by the U.S. government as a dangerous drug with no medicinal value, a classification that is absolutely ludicrous! Marijuana is widely accepted by the medical community as having numerous proven medicinal uses - it is NOT a dangerous drug.

Hemp for rope, lubricating oil, shoe material, and other materials was in such short supply during World War II that the U.S. government temporarily re-legalized hemp so U.S. farmers could grow it for the war effort. Hemp helped us win World War II! Hemp was a common crop that was grown legally in the U.S. for commercial use until 1937.

Hemp was NOT banned because it was a harmful drug. Hemp was banned because it was a competitive threat to the wood products industry and newly developed synthetic fibers that were patentable, and therefore more profitable than hemp. Corporations that profited from the demise of hemp propagated a smear campaign against hemp by claiming that marijuana use was a major drug problem (it was not) and that marijuana use caused people to become extremely violent - another falsehood. Unfortunately, these false claims went unchallenged and Congress outlawed hemp in 1937. Unfortunately, millions of Americans still believe the lies spread about marijuana/hemp.

On the eve of marijuana prohibition in the U.S., two articles about hemp appeared in major U.S. magazines. They were:

"The Most Profitable And Desireable Crop That Can Be Grown" From: Mechanical Engineering, February 26, 1937

"New Billion Dollar Crop" From: Popular Mechanics, February 1938

These articles reveal that hemp was on the verge of becoming a super crop because of new hemp processing technologies that were recently developed. Unfortunately, the potential of hemp was never reaped because of marijuana prohibition.

Hemp is legally grown for commercial use throughout much of Europe, India, China, Russia, Ukraine. In 1994 the Canadian government approved one experimental hemp field - its first legal hemp crop in 40 years. In 1995, there will be 11 government-approved hemp fields in Canada! If the U.S. does not legalize hemp for commercial use, a significant economic and environmental opportunity will be lost; the benefits will be reaped only by our economic competitors.

>Literally millions of wild hemp plants grow throughout the entire Midwest today. Wild hemp, like hemp grown for commercial use, is USELESS as an intoxicant. It makes no sense to ban growing a plant that has enormous economic and environmental potential, grows naturally by the millions, and is impossible to exterminate. But yet, our draconian drug laws state that one acre of hemp grown on a person's property can result in the owner being sentenced to DEATH! That's correct, the DEATH PENALTY exists for growing one acre of nonintoxicating weeds!

U.S. Presidents and founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp, used hemp products, and were hemp advocates. Today's political leaders--as well as the public that favors marijuana prohibition--would treat George Washington and Thomas Jefferson with disdain, brand them criminals, and throw them in prison!


"Make the most of the hemp seed, sow it everywhere." - George Washington, first president of the U.S. and hemp advocate.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Caltrans Launches New Focus on Bicycles and Pedestrians

SAN DIEGO - Caltrans announced today the launch of the planning process for the first California State Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (CSBPP). The visionary and comprehensive CSBPP will focus on improving safety and access for everyone across all modes, particularly bicycle and pedestrian.

“More Californians are choosing alternatives to driving that have health benefits and cut greenhouse gases,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Caltrans will collaborate with a variety of stakeholders who have a stake in safe and accessible transportation in California.”

In keeping with Caltrans’ new mission to “provide a safe, sustainable, integrated, and efficient transportation system to enhance California’s economy and livability,” bicycle and pedestrian transportation must play a larger role in California’s transportation system.

Public participation is critical to developing a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan that strengthens bicycling and pedestrian safety and increases opportunities across the State. To achieve wide participation, Caltrans is engaging a broad range of stakeholders through targeted outreach activities statewide.

Additionally, Caltrans has launched the CSBPP website at, where visitors may take an online survey and sign up for email updates about new project information and outreach activities. You can also follow the hashtag #CSBPP on Twitter for more information.

When completed in the upcoming year, the CSBPP will help guide future investments, such as Caltrans’ Active Transportation Program (ATP), which funds projects that take cars off the road, helping to clean the air, conserve our natural resources, and promote healthier, sustainable communities. To date, Caltrans has allocated $360 million statewide in ATP grants. On Oct. 23, 114 biking and walking projects were adopted as part of its 2015 Active Transportation Program.

