Climate Action Event in San Diego – Notes

On Tuesday evening, September 8, a large group of San Diegans concerned with climate change gathered at the South Park Whistle Stop bar to wet their whistle and enjoying the air conditioning.  It was a very hot day in San Diego breaking records in the region – darkly fitting for a discussion of climate change.

Speakers at the event included City Planning expert Dr. Bruce Appleyard from SDSU and Nicole Capretz, Executive Director of Climate Action Campaign.  The event was organized and emceed by Howard Blackson – a man born to play the role of gregarious host.

Following are selected notes from the meeting – any mistakes are mine, I did my best to takes notes during the event.

Bruce spoke first and stressed the importance of supporting local planners.  There are good plans and talented planners in San Diego but too often they are not supported politcally, undermining the planning work done and resulting in little action on the ground.  Examples include the University Avenue bike corridor project, the Barrio Logan Community Plan, and the Clairemont Trolley station plans.  In each of these cases, and many others, years of planning and community input were scrapped at the eleventh hour.

On the topic of greenhouse gases Bruce noted that each mile of driving a car adds one pound of CO2 to the atmosphere, of which 80% will remain for approx. 200 years.  The remaining 20% will remain for millenia.  Utilizing our natural topography of “mesas, canyons, coastal plains” is critical to reduce our contribution to climate change – specifically our coastal plains.  Our coastal plans are centrally located and connected to transit, which avoids further sprawl and vehicle miles, and also can utilize the natural cooling effect of the Pacific Ocean.  The 30 foot height limit needs to be considered for adjustments if we are to take meaningful steps to leverage our coastal plains.

Nicole started talking by showing the mix of energy used in San Diego – 54% of our total energy usage goes to transportation.  The average driver in San Diego goes about 35 miles a day and 80% of those driving to work do so driving solo.  Climate scientists no longer discuss how to reduce the greenhouses gases in the atmosphere, it’s now about trying to slow the growth of emissions.  We’ve already passed the point of being able to stop severe impacts and many of the projections are downright scary.  With world leading climate research going on at Scripps it’s a shame that San Diego isn’t leading on how to adjust our lifestyles and cities to be more responsible and sustainable.  The city’s Climate Action Plan (which Nicole developed during Todd Gloria’s term as Interim Mayor) gives some hope, but needs to have teeth.  Nicole pointed out some of the areas she views as weak and needing to be adjusted.

Joe LaCava, candidate for Council District 1, gave a few remarks and implored those gathered to join local planning groups.  He noted that planning groups are important and would benefit from the backgrounds and skills of those in attendance.

Chris Taylor, former board member of Bike San Diego, questioned the speakers about how to support our planners and get vetted, community-supported plans to be implemented.  Specifically he asked about the University Avenue bike project and what supporters could have done differently to secure a better outcome.  This was a bit of a general theme of questions and comments – how do we get our on-ground reality to meet our expectations and plans, many of which are quite good.

Suggestions included having better communication to sell planning ideas and to avoid misunderstandings that can cause anger and resentment.  There were a few other suggestions but the ending tone of the meeting seemed to be one of slight dejectedness.  Those assembled are prominent community members in urbanism, sustainability, architecture, etc.  The shared experience of seeing good projects upended at the last moment due to lack of political support or a vocal minority was clearly on the minds of many.  How to create better outcomes going forward remains a challenge to be confronted.  Sustained efforts on education and communication may work, but the best argument doesn’t always win the day.  Hearts and minds need to be won if we are to see broader support for taking on climate change.  The dilution of an ambitious climate-focused law in California this week, SB350, is not a good omen of the current status of hearts and political clout in California.

Renee Yarmy from the San Diego Port Authority noted an upcoming presentation by Gil Penalosa – Creating Great Cities – which will take place on on October 8 at 6:30 PM at the Central Library.  Mr. Penalosa is renowned figure internationally and “over the past 8 years, Gil has worked in over 180 different cities across six continents”.  It should be a fantastic panel and details and registration can be found on here.

climate change event photo - 9-8-2015
Many thanks to Howard Blackson for organizing, and to all those that attended.

Pizza Crust Recipe – Quick and Tasty

We often make our own bread, using this great recipe.  A bonus to making our own bread is we have the basic ingredients needed for making a variety of baked foods.  We often make pizza at home and use the following scratch dough recipe.  It’s not the best I’ve ever had – that would go to high temperature Naples-style pizza – but it’s better than buying pre-made dough and only takes 10 minutes.  I had a couple of requests for the recipe so am sharing it here – enjoy!

