Quiet Roads on a Sunday Bike Ride

Yesterday I went for a bike ride. By my norms it was a relatively cool day, just 27 or so degrees, compared to the 30-37°c I have ridden in, in the past. I was comfortable on the bike, with a cool breeze to cool me down.

The Marine Iguanas at Nyon Plage
The Marine Iguanas at Nyon Plage

I went by the lake and I think other people were heat struck. They were lethargic and inattentive getting off buses. They were all by the lake side, sunbathing like marine iguanas. As I road by the lake it was sometimes frustrating to see that the bike lane was used by pedestrians, with no thought to cyclists. The same pedestrians who had driven to the lake side in a car.

Relaxing at the Broken Chair

Place des Nations with the Broken Chair and Palace of Nations
Place des Nations with the Broken Chair and Palace of Nations

As part of the bike ride I went towards Geneva. Initially I wanted a short bike ride because I wasn’t keen to cycle. I eventually chose to ride to the broken chair. I stopped, but this time didn’t take a shower in the fountains, like last time. Instead I relaxed, and watched tourists taking self-portraits and group photos. I watched a parent get surprised by a jet of water as it increased in intensity and wet his shoes.

For some reason I felt relaxed, so I just stood, and watched. I wasn’t in a rush to continue. I wasn’t so warm that I wanted a shower. I was comfortable.

I then cycled towards the ICRC before going by the ILO, WHO, UNICED and other organisations. I then cycled by the airport where I stopped again. I watched a Qatar airways flight take off for Doha and a flight from the Aeggean come in to land, before an Air Algérie and British Airways aircraft landed. I was reminded of how much I love the sound of aviation. If I had the sound of aviation rather than music festivals I would be very happy. The sound of planes still excites me to this day.

Watching planes take off and land
Watching planes take off and land

Very Quiet Ride through Versoix and Beyond

What struck me once I felt Geneva behind was how quiet the roads were. I hardly crossed any walkers, any cyclists, any families with children. I hardly even crossed dog walkers. When I realised this I thought “This is a fantastic time of year to cycle. It’s so nice to have the landscape to myself. Not to worry about dogs, not to be frustrated by normal people, being normal. I think that I would quite happily emigrate to somewhere less densely populated, especially now, during a pandemic with no end date.

An old tree among young trees
An old tree among young trees

The Cycling Paradox

For me, cycling has a paradox. The paradox is that for as long as you are cycling at 20 km/h or faster you have a nice breeze to keep you cool. The moment you stop, you feel a wall of heat envelope you. I felt cool, and comfortable but I drank three water bottles of water. I drank one on the way to Geneva, then refilled one at the water fountain near the Parc Ariana, before heading to the ICRC. I then drank two more water bottles of water before I got home.

I was warm, and I was thirsty, but I was always comfortable. I was right to have two bottles of water with me, and I was even more rational, by re-filling my primary water bottle when I had the chance. I probably would have suffered if I had not.

The Mistake of Others

Other people make the mistake of sitting in the sun, by the lake, getting dehydrated and cooked by the sun, like Marine iguanas. I appear crazy, for walking and cycling in the heat but I’m not the one drinking alcohol and exposing me to the full strength of the sun. I don’t need to get into a metal box, either a car, or a bus, at the end of my activity. I just take the lift, with my bike, and get back to my apartment. It usually feels cool, compared to being in direct sunlight.

My skin felt cool, when I got home, evidence that I was not suffering from the heat, unlike other people.

At Ease On The Bike

Activities: 33

Distance: 1,014.9 km

Elev Gain: 7,433 m

Time: 44h 27m

I have spent fourty four and a half hours on the bike, covering a thousand kilometres in that time. If I feel more comfortable, that’s why. Cycling is a good sport when the conditions are good. It’s also a way of being active, without the use of the car. As convenient as cars are, I think they’re horrible to deal with. Society would gain a lot by reducing its reliance on cars. I think cargo bikes and electric bikes are a better alternative.

And Finally

For the next week I don’t think I will cycle. I have already been crashed into by a car driver whilst riding my scooter during one music festival. I don’t want to be run over by a Paléo person during this festival week. I will also be sleep deprived due to being unable to sleep as a result of noise pollution, as the sound engineers they hire at music festivals are not the brightest of the profession. If they were bright music festivals would be seen, not heard.

Heat Waves and Tarmac

Heat Waves and Tarmac

Heatwaves and Tarmac

When you cycle you feel the difference between different landscapes between seconds. You go from farming landscapes to wooded areas near forests before finally getting to the cities. In the process you notice the difference in temperatures between these different land uses.