The CSBPP will provide a framework to guide the planning and development of non-motorized transportation on State facilities and maximize the use of future investments. It will also lead to improved connections between the State’s bicycle and pedestrian facilities with the existing network and other modes of transportation, as well as help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and vehicles miles traveled. The Plan will not replace existing policies and implementation plans at the regional and local levels.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Billions In Change

The world is facing some huge problems. There’s a lot of talk about how to solve them. But talk doesn’t reduce pollution, or grow food, or heal the sick. That takes doing. This film is the story about a group of doers, the elegantly simple inventions. VIEW >>

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

City Hall calls it "a crazy gamble, but achievable." No motorized vehicles

Imagine any big city anywhere in the world without traffic just for a day. Now, if that city were Paris, imagine further the photographic possibilities, not to mention the visual, auditory and olfactory potential.

Imagine no more because on September 27th, that’s just what Paris is going to do: “Une Journée Sans Voiture” – A Day Without Car, for the first time in the city’s history. City Hall calls it “a crazy gamble, but achievable.” No motorized vehicle, with a few exceptions like ambulances, will be allowed to drive the streets. 

As Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced in March: “Paris will be completely transformed for a day. This is an opportunity for Parisians and tourists to enjoy the city without noise, pollution and therefore without stress.”

Other cities including Montreal, Bogota, Mexico City, Ho Chi Minh City and Brussels have instituted Day Without Car programs, some of them permanently and some partially, closing certain streets and encouraging bike riding.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Non-participation is an option! We have choices!

We live in the world's wealthiest nation, yet we rank dead last in health care, we have the highest rate of cancer, heart disease, obesity and abuse more alcohol, prescription and illegal drugs. 

Nearly 49 million Americans live in poverty and struggle to put food on the table, but yet we throw away 165 billion dollars worth of food every year! Non-participation is an option! We have choices!  Follow along Alternatives Magazine weekly webline stories.

WATER Can't live without it. At the rate we're polluting it, we may find out!

Over the last couple weeks more stories about water disasters have been making headlines which makes us wonder if there isn't a conspiracy brewing someplace, or a sinister government agency making a midnight move -- (and sure enough there was).
We have the mindset that there will always be water and that it's somebody else's problem if there isn't. Boohoo California and your drought. Water is everywhere, just ask Nestle. It's bottled and piled to the ceiling in grocery stores, we turn on the tap and there it is, in some places you can actually set it on fire, but that's another story. Don't want to make the oil and gas guys nervous while partying with politicians prepping the Arctic for the next major oil spill disaster.
And what's up with this Algae Bloom? How can a name like Algae Bloom be bad? And Fukushima? Isn't that old news? And what does it have to do with our water here?
Below are a couple articles, actually four, that may get your attention and set you straight about water. And not one of them mention fracking!! The worst of them of all.

Abandoned Mine Leaks Millions Of Gallons Of Bright Orange, Toxic Water Into A Colorado River
Three million gallons of bright orange wastewater has spilled from an abandoned mine in Colorado, after Environmental Protection Agency efforts to contain the mine’s toxic water went awry last week. And now reports are surfacing that the EPA intentionally pollutes Animas river to demand more funding. Who's minding the store anyway? READ >>

More than 20 Utah rivers, lakes and reservoirs have developed dangerous toxic algae vegetation.
Three of Utah's largest public drinking-water systems tap reservoirs that are known to develop toxic algal blooms. But they aren't the only water bodies with algae problems. More than 20 Utah rivers, lakes and reservoirs have developed dangerous bright-green vegetation. READ >>
Scientists fear toxic algae bloom spreading on Pacific coast

While algal blooms are not uncommon in the Pacific, 2015’s blooms appear to be the largest on record, scientists say. Stretching from Southern California to Alaska, the blooms are responsible for unprecedented closures of fisheries and unusual deaths of marine life up and down the Pacific coast.
Radioactive plutonium found at 10 MILLION times higher levels in water at Fukushima plant as radioactive rivers flow into Pacific Ocean
In March 2011, an earthquake launched a tsunami that left the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in ruins on Japan’s Tohoku coast. No one knows how much plutonium was released into the marine environment after the disaster. What is known is that the amount of plutonium in the water below the Fukushima reactors is 10 million times higher than normal. READ >>

