Archive for the 'Community Service' category

Build me a bicycle that carries many

| August 6, 2017 6:13 am

“The water is wide, I can’t cross over
And nor do I have light wings to fly,
Build me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I”

This Scottish folk song from the 1600’s, popularized by Pete Seeger, Peter Paul & Mary, and the Seekers (my favorite version), gathers a strong sentiment that we can achieve more when working together.

We accomplished many a thing this last five years and it has been joyful to lead ACTC. We have built an infrastructure that values our volunteers and lent support to our humble Board of Directors, Tierra Bella, Sierra to the Sea, and Academy leaders.

Although the stability of ACTC and our leadership group is important, renewal is paramount to our long-term success. In the coming months, there will be leadership role turn-overs, please step forward and help guide us to our next chapter.

Metaphorically, life is much like rowing a boat or cycling up a mountain, we can’t coast. Just when we think we are ahead, the current or gravity takes over. May ACTC be always going up and away!

The mountain is steep, I can’t climb over
And nor do I have light wings to fly,
Build me a bike that carries many
And all will pedal, my friends and I

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

History Rhymes

| May 29, 2017 8:33 am

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme — Mark Twain

It always amazes me to see interviews of people who are clueless of important historical events. Given a multiple choice question of how the name Civil War came about, many picked the answer that the combatants were civilized! Not!

Bringing history to live
Although it is impossible to relive the past, preserving and visiting historical sites lend credence to history lessons. Adventure Cycling (www.adventurecycling.org) routes follow the Underground Railroad or the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Michelin maps guide to WWII battlefields from D-Day beaches to Sainte-Mère Église to the Battle of the Bulge.

Walking up the steep bank of Omaha Beach in Vierville-sur-mer and imagining being fired on by machine-guns and artilleries brought understanding of the bravery and hardship of those young soldiers. Many did not make it.

A visit to a Nazi concentration camp always brought me questions of what should and could have been done. Denial of their existence is not one of them. Mark Terrance, a friend of ACTC member Dennis Uyeno, wrote a book that maps all the concentration camps.
http://www.concentrationcampguide.com

On 60 Minutes, Veteran Ben Skardon, a Bataan death march survivor, described his experience indelible. Historical sites surround us, near and far. It is upon us to learn, to remember, and only let the good history rhymes.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

Standing On the Shoulders of Giants

| May 10, 2017 11:16 am

On the eve of Bike to Work Day 2017, know that your voice matters but only if you speak up. Your action is equally important as a role model to family, friends, and colleagues. No need to shout or be a militant, instead emulate Dr. King on your way to the mountaintop.

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” — Isaac Newton

Alex Zuckermann
It has been nearly a decade since Alex Zuckermann passed, but he will always be remembered by his namesake, the Alexander Zuckermann Bicycle Pedestrian Path on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

A tireless advocate for cyclists’ rights, Alex was instrumental in getting bicycle access to BART, AC Transit, and Bay Area bridges. Founder of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, Alex’s accomplishment was “his ability to collaborate with a wide variety of bicyclists and other groups. Alex avoided embracing controversial ideas, yet he collaborated with people who espoused a variety of perspectives. He was neither a militant anti-highway opponent, nor did he adopt strident vehicular cycling principles. Instead, he rallied bicyclists to support particular projects. In turn, he persuaded elected officials and staff, building their comfort with our proposals. His pioneering advocacy opened the door for future gains by cyclists in the Bay Area,” wrote Robert Raburn, member of the BART Board of Directors.

Alex Zuckermann Bicycle Trail Eastern Span of Bay Bridge and Alex (red jacket) on Bicycling magazine cover


Ellen Fletcher

Ellen Fletcher’s Bryant Street Bicycle Boulevard was the FIRST of its kind in the US. Ellen, a PTA Mom, knew that safe routes to schools were critical, not just for safety, but would establish a healthy habit for children to last a lifetime.  A Holocaust survivor, Ellen spent her teen years as a refugee in World War II London, where she cycled to her factory job. This great habit never left her; Ellen was proud that she only refilled her car gasoline once a year. Ellen revived the Santa Clara Valley Bicycle Coalition (later rebranded as Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition) and was elected to serve as a Palo Alto City Council Member from 1977 to 1989.

There is not much that cyclists enjoy today that does not have Ellen’s imprint. A major accomplishment is Caltrain bicycle access that is second to none in the world, with a capacity of 72 bicycles per train, all without additional fare to cyclists. This is all thanks to Ellen and Daryl Skrabac, who started working with then Southern Pacific in 1977. At first not successful, the Peninsula Joint Powers Board inherited Caltrain in 1992 and they agreed to make room for bicycles. The beneficiaries, from bicycle access to Caltrain, BART, VTA, AC Transit, and Ferry, are not just the cyclists. Studies show that we are the most consistent users and contribute to the bottom line of these public transportation agencies in good and bad time.

“Ellen’s list of achievements and accomplishments could fill a book, but suffice it to write she’s inspired thousands,” wrote Richard Masoner, contributor to SF.StreetsBlog.org. Ellen Fletcher passed away in 2012.

