The Pleasures of Biking the Czech Greenways

Tasty food in the Czech Republic.

In Europe it seems different countries have their own unique “tourism claims to fame”. In France it may well be the haut cuisine, fashion and art. Austria has a world renown tradition of theatre and desserts (read Strudel) that are worth dying for. And then there’s the Czech Republic.

A century ago the Czechs were the top economic dogs in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But after surviving almost half a century of Communism, the country has found itself entering the 21st century markedly behind their Austrian neighbors. Despite their slow start, the Czechs has emerged in better shape than many of its Eastern Bloc cousins with an average GDP per capita at purchasing power parity of $27,100 in 2011, which is 85% of the EU average.

The principal industries are heavy and general machine-building, iron and steel production, metalworking, chemical production and the making of a host of other simple manufacturing products. Its main agricultural products are sugarbeets, fodder roots, potatoes, wheat, and hops (what more do you need to make a fine pilsner?). A growing and increasingly important industry for the country today is tourism.

Since their currency is relatively weak compared to the Euro, local goods – particularly food, beer and wine are exceedingly inexpensive. This has made Prague (with a rich history jammed with all sorts of monuments) and its surrounding cities a principal destination for visits from swaths of German families, broke student travellers and English stag parties. While the country has sometimes faced criticism in its bigger cities for rampant pick-pocketing and over-charging tourists, its countryside is increasingly coming into its own as a destination spot for a particular niche: European and North America’s cycling community eager to experience Czech food and culture without the headache of the tourist trap cities.

Thanks to an influx of millions of Euros investment, the Czechs are leveraging their cheap currency (and hence cheap food), their world class beer (hit a different region and try a different type), incredible Central European historical monuments and a vast network of 24,000 miles of color coded  farming roads to create a virtual cycling Disneyland.

The project was originally inspired by the Hudson River Valley Greenway, a revitalization project in New York that has spurred recreation and culture along the riverfront from Westchester County to Albany.

According to an article in the New York Times, the Greenways project is the brainchild of Lubomir Chmelar, a retired architect who splits his time between New York City and Mikulov, a small southeastern town near the Austrian border. Since 2005, the country has been blanketed by millions of red, blue, yellow and green trail markers. The trails use the patchwork of old country roads, forested trails, hiking paths and small town centres to guide cyclists through the heartland of the republic.

The beautiful Czech countryside.

The Czech people seem to be taking to the new and rapidly growing tourist tradition. Many pubs, wine caverns and small restaurants have sprung up along the main cycle routes. Bike stores adorn every mid-sized town square (next to the super-kitsch and somewhat tacky tourist traps). A flat tire or bewildered look at the map quickly leads to a friendly helping hand from a local. No one smiles in this tiny country, but most people seem to be very helpful.

This summer my wife and I embarked on a self-guided cycle tour through the south of the country climbing through sleepy villages and dozens of ancient towns of Moravia and Bohemia. The weather was similar to Vancouver with a mix of sun and clouds with the temperature hovering in the mid to low twenties.

Because our cycle trip meant we were on the road early and for most of the day, museum touring was kept to a minimum. Most closed within an hour or two of our arrival. That was fine with us. Our highlights of the trip were not the old museums or churches (we’d seen plenty of these in Paris and Vienna earlier in our trip) but the impromptu rock concert in the pouring rain in front of a three century old palace maintained by the House of Liechtenstein or sampling the delicate carp delicacies of the fish ponds of Trebon.

If you’re looking for a unique off the beaten path experience that combines exercise, great food and country-side sight seeing, consider the Greenways. You won’t be disappointed.

Could Europe’s Velo-mania Come to Vancouver?

James D. Schwartz / Flickr

Over the past week I’ve visited Paris and Vienna and become enraptured by their bike sharing programs. Both cities boast cheap memberships for out-of-towners, which charge you by the half hour (Paris) and hour (Vienna) to ride. The first little while is always free encouraging members to quickly pick up bikes for short jaunts (rather than long scenic hauls). Here are a few general observations about both systems and the cycling communities that use them:

1. The bike share and it’s community (unsurprisingly) reflect the temperament of the host city. In Paris I felt myself transported back to 2000, shortly after I graduated from high school when I had no consideration of rules of the road aside from how to most quickly get from point A to B. The traffic insanity provoked by cyclists, moto-scooters, cars, trucks and pedestrian all flooding the cramped (buggy/horse and wagon designed) streets is impossible to exaggerate. Meanwhile in Germany, everyone, cyclists and bike share folks alike obeyed the little green man on the light like their life depended on it. The effective difference on traffic (and safety) is hard to over-exaggerate.