Motor City fast becoming Detroit Bike City

Many factors contribute to the booming bike culture in Detroit. Among them: a revived interest in the city. Living green and healthy is trending. Detroit’s sparsely-driven roadways make great ground for bikers.
“Biking has totally exploded,” said cycling advocate Tom Page. “I don’t think any of us could have imagined it. Every day there’s a riding event going on and at the same time we’re starting to get the infrastructure — bike lanes, parking racks — that support it.” READ

The American Dream

You can tell election time is coming up. You begin to itch and squirm and become a little testy and you can't quite figure out why. Then it hit's. You've been listening to all these knuckle dragging Presidential hopefuls spouting off telling us how much better off we're going to be if you vote for them. 

When you really start to get a little cranky and look around for something to throw through your TV, click on the photo above and let George get you straight with his bit of wisdom - The American Dream

You probably should play it everyday especially the closer we get to election day when the bullshit and lies really begin to fly.

End of the car age: how cities are outgrowing the automobile

“Multi-modal” and “interconnectivity” are now the words on every urban planner’s lips. In Munich, city dwellers of the future would no longer need cars. 

Bikes and more efficient public transport would be the norm. The statistic they are most proudest of is that more than 15% of its residents commute to work by bike. 

“It’s about creating an environment where it’s easier for people to cycle or take the bus. READ >>

L.A.'s Street Fight

Los Angeles has been the poster child for traffic insanity and air pollution for decades -- and it still is. However, lately they are saying, enough.
It's not exactly a war on cars, but an L.A. policy shift could be a big one, and it's been said that the way California goes, so goes the rest of the country. And many cities, big and small are looking at this, as they try to deal with their own 'drive everywhere' problems.
A 20-year Mobility Plan OK'd by the L.A. City Council emphasizes bike lanes, bus lanes and streets redesigned to slow down cars and raise survival odds for people on foot and bikes. They endorsed a sweeping policy that would rework some of the city’s mightiest boulevards, adding more lanes for buses and bikes and, in some places, leaving fewer for cars. The goal is to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians while also luring more people out of their cars. MORE >>

A dead patient is not profitable, nor is a healthy patient

Health for profit is big business. The big money is made somewhere in the middle, in patients who are alive, but just barely. The reason why they will never find a cure is because they are not looking for one. 

Curing would eliminate the cash flow, and this industry is so profitable that it is the 5th leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. Any researcher who found a cure would quickly find himself looking for another job, and at some level, all of them know it. 

Cancer is the most profitable condition in medical history, and the establishment intends to keep it that way. READ >>

Be Part of the Solution

We live in the world's wealthiest nation, yet we rank dead last in health care, we have the highest rate of cancer, heart disease, obesity and abuse more alcohol, prescription and illegal drugs. Nearly 49 million Americans live in poverty and struggle to put food on the table, but yet we throw away 165 billion dollars worth of food every year!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Go Sun Solar Cooker Heats to 550 Degrees Without Electricity In Minutes!

When there's sunlight, and you don't want to run out to get charcoal and lighter fluid, you don't need anything extra to cook with one of these. The design of the fold out anodized aluminum envelope attracts the sun at any angle, honing its power and transferring it to the evacuated glass tube, where sunlight is absorbed and amplified. The interior of the GoSun can heat up to 550°F in mere minutes. MORE >>

Clean Energy Jobs Are Our Future

Last year, 47 percent of all the new electricity-generating capacity installed  in the United States was powered by the wind and sun. 

Coal provided just  0.7 percent — seven tenths of 1 percent. Over the past three years — 2012,  2013, and 2014 — we’ve gotten 42 percent of all our new electricity-generating capacity from wind turbines and solar panels. MORE >>

Trader Joe's Ex-President Opens Non-Profit Store

We throw away 165 billion dollars worth of food every year! Most of it because  of expiration dates, but still very good. 