The Permanent Summer Heatwave

This summer has been mild in Switzerland, so far, but it could get up to 37°c for several days at a time again. As heat becomes more common the way the Swiss are building new properties becomes absurd. Where there was a single house, surrounded by grass, with two of three trees, and shade, you get a tarmaced parking space, with walls that prevent breezes and tarmac that absors the heat during the day, and radiates it at night. Fantastic in winter, awful in summer.

More and More Swimming Pools

According to the RTS More and more people want swimming pools. The falacy of pools is that require electricity for water filtering pumps, and to heat the water. They also require water due to evaporation and being splashed out of the pool as people play.

The Stratosphere and Rocket Launches

One of the more interesting theories I came across a year or two ago was the notion that rocket launches are taking a lot of material into the stratosphere, where it has a greater impact.

  • But emissions from rockets are emitted right into the upper atmosphere, which means they stay there for a long time: two to three years. Even water injected into the upper atmosphere – where it can form clouds – can have warming impacts, says Marais. “Even something as seemingly innocuous as water can have an impact.”

It’s interesting that as rocket launches increase in frequency climate change appears to increase in severity, due to the positive feedback loop. In Environmental Science this describes how change feeds upon itself and increases in severity over time.

  • Closer to the ground, all fuels emit huge amounts of heat, which can add ozone to the troposphere, where it acts like a greenhouse gas and retains heat. In addition to carbon dioxide, fuels like kerosene and methane also produce soot. And in the upper atmosphere, the ozone layer can be destroyed by the combination of elements from burning fuels.

More should be done to investigate the environmental impact of launches, and, I feel, we should reduce their frequency until we understand their impact on the planet.

49°c in Several cities

According to the Guardian European heatwave: red alerts issued for 16 cities in Italy, with temperatures up to 49°c. Usually 40°c was considered hot in Europe. Now we’re talking about 49°c.

The tragedy of this situation is that if you look at motorways, and car use, it hasn’t changed. There was a brief honeymoon period during the pandemic when people gave up their cars to walk and cycle. Now the toxic habit of driving everywhere is back. People are overheating, but they’re not making things better, by not adapting their driving habits.

Animal Deaths

Trees are getting dehydrated as they have to survive drought after drought. They are also suffering from insect infestations, due to the milder weather not kiling off pests in winter. Baby birds are dying because as they try to get to cooler air they are falling out of their nests.


When I was watching the Canadian documentary series “Big Timber” in season two they regularly mentioned the term crossover. The term crossover describes when the air temperature is higher than humidity. This means that forest fires are more likely. Geneva is at level 3, Vaud is at level two and parts of Valais are level four forest fire risk.

Tarmac and Buildings

As I walk from village to village and from town to town I see that towns and villages are replacing parks, and properties with grass and trees with concrete buildings and tarmac surfaces. Whilst these are great for cars they are bad for getting rid of water when it rains, and heat during a heatwave. Densification, as the Swiss are doing it, will worsen heatwaves. I was looking at the temperatures yesterday and noticed that Geneva and Nyon were three degrees warmer than neighbouring villages. By trying to cram more people and buildings into smaller areas they are increasing the ability for cities, and villages to trap heat.

And Finally

Now that heat is common efforts should be made to plant more trees, and increase air flow within buildings to promote the cooling effect of a breeze. If it does get hot then going to a forest makes sense although being wary of fires might be good. We should cut down on car use, and cycle and walk more, to stop filling the atmosphere with crap. I learned how to cope with the heat, even in an attic. The secret, for me, is to always have water and a hat, and if possible a breeze.

The Unthreatening Clouds

The Unthreatening Clouds

The unthreatening clouds did not bother me during my bike ride but it was cooler than sometimes at this time of year. I occasionally felt that an extra layer or two would be welcome. That’s unusual in July at this time of year.

I chose routes that kept me as far from cars as possible. I also chose wider roads. They may be safer. The challenge is to find roads where cars are banned.

We will see if the rain comes.

Rain and Water Tables

Rain and Water Tables

There is an article on Swiss Radio and Television that discusses the positive impact that the flooding has had on the water tables. For several years not only have we had warm weather but we have also gone with very little or no rain for months at a time.

During some weeks we were told “The water reserves are so low that we will soon need to switch to retrieving water from the lake rather than our reservoires. Underground water is great for when there’s a drought above ground, but the problem is that underground water is finite, and as a result if it is not replenished then it will eventually run out.

