Monday, November 16, 2020

Make Healthy Living Second Nature


Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail

If you are over 75 and are healthy, active, and involved in your community, chances are that you might live in a Blue Zone.  Imagine living a healthy, active life well into your 80’s or 90’s just by simply incorporating more plant based meals into your diet.  We are learning how consuming fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts daily can provide us with enough nutrition to stay healthy and active.  There are several Blue Zone communities across the country where Americans are living to 100 and longer.  There are Blue zones all over the world such as Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa, Japan, Nicoya, Costa Rico and of course Loma Linda California.  Here are a few states that proudly boast their life expectancy of their community members:  Colorado Springs, Boulder and Fort Collins Colorado. Charlottesville, Virginia made the list as did Portland, Maine, Austin, Texas and Bridgeport, Connecticut.  California leads the pack with over 15 cities including:  Santa Cruz, San Jose, San Francisco, Hayward, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Salinas, Oxnard, Ventura, and Thousand Oaks, of course San Diego and Carlsbad. 


Blue Zone residents encourage a well-balanced diet including nuts, fruits, and legumes, low in sugar, salt, and refined grains. Studies have shown nonsmoking Adventists in the community of Loma Linda, Californians who ate 2 or more servings of fruit per day had about 70 percent fewer lung cancers than nonsmokers who ate fruit once or twice a week. Those who ate legumes such as peas and beans 3 times a week had a 30 to 40 percent reduction in colon cancer. Women who consumed tomatoes at least 3 or 4 times a week reduced their chance of getting ovarian cancer by 70 percent over those who ate tomatoes less often. Eating a lot of tomatoes also seemed to influence reducing prostate cancer for men. A new study has found that adherents to this way of life have the nation’s lowest rates of heart disease and diabetes and exceptionally low rates of obesity.

A light dinner early in the evening avoids flooding the body with calories during the inactive parts of the day. It seems to promote better sleep and a lower BMI.

Consuming fruits and vegetables and whole grains seems to be protective against a wide variety of cancers. For those who prefer to eat some meat, Adventist recommend small portions served as a side dish rather than as the main meal.  At least four major studies have confirmed that eating nuts has an impact on health and life expectancy.


Lately I have been working from my home office and investing in myself by spending more time researching the world wide web for various projects and assignments.  Living in the Inland Empire gives me access to fresh citrus all year long and my all-time favorite beverage to make is fresh squeezed lemonade with fresh ginger and basil.  The combination of a few simple ingredients transforms the simple lemon into a refreshing libation.  Peel and chop ½” of fresh ginger, combine with the juice of 3 lemons, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of your favorite honey in a blender.  Strain and combine with 6 cups of cold water and pour over a tall glass of ice, garnish with fresh lemon slices and fresh basil leaves and see if this doesn’t become one of your favorite libations to share with your family and friends.


What is your favorite plant-based dish to make for your family, please comment below?


Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail
Victoria Jones Friend of the Pacific Electric Trail
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Monday, November 9, 2020

E-Bikes are changing the landscape of Cycling


Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail

The landscape of cycling has been evolving for over a hundred years and with new technology along with light-weight materials, more and more of us might be curious about the e-bike experience.  Even though I consider myself somewhat of a traditionalist and ride using a road bike on a regular basis, I recently added a folding bike to my collection and now that one has become my favorite.  It is lightweight, easy to transport in my car (no bike rack required) and allows me to sit more upright, thus reducing my need to lean forward on the handlebars.  For whatever reason, it appears that I can go faster on my folding bike and I do not feel as fatigued after a great bike ride.  There has been a gradual increase of electric assist bikes over the past few years along the 21-mile Regional Pacific Electric Trail.  In addition to the variety of scooters, rollerblades and skateboards,  I do admit, I have been a little curious about the ease of the ride versus the additional weight of an E-bike.


Fast-forward to the COVID-19 pandemic and the desire to maintain our exercise routines as so many of us are working from home. Bike shops were swamped with new customers who wanted to get back to their childhood memories of bike riding for fun and exercise.  Traditional bike shops started to carry electric bikes in addition to their stock as older cyclists wanted something new to try.  Personally, I enjoy the physical workout that cycling provides me, because I must work at it to challenge myself with every new adventure.  E-bikes might be fun to try while on vacation, especially when sight-seeing or traveling to your favorite eatery, without having to exert much energy or to reduce the overall time involved. Popularity of e-bikes has been skyrocketing as people continue to head outdoors during the coronavirus outbreak, especially with older riders.  Nationally, sales of e-bikes are up almost 60% as of June, according to recent market trends. Last year, unit sales of e-bikes rose 73% at specialty shops after more than doubling the previous year. E-bikes might be pedal-assist, requiring constant pedaling, or have a throttle, which does not require pedaling at all. They are easier for tackling hills and headwinds, they use batteries — unlike mopeds that use gas-powered internal combustion engines. E-bikes weigh more than traditional bikes by 10 to 15 pounds, and they come with a higher price tag.  According to the National Bicycle Dealers Association, the average retail price for an e-bike at a specialty shop is $3,500, much more than a traditional bike. A recent study found older cyclists using e-bikes not only were getting the same brain benefits as those on standard bikes. E-bike riders showed an improved sense of well-being and rode more often than the others.


