Poem: Snowmaggedon 2021 Is Receding

After revisiting winter as a metaphor with my last post, I’m feeling a bit poetic. My first attempt at poetry (in this blog — I wrote plenty of sappy rhymes in my school days) was a tribute to nature titled Poem: Word to Your Mother (Earth). The second one was called Verisimilitude: Leap Day Twenty Twenty Poem; it dealt with a day in the life and went a little into politics including the environment. In case you missed them, or have forgotten, enjoy. As for today’s words, they’re about the longest period of subfreezing weather in Texas for a long time and the third heaviest snowstorm ever, resulting in power outages and water line breaks for millions across the state and many here in Austin. In fact, there’s an Austin water crew digging up the street to fix a leak as I write. This poem is also about life, politics and nature; I’m beginning to see a theme.

What does nature and political poetry have to do with pedaling a bike? As always, I think the best weapon against climate change is the bicycle. It was warm enough today I went out for a 10-mile ride. If it’s cold where you are but you’re brave and layered up enough, be safe out there. Or if you have one, get on your stationery bike or put your bike on a home trainer like I did the last few days. And if you’re amongst the hoi polloi, well, I doubt you’re reading this dude’s blog, but if so, have fun on your Peloton. We don’t judge. But before your pedaling, or after, here’s my poem. I don’t claim to be a good poet, but it’s like art: I don’t know much about it, but I know what I like. Hey, I’m no Ralph Waldo Emerson or Mary Oliver. I hope you like it.

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Snow in Austin, Winter in America – Still

A year and two weeks ago, I wrote Snow in Austin, Winter in America, based on a powerful song by Gil Scott-Heron. I think that post is some of my best work, not necessarily prize-winning, but in trying to capture a mood. (You should go read it now. I’ll wait.) The street poet, progenitor of rap, musician, and author was a voice of conscience regarding the state of Black people in America, among other things. He could also lay down some serious grooves to go with his strong words; Winter in America is in a minor key and has a great blues flute solo. I wrote that post right before coronavirus began its whirlwind tour of the US — just before it went viral. (Ha!) It was a few months before the modern-day lynching of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. (Not ha.) Scott-Heron died on May 27, 2011, a decade ago later this year. What would he have to say about Floyd’s killer, Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin still being out on bail awaiting trial and maybe even getting some justice for George (yeah, we’ll see about that)? Time marches on. But as Sting once sang,“History will teach us nothing.” The prophetic music and lyrics of Scott-Heron and others like him (Marvin Gaye comes to mind) are relevant — still. Maybe in GSH’s poetry we can find a little solace in these cold and dark days. Or maybe we’ll get pissed and take action somehow. It is Black History Month, but is there more to it than history?

Scott-Heron performing at WOMAD in Bristol, 1986
Gil Scott-Heron in 1986. Source
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Snow in Austin, Winter in America

Snow fell from the cold, dark skies on my bike ride home from the gym. The frozen precipitation is rare in Central Texas, especially in relatively mild winters like we’ve been having. So it’s a wondrous sight when it does snow. I felt lucky to have been outside riding when it came down. Light, white, wet kisses on my face melted quickly. Some accumulated on car hoods and lawn chairs, and the roommates and dogs were happy to see and feel it, too.

Of course in other places, there are no romantic notions about snow, because they’re drowning in it and shoveling it by metric ton. Another substance is also being shoveled in similar quantities, but it’s brown, smelly, and comes out of the back end of a cow. And by that of course, I can only be referring to the State of the Union, which was by some accounts a total snow job. Winter isn’t coming, Jon Snow, it’s already here. The revolution will not be televised. It’s winter in America.

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Neighborhood Bicycle Activism: Think Globally, Bike Locally

The neighborhood I moved to almost two decades ago is one that I’ve lived in for much of the time since. Although as I detailed in my previous post, I’m in an older, funkier area. In fact, I was living nearby here the very first time I moved to Austin, long ago. Back in my usual digs, the Neighborhood Association (NA) is very organized, and it in turn has a Transportation Committee (TC). Recognizing it as a possible avenue to explore issues of Connectivity, Caution (Safety) and Cleanliness, I attended the meeting Tuesday. That’s what this is about.

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The Politics of Biking: News About Bicycling in Austin, Texas

There’s always something going on in the world of bicycling in Austin.

  • For example, a City Councilmember known for bicycling to work won the runoff I just worked (against his sister, no less!).  I mentioned Pio Renteria in my post Presentation by Jim Sayer, Director of Adventure Cycling Association (Part 2).

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    City Councilmember Pio Renteria e-bikes to work.
  • The City of Austin’s Active Transportation Department is often holding meetings about street improvements, like to Slaughter Lane or the Longhorn Dam even.
  • Starting just a few days ago, Austin Parks and Recreation is now allowing electric bikes and scooters on certain trails.  A pilot project will track speed, complaints, and the inevitable crashes.
  • The upcoming Texas Legislature meets in downtown Austin in the state capitol building.  Folks will be advocating for bills for Safe Passing, Safe Routes to School, Distracted Driving (a ban on cell-phone use while driving) and Slower Neighborhood Streets.  (I wrote about the latter in 2018 World Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Traffic Violence: Texas Vision Zero Vigil.)

As a public service – a big part of what we’re about here at www.ADudeAbikes.com and on WordPress – I thought I’d touch on a few of these issues for your reading pleasure.  A Dude ain’t nuthin’ if not educatin’ the masses ’bout bikes n’ stuff!

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Another Austin Bicyclist is Killed by a Vehicle. Who Will Stop the Car-nage?

Cyclist Dies, No One Goes to Jail.  Again.

The local newspaper reported yesterday, February 15, 2018, that “Bicyclist found lying injured in Southeast Austin yard was likely hit by car, police say.”  The piece quoted heavily from a statement by the Austin Police Department:

“A bicyclist who died last month was likely struck by a hit-and-run driver.”

The article in the Austin American-Statesman is by breaking news reporter Katie Hall.katie hall  It goes on to say: Continue reading

City of Austin Transportation Department Community Conversation: Data Doesn’t Lie

Bikes Came Before Cars & Will Be Here After Them, Too

Today’s post is about a meeting I attended put on by the City of Austin Active Transportation Department.  They were reporting back on improvements to two streets in East Austin.  The headline for me was that adding bike lanes and reducing car lanes from four to three did not increase travel time. In fact, travel time was decreased, because traffic signals were synchronized and optimized. This was measured with Bluetooth technology so it is not subjective.

Still, naysayers and disbelievers will convince themselves or anything to reinforce their narrow paradigm that only cars deserve to be on the roads.  To me that’s just illegal, wrong and backwards.  Such is politics.  It didn’t matter to me when I just tooled around for short periods.  Now that I’ve been out there biking over 13,000 in three years, saving my life and the lives of other people on bikes is more important. Continue reading