Doug Rauch, the former president of Trader Joe's, came up with this concept. He was frustrated by the amount of  nutritious food that went into dumpsters, just because it was nearing its sell-by  date. MORE >>

Stolen Bike gofundme Campaign for Walter

 Stolen bikes are unfortunately a common occurence. As they say, It comes with the territory. 

But when it happens to someone who relies on it as their only means of transportation, like Walter, who is 76 and on a fixed income, is also a Type II diabetic, and rides daily to keep his blood sugar in-check, then it becomes tragic. 

This is why we're starting a gofundme campaign on behalf of Walter to replace his bike and the attached accessories (helmet, pump odometer etc) and get him back in the saddle. We hope you can help! Any amount is appreciated. CLICK HERE >>

Spaceship Earth

By Donald H. Peterson
Although you may never have thought about it, living on Earth as it soars through empty space shares a very critical characteristic with an astronaut traveling through space on a spaceship. Namely, you are totally dependent on the life support resources that are already on theEarth, because with the exception of radiant energy from the sun, the surrounding space environment provides absolutely nothing to support life. MORE >>

Monday, June 08, 2015

These cafes are turning garbage into culinary gold

By Madeleine Thomas

Last year the popular British grocery chain Tesco threw away more than 60,000 tons of food. Think about it: That’s just one chain in a sea of grocery stores discarding perfectly edible leftover ingredients.

Unsurprisingly, some enterprising food entrepreneurs see opportunity here. With increasing popularity, cafes are starting to pop up all over the U.K. that source tossed foodstuffs from various grocery stores, wholesalers, and restaurants before it all heads to a landfill. Think of it as highbrow dumpster diving. Leading the cause is Skipchen, a popular Bristol cafe that serves everything from dressed lobsters with red peppers to ratatouille, all entirely sourced from food waste.

Quartz has the story:

There are now 14 cafés with the same idea in cities like Leeds and London, and up to 80 at various stages of the development process. The umbrella that ties them together is The Real Junk Food Project, a grassroots organization that started in Leeds. The cafés are autonomous but share certain characteristics: they plan their meals based on what ingredients they find each day; and there are no fixed prices, allowing customers to pay what they feel a dish is worth.

The movement is about “addressing the culture of waste” that pervades modern society, says Sam Joseph, a 25-year-old Environmental Conservation graduate who with Katie Jarman and others set up Skipchen.

The issue of food waste has risen to prominence in recent weeks, since France imposed a ban on supermarkets throwing away food that’s still edible. Joseph welcomes the increased interest, but tells Quartz that targeting supermarkets and insisting on redistribution is only a “patch” on the problem of overproduction, and the demand that modern methods of farming and trade have fostered for near-infinite choice.

How long before similar cafes spring up in the U.S.? Actually, it seems like the trend is already on the rise here in the states. In March, celebrity chef Dan Barber opened “wastED,” a month-long pop-up restaurant that cooked exclusively with food waste. I, for one, am not above a good ol’ fashioned dumpster dive, especially when leftover bagels are involved. But to eat an entire gourmet meal made from food waste — with no risk of arrest, to boot — sounds even better.

Popular cafés across the UK are specializing in edible food sourced from supermarket waste, Quartz.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

It's Everybody's Business!

Maintaining our back country trail systems and waterways is everybody's business! We hope you support the "Be Part of the Solution," GoFundMe campaign just launched today.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Yesterday we started a GoFundMe fundraising campaign titled BE PART OF THE SOLUTION. Fundraising sites are fairly new (at least to me). It's a way to raise money for personal causes, life-events, new business ideas, products etc. GoFundMe removes the physical barriers traditionally associated with receiving financial support from people who feel a situation, product or service is worthy and support it. That's it. No other bells or whistles. We think Be Part of the Solution is one of those events and hope you will support it. 

Here's why:

We've been publishing Alternatives Magazine for the past 10 years (hard to believe), with very little, to no financial help. It evolved about the time gas prices went from a $1 to $2. In the beginning, I admit, I knew very little about the environment and really didn't associate Alternatives with the environment, but most people did, and that was fine with me. 