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Chorizo, onion, cilantro, kale, with jack cheese and no sauce. Yum.

Ingredients

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a ceramic bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in flour, salt and oil. Mix by hand thoroughly. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer crust to a pizza pan or baking sheet lightly greased with olive oil. Spread with desired toppings and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let baked pizza cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
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Jack and feta cheese with kale and onions. Very tasty, except for the feet.

This recipe is from Allrecipes.com with some tweaks to the instructions. Have another tweak or a topping suggestion? Drop it in the comments or email me and I’ll add.

Happy cooking!

Bicycles Are Most Energy-Efficient Transport

The following is from Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s website, www.drmirkin.com.  It was forwarded to me by a friend and I couldn’t locate it online so am posting here to share the information.


Really enjoyed this somewhat quirky study of energy efficiency in transport and comparing human transport efficiency to a handful of animals.  Enjoy and ride on!

Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s Fitness and Health e-Zine
September 13, 2015
Bicycles Are Most Energy-Efficient

If you ride a bicycle, be proud. Humans riding on bicycles are more energy-efficient than any other animal and any other form of transportation. Vance Tucker of Duke University compared bicyclists to humans and animals running, birds flying and fish swimming, as well as to people in motor-powered cars, boats, trains and planes (J. Exp. Bio, 1973;68(9):689-709). The less energy per weight you use to travel over a distance, the more energy-efficient you are. Vance found that the most efficient creature without mechanical help is a condor. With mechanical help, the cyclist comes out on top. Here is a partial list, ranked from most to least energy-efficient:

human on a bicycle
condor
salmon
horse
human in a jet plane
human walking
human running
human in an automobile
cow
sheep
dog
hummingbird
rabbit
bee
mouse

Mice, bees and hummingbirds use the most energy per weight and therefore are very inefficient and tire the earliest. This concept explains why pre-historic human hunters could catch faster-running animals. The human would tire later, so it didn’t matter how fast the animal could run; if the human ran long enough he would eventually catch the exhausted animal.

A person on a bicycle is more energy-efficient than one using an automobile, motorcycle, train or plane, even though he is much slower. If you compare the amount of calories burned in bicycling to other forms of locomotion, you will find that 100 calories supplies an average cyclist for three miles, a walker for one mile and a car for only 280 feet. A walking human uses 0.75 calorie of energy per gram of body weight for each kilometer traveled, while a cyclist uses only a fifth as much, 0.15 calorie per gram per kilometer. The WorldWatch Institute reports that when you ride a bicycle you use only 35 calories per mile, while walking requires 100 calories per mile, buses and trains use about 900 calories per mile per person, and a car uses 1860 calories per mile (Ergonomics, 2008 Oct;51(10):1565-75).

Slow Riders Use Less Energy Than Fast Riders
Cycling is so energy-efficient that a good rider can go just about any distance. In 2014, Christopher Strasser won the Race Across America by cycling 3,098 miles in seven days, 15 hours and 56 minutes. He averaged 16.42 miles per hour. The record for a woman was set in 1995 at an average speed of 13.23 MPH. Interestingly, slow riders use less energy per mile than fast riders. During a one-hour ride, a person riding a touring bike for nine miles burns 135 calories with an average power of 50 watts. In an hour an experienced bicycle racer can go 30 miles but will burn 2150 calories and produce approximately 500 watts or 0.67 horsepower. You burn more calories per mile because the faster you ride, the greater the wind and air resistance. Resistance varies with the square of your speed. A recumbent bicycle is more energy-efficient because being lower to the ground reduces the size of the bike and body that is being blocked by wind and air resistance (Proc Biol Sci, 2001 Jul 7;268(1474):1351-60).

More Cars Than Bikes in North America
The world’s 6.1 billion people own 1.2 billion bicycles and only 600 million motorized passenger vehicles. That’s one bike per five people and one automobile per 10 people. However, the highly-developed countries are dominated by automobiles. The United States has:
* Twice as many automobiles as bicycles
* More than 90 percent of transportation trips done in automobiles
* Less than one percent of trips done by bike

Benefits of Riding a Bicycle
More people should ride bicycles because:
* Bicycles require the least energy to go places. Cars use 30 percent of world’s petroleum.
* Bicycles are far more energy efficient than running or walking.
* Bicycles produce less air pollution than motor-driven transportation.
* Bicycles are manufactured with far less material and labor than engine-driven forms of transportation.
* Bicycles help to prevent disease and prolong life by giving you the health benefits of exercise.

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Biking through the Wachau Valley along the Danube River in Austria – fantastic fun!