The fact that we have had so much rain over the last few days is excellent for the water tables, as I have tweeted or written here. As that water gets down to the water table, it will remain, until the next time it is needed.

Après plusieurs années de canicule, les eaux souterraines avaient, en certains points, fortement baissé, notamment dans le canton de Vaud.

Source: Les fortes précipitations ont un impact positif sur les nappes phréatiques

It’s easy to see the human tragedy of mass flooding, and people losing everything. We must also understand that nature has a way of balancing things out. That’s why this planet, and these latitudes, are inhabitable. It is normal, after a period of drought, for a lot of rain to fall, to replenish water tables, and then for another period of drought to come back.

This amount of rain has not fallen in seventy years. What makes this year unique is that it is spread across the whole of Switzerland.

Chaque ville a déjà connu des débuts d’été particulièrement arrosés. À Sion, ce fut l’année 2007. À Genève en 1997, à Lucerne en 1993. La particularité de cette année 2021, c’est l’étendue du phénomène. Toutes les stations montrent un pic des moyennes quotidiennes de précipitations.

Un niveau de précipitations inédit depuis 70 ans en ce début d’été

And for your intellectual curiosity, if you understand French. The phenomenon of the “Cold Drop”.

Les faibles températures et les violentes précipitations qui s’abattent sur la Suisse sont dues à un phénomène météorologique appelé “goutte froide”. Il désigne une poche d’air froid qui est abandonnée par la calotte du pôle Nord.

Cette masse est ensuite “étranglée” et “attaquée” de part et d’autre par un air plus chaud. Elle se met alors à tourner sur elle-même jusqu’à former une dépression, donnant lieu à des orages et de fortes pluies.

That’s it for today.

The Dynamism Of Light – Walking on a Cloudy Day

The Dynamism Of Light – Walking on a Cloudy Day

If we did not have seasons, and weather, then walking the same route several times a week would get boring. Thanks to the weather we see plants get sown, we see them grow, we see them harvested, and then we see new plants planted. Over time, we recognise plants at an earlier and earlier stage of development. Today I saw that cherries are close to being ready to be picked, so it may be time to prepare Foret Noir.

Looking from Crans towards Lausanne etc.
Looking from Crans towards Lausanne etc.

I installed WordPress 5.8 alpha on my local computer to play around with. I won’t play around with it today because I have to be focused on something else until tomorrow evening. Tomorrow evening, I will regain the freedom to study what I feel like studying.


Experimenting With Minergie

Minergie is theoretically a fantastic, environmentally friendly way of making a building more energy-efficient, by reducing the need for air conditioning and heating. For three years now I have been playing with and experimenting with minergie. During the first and second heatwaves, I liked to open windows and get fresh air. I found that Minergie means “poor air circulation”. As soon as you close the windows you feel the heat radiate from the walls as if they were sauna stones.

With a classic old building the walls are thick and heat stays out, so you never think about open or closed shutters and other things. With an old-fashioned apartment, you can open the windows on both sides and bask in the summer heat. Old apartments are great in heatwaves because you keep your windows open all day long.

With Minergie the experience is different. They eventually begin to feel like ovens, during a heatwave. This year I am trying a different tact. Closed windows, doors, and blinds. So far the experiment seems to be working well. My idea is to compartmentalize the heat. Each room heats and cools by itself. The bathroom and the spare window have veluxes, and these act as radiators in summer, from heat, coming in as sunlight, but also from radiant heat, from the hot glass from being in the hot summer sun. By isolating the oven rooms they warm up in isolation.

I find that some rooms feel cooler, as a result of this strategy. This is a partial success.

My Frustration with Minergie is two-fold. My first frustration is that unlike air conditioning in a car you can’t blast cold air and cool the cabin to a comfortable temperature if it gets too hot. You need to adapt your habits before the heatwave has even started. The second frustration is that with Minergie you cannot open windows and get fresh air as you could before. If you do open windows you need to do so before the day heats up. You open the windows in an attempt to cool down the building’s superstructure.

Although Minergie was designed to keep buildings warm in winter it was never designed to keep buildings cool during yearly heatwaves. In summer Minergie buildings become heat accumulators and, as neighbours in other apartments open windows, and heat up the superstructure, so the top floors become saunas if people are not careful. According to data from last year, the apartment starts to heat up in April and stays warm until Octobre.

Minergie should go back to the conceptual phase and re-imagine how to cool buildings passively, during heatwaves.