The more I learned about the environment and the effects our modern industrialized society had on it and it's side effects, the more interested I became. If you lived in L.A. 30 years ago (which I did) you knew about air pollution. You could see it, taste it and worst of all . . breathe it. But gas was cheap and abundant so we motored on, complaining, but moving on.

It's no secret, fossil fuel rules the world, and has ever since the Beverly Hillbillies discovered it. It's made millions of millionaires and -- now billionaires. It buys politicians, media sources and the companies riding shotgun, does pretty much what it wants and could care less what you and I think. Life is good. Pour me a beer.

What I've noticed and learned over the years is how little the population either didn't care, or know about the environment, especially the part we created. To most it's just to massive to think one person can make difference. The planet can take care of itself and it usually does. But, if we keep creating chemical toxins just for the common cold, someday it may sneeze and blow us off to join the rest of the extinct species. But that's been our history or the mentality of the general public -- if it's not broken don't fix it. Or until a major disaster occurs. Then mount up the Calvary.

The country and the rest of the world has become so divided politically it's a wonder anything can get done. The word "environment" has created a political whine of it's own. The oil and gas companies hate the very word and spend millions on lobbyists/congress making sure you do too. It's hard to feel any sympathy for an industry that's the most profitable on the planet, receives $10 million dollars every minute in subsidies. In other words, your tax dollars.  

Oil is not going away anytime soon. At least not until every drop is sucked up, burned and placed in the atmosphere as CO2. When it comes to energy, we have options. A lot of them. They are all around us. But the powers to be, like the Koch Brothers are doing their best to keep a lid on them. Last year, China spent a record $83 billion on clean energy, a 39 percent jump from the year before, and more than twice what is spent in the United States. $7 trillion will be invested in new energy systems by 2030, two-thirds of it in developing countries. Roughly $5 trillion of it will be clean energy investment.

Energy, however, is a distant second place in terms of urgency needs. If we should be worried about any resource, it should and will be about WATER! Without it nothing else matters.

We hope you think our "BE PART of the SOLUTION" is a good promotion and you will donate whatever you can, and we'll do our part in providing information and solutions. Just click on the link below, or the logo.

Go Fund Me

Thank you,
Dennis Ketterman



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Rainwater collection being criminalized in U.S. to solidify total government dependence

by Daniel Barker

You might be aware that it is illegal to collect rainwater on your own property in some states, but did you know that doing so could actually land you in jail? That is exactly what is happening to Gary Harrington of Eagle Point, Oregon. He is now facing a 30-day jail sentence and fines of more than $1,500.

His crime? Harrington has been collecting rainwater in three reservoirs on his property, and the government doesn't like it. In Oregon, all water is considered property of the state whether it flows from the tap or falls from the sky.

Collecting, storing and using rainwater is permitted if you obtain a permit from the state, but Harrington's permits were revoked. The reasons why are not clear.

Harrington has been wrangling with Oregon's Water Resources Department for more than ten years. In 2002, the state informed him that they had received "complaints" regarding three reservoirs located on his property. The reservoirs were used to collect and store rainwater and snow melt. One of the reservoirs has been on the property for nearly four decades.

When Harrington received notice from the Water Resources Department, he applied for the appropriate permits required to house storm and snow water runoff. In 2003, the permits were granted, but the state later reversed the decision.

Harrington told

They issued me my permits. I had my permits in hand and they retracted them just arbitrarily, basically. They took them back and said 'No, you can't have them,' so I've been fighting it ever since.

Harrington is planning to appeal the conviction, which consists of nine misdemeanor charges against him for having "three illegal reservoirs" on his property. He maintains that the charges are based on a 1925 law that says that the city of Medford owns all of the water in the Big Butte Creek watershed and its tributaries.

Regarding the basis of the case, Harrington said:

Way back in 1925 the city of Medford got a unique withdrawal that withdrew all -- supposedly all -- the water out of a single basin and supposedly for the benefit of the city of Medford. The withdrawal said the stream and its tributaries. It didn't mention anything about rainwater and it didn't mention anything about snow melt and it didn't mention anything about diffused water, but yet now, they're trying to expand that to include that rain water and they're using me as the goat to do it.