Ellen on her namesake Bike Boulevard and on Caltrain

Inspirational and iconic figures make great stories but their accomplishments will lie in vain if our generation does not take up the challenge and continue to the mountaintop. Do not think for a minute that what Alex and Ellen fought for will always be here, so please stand up and be counted. In fact, go ahead and stand on Alex’s and Ellen’s shoulders. They would not want it any other way.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

Bob Thompson, A Gentle Giant

| February 19, 2017 3:55 pm

Seems like it was yesterday, Bob and Kris Thompson, Jean and I were having lunch on a sunny afternoon at a League of American Bicyclist meeting in Olympia, Washington. That was nearly thirty years ago — my friendship with Bob grew with more respect and admiration each passing year. In those days, Bob would run a marathon, no, make that a Dipsea-type marathon and then joined us the very next day mountain biking at Point Reyes, on President’s Weekend. Henry Coe was Bob’s favorite and he led countless rides there, despite loosing much of his sight. To ride and navigate safely, he must have remembered every corner, every downhill, every inch of those trails, including the single tracks. One day, tears in his eyes that mercilessly had abandoned him, Bob stopped at the start of his ride and professed that he can’t see well enough to go on.

On road rides, even before Bob’s eyesight failed, Kris and Bob were riding tandem, only Bob was the Captain. Then the table was turned, Kris had to captain a specially-made Bike Friday tandem for a much taller stoker Bob. So unconventional yet so graceful! The Kris and Bob Thompson tandem led many South County Old Goat rides, went to Ragbrai, Louisiana, Virginia, Carolinas, Alaska, Canada, France, Mexico, and China.

Kris and Bob were avid ACTC volunteers. They were Captains at the Gilroy Hot Springs rest stop for over a decade and always invited the Progressive Dinner to their home, including this past year.

Bob’s photography and his video presentations were always memorable and enjoyable. Much of my own presentations are lessons from Bob during our then yearly trip to the San Francisco MacWorld conference.

Bob Thompson passed away February 16.

Bob on a French Postal Bicycle in Paris

Kris and Bob at the Col d’Illoire, Grand Canyon du Verdon

Kris and Bob in Provence, note the double-suitcase trailer

A Dilemma

| 3:45 pm

During our last visit to Dalian, China, a child, no older than 5, came up and hugged Jean, asking for money. We knew not to give children money or sweets because the apparent kind act may create beggars of them. Furthermore, parents then will send their children to beg rather than to school. However, what ensued in that encounter still bothers me today. A man walked up, hit the child in the head, and scolded him for begging. The mother quickly came out to retrieve the child. Poor kid, he was crying from pain and shock but way too young to understand. We felt very bad.

As I will embark to cycle in Vietnam this fall, it would be great to learn better ways to help begging children. Please write to me at president@actc.org and I will post them at a future Black and Blue Bottom.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

The Children Thank You

| December 3, 2016 10:51 pm

On this bright December Saturday morning, more than forty ACTC members, led by Jim Schallau, volunteered at the Turning Wheels for Kids (TWFK) Big Bike Build to assemble over 2500 new bicycles to be given free to underprivileged children. Jim and Marjorie Schallau, Past-President Herman Wadler, and I have been helping since the beginning of TWFK. Furthermore ACTC continues to have the most volunteers. Many more chances to help — join us in 2017!

Very proud of everyone involved, the children thank you!

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

 

Group photo

Please Vote

| November 7, 2016 4:36 pm

Make your voice heard by voting. It always amazed me that a great percentage never bothered to vote. Many failed to appreciate how fortunate we are to live in this democracy, having not seen how people in other countries struggle, with not enough food, no education, no future, and no right to vote.

Please vote,
Tony Le, ACTC President

Daniel Pearl World Music Days

| September 26, 2016 2:37 pm

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein

On this, the 15th Anniversary-Remembrance of 9/11, a helpful way for me to move forward is to listen to meaningful music. A favorite is the Daniel Pearl World Music Days, an international network of concerts that use the power of music to reaffirm our commitment to tolerance and humanity.
http://www.danielpearlmusicdays.org

Daniel Pearl is the Stanford graduate, violinist, and Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered in Pakistan in 2002. His life and work is celebrated yearly with a free concert at the Stanford Memorial Church.

Join me on Oct 27, 7:30-9:30
https://arts.stanford.edu/event/harmony-for-humanity-daniel-pearl-world-music-days-concert/

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

In Flanders Fields and the Four Chaplains

| June 10, 2016 5:02 pm

 

Having grown up in Vietnam during the 60’s, I remembered the poverty of the Vietnamese populace and the sheer war-horror. On Memorial Day, my two treasured remembrances are to read “In Flanders Fields” and the Four Chaplains.

In Flanders fields
By Canadian physician John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Humanity at its finest
In WWII, four Army chaplains, Lt. George Fox, a Methodist; Lt. Alexander Goode, a Jewish Rabbi; Lt. John Washington, a Roman Catholic Priest; and Lt. Clark Poling, a Dutch Reformed Minister, gave up their life jackets; Rabbi Goode gave up his gloves as well as their transport ship, Dorchester, was sinking into the icy cold North Atlantic. When giving up their life jackets, they did not call out for a Jew, a Catholic, a Protestant, or an Atheist. They simply gave their life jackets to the next man in line. Their bravery and openness stands the test of time as what our nation stands for, as applicable today as when we were fighting the fascist Nazi ideologue.

Watch the Four Chaplains documentary movie on youtube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ewJp8HhYzA

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

Spaceship Earth

| April 22, 2016 8:02 am

Imagine we are astronauts on a spaceship with a finite amount of supplies and space, one would not wastefully and carelessly use everything up. We all are — this spaceship Earth.

Like it or not, our daily choice of driving, walking, cycling, and a host of everything else, has a profound effect on the environment. Some exemplary ACTC members don’t own a car, many choose to commute by bicycle, and many more ride to and from ACTC rides. I applaud them for the extra effort as if every day is Earth Day.

Earth Day, every day, on this spaceship Earth.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President