2. Hills make a big difference. During our time in Paris, we were staying in Montmartre, at the top of one of Paris’ highest points. When we tried to pick up bikes we had to go to 5 bike depots before we could find a pair of free bikes. The simple reason? The number of people going down far outranked the number of Parisian bike guys charged with hauling bikes back up the hill.

3. Don’t expect many gears. Most bikes might have 2-3 gears. No problem of flat European cities – but a very different situation if you’re talking about a hilly city.

4. The more stations the better. The more dense, the more stations. Unsurprisingly, Paris’ system was far larger and more intricate than Vienna’s. However both cities are Euro-standard dense. My feeling is in order to make these things worthwhile, you need to put them in an area where there are a lot of people (metro stations, popular parks, historical monuments) and a fair amount of short “hop” movement of those people.

5.  Celebrate the system. This is yet another layer of sustainable transportation that thanks to telecommunications, just adds to a city’s transportation and people moving infrastructure.

6. Cycling in the rain (if you don’t have the proper clothes) isn’t so romantic. Nope, we didn’t see many jolie girls in summer dresses happily peddling through puddles and a downpour. We did see business attired professionals using the bike share in Paris, but only when it was nice out. If you have a sketchy climate, consider factoring that into usage.

In Vancouver, there’s quite the discussion about whether we North Americans can transplant the bike share concept. The biggest hurdle we face right now is our helmet laws. But I think the other question we need to ask is if we have the transportation density and culture to make this addition to transit (cause in the end it needs to be about transit not just tourism) work.

Journey into the Wilds of New Westminster on the Greenway

This Monday, intrepid Gumboot illustrator/photographer Phil Skipper and I embarked on a journey to ride from East Vancouver to New Westminister along the vaunted Central Valley Greenway, a bike route that weaves through the “Vancouver specials” of East Van, along the flat Skytrain route to Boundary and then into the forest and lake district of Burnaby all the way to the heart of New Westminster.

The trail runs past a wide range of interesting sites (neighbourhood library, awesome cycling bridge, old New West prison, gorgeous lakes, angry looking Canada geese) which we were sadly unable to spend too much time observing due to the pouring rain that buffeted us throughout the day. Below are a few photos that chronicle the journey – which despite the weather, was a very good one. To learn more about the Greenway and other associated routes – visit Translink’s website.

This is a little “library” alcove buried off Lakewood in Grandview Woodlands. Talk about a neat little concept for the community to share books.

Despite the rain, we enjoyed a brief picnic of nuts, strawberries and raisins in Burnaby's lake district as we watched Canada Geese give us the evil eye.

Amazingly tasty meal at the Dublin Castle Pub in New West. I got the soup and beef dip. Skipper enjoyed the very British Shepherd's Pie

99 Ways to Leverage Our Humanity – Part 3

[Editor's note: I must start by saying that what unfolds below is a team effort - thanks to everyone who has contributed to this list! So, for better or worse, many parts of the world have been recently occupied - and in some places, like Vancouver, this may or may not be coming to an end. Many elements of the Occupy Movement have issued demands. Personally, I see many problems with demands, as they imply binary-negotiating and/or unchangeable beliefs. Personally, I see more value and possibility in ideas and collaborative brainstorming - though this is a much harder process for certain. Some other folks share a love for collaboration and they have kindly offered their ideas in world-changing list-form. So, without further ado, here is part three of a four-part series that is meant to get our community thinking about how our brilliant, passionate, inspiring, adaptive, funny, delicious, healthy, and innovative humanity can make the world a better place. Thanks for the memories, everyone!].

How can we leverage our humanity to solve the world’s problems?