SANDAG Bicycle Corridors – Finished Before They Even Started

Two and a half years ago SANDAG announced $200 million for bike projects to create a regional network.  The first of these projects is a $40 million project in Uptown.  It would create a critical connection both East to West and North to South in the heart of San Diego’s most densely populated neighborhoods.

University Avenue at Park Blvd. Clearly our streets are too small for bike lanes.
University Avenue at Park Blvd. Clearly our streets are too small for bike lanes. And how would bikes fit with so many cars?

Since the original announcement SANDAG has repeatedly trumpeted these funds as a sign of commitment to healthy transport in the form of bicycles.  During the time since Uptown was selected for the first SANDAG bicycle project what has changed in the area?    Population, businesses, traffic, and roadways all remain the same.  There remain only two real options for an East to West connection – University and Washington.

What has changed in that period is the will of SANDAG and the Transportation Committee to support and implement real bicycle infrastructure.  SANDAG is now taking unilateral action, walking back any commitment to bicycles for this corridor and setting a poor precedent for the future.  Worse yet is the toxic effect this will have on the many, many San Diegans that spent thousands of hours attending the public forums to give input and show support for this improvement in Uptown only to be trumped by back-room dealings hidden from the public eye that gutted the project in recent months.

We need safe streets today.  There are too many deaths, too many injuries, and too little justice (or even simple apologies) to those left dead or injured.

We are a real, vibrant, beautiful city – not a collection of suburbs.  We need to behave as such.

SANDAG is doubling down on the failed policies of 50 years of planning and building roadways in our region.  More and wider roads, more cars, more congestion.  Less open space, weaker communities, a weaker economy for both households and government, and more deaths and negative health impacts.  This is the most recent example of a car first-last-and-only approach to transportation.

San Diego has many natural advantages that blunt the effects of these poor policies.  These will not last forever.  Cities such as Vancouver, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Paris, London, Stockholm, and many others showcase the real, tangible benefits derived from creating a livable and safe streetscape and city.

We need a firm, meaningful commitment to healthy, safe, and responsible transport.  Cars and bicycles are not equivalent transport.  Bicycles are better for safety, health, wealth, and should be put at a higher priority than cars.  Chicago Department of Transportation does exactly this by using the following order of priority for transportation:

  1. Pedestrians
  2. Public Transportation
  3. Bicycles
  4. Private Automobiles
ped - chi
Chicago gets it right.

San Diego and SANDAG should take a page from this leading example and do the same, backed up by the allocation of funding and policies.  The opposite is the reality.

The lion’s share of all money goes to cars and roadways for cars while all other modes are made to beg for scraps or sue to compel what should be the course being set by our own leaders.  We need to create a true network for bikes, starting with University Avenue.  It will be a major step forward to improve our city and the individual well-being of our citizens.

If SANDAG is unable to implement the Uptown bicycle corridor with real, safe bicycle infrastructure throughout this $40 million should be moved to a different neighborhood where such a project can be realized.  If you can’t walk the walk, stop talking the talk.  Greenwashing is not a substitute for responsible, forward-thinking action.

More than two and a half years have passed since $200 million was promised for bike projects by SANDAG.  77 miles of bikeways in 42 projects was promised to be finished within ten years.    Where do we stand today?  Without a single foot of paint striped and the first project gutted and providing a maximum of three blocks of protected bike lanes.  A poor omen for the future projects, unless the desire to see a bicycle network was not genuine in the first place.  Hopefully the remaining projects will see real, on-the-ground results in quick order.  I would not hold my breath.

Best Bread Recipe Ever (Because It’s Super Easy and Great)

A number of years ago a friend shared a simple bread recipe popularized by the New York Times.  It’s delicious, simple, cheap, and easy to make.  Two years ago our family decided to make our own bread for the year and kept a tally on the kitchen wall as part of our New Year’s resolutions.  I don’t have the official count anymore but believe it was around 150 loaves baked and 7 loaves bought.

This year we’re refocusing on cooking at home, saving money, and cooking wholesome food with simple ingredients.  Making our own bread is a big piece of that and also encourages having basic ingredients on hand (flour, salt, yeast, etc.) that make it easier to make other things like pizza crust, cookies, and more.

Here’s the recipe and a couple of delicious photos.

