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Posts from the "Athletes and Celebrities" Category

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The Cast of The West Wing Walks the “Walk and Talk” Walk

The characters of The West Wing were known, in their heyday, for walking down long hallways and talking a mile a minute without stumbling. Now, six years after the show went off the air, the cast is back — with this tribute to the health benefits of walking. It’s a promotion for EveryBody Walk, a campaign about the benefits of walking 30 minutes a day.

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Lawmakers Pitch Transport Funding Ideas, From VMT to Freight Taxes

Leaders of the House transportation committee, doggedly pursuing a six-year, $450 billion infrastructure bill this year, pressed their case this morning before Ways and Means Committee colleagues who must approve a new funding mechanism for their massive legislation.

1025_charles_rangel.jpgOn transport funding, a question looms: Whither Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY)? (Photo: BusinessWeek)
"We should have indexed a long time ago the highway user fee" -- also known as the gas tax -- transportation panel chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) told the Ways and Means revenue panel. "But that got lost in the process."

Oberstar asked Ways and Means members to okay a $3 billion patch for the highway trust fund, which is expected to run dry next month.

 That course would postpone until September the House's transportation-funding battle with the White House and the Senate, where 18 months of stopgap funding is almost certain to be approved within two weeks.

Ways and Means has dedicated most of its time and energy to health care reform this summer, leading to widespread speculation that transportation would fall by the wayside. But Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), chairman of Ways and Means' revenue panel, told Oberstar that he was on the transportation committee's side.

"I share your position that we should go forward" with a bill this year, Neal told Oberstar.

Yet the chairman of the full Ways and Means committee, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), has yet to throw his weight behind Oberstar's goals. Without Rangel's muscle, the thorny question of how to pay for a new transportation bill would be almost impossible to resolve by the end of September.

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Cartoon Tuesday: In Which We Blog About the Other Paris

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Click through for this cartoon by Gary Varvel of The Indianapolis Star, referencing the now infamous tussle between John McCain and Paris Hilton. (And click here if you have no idea what we're talking about.) While the 'toon itself bears a ring of truth, the bigger irony may be that the presidential candidate who's now promoting perhaps the most feasible and immediately effective energy plan is no longer in the hunt.

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1,200 Pack Town Hall for “How New Yorkers Ride Bikes”

dbyrne_good.jpgStreetfilms' Clarence Eckerson was at Town Hall on Saturday night for the New Yorker Festival's "How New Yorkers Ride Bikes," hosted by former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne. Clarence wasn't allowed to film the event so he published a nice write-up on StreetFilms. Some excerpts:

Mr. Byrne, dressed in black and sporting his cool taxi-yellow bike helmet (see our previous StreetFilm here) then rode onto the stage and locked up. Moments later Hal Ruzal, NYC bicycling icon and mechanic at Bicycle Habitat, emerged from behind a curtain to pick his lock with a variety of tools. Mr. Ruzal's advice on not getting your bike stolen? "Have a bicycle lock that is real expensive, and a bicycle that's really cheap."

Danish urban designer Jan Gehl extolled the many benefits of biking in Copenhagen, where 38% of commuters ride: "This is important because if you see a pretty girl, you can easily jump off the bike and start kissing."

Mr. Byrne then introduced Jonathan Wood, the hilariously dry Deputy Chairman of the U.K.'s Warrington Cycle Campaign, who burned down the house with his "Bicycle Facility of the Month" slide show.

Here is a "Facility of the Month" example from the Warrington web site:


Keeping cycle lanes clear of parked cars is a problem the world over. This design from Mulhouse in France provides a self enforcing solution; yellow bollards have proved to be much more effective than yellow lines at deterring illegal parking.

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David Byrne on Bicycling in NYC

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Transportation Alternatives' Noah Budnick and David Byrne prior to the Manhattan Borough President's "Manhattan on the Move" conference, October 2006.

Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne writes about his 30 years of cycling in New York City on his website.  Byrne is an avid bicyclist, and an alternative transportation advocate:

I have been riding a bicycle in New York City for almost 30 years! For transport, not for sport. At first there were only a few of us. Loners, losers, maniacs and nerds. Some of the members of Talking Heads used to make fun of me and say I was going to turn into Pee Wee Herman.

Over the decades things have improved in New York for cyclists — a little. Now there is a wonderful bike path up the Hudson that runs almost the entire length of Manhattan. I use it to commute to and from work. Now there are markings on some streets indicating imaginary bike lanes (imaginary because the traffic and pedestrians often ignore the markings) but they are there in spirit, at least. Someday they will be taken seriously, I have no doubt — when gas hits $10 a gallon.

Now Paris is embarking on a bicycle plan that should make New York envious. A collaboration between business and civic affairs than may just work, as both the city and Deceaux can benefit. Bikes as a means of local transport has worked elsewhere; the mayor of Bogota, Enrique Peñalosa, relieved traffic congestion AND made his city more livable by converting streets to bike/pedestrian use and by adding dedicated bus lanes. Of bike lanes he said, “If an eight year old kid can’t ride on it safely then it isn’t a bike lane.” I don’t remember Paris having very many bike lanes, and the drivers adopt a “survival of the pushiest” approach, as I recall, but that may be changing.

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Ad Nauseam: Tiki Barber and His Cadillac Escalade


While reading the NY Times essay about the woman who drives back and forth across the Brooklyn Bridge the other day, I was reminded of the Tiki Barber ads for the Cadillac Escalade. The spot that premiered during the Super Bowl is a moody, impressionistic montage that shows the former New York Giants running back driving solo through the streets and over the bridges of New York, talking about "seizing opportunities." The tagline is "Life. Liberty. And the Pursuit."

It's a very seductive portrayal of a world in which the blacktop of Gotham is a suitable environment for a 400-horsepower SUV with a 130-inch wheelbase. Bicyclists, pedestrians, and other cars are but a blur as Barber's vehicle proceeds with unassailable assurance through the city.

In a more extended ad from the same campaign, New York plays an even more prominent role. We see him looking down at traffic from his lofty apartment, wryly remarking that "Second Avenue is a pain in the butt, man." We see him standing next to the Caddy beside a roaring highway, affably shaking the hand of a regular guy from Queens who's a big fan. We see him calling his garage, saying, "Hey, yeah, this is Tiki. I'll need my Cadillac in about five minutes," and we see the Escalade being rolled out for him. We see him snuggling with his wife (who never speaks), and saying, "We are certainly New Yorkers. There is no way we're ever going to leave here. We'll get a summer place somewhere but we'll be New Yorkers for life." Apparently, Barber's idea of the perfect New York lifestyle includes tooling around town in a mammoth vehicle that's listed as getting 14 miles to the gallon in the city. 

What makes this ad especially pernicious?

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