Here are ideas 1-25. And here are ideas 26-50. And here are ideas 51-75:

  1. Hike.  Get out in nature’s bosom.  Commune with the forest spirits.  Skinny dip.  Roll in dirt.  It’s clean.  Sit.  Listen.  Yell!  Pee your name in the snow (men only, I think).  Play capture the flag.  Know Nature.  Know Its value to you personally.  Because you can’t want to protect something if you don’t even know what it is.
  2. Cycle.  You’ll see more and feel good.  Buy rain pants and suit up.  You’ll be dry under you clothes (and naked!).  Be visible.  Cyclists are the future:  fuckin non-motorized, non-electronic cyborgs on wheels.
  3. Draw.  Not for art’s sake.  For communicating.  Long before we wrote, we drew.  On cave walls and on bark and hide.  Appreciate the symbolic nature of signs and symbols, and the miracle that allows all humans to interpret them.  Ed Emberley is a prophet.
  4. Drink.  Water.  H2O.  Its ubiquity only adds to its many mysteries.
  5. Learn.  A language.  Or several.  Or even just a smattering of words.  Knowing another’s tongue is the quickest way to break the ice and will allow you to more easily understand ‘the other’.
  6. Objectify.  Be partial.  Know that your opinions are opinions and based on what you believe you know.  Do not mistake passion for rightfulness.  Choose to be emotional; do not make emotional choices.
  7. Listen.  You talk too much.  Listening allows for ideas to reveal themselves to speakers who may not even know they have such ideas.  If you can’t listen, pretend to listen, as this often has the same effect.
  8. Keep.  Imbue physical objects with meaning.  A ring, a rock, or even a house.  We are physical creatures living in a physical world, not virtual avatars.  Don’t tear down old buildings.  Believe in ghosts and spirits.
  9. Teach.  To teach is to learn well.  Whether it be abstract or practical knowledge, by teaching it you will learn it deeper, and it will become you.
  10. Smile.  In monkeys it lowers tension and creates group harmony.  We are all monkeys.  Faking is acceptable as it often leads to the real thing.  Emotions and your facial muscles are inextriclaby linked. You can fool your own brain.
  11. Don’t.  Don’t do anything.  Eke.  Survive.  Be simple.  Learn the art of inertia.  Laziness is godliness.  The planet will thank you for it.
  12. Think critically. Do not accept things for what they are and ask lots and lots of questions.
  13. Perform. Sock puppets, Shakespeare, Improv, and Musicals are great ways to tell stories as well as tackle the pesky problem of fearing public speaking.
  14. Dance with people. And, to quote a wise man named Jim, “never let the rhythm control your dancing.”
  15. It might’ve been said before but it bears repeating: learn another language. This will help when you visit other places. And it will really help you visit communities not just tourist attractions.
  16. Have heroes and role models who exist in the real world, not the hyper-sexed and overly violent fictional worlds of so much media.
  17. Send handwritten thank you cards. First, because it’s the right thing to do. Second, people love getting mail and, let’s face it, the cards are outstanding advertising for your personal brand!
  18. Be skeptical and question authority. This doesn’t mean rebelling against anything and everything; it just means that you shouldn’t take everyone at their word all the time.
  19. Strive to be a bit more of an armchair economist so that you can understand – and share knowledge about – the complex workings of the global financial system.
  20. Commit to keeping the complex complex. Sometimes simple solutions come at the erosion and sacrifice of necessarily complex and important things.
  21. Remember that the things you own end up owning you. The only logical solution here is for you to give your things away so that they can own other people.
  22. Take off/out your headphones and/or earbuds and listen to the world around you. This will expose you to funny things, interesting things, and things that will inspire you to engage members of your community in conversation.
  23. Collaborate. Like a symphony. Working together is the only way that we’re going to pull ourselves out of this mess.
  24. Find common ground with someone who has a totally different worldview than you. It’s possible. I mean, Kurt and John do it every day on this blog!
  25. Recognize that humanity’s adaptability will see us through tsunamis, earthquakes, peak oil, and the zombie apocalypse; however, there will be catastrophic collateral damage and many of us will not survive the next 100 years. Try your best to be okay with this fact and also try really, really hard to not be a weird survivalist who makes people super uncomfortable while riding the bus…

Masthead photo courtesy of Kurt Heinrich, who is awesome.

Broad Minds or Empty Pockets: perspectives on travel

It’s almost a year today since my boyfriend and I arrived back in Australia after an epic two year travel adventure across Canada, the United States and South East Asia. Ironically, it’s also taken almost a year for us to pay-off the epic credit-card debt that we amassed on our travels.