Harrington argues that he is not diverting water from Big Butte Creek. Instead, he claims that the water he collects is "diffused water" and therefore not subject to the 1925 law.

Harrington says that the government is "bullying" him:

They've just gotten to be big bullies and if you just lay over and die and give up, that just makes them bigger bullies. So, we as Americans, we need to stand on our constitutional rights, on our rights as citizens and hang tough. This is a good country, we'll prevail.

Many states, such as Oregon and Colorado, have tough laws regarding the collection of rainwater. The only possible explanation for these laws - and the recent trend towards enforcing them more heavily - is that the government does not want self-reliant citizens.

Other laws, such as those requiring people to hook up to the energy grid whether they like it or not, are examples of how the powers that be seek to control us by keeping us dependent on them for things such as power and water.

Citizens like Gary Harrington should be supported for their actions and applauded for having the guts to stand up to the authorities in such matters. As Harrington put it, we need to stand together and "hang tough" if we wish to prevail in becoming as self-reliant as possible.


Saturday, May 02, 2015

Bike and Paddle Magazine Introduces Club

Biking and paddle sports are Americas most popular recreational activities. They allow us to explore the back country and waterways while leaving a small carbon footprint and experiencing the challenge of minimalist travel and a healthy lifestyle. Membership provides many benefits and keeps you connected with other like minded people who enjoy the outdoors. No matter where you live, we'll keep you connected.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Adidas wants to make shoes and clothing from plastic garbage from the ocean.

In an effort to bolster its commitment to sustainability, Adidas announced that it would begin developing materials out of plastic ocean waste to ultimately use in its products.

They are teaming up with the Parley for the Oceans, a group of artists, scientists, musicians, and designers dedicated to cleaning up the world’s oceans. Together, they plan on developing fibers made from plastic ocean waste that can be used in the manufacturing of clothing and potentially in shoes.

In the short term, Adidas also pledged to phase out plastic bags at its 2,900 stores worldwide.

Between 5 and 13 million metric tons of plastic waste ended up in oceans just 2010 alone, an amount that’s expected to increase in the coming decades if waste disposal techniques aren’t improved. Another study estimated that the ocean has about 600 pieces of plastic in it per every person living on earth.

Each ocean has its own massive whirlpool of plastic debris, but those patches only account for 1 percent of the plastic thought to be in oceans. No one really knows what happens to the other 99 percent — it might wash back to shore, it might breakdown into very small bits, or it might be eaten by fish and enter into the food chain.


Exercise—an Important Component of Cancer Treatment and Dementia Prevention

When you think of reducing your risk of devastating diseases such as dementia and cancer, is exercise at the top of your list? If it isn’t, you may want to reconsider.

Compelling evidence suggests exercise can not only help slash your risk of cancer, it also helps cancer patients recuperate faster, and diminishes your risk of cancer recurrence.

There’s also plenty of research demonstrating that exercise benefits your brain as much as it does your body, and with rates of dementia rising precipitously, this is another significant reason to make sure you stay more active, regardless of your age.

Exercise also improves circulation, driving more oxygen into your tissues, and circulating immune cells in your blood.

Earlier research has also found that exercise—in this case weight training—cut men’s risk of dying from cancer by 40 percent. Similar findings have been reported in other studies.


Non-Participation is an Option

I was watching a movie trailer the other day titled, "Divide in Concord," a feature-length documentary about an 84-year-old woman who leads an effort to ban the sale of bottled water in Concord, MA.

I was about ready to join the movement, if not in person, at least in spirit.
Way to Go Concord! Where do I sign up!

I logged onto their webpage for more information and found they had a section for people to express their PRO or CON opinion. I couldn't imagine anyone NOT being against it. But there were. And quite a few. But not for the reasons I expected. There was one response that stuck out more than the rest. It read:

"I hate plastic water bottles and don\'t use them,
BUT I'm not for bans -- education is better."

Hmmmm. I had my usual WTF you can't have it both ways reaction! But then I thought about it for awhile. A ban usually means government intervention and actually creating a law. And we all know where that road leads. We don't need any more laws.

It's true, if we took the time to do a little research and make common sense choices collectively, changes down the road are certain to follow. And all of sudden being part of the 99% has it's advantages.

