Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

A new resource for cycling routes and services

May 22, 2015

One of my favorite things is spreading the word in high-profile publications about people, services, and destinations I think contribute something positive to the world. Here’s one of them, about Bikabout, a wonderful cycling-centric service for travelers founded by cycling enthusiast and tireless advocate Megan Ramey. A small article ran in the New York Times May 17. Here’s my original version, which includes a few more details. Happy pedaling! 

By Diane Daniel

Bikabout founder Megan Ramey with daughter Annika Ramey on Plum Island, Mass. [photo Kyle Ramey]

Bikabout founder Megan Ramey with daughter Annika Ramey on Plum Island, Mass. [photo Kyle Ramey]

Megan Ramey’s first bike-related vacation with her husband and their daughter, now 5, partly inspired her to start Bikabout, an online travel resource for everything bicycling, with information on bike-friendly lodging, traveling with bikes, renting them, and where to ride them around town along with tips on culture, etiquette and safety.

“When our daughter was nine months we took our Burley trailer on the Chinatown bus from Boston and had the most amazing five days biking around with her in Brooklyn,” said Ramey, who lives in Cambridge, Mass., and volunteers with several bicycle advocacy groups. “Our next trip was to the Netherlands, where one out of every two people bike, which was totally eye-opening. If I can help get the US halfway to where the Netherlands is, then I will have accomplished a great thing.”

The site, which launched last year, is this spring rolling out new guides on Washington and New York City, soon to be followed by Atlanta, Milwaukee, San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, adding to the 13 cities already available.

Bikabout founder Megan Ramey with daughter Annika in Madison, Wisc. [photo Kyle Ramey]

Bikabout founder Megan Ramey with daughter Annika in Madison, Wisc. [photo Kyle Ramey]

The downloadable homegrown local rides, provided by Bikabout “ambassadors,” have proven to be the most popular part of the service, she said.

“You can of course go on MapMyRide and find rides there, but most of those are for people going 60 miles a day. Ours are for everyone and are less than 20 miles. They’re designed to have people really see and support the real city, to get off the beaten path and into the nooks and crannies.”

For example, the 7-mile East Van Brewery Tour in Vancouver visits six craft breweries and a few food stops, while the 13-mile Charleston (S.C.) Coastal See Food Tour includes key dining spots and expansive water views. Ramey also has partnered with several Kimpton Hotels, including those in D.C., and will supply them with themed routes starting from each location to give guests.

“Someday I’d like Bikabout to represent every major city in the U.S. that can accommodate bike tourism,” she said. “I don’t have the goal of making tons of money on this. I’m doing this more as a change agent. I want there to be a direct correlation between the amount of money that cities realize in bike tourism and how much they invest in bike infrastructure and safety.”

Don’t bother knockin’ if my brain is rockin’

March 26, 2010
I was thrilled to be able to get the word out via a story in the Washington Post’s health section (reprinted below) about the crazy travel-related illness that I and others suffer from.  It’s called Mal de Debarquement, or MdDS, and is commonly (but not exclusively) triggered by going on a cruise. The main symptom is a constant rocking feeling, like you’re still on the boat. My big news is that I think the disease goddess chose to reward me for writing the story, because my “motion hallucination” seems to have finally dissipated after six months.  Read on if you’re interested in this fascinating blip of the brain, and spread the word so doctors will finally believe us!

Rare disorder makes people feel off balance for weeks or months

By Diane Daniel
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 

When Claudette Broyles tries to describe to friends how she feels, she likens herself to a balloon on a string, tied to a post.

“I’m constantly rocking and swaying, but the level changes,” said Broyles, 60, of Woodstock, Va. “If I’m having an average day, then it’s like I’m a balloon in a mild breeze. If I’m having a bad day, it’s like it’s really windy.”

I hadn’t heard the balloon analogy before, but I could relate.

This sailing trip in the Virgin Islands triggered my second bout of MdDS, in 2003

Broyles and I suffer from mal de debarquement syndrome (MdDS), an uncommon balance disorder that one researcher describes as “motion hallucination.” For weeks, months or even years at a time, we feel that we are rocking, bobbing, swaying, even though diagnostic tests for balance, hearing and vision show up normal. The name for the illness is French for “disembarkation sickness,” so called because it most frequently occurs after being on a boat.

Of course, many people have experienced the swaying sensations that occur just after a boat trip. But for those with MdDS, that feeling doesn’t let up; it persists with varying degrees of severity, causing everything from clumsiness to the inability to walk without some kind of support.

Just how many sufferers there are is unknown, says neurologist Yoon-Hee Cha, who this year launched a study funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, the first time federal money has been used for research into the syndrome.

“We don’t know how many people suffer from MdDS since many people are not able to get the right diagnosis,” she said. “Until there is more widespread familiarity among physicians, we won’t know for sure.” She isn’t sure who gave MdDS its name, but she believes it was first diagnosed in the late 1980s.

Cha, of UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, uses neuro-imaging to try to identify the location in the brain affected during MdDS episodes, with the hope of finding a treatment and a cure.

“It’s a real disorder, even though patients don’t look sick. It’s still very under-recognized among physicians, so a lot of patients are educating their doctors about it,” she said.

Broyles is going through her fifth round of MdDS in 28 years. Most episodes, she believes, were triggered by boats, but the latest occurred after a turbulent flight from England. The first two subsided within a few weeks, and the other two within six months. Her most recent? It has lasted eight years — so far. The disorder prompted her to move from Fairfax to slower-paced Woodstock and has altered her life in many areas, she said.

(more…)