Thursday, April 5, 2012

Petite mise au point

I've been meaning to do that for a while now but got lazy. I am a big time procrastinator.
Today I'll answer (some of) the frequently asked questions I receive.

- "Why is your English so weird sometimes, are your writing with your feet or what?"

No, I write with (what I believe are) my hands. But English is not my first language; my first language is French.

- "What is your problem with Lululemon?"

My beef with this company is that their prices are way too high for what they sell, i.e. made-in-Asia sport apparel. It is sometimes more expensive than clothes made in Canada.
This does not mean I never shop there; I actually do more that I should and I own more of their stuff than reasonable. Yet, I retain the right to be critical. 

- "But isn't the concept cool, isn't it worth it?"

No. I don't buy wind, I don't buy air, I don't buy concept. 
I but good quality at fair prices.

- "How come you're the only one criticizing while everyone is gloating about Lululemon?"

 I don't know, you should ask the gloaters. 
As I have no intention of ever turning this blog into a commercial endeavour with advertising derived income, I am free to say whatever the hell I want about any brand including this one.

 - "As a Canadian you should be proud of this national achievement, or maybe you're not a real Canadian after all"

Lululemon is no national achievement at all, it is a private for-profit endeavour. Those who can be proud of it are its owners as well as those who own shares in that business. Universal Health Care, now THAT's some real-ass national achievement and something to be proud of as a Canadian.
Should my Canadian-ness depends on such moronic criteria as patriotic nonsense, than go ahead and strip it away from me. By the way, wherever patriotism is strong, fascism is always creeping round the corner. Just saying...

- "You really sound  like a pinko!" or "Could you happen to be a socialist by any chance?"


- "Do you own shares in American Apparel or what?"

No I don't. And believe me, as a former accountant, I am pretty happy I don't!!!
Still, it is an awesome brand with, in my opinion, good quality clothes, great choice at decent prices.

- "You're not a real cyclist, are you?"

Depends on what "real" means to you. If "real" means transportation then yes, I am. If real means "sports", then no.
As far as I am concerned, the "sports" cyclists are no cyclists at all. They are athletes. The way they practice their sport does not compel them to think about urban planning, crossroad design, cycling conditions for all (including kids, women, elderly etc.). 
So unless they are transportation/urban cyclists as well, they're the ones off the chart in cycling discussions.

- "Now that The Man has turned into a roadie..."

Nope. I am not getting into road cycling. I hate the bent-forward position; it kills my neck and my wrists. I need to be seated straight up and see everything that's going on around me. As cycling is no sports to me, I am simply not interested anyways. And between running, ballet and yoga, I simply don't have the time.

He will not become a hardcore. He's only a weekend dude aiming at charity rides with pals That's all. He still cycles on a regular transport bike for daily necessities and that won't change.
The worst that could happen is him turning into a Fred. But even that is pretty unlikely as the man can be quite a tightwad. I just don't see him starting to indulge in crazy gadgets. Well, I am not letting that happen anyways.

- "What do you have against winter cycling?"

Nothing. Those who enjoy it should continue by all means. 
However, I am against the wasting of scarce money on that issue. 
See, I has not snowed in a  month or so and the temperature is between 5 and 10 degrees. Segregated paths, though not too clean, are clear (non-segregated lanes are another story! Cars are still parked in them!!). Yet, people are still not back on their saddles. There's maybe 15% of the ridership out there. The others are still in public transport or in their cars. Why? Because they won't cycle in cold weather, that's it, that's all. 
Why waste money on that? Why waste money clearing paths in the winter when only 10 or 15% of the ridership will use it? Especially that we know it is totally discontinued and unconnected!!! Why not give priority to extending the segregated path network, actually connecting it to itself, creating bike boxes, updating the traffic lights, redesigning intersections etc. as we KNOW that this is how we will convince Mrs. Tremblay or Mr. Gagnon to try cycling. 
 Is cost efficiency so hard to understand? Has common sense totally disappeared from the cycling community?

- "Did you answer the McGill study?"

OMG, YES I DID. Stop with this one!!! I may be a grouchy bitch, I still have some sense of duty and solidarity. They may not enjoy my answers though... 

- "You're not a fan of Bixi are you?"

