Monday, September 23, 2013

Bike Parking Ideas

Given the amount of rain Central Florida experiences, I'd like to see more covered and protected bike parking.  We have good examples in Winter Park:

Covered bike parking at Alfond Sports Complex, Rollins College.

Covered bike parking at Lakemont YMCA in Winter Park. 

The new Fresh Market on Mills, adjacent to the Orlando Urban Trail in the City of Orlando, placed bike parking in the open, instead of under the adjacent covered area:

DeBartolo Development could have provided covered bike parking at the unused building corner. posted a video on bike parking in Pittsburgh, with a number of good ideas:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Visible Mile Markers Needed on Cady Way Trail

Cady Way Trail - Embedded location markers are virtually invisible from a distance, difficult to read upside down, and difficult to understand. 
Orange County removed the old mile markers on the side of Cady Way Trail and replaced them with small location markers imbedded in the asphalt.  The new markers are difficult to see and impossible to read upside-down (if bicycling in the opposite direction).  If you can glimpse one, while bicycling at 12 miles per hour or more, you'll find them difficult to comprehend.  This morning, I caught a split-second of marker CWT-30.  As far as location goes, what does that mean?  The trail isn't anywhere near 30 miles long. 

If I ever come across someone experiencing a medical emergency on the trail, I'll rely on the GPS in my cell phone to inform the dispatcher of my location.  I can't see myself running off to find the nearest embedded marker.  Where is it?  Am I running away from the closer one? 

Seriously, Orange County, bring back visible mile markers on both sides of the trail, place them every quarter mile, and coordinate with the City of Orlando for consistent signage between Aloma and Lake Druid Park. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Another Study Linking Childrens' Physical Fitness to Memory

Here's a summary from the Los Angeles Times of a study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois, published on September 11:
[T]hey recruited 48 kids who were 9 or 10 years old and asked them to learn the names of 10 fictional regions on a made-up map.

Half of the children in the study ranked in the top 30% of fitness (as measured by a treadmill test) for kids their age and gender; the other half ranked in the bottom 30%. Other than that, the kids in both groups were basically the same in terms of socioeconomic status, ADHD symptoms and scores on an intelligence test. In both groups, about half were boys and half were girls.

The children spent one day using iPads to learn the geography of the fictitious maps. In some cases, the learning was reinforced by short quizzes; in others, there was only memorization. Their recall was tested the following day.

Overall, the kids who were physically fit got an average score of 54.2% and the kids who were not fit got an average score of 44.2%. The difference was more pronounced when children were asked to remember the map they had learned without the benefit of quizzes – the fit kids scored 43% on average, while the unfit kids scored 25.8% on average.

Those results suggested to the researchers that “higher levels of fitness have their greatest impact in the most challenging situations.” They also speculated that most of the benefits of being physically fit come into play when a child is committing new information to memory, and not as much when that information is recalled later.
You can find the full study at this LINK, where the researchers conclude:
This conclusion is consistent with both the animal and human studies, which suggest that fitness and exercise has a significant influence on hippocampal structure and function. Hippocampus is responsible, in part, for encoding information into memory, and in particular for relations among different aspects of the environment (e.g., such as a face, with a name, with a profession). Indeed, the encoding and representation of region names with locations in the present study is clearly the kind of information that has been shown to be well served by a highly functioning hippocampus.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Orlando's New Urban 7-Eleven

Orlando's new 7-Eleven at Colonial Drive and Fern Creek
The City of Orlando required that 7-Eleven build its new gas station/convenience store at Colonial Drive and Fern Creek in accordance with "traditional city" zoning criteria.  Doors open to the sidewalks.  The building sits on the corner, creating architectural definition.  And, yes, most motorists are smart enough to figure out where to find the gas pumps.  This layout should be standard for corner gas station/convenience stores. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Younger This Year

I’m younger this year than last.  Not chronologically, but in terms of my physical fitness and overall health.  When we lived outside of Windermere, I spent 7.5 hours a week commuting to and from work.  I exercised only on weekends, if at all.  I was unmotivated.  My weight hovered close to 180.  My cholesterol gradually got out of control—up to almost 300.  My physician told me I had minor atherosclerosis--hardening of my main artery—a sign of plaque build-up.  The words “heart disease” scared the heck out of me. 

I resolved to change my lifestyle, but the time constraints between work, commuting, and taking care of four kids overwhelmed me.     

A year ago, we moved to Winter Park, about ten minutes from my office, freeing up six hours weekly.  Since then, I’ve spent the extra time exercising, now alternating between running, bicycling, and weight training.  This summer, I biked my first half-century since I was a teenager--a fifty-three mile ride.  A few weeks ago, I ran my first 5K race, at UCF, finishing in 38 minutes--not spectacular but faster than many college-aged runners.  Not bad for 47.  Between exercise and shifting to a vegetarian diet, I’ve shed about 20 pounds and much of my middle-age belly.  My cholesterol has dropped to around 130. 

Consistent weight training—at least twice weekly—has made me stronger.  I’m benching up to 135 pounds, which I did in college.   I’m doing military pull-ups—strengthening my core--for the first time in decades.

Winter Park is far more conducive to a healthy lifestyle than exurbia, where we lived on a loop residential street, cut-off from other neighborhoods by one of those ubiquitous suburban four lane highways.  One former neighbor would bike our subdivision in endless loops.  I could only imagine his  boredom after a few loops.  In Winter Park, the roads are two lanes between my house and the Cady Way Trail.  I’ll spend a typical weekday morning biking 6.5 miles, a good portion on Cady Way and lakeside on the Lake Baldwin Trail.  To mix it up, I’ll run about 1.5 miles on Winter Park’s street grid—gorgeous routes under an oak tree canopy.  On weekends, when I have more time, I’ll bike to downtown Orlando (all on two-lane roads and trails), and return via the Orlando Urban Trail and Winter Park’s beautiful streets.  Recently, I've added an extra mile to my weekend run.   Physical fitness builds on itself. 

How did I really turn it around? 

I’ll credit a friend from Jacksonville, an attorney, who recommended a book called Younger Next Year. The authors are Chris Crowley, a man in his 70’s, and his doctor, Harry Lodge.  It’s the most motivational book I’ve ever read.  Crowley lives the life of a physically fit senior—skiing, rowing, cycling, and weight training--and urges on the reader in entertaining fashion.  In alternating chapters, Lodge explains the scary biology of aging and how to reverse it, which surprisingly takes less effort than you’d think.  We send our body signals everyday—either grow or decay.  For most of us, exercising six days a week, combined with “not eating crap,” can delay 70% of the decay and disease associated with aging until close to the end of our lives, according to Lodge.  The authors put out an edition for women.  (Crowley followed-up with a diet and exercise book, co-authored with nutritionist Jen Sacheck, Thinner This Year, but I'd first start with one of the original books).  Highly, highly recommended.  Five stars.  Among the best ten bucks you’ll ever spend.