Mérida, the colonial city in the middle of the Yucatan, blocks off a route through the city on Sunday mornings for middle-class and gringo recreational biking. For the other 6 1/2 days of the week, Calle 64 and Paseo de Montejo are busy-busy with buses, collectivos (vans operating as jitneys), taxis and some private vehicles. An article from Yucatan Today describes the weekly event:

Get your bicycle out of the bodega, dust it off, and participate in Bici-ruta!
 Every Sunday from 8 am to 12:30 pm more than 5 kilometers of roads in Mérida are closed off to traffic, allowing cyclists to enjoy a morning of bicycling in a family-oriented ambiance that is healthy and safe. Yucatan Today is proud to support Bici-ruta.

The objectives are: unite the city and its inhabitants, provide a space for family activities, improve the quality of life for the citizens of Mérida, promote the values of healthy fun and mutual respect, create a sense of belonging to the city, promote the appropriate use of free time with a healthy activity, foster family integration, create a culture of physical activity, promote good health through the practice of sport, and promote the city as the most hospitable of the country.
The Bici-ruta runs from La Ermita de Santa Isabel (Calles 66 x 79 x 64A x 77 in Centro) north to the glorieta on Prolongación Montejo at Circuito Colonias.You can get onto the Bici-ruta at any point.

 The Bici-ruta is open to families, competitive cyclists, tourists, young people, old people, everybody!
Another fun aspect of the Bici-ruta is all the cultural, sport, recreational and health events at various points along the way. These stops include : La Ermita, Paseo de Montejo x Calle 43, Paseo de Montejo x Av. Cupules, and Monumento a la Bandera.
If you don’t have a bike, there are various places along the way where you can rent one for $10 pesos an hour. You will have to leave an official ID which will be returned when you bring back the bicycle. There are places to park the bikes, but chains and locks are not included in the rental, so bring your own if you plan to make any stops along the way.

At 12:30, the buses start to run again and bicycle use reverts to what it is all over Mexico: transportation for the poor.

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Thursday January 11, 7 pm
Vancouver Public Library, Joe Fortes Branch, 870 Denman Street
Come and participate in a free and free-wheeling discussion on Vancouver’s present and future, moderated by the ever-impartial me, ha ha.
I will start from the premise that Vancouver’s human diversity and urbanity is supported by its wide range of buildings, using the West End as an example, and let participants take it from there …
For further information, visit the website for the Philosophers’ Café.

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Just like in the olden days when  Sally Ann bands came through neighbourhoods playing and collecting money for charity, the Impromptu Rock Choir is carolling in Grandview and Kitsilano tonight and tomorrow night. Take out the earbuds, turn down the TV, and answer the door when a Santa collects for charity to benefit people in the Downtown Eastside! The choir meets every Tuesday at the WISE Hall on Adanac at Victoria.

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A news release yesterday: “After 34 years on Commercial Drive, the People’s Co-op Bookstore must close its doors.  Our last day of business will be January 31, 2018… We are saddened by this turn of events, and disappointed that our efforts to keep the People’s Co-op Bookstore going have fallen short. The store is not closing because the community hasn’t supported it. The bookstore has probably never been busier. The last five years have shown us that the Co-op fulfills a number of vital roles in East Vancouver.”
This is not necessarily a bad landlord/brave indie story. Although the store had a very wide range of titles once you ploughed your way in, it has consistently featured hard leftist titles in the window (lots of Soviet stuff, e.g.) and in the prime space just inside the door that reduced its potential clientele.
There is also the storefront design – there are two storeys of apartments above and the shops are indented about 6 feet from the sidewalk – a kind of bricky loggia. This gloomspace between the sidewalk and the front door reduces the impact of anything they put in the windows. It is the only building on The Drive designed like this.
I don’t know whether a rent increase was the tipping point, but the recent demise of neighbourhood standards like Wonderbucks and The Little Nest indicate a trend. And it’s impossible not to notice the expensive German sedan that just happens to be in the Google street view above. Grandview is gentrifying.

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From the Auburn News, a western-suburbs paper in Sydney, about a survey conducted by Guide Dogs Australia: “almost half of all people who use a white cane are walked into at least once every time they are out, with almost 60 percent of respondents reporting the instances were caused by people engrossed in their mobile devices.”

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A totally unscientific survey of mural trends in New South Wales: I didn’t see a single “pictorial” mural, like the almost-photographic assemblages of faces, animals and scenes that have become so common in Vancouver (many of them seemingly scaled-up, projected and painted from Photoshop images). Instead, abstract patterning seems to be the norm…

A lane in Katoomba, the largest town in the Blue Mountains about 100 km. west of Sydney



Two in trendy Newtown (Inner-West Sydney). The graffiti-like quality of the second one seems to invite additions – maybe this is the idea, that the art evolves organically and isn’t “owned” by anyone, which would fit with Newtown’s radical aesthetic.

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Many Sydneysiders appear to be using a phone app, Outware’s Snap-Send-Solve, to “dob in” their neighbours, mainly about parking infractions.
“Gone are the days when parking officers would simply walk the streets chalking cars,” said the story in the cheesy Daily Telegraph tabloid. “Now they are actively investigating leads using this new app, which has more than 100,000 users across the country.”
The Inner West is Hipsterville in Sydney.

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