Regulations vary around the country over the bikes’ use and are gaining in popularity.  In many states, slower speed but not high-speed versions are allowed. With the world of cycling changing so quickly, it is a good rule of thumb to check with your community on the guidelines for using electric assist bicycles or electric bikes that include a throttle. In New Mexico, for example, electric bikes are subject to licensing and to the same insurance requirements that apply to motor vehicles.  The city of New York recently ended a crackdown and now allows electric bikes, which are widely used for food deliveries. In Wisconsin, the police department in Green Bay has outfitted its bike patrol with e-bikes. This summer, the bike share program in Madison became the first citywide system in the United States with a fleet consisting entirely of e-bikes.

On the national level, the U.S. Department of Interior, which oversees the National Park Service and other federal land just announced  days ago that e-bikes going up to 20 miles per hour would be allowed on trails and in areas where conventional bikes are permitted. E-bikes offer clean alternatives with no emissions, and extend the range of riding a traditional bike, especially if you are new to cycling.

There are several categories of E-bike buyers, here a few: Commuters who use their e-bikes primarily as a means of transportation, people who are trying to be socially distanced by not taking public transportation, E-bikes are filling that void for them. People who are not cyclists but who have reached a stage in life when they are looking to stay active such as couples, especially avid cyclists with partners who are not as physically strong and want to ride together and people who need accommodations.



E-bikes come in a variety of types. Some are better for commuting than others. Some are cargo bikes that allow riders to use them for shopping trips. E-bikes tend to be much heavier than regular bikes, with the battery accounting for much of the additional weight. The typical non-electric road bike weighs 20-22 pounds, but most e-bikes weigh 45 to 75 lbs. E-bike tires are wider, too. The tire on a traditional road bike is usually less than 1 inch wide, but e-bike tires generally run 1½ to 2½ inches for road bikes, 3-4 inches for mountain bikes.

Like traditional bikes, e-bikes have multiple gears. They also have multiple levels of electrical assistance, usually four or five, so the rider gets to choose how much of an assist the bike provides.  For e-bikes to be legally classified as bicycles on city streets, they are limited to 1 horsepower with a maximum speed of 28 mph and most are programmed to stop delivering electrical assist at 20 mph.  According to a University of Colorado study in 2016, riding e-bikes delivers health and fitness benefits, especially for people who were previously sedentary. Researchers saw improvements in aerobic capacity and blood sugar regulation.  Regardless of how you exercise via a bicycle, on a mountain bike, road bike, e-bike, or stationary bike, riding a bike for fun also improves our mental health, especially during this extended pandemic. Whatever way you ride your bike, always remember to wear your helmet, and obey traffic laws, especially when crossing at the light. Keep in mind that just like an electric car, others cannot hear you coming up behind them, so include a bike bell to ensure others know you are approaching. Does the thought of riding an E-bike sound interesting?  What is your cycling preference, please comment below?

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Victoria Jones Friend of the Pacific Electric Trail
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Monday, November 2, 2020



Friends Of the Pacific Electric

“Stay in your lane”… “Don’t cross that line”…”Hold the line”

These are all metaphors of warnings with similar meanings, but different scenarios. Whether it is about driving, personal behavior, or maintaining a military position, they all direct us. And we need good orderly direction! When I commute to work each morning, my fellow travelers can barely hold their lane on the road as we hurdle along on congested freeways at 75+ miles per hour. Can you imagine the chaos of going just over to your local market if others were not directed to not drive into the space that you are occupying on the road? Anarchy would ensue!


We all have moments of distraction and can drift out of our lane. Fortunately, here in California we have “Botts Dots” that we can both feel and hear when we wander outside the line. Many a sleepy driver has been saved by this brilliant design invented by Elbert Botts in the 1950’s. But this system does not work in climates where there is snow fall because the snowplows would scrape them up with the snow.

So, who gave us the lines that keep our driving lives in order? One of the first recorded use of lines in the road can be traced to Pope Boniface III in the 1300’s. When gathering the faithful to Rome there became a need to separate foot traffic from horse and cart traffic. Seeing the need, he had a line marked down the middle of the road. Good orderly direction.


As traffic evolved throughout the centuries and roads became more traveled, ruts would be cut into the road when it rained. After the rain, the roads would dry out, but the ruts remained. So, the common practice was that carts had the right of way so their wheels would fit into the slots of the ruts and deliver a smoother ride.




In England throughout the middle ages it became an accepted rule that traffic moved on the left side of the road. The thought behind this is simple. If the person approaching you from the other direction was an enemy, then your sword hand is free to defend or attack with.



