Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Science confirms Intuition: Cycling Calms the Mind, Meditation & Medication on Wheels!

My brother recently shared an amazing article in Bicycling Magazine. Written by Bruce Barcott, it shares the experience of a young boy diagnosed with ADHD. Adam Leibovitz discovers on his own that bicycling did a better job at controlling the symptoms of ADHD without the side effects of Ritalin.

Anyone who exercises regularly appreciates the mental clarity and overall sense of well-being one derives from working out, but scientists have only dabbled in researching the effects of exercise on the brain. Thankfully, this is now changing. The article quotes a few doctors studying this phenomena:
"A bout of exercise is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin," says John Ratey, MD, a Harvard Medical School professor who has treated and studied ADHD for more than 20 years. His most recent research is chronicled in his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. The Prozac effect comes from endorphins. The Ritalin effect, Ratey says, has to do with boosting the concentration of neurotransmitters in the basal ganglia. "Regular exercise can raise the baseline levels of both norepinephrine and dopamine," he says, "which are the same neurotransmitters that Ritalin and Adderall go after."
And it's not just any exercise. Some activities are better brain boosters, and cycling is one of the best. David Conant-Norville, MD, a psychiatrist in Beaverton, Oregon, who specializes in adolescents and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, recently surveyed his colleagues about the best and worst sports for athletes with ADHD. Cycling, swimming and running are tops. At the bottom are soccer, hockey and baseball. The best sports demanded constant physical exertion and a suite of technical movements that engaged brain functions dealing with balance, timing, error correction, decision-making and focus.
It's gratifying to read that the sport you love so much is not only personally satisfying but may also provide beneficial side effects for mental health in general. Were it not for the disturbing method whereby the selection of scientific research inevitably skews towards marketable pharmaceuticals, perhaps we would all be proscribed a bicycle instead of pills in a bottle.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Survey for Los Angeles Cyclists

From a friend comes this survey for L.A. Cyclists. Please take it and pass it on!

Dear friends, colleagues, and fellow cyclists,

I need your help in order to complete my master's thesis. I am conducting a survey of cyclists within the City of Los Angeles in-person and online. Below is the link to the online survey. If you ride a bicycle in the City of Los Angeles, please take a moment (about 12 moments to be exact) to complete the survey. If you don't ride a bike but have friends who do, please pass the survey on to them.

survey link -

The survey will also support a "white paper" that will be released in February on behalf of the Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative (www.lasustainability.org). The Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative is a non-profit organization that funds graduate research on environmental issues in an effort to promote sustainable development in Southern California and bridge the gap between local urban issues and local academic research.

The data from the survey will help create and support policy recommendations to encourage and improve the cycling experience in Los Angeles, beyond just the obvious need for more/better infrastructure.

I appreciate your time and help in the effort.

survey link -

Every cyclists counts!

Alexis Lantz
MA Candidate '10
Urban Planning
UCLA :: School of Public Affairs

Monday, November 2, 2009

Guilty on All Counts!

Today Dr. Christopher Thompson was found guilty of 7 crimes as a result of intentionally using his car as a weapon against 2 cyclists.

07 203 PC MAYHEM

What a relief! Even though he basically confessed to the police right after he maimed two cyclists, you never know what the jury might have been thinking during their deliberations. Thankfully, the evidence was overwhelming and the correct decision was made. The judge should also be credited for denying bail, and sending the doctor straight to prison to await sentencing. Hopefully, he'll get the 5 years he's eligible for.

These streets don't belong to cars or bikes or horses or raccoons. They belong to all of us, and with a little patience and consideration, we can share them peacefully. The good doctor made the mistake of thinking the road belonged to him exclusively, and this false assumption formed the basis of his anger at the cyclists he injured. He couldn't handle the thought that another vehicle could ever dare infringe on his use of it. He forgot that driving is a privilege, not a right.

Now if we could just get the Cyclists' Bill Of Rights incorporated into the Bike Plan...

so this is what heaven looks like

Sunrise on Matilija Creek at Ojala in Ojai

If you're looking for a quick escape from Lalalalala land, head up to Ojai and stay a couple nights at the Love Shack in Ojala.

The "Love Shack" is a cozy cottage, rustic but tastefully furnished with the work of local artists. The cabin has many windows with river and canyon views, as well as a wood burning stove and a screened in porch overlooking the stream (a raging river if it rains heavily). Nestled among ancient oaks and sycamores, it is on the grounds of Ojala, an old resort that is now our private retreat.