Both these milestones have got me thinking lately about whether travel is worth both the effort and the expense. There are plenty of reasons to avoid or put off traveling, and they’re usually based on either your community or your career.

Why would you leave all your friends and family to go somewhere where you know no one? And what if something happens to your mum or dad while you’re away?  All your friends are having babies – shouldn’t you be settling down too?

Then there’s your career – what if Craig from Level 7 gets the promotion you want while you’re away? And how do you hide two years of ‘no-fixed-employment’ on your resume?

There’s no question that travel is difficult, expensive and importantly, it’s also completely intangible. But the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

During our travels we were lucky enough to live in one of the world’s most livable cities during one of the world’s biggest sporting events. We met amazing people that totally changed our perspective on life, and we experienced being part of numerous communities that we would never have seen at home.

But that doesn’t mean it was all sunshine and rainbows. We also arrived in Vancouver in the midst of a global economic meltdown, when hiring non-Canadians on short-term working holiday visas wasn’t a particularly attractive option for most employers. We had no jobs, no contacts, nowhere to live, and we had days when we came very close to forgetting about the whole travel idea and going home.

But once we managed to clear all the hurdles, we had an experience that will probably be the highpoint of our lives for quite some time to come.

Sure, we probably could have put down a deposit on a house with the amount of money we spent, but then we wouldn’t have a ton of amazing memories, some wonderful international friends, a much stronger relationship and the kind of self-awareness that only comes from being turned down for 30 jobs in the space of two months.

I think the best option when it comes to travel is to apply the grandkids rule. When you’re old and grey and having your food spoon-fed, what are you going to be telling your grandkids about the way your lived your life? Are you going to tell them about the great new outdoor setting you bought in 1992? Or the project you worked on in 2001? Or are you going to tell them about the time you had your Pringles stolen by a monkey in the Borneo jungle?

No amount of tangible ‘things’ will ever surpass the food you’ll taste, the people you’ll meet, the things you’ll see and the knowledge you’ll gain.

Vacation Planning – Community Style

As I write this I am between vacations. Yesterday I was basking in an unseasonably warm fall day in Algonquin Provincial Park. Tomorrow, I’m heading to Cape Cod and later in the week to Boston. It is my reward for a September void of days off, as work gobbled up every weekend between Labour Day and Thanksgiving.

Once the Lonely Planet or some other off the shelf travel guide was my only tool to plan trips. But increasingly, the paper books have given way to the Internet. Odds are by now you already know about the many travel websites offering deals and feedback from a community of previous vacationers. If not, you should look into it. This is increasingly the way most people I know make their travel decisions. But beyond the basics of the where to stay and what the key attractions are the Internet is offering way more. For Jim and I this means that we are getting to know and even starting to contribute to online communities around two of our current main vacation interests: canoeing and beer.

The traditional guides for canoeing in Ontario are park maps and a single prolific author on canoe routes, Kevin Callan.  These are still great resources to access, but choosing the right trip at the right time of year is the key challenge in planning a successful trip. Online paddling communities, such as Canadian Canoe Routes offer a forum to share trip routes, provide advice, and learn about seasonal differences in a region. Other sites like Virtual Algonquin and Algonquin Map provided more specific details on Algonquin for our trip planning this summer and fall. These resources have meant we were able to get off the beaten track in August when some parts of the park get booked to capacity and let us know when to check out the most popular lakes, like Canoe Lake, without being steamrolled by the crowds.  As new canoeists, it meant were were able to have multiple great vacations in our first year.

Travel guides for good beer seem to be few and far between in published form. But online there are thriving beer communities offering advice on the best places to get pints in whatever town you might be in.
My favourite is Beer Advocate – offering listings and user ratings for breweries, eateries, bars, retailers and u-brews. It offers a crash course in great craft beer no matter what city in North American you are in.  Another great resource is The Beer Mapping Project, helpful for thirsty travelers to get acquainted with the local beer landscape.  And there are what seems like countless more resources, recommendations, and reviews out there to guide the way to better beer rather than large scale commercial brews that I could just as easily find in the bar around the corner from where I live.

The Internet is now my main gateway to traveling. It lets me get closer to communities that share my interests and gain more intimate knowledge of a space that I will only be in for a short period of time. And very little of this knowledge, advice or tips would be available to me without the previous travelers or generous locals that took the time to share and document their experiences. Bon voyage!