This alone should be the subject of a VERY long post, if not a whole serie of posts. But I am too lazy...

So short and sweet:
Bixi is a financial scandal. Obviously we, the taxpayers, overpaid these bikes by quite some. That alone is material for an entire book. 

It is a for-profit venture instead of a public transportation program. I guess that's the biggie. 
Why not incorporate the project into the STM twist, each cyclist becoming a corporate promotion slut at every ride?

The administration would like to see traffic reduced in the city but does not have the balls to impose it. They would like to see public transport increase but do not want to fund a proper system complete with enough buses, more frequent metros, a streetcar network etc. They would like to see cycling increase but don't not dare taking off even a cm of road fro cars to allocate to cyclists... You only need to see what happen on Laurier street just because some signs got modified and a lane got removed!!!
So they use Bixi users as "canaries in the mine" or chair à canon; they send them off on an improper network, hoping for them to impose a cycling presence that would transform into a mainstream cycling culture... As for collateral damage, well, that's life... 
Well, that's lame, public policy decisions should be firm and active instead of ball-less and passive-aggressive.

- "Your bike sucks, isn't it a hybrid, how come you don't have one of these "Dutch" bikes?"

It is not that bad. With all the modifications I made, it is quite a comfortable bike now, a 20 kg tank with front suspension! That's the best I found back when I was shopping. The only alternatives were rusty and ratty old Raleigh fixer-uppers which did (and still do) not interest me (because I am already inheriting one soon). With all the money invested in said modifications, I could have bought a nice high end bicycle such as a Velorbis. It sucks I know.
I may change... one day...
"Dutch" bikes only started appearing in the last two years. On that specific point, we're just like to rest of North America!

- "How come we don't see your or your hubby's face?" or "Hey I think I have seen you at so and so, was it you?"

We like our incognito life so I won't show nor confirm. 

- "Do you see any weight related benefit due to cycling?"

I am 2 to 3 kg lighter in the summer vs. winter due to cycling.

- "Do you know the brand / make / technical spec. of this part of your bike?" or "Do you know how to fix your bike?"

No. I have zero technical knowledge and it shall remain that way. I am no bike mechanic and I am not interested in stealing bike mechanics' jobs. I have my own profession, herbalist, and that's good enough. Whenever I have a problem, I drop the bike at the shop just like bike mechanics (are supposed to) drop by my office when they have a health issue.

- "Your pictures suck!"

I know. I have a cheap Sony and I have no clue about photography. Additionally, I often take them from my bike, while snapping with my weak hand (I keep the strong one on the handle bar).

That's all folks!


  1. I am sick of every woman I see wearing that Lululemon thing on the back of their collar. What I really like is that your blog is an honest blog with no intentions of forming a side career for yourself. I hate the blogosphere at times. I hate the commercials and the posts that are made everyday because bloggers know they have to in order to get readers, in order to get hits, in order to get advertising in order to launch a new career.
    Thanks for NOT being a part of that. I haven't checked out 4 of the cycling blogs I used to read because I am upset by their use of advertising and self-promotion.
    I am sorry of my ignorance of all the ins and outs of Bixi...but I really did like using it last fall...
    Keep up the good fight!

  2. You should not be sorry! Bixi IS FUN and useful.

    It is just that it was poorly planned and poorly designed.
    And I did not even mention this need to be trucking around all these bicycle because the system does not balance itself (Certain people from certain neigbourhoods only cycle and all of them work downtown).
    And i did no even mention that it does not encourage a real relationship with the bicycle: did you know most Bixi users own a bike? What does it say in terms of the durability of the practice?
    And there is more!!

    Anyhow, none of this should prevent you from enjoying it!

  3. I never had any of these questions but I do enjoy your BLOG.

  4. Hi. I just want to say those really are kind of mean questions.

    I like using both Bixi and Vélib. But they are certainly difficult things to make successful, in any model, for profit or by gov program. Also, it seems their existance is really just an extention of car culture. As we descend from peak oil production these kinds of complicated solutions aren't very workable IMO. Until then just enjoy, I guess.

    1. LOL!! And I sugar-coated them...
      Some people do not like when you don't conform. For example, the whole Lululemon thing is almost a cult now so any criticising gets you villifyied...


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