Ingredients

  • .25 tsp yeast
  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1.25 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour (I like to use 2.5 cups white flour, .5 cups whole wheat flour)
  1. Put yeast into a ceramic bowl, add water and then salt.  I really like ceramic bowls since they are easy to clean up.  Mix together and let sit 2-5 minutes.
  2. Add flour and mix together by hand until a consistent mixture is created.
  3. Cover with tea towel or cloth for 12 – 18 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 500 degrees with dutch oven inside during preheating. Mix risen dough by hand in bowl before adding to dutch oven.  Don’t burn yourself, 500 degrees is hot!
  5. Bake covered at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove lid and cook for additional 5 – 15 minutes to brown, my oven takes about 8 minutes uncovered.  Remove from oven and enjoy with butter, jam, avocado, or plain.
  6. Feel free to experiment with additional in ingredients in the bread, there are a lot of options.  You can add some cheese, which I recommend doing just before putting in the oven.  You can add herbs like rosemary which I would do before letting sit so it can spread through the dough overnight.
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A recent poppyseed trial (added .25 cup poppy seeds). Not great, but not bad.
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Fresh baked bread just out of the oven. We use a cast iron dutch oven.

This bread tastes so good and is so easy you have to try it.  We love to start off the weekend with a hot loaf on Saturday morning to enjoy with coffee and a cool morning breeze coming through the window.  I hope you enjoy this recipe, and the weekend, too.

If the above directions aren’t enough, I also did a (terrible) video on this recipe a couple of years ago.  It also includes my cost estimate of 62 cents per loaf.  That price has been reduced since I found a cheaper option for yeast by buying in bulk via Amazon. Below are a couple of links to Amazon for yeast and a cast iron pot like we use.  I’m trying out the Associates program Amazon has so yes, I’ll get a dime or so if you buy something but I recommend buying used and/or local first before looking to Amazon.

Cheers and enjoy!

         

 

Why I Donate Monthly to BikeSD

I am writing to you today to ask you to join me in the fight to make San Diego a world-class bicycling city by pledging to make a monthly donation BikeSD.  Give today.

anderson family photo - bay
My family and I at San Diego Bay

BikeSD is a bicycle advocacy organization with the vision to “transform San Diego into the world’s best city for bicycling”.  Although a young organization in its third year of existence this vision has already been pushed from complete fantasy to “probably not going to happen”.  Every day this push continues and the vision comes closer to reality.  This ongoing progress is due to the efforts of the organization and the many, many members, volunteers, friends, and supporters working together each day.

I first became familiar with BikeSD a few years ago when I began regularly attending meetings relating to SANDAG bike corridor projects.  I quickly became reliant on the BikeSD TwitterFacebook, and website for news of meetings I could not attend.  The sources, especially Twitter, were pretty much the only place to get a true picture of what was going on and being said for those not present.  At the meetings I was present for it was very clear to me who the voices in the room that I supported most belonged to – those of BikeSD volunteers and members.  This is the biggest reason I contribute monthly to BikeSD, to ensure my opinion has a voice at those meetings I can’t attend personally, and to increase the reach of the voice of the organization.  If you look around the city today and compare to five years ago the difference in the policies, infrastructure, and discussion around bicycling is starkly different.  The major change in that time period?  The arrival of BikeSD as a powerful force for the interest of bicycle riders of all experience and ability.

Until this year, BikeSD was solely a volunteer organization.  All the time and efforts put forth were done by people that care about San Diego and were willing to devote significant time to make this a better, safer place to live.  This year the organization is increasing the capacity to create positive change and that requires dollars.  Recently the first part-time hire for BikeSD was made – Kyle Carscaden receives a small monthly payment and is working to partner with businesses to provide secure, attractive bicycle parking for customers and employees.  Samantha Ollinger, Executive Director, is now receiving a small monthly stipend for her time.  We need to increase the ability to support these people, hire additional resources, and pay for physical materials and campaigns.  You can help and ensure that the ability of BikeSD to make San Diego great is amplified and safer streets become a reality.

BikeSD is doing great work in San Diego and though many have helped and supported the organization, that has largely been due to the efforts and sacrifices of one person – Samantha Ollinger.  Any city in the country would be lucky to have such a capable individual leading the push for safer streets and a healthier, happier city.  The impact that Sam has had on the city is hard to overstate and shows how important it is to support her voice, and add more voices, with enhanced resources for advocacy.  We need to support Sam and enable her to continue working full-time on these important issues.  Her leadership and rational, uncompromising approach to building a better city has pushed the entire conversation in San Diego in a meaningful way.  We need more of this, and more voices joining her.

I hope you’ll join me and support BikeSD Outreach* on a monthly basis.  Whether $5 or $500, you will help to make San Diego a better place to live for all.  Thank you.

[This post originally appeared on the BikeSD blog.]

bikeSD logo

* Contributions are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law