Pedal Etiquette – Drivers are too nice!

Most weekdays see me ride my bike home from work. And the lovely and talented Michelle Burtnyk-Horn rides to and from work every day. Recently, we had a chat about similar problems that we were having with drivers at four-way-stops.Long story short, many of you drivers – most, I would argue – are being too nice and needlessly accommodating to cyclists. You stop, wait and wave us through intersections when it is not our turn to proceed.

This over-accommodating behaviour is dangerous.

Through the power of MS Paint I have constructed four graphic renditions of common cyclist-motorist issues that arise at four-way stops.

Scenario 1 – The Setting

This is a standard 4 Way Stop, much like the ones that dot the 10th Avenue bike-friendly street in Vancouver.

Problem: motorists do not go through a 4 Way Stop instersection when they’re supposed to, which is dangerous.

Solution: obey traffic laws, especially if cyclists do not!

Scenario 2 – Fake Go, then Stop!

Problem: The motorist arrives at the intersection first. Out of the corner of their eye – or because of sweet safe-driving-skills – they notice an approaching cyclist. The motorist moves forward and then stops. And then lurches. And then stops. Nobody knows what to do.

Solution: When it’s your turn to move through the intersection, please move through. Trust that cyclists will stop at stop signs. Because we will. Those are the rules.

Scenario 3 – Left Turn FAIL!

Problem: a cyclist signals a left-hand turn through a four-way stop – or a two-way stop; similarly to when a car begins moving forward after the vehicle opposite of it begins moving through the intersection, the cyclist above pedals forward with left arm perpendicular to body, signalling a turn. The thing is that the motorist opposite of the cyclist stops, which probably isn’t what they would do for a car signalling a left turn.

Solution: when it’s your turn you proceed through the intersection, good sir/madam.

Scenario 4 – Total Stop-Start Disaster!

Problem: a cyclist approaches an intersection where three cars are waiting; they all take notice of the cyclist – who is, incidentally, nowhere near the intersection – and all lurch, stop, lurch, hesitate, move, stop, and stop some more because, for some reason, the motorists think that the cyclist is just going to power through the intersection.

Solution: business as usual; whoever gets to the intersection first goes first. If there’s a tie, then the honour goes to the motorist on the right, etc.


Here’s the deal. Riding a bike has a lot to do with momentum. It’s way harder for a bicycle to get going than it is for a car. You know, on account of all the delicious oil cars use to go faster. For this reason, cyclists will slow down when approaching 4 Way Stop intersections while maintaining forward movement in order to time their passage in a way that syncs with the regular order of how things move through the intersection – you know, the way cars always do it. Motorists, do not be scared or apprehensive of such two-wheel, rolling timeliness. And remember that bicycles are vehicles, too. For when you stop and start and wave cyclists through when it’s not their turn to go through a 4 Way Stop – well – this makes things more dangerous for everyone.

As with toddlers, cyclists love boundaries. Please, drivers, be sure to give your road-sharing neighbours appropriate ones.

Since when are bike helmets cool? Since right now, and that’s awesome!

“Helmets” and “style” aren’t words that I naturally associate.  Until now.  The bike helmet has become an extension of personal style.  This is good news for our cycling community.

With September comes back-to-school and with that, more traffic on the bike routes.  In the past three weeks, I’ve seen cyclists wearing snowboarding helmets, full-face BMX helmets, shorty motorcycle helmets, equestrian helmets, and an old-school aviation helmet (seriously).  These are in addition to the usual mix of standard racing helmets and contemporary multi-sport helmets.  Yes, Vancouver gets slammed for its’ lame fashion.  But lots of cyclists are style-conscious and their helmets complement their look.

I’ve been a cyclist for a while and have never felt cool wearing my helmet.  It’s your basic model with a visor and it’s just fine.  But when I wear it, I am well aware that I won’t be winning any style contests.  I like wearing a helmet, I don’t resent the helmet law, and I respect everyone’s right to choose to wear one or not.

Some cycling advocates argue that the helmet law prevents people from riding.  I’m not sure why but I guess it’s because they’re put-off by having to wear something dorky.  Or maybe helmets are uncomfortable for some.  Or maybe some are just uncomfortable with being told what to do.  Whatever the reason, better helmet options means more people are wearing them.  Lately, the helmet-free cyclist stands out from the mini-peloton at stop lights on 10th Avenue.