Progressing through the centuries, America adopted the use of the right side of the road due to the general use of the left hand holding the reins of your horses, which left your right hand free to hold the whip. Then in 1792 both America and France made the right side of the road the “official” route of travel.


Progressing to the 20th Century, New York City started marking a line across the road to keep pedestrians from interrupting the flow of commerce traffic. These lines became known as “crosswalks.” At the beginning of the worldwide auto boom, England and Europe led the charge, but when Henry Ford revolutionized the manufacturing of the automobile with his moving assembly line, he changed life in America and the world. This change lowered the price of a produced auto by half making it attainable for more Americans. Then he raised the wage of his factory workers to $5.00 per day, which at that time was unheard of. His workers now had a higher standard of living. That evolved to home ownership and discretionary funds that could be used to purchase an auto. With those two financial windfalls to the public, Ford still realized a greater profit on each vehicle. Within 10 years America out paced the rest of the world with automobile ownership. Add to that the sheer size of the United States and an automobile was the only practical way to see it all.


As cars became more popular and trucks evolved in size and use there became a need to direct the flow of traffic. Many early auto enthusiasts experienced the drama of being run off the road to avoid a larger vehicle traveling at a high speed. Connecticut is credited with creating the first speed limits of 12 mph in the city and 50 mph in rural areas. I’m sure that when cars went speeding by at 50 mile per hour, farmers must have thought that the world had gone crazy.

 Michigan holds the designation of striping the first street lanes as well as pouring the first concrete streets. Michigan’s Edward M Hines got the inspiration for a center line down the street when he saw a milk truck going by leaking milk out of the back onto the road. And as different parts of the country developed their own traffic controls it wasn’t until 1930 that a pamphlet was published to states that gave traffic recommendations to make things uniform.

In 1949 broken lines were introduced with two purposes intended. One they saved money by using less paint, and two it identified sections of road that it was okay to pass other vehicles. As you speed along the road did you ever think about those broken lines? Did you know that each line is 10’ long with 30’ between each line? So, as you speed by them from one stripe to the other you have actually traveled 40’.

So, now we evolve to the modern road which is constantly changing. Today's roads incorporate technology and years of study. We see green sections adjacent to curbs, bicycle symbols with chevrons above them, and in England they have squiggly lines that look to be a drunkard’s path of travel. On top of that, there are endless road signs both stationary and electronic. The demand for our attention while we drive is further bombarded by radios and phones. One could ask, what does it all mean and what do you want me to do?

Your DMV pamphlet is a great source of the ever-changing landscape of rules of the road. The bicycle symbol with 2 chevrons above it are sharrows which mean share the road. Simply put it means that the bicycle has the right to the entire lane. This usually occurs when the road closest to the curb is unsafe or restricted. If you find yourself behind a bicycle in this situation and there is a solid double yellow line at the center of the road you can feel trapped. But hold on, in this situation you are legally entitled to pass the slower traffic safely. Granted, you may be met with angry glances and looks of disbelief, but it is legal. Please note that safely is the most important word here.

The green marks along the curb designate a bike lane and the intent of the green is to make that space more visible to motorists. Other towns have adopted Bicycle Priority Zones, this is typical around college towns that have high density population with lower automobile use. We all pay taxes, so we all benefit from use of the same roads.  Transportation funds come from general taxation pools. Some may think that the taxes that they pay when they fill up  their car with gasoline gives them a priority status of road use, but most of those dollars go to repair the damage done to the atmosphere.

Looking at one of the busiest places in America, New York City, they adopted a plan in 2007 to separate lanes on a busy street for exclusive bicycle use along the curb. People were up in arms about it. Businesses protested; commuters complained but a funny thing happened. Between 2007 and 2018 bicycle accidents in that area went down 47% while retail sales went up 48%. The New York City Commissioner of the Department of Transportation knew she was on to something. DOT Jennette Zadik-Kahn read the tea leaves correctly, bicycles are good for business. Since then they have expanded the program. While cities across the country wrestle with budgets and traffic congestion, cities are finding solutions in “traffic calming” (ATP) Active Transportation Programs and “complete streets” design elements. Simply put, instead of trying to add a bike lane as an afterthought on an existing street, start at the curb side and build the bike/pedestrian accommodations at the beginning. Business’s like it when the speed limit is lowered for traffic calming because people notice them instead of speeding by. So, as we separate lanes to accommodate increased bicycle use and change the way that lanes are marked, it is all part of a century’s old evolution that should never stop as the needs of society change. But if you don’t like what is happening or want to give your input, you should contact your local, county, state, and federal representatives and get involved. They work for you and sometimes we just need to remind them of that fact, providing them with good orderly direction. And while you are doing that, stay in your lane. What was your favorite fun fact, comment below.


Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail

Dennis Jones Friend of the Pacific Electric Trail
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