Bottled water is not a health drink. Most of it comes directly from a tap out-back near the bottling warehouse. A few years ago a blind test was conducted comparing the top bottled brands with regular tap water from several California cities. Long story short -- L.A's tap water came out on top.  

Yes, they are convenient, they create jobs and in the case of a disasters where water supplies are threatened, they are necessary. But if people knew the environmental disaster these plastic bottles are creating, they would never buy another one again, or at least join a crusade to recycle each and every one of them. Only 20% are recycled now which means only 100 billion are floating around somewhere. The solution is so simple. Purchase a non-disposable bottle, preferably stainless steel, fill it from your tap at home.

How about the plastic shopping bags? Billions of these light weight plastic bags are making their way to the ocean, and are broken down into small pieces, along with billions of other plastic bits, where marine life mistaken it for food which is then passed along the food chain.  Simple solution: Purchase a reusable cloth bag and keep a supply in your car!

GMO labeling? It's been a hot topic lately as many cities
across the country are trying to pass laws requiring food companies to put warning labels on food products containing genetically modified organisms. And companies like Monsanto, Coca-Cola and Nestle (just to name a few) are spending millions to prevent that from happening. Why don't they want us to know what's in their food? What are they hiding? Of course it's all about money. 

I'm opposed to GMO's but also against mandatory labeling laws. Put the burden of making the decision on US, the consumer. If it's not labeled GMO FREE don't buy it. Companies manufacturing or growing non-GMO products should let the consumer know in big bold lettering -- on their own. Not mandated. If they lie or misrepresent their products, that's another issue and should be dealt with legally.

If we do our home work, read the labels, examine the PRO'S and CON'S like they did in Concord, and we still buy stuff with rat poison in it, that's our choice. 

Just remember, non-participation is an option.

Dennis Ketterman
What's Your Opinion? 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

. . . the way California goes, so goes the rest of the country

It's been said that, the way California goes, so goes the rest of the country, and if it were a country it would be the 8th largest economy in the world. It supplies 75% of all the fruits, vegetable, nuts, dairy and many other food products for the entire country. The drought has been going on for four years and if it continues, and current weather trends indicate that it will, how will effect the rest of the country? 

It has caused some real chatter especially in L.A.'s Mayor's office. Maybe they just realized they are living in a desert and without water things could get a little dicey.

L.A.'s Mayor, Eric Garcetti, released a broad-ranging plan that outlines his vision for environmental goals and programs in Los Angeles over the coming decades to combat L.A.’s image as a smog-choked, car-worshipping, insane freeway-entangled sprawlsville.

The 105-page booklet — simply titled, in a play on words, “the pLAn." The report sets objectives such as the increased use of electric vehicles, more reliance on solar power in the public and private sectors and better monitoring of air quality. Additionally it calls for a 25% reduction by 2035 in greenhouse gas emissions. It also envisions the installation of 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations in two years.

Other elements are already are in place. For example, a reduce per-capita water use by 22.5% by 2025 and cut by 50% the city's importation of water from outside sources — phasing out the city’s use of electricity from coal-fired power plants and lowering the city's temperature by 3 degrees over the next two decades, by planting more street trees and increasing use of “cool roofs” that absorb less heat.

The Mayor is a big backer of bike culture. At a mayoral forum last year, Garcetti pledged his commitment to CicLAvia, a recurring event that closes miles of L.A. streets to cars. He said he hopes to make it a permanent monthly tradition -- thanking cyclists for introducing bike culture, urban farmers for introducing community gardens and business owners for re-purposing dead alleys.

That's quite a plan. If it works, L.A may actually become liveable.

It seems like real change only starts to happen when we become threatened and the lack of water, or no water, is at the top of the serious threat list. 

Maybe the California drought is a good thing? The proposed L.A. plan is something that should have been implemented years ago. Now it's at a critical stage. It has to be done. 

So, will the rest of country follow the pLAn?

The Basics of Life

  By Willard “Woody” Michels Guest Blogger A couple years ago a man named Gabriel Sherman wrote a book, “The Loudest Voice in the Room.” Th...