When I’m due for my next helmet, I’m definitely going to shell out the dough for something more stylish than what I wear now.  I see my cooler self in a super cute cherry-red glittery action helmet with a bright “One Less Car” sticker on it.  Make a fashion statement with your helmet?  Absolutely.

Helmets…they’re so hot right now.

English Bay’s Bulk Carriers Revealed

Ever notice that Vancouver’s English Bay skyline is constantly littered with those, squat, red-hulled ships? Or maybe not. They’re  such an omnipresent feature of our surroundings, that we pay them little heed despite their importance.  Each of these modern-day merchant ships, or “Bulk Carriers”, doggedly cross the Pacific laden with Canadian commodities. In recent years, they amount to a ceaseless conveyor belt ferrying coal, potash, grain and softwood lumber to hungry markets in China.  So hungry in fact, that softwood lumber imports to China exceeded those bound for the U.S. this spring. Exports to China were up 157 per cent by volume over the same month last year.  Each of those sticks of wood was carefully stowed in English Bay’s bulk carriers.

While their economic usefulness to Canada and B.C. is undeniable, I am more interested in how the technology of these ships have evolved into the monsters we see today. Before the advent of steel, steam-powered ships longshoremen loaded the cargo into sacks, stacked the sacks onto pallets, and put the pallets into the cargo hold with a crane.

A lot has changed since then.Today, bulkers make up 40% of the world’s merchant fleets and range in size from single-hold mini-bulkers to mammoth ore ships able to carry 400,000 tons of deadweight tons.  A number of specialized designs exist: some can unload their own cargo, some depend on port facilities for unloading, and some even package the cargo as it is loaded. Most the ships loitering outside of Stanley Park are in the “Handymax” class capable of carrying 10,000 tons. They are part of a fleet of over 6,000 similar vessels worldwide.

I’m not sure what their direct contribution to community building is other than that, as we stroll the Seawall, we all enjoy looking out at them. To me and to so many others, they consistently evoke the romance of the high seas and of exotic destinations. No amount of sheer size and technological sophistication can change that.

Bike Share in Melbourne Lacks Traction

About 12 months ago, the City of Melbourne introduced a new bike share program for the Melbourne community. Based on similar highly successful programs in places like London, Montreal and San Francisco, the program provides easy access to 100 bikes at 10 stations across the city.

But one year on, rider numbers have fallen well short of expectations and debate is currently raging in Melbourne about the long-term viability of the program. It seems 25,000 Melbournians will happily turn out for a city parade to congratulate Australia’s first Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, but only about 250 per day actually want to get on a bike themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I think bike share programs are an awesome idea. I spent an amazing week in Montreal cruising around on a Bixi bike, and there are numerous successful examples of bike share programs across the world that are both utilised and adored by local communities.

So why is Melbourne different? Firstly, it’s got to do with helmets. Helmets are compulsory in Australia and the fine for not wearing one while cycling is hefty. So you’d think that helmets would be available to rent with the bikes right? Wrong. Australian law also mandates that if a helmet is rented, an inspection and sterilization must be completed after each rental, which is clearly not going to happen.

As a result, share-cyclists either need to rent a helmet from a bike rental store, or buy one from vending machines located near the bike stations. The other option of course is to carry a helmet with you on the off-chance that you might want to cycle, along with a spare pair of trainers in case you need to go running, and a clean pair of underpants in case you get hit by a bus.

Critics of the program have also suggested that the city might have put the cart before the horse in creating the program, and that the money should have first gone into providing safe cycling infrastructure in the city before we start providing the bikes.

Melbourne isn’t an easy place to cycle – bike lanes are few and far between, and where they do exist they are narrow, un-segregated and prone to random disappearance when the roads get too narrow.  Throw in trams, hook turns and generally inconsiderate drivers, and riding in Melbourne can seem like a bit of a suicide mission.

But regardless of the issues, I prefer to live in a city that supports bike-sharing than one that doesn’t, and hopefully the program is at least educating the Melbourne community about the ease and efficiency of using bikes for short trips. Now if we could just get Le Tour guys using these bikes, maybe their popularity would increase…