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Rock The Bike

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Oil Spill SF header

About a week ago, when San Francisco Bay suffered its worst oil spill in 20 years, Jon and Adam took their boat out, saw that no one was doing any cleaning, and started wondering what ordinary people can do to fix a problem as massive as a 50000-gallon oil spill.Earlier this year, they bought a 50-foot steel-hulled sailboat to turn into a research and design vessel, the Magnet.

They went out on the Bay to look at the damage to the bridge piling.

Adam observed that the shape of the concrete ‘bumper’ on the Bay Bridge supports “looks awfully similar to the blade on a can opener.” Expecting to see glassy reflective pools of oil covering the water, they instead observed huge clumps of spongy oil. They were able to pull some of these into their craft using a fishing net with holes the size of limes.

That night they were over my house for a pot luck dinner with the Ginger Ninjas. They were showing me their photos from the day and were really shaken up by their day on the bay. Apparently the Coast Guard had raced over to their boat and shouted through a loudspeaker to get away from the bridge, even they were just out there scooping up oil and taking pictures. I helped them start www.oilspillsf.org , a blog of their research and DIY efforts. Did you know you can get a blog up and running with its own URL in about 25 minutes these days?

As bike people, you and I may not think too much about the waters adjoining our commutes and pleasure rides. I commute underneath the bay on BART twice a day, and didn’t notice the oil spill, or even hear about it in the news, until Adam called me to ask if I wanted to go out on the Magnet and help.

If you owned a boat and cared about the oceans, and a cargo ship crashed into a bridge in your bay, what would you do?