For 5 days, I am in the Goldfields district of country Victoria. I visiting family and friends and recharging before heading back for the start of Trimester One on Monday. While here, I have been marking the final assessments for my Summer Course, as my class just submitted their end-of-course final written assessment. It is worth 45% of their total mark. It is a pretty serious deal – for them writing it, and me marking it.

While visiting my amazing young cousin who lives outside of Castlemaine, I found one of his joke book sitting next to the toilet (where many good books are found). I was delighted to see a sports section with a few bike jokes in it.

It was perfect timing to lighten my mood after a long day’s marking – especially seeing as though it was one of those endless beautiful sunny days when I would otherwise have grabbed my bike to either put out some nice long kilometers along the Pyrenees Hwy and beyond, out to the Macedon Ranges, or to go exploring the magnificent 210kms MTB trails around the local Goldfields mountains and volcanoes (*sigh*).

But as marking currently takes precedence (for a couple of days longer only) – these bike jokes were a light reprieve, so I  thought I’d share some of the better, but daggy cycling jokes I found. Although I cannot account for the quality, as my cousin is very young!

 

Set the scene

A truck leaves Sydney City at 10:32 am on a Tuesday morning, carrying 8 tons of freight, and traveling an average of 117 kph heading toward Melbourne. Another truck departs Melbourne at 8:47am on the next day, Wednesday, carrying 4 tons of freight and traveling an average of 98 kph toward Sydney. Where do they meet? On the one-lane bridge where the cyclist is.

 

A motorway and a freeway are enjoying a drink in the pub. A piece of green tarmac walks in.  The motorway whispers: “Come on let’s drink up and go before the trouble starts. He’s a bit of a cyclepath!”

 

Awww dad! Not in front of my new friends!!

What is the cheapest type of bicycle you can buy? A penny-farthing!

What do you call a bicycle built by a chemist? Bike-carbonate of soda!

Why was Cinderella so uncompetitive at cycling? She had a pumpkin for a coach!

When is a bicycle not a bicycle? When it turns into a driveway.

Why can’t a bicycle stand up on its own? Because it’s too tired! (two tyre-d).

What is a ghost-proof bicycle? One with no spooks in it.

How did the barber win the bike race? He took a short cut.

I went on a long bicycle ride yesterday. It seemed farcical.

Did you hear about the vampire bicycle that went round biting people’s arms off? It was a vicious cycle.

 I bought a new wheel from the local bike shop, but it was missing something in the middle. When I complained, they sent me straight through to their spokes-person.

 

Bike puns

One for 100 climbs – don’t ride upgrades, ride up grades.

Descending Pardknott pass at 80kph, the cyclist tested positive for speed.

My cousin loves e-bikes because he’s really indecisive. He likes that it takes charge.

My mate is really good on a unicycle but very socially awkward around alcohol. She can’t handle-bars.

The mechanic who makes my wheels suffers from narcolepsy. He just gets wheelie, wheelie tyred.

A maniac cut someone in half while I was on my bike today. I missed it, but my chainsaw.

Drop bars not bombs.

I rode my bike 10 miles to safely dispose of some paper, cans and bottles earlier. iIwas tired on the way back, so I had to recycle.

I like cyclists, who torque the talk.

Did you know Alfred Hitchcock used to be into downhill mountain biking? He was ‘The master of suspens-ion’.

 

Goldfields - no jokes!

Goldfields – no joke!

Oh, will this marking never end!

All jokes aside, it is difficult to be inside working while in such a beautiful part of the cycling world – and so close to the Goldfields Track, yet be relegated to the sidelines.  Aaarggghh! But not long now!

For the last four days, I’ve been riding a bike around Melbourne.

Each day I’ve started out early and taken a different direction to scout out some of the iconic and most beloved bike routes in and around Melbourne. It was not only a great way to get around town but I also wanted to see some of the changes that had been discussed at the

Each day I’ve started out early and taken a different direction to scout out some of the iconic and most beloved bike routes in and around Melbourne. It was not only a great way to get around town but I also wanted to see some of the changes that had been discussed at the Bike Futures Conference last Friday – and relive some of the old glory days spent whizzing around town.

If you are keen for some similar riding – here’s a full list of Melbourne city and regional bike trail systems or conversely, use some of these helpful Map My Route resources and plans to get from A to B or go for an explore like I did.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Yarra Trail
The first day’s ride took me along the banks of the Yarra on a beautiful sunny early morning. I used the Captial City, Main Yarra Trail and Kew Boulevard trails. I headed out to Kew one way and did a big loop to head back into town over the other side. It started out quiet, but as I headed back into town, it got very busy with commuters from the Easters suburbs riding in. Some of the pathways still need some work, some areas have stairs, but overall the shadiness of the trees and the sheer delight of riding alongside the area river was a really glorious thing to do in the morning. It was great to see all the rowers, joggers, mums-and-bubs groups and all manner of people out and about on the Yarra Trail. It was a stunning day and the city looked beautiful (below). What a great way to spend a day on two wheels.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Maribyrnong
On my second day’s ride, I headed out West – from Melbourne city along South Wharf to Footscray. I’ve done this ride inbound ride once before, but I wasn’t 100% sure of where to turn off to get to the heart of the city. But this time – it was much easier going from the city and heading out west. It is super direct, quick and easy. I took advantage of the peak hour bicycle commuters riding out from the city, and just follow their tails. It ended up being about 20-25 minutes from Flinders Street station safely all the way into Footscray on wide fast and smooth paths. It was also very well signed and used. When I got to Footscray, I ended up jumping on the trails going along the Maribyrnong River Trail (below) heading towards Victoria Uni and Flemington Racecourse. I passed under and over many bridges, past the Buddhist temple and rode out as far as I dared. Then I had a coffee and rode back to Footscray. From Footscray, I followed the trail out towards Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail to see where the entry and exit points were along the way as the main track led under the Westgate Bridge. From there it is easy to do a full loop of Williamstown for a solid return trip– what a beautiful ride.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Darebin
On my third next day, I went out to explore the Darebin bike trails. I started by joining the commuters from Footscray (where I was staying the night before) into the city. From the City to Brunswick Street for a coffee and then I headed out St Georges Road bike path out to Reservoir. It was interesting to see some of the infrastructure changes and remodelling that had been undertaken to the path in the centre of St George’s bikeway. I was impressed with the signage and how easy it was to get around on this bike path.  I spent the afternoon exploring various Merri Creek trails. I rode out to Reservoir and ended up at Broadway at the Olympic Park Village and the outdoor velodrome there (below).  I got chatting to a few cyclists who were passing and thoroughly enjoyed my ride on the beautiful warm sunny day. After that, I spent the afternoon exploring various Merri Creek trails exploring where they entered and exited and marvelling at the extensive network out this way.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Hampton & Beach Road
My fourth day saw me doing a long, but very satisfying bike ride from Reservoir to Hampton. This time I went from Reservoir (where I stay the night before) back into the city via St George’s bike path, then out St Kilda Road to Albert Park – making sure to take in a ride along with the FI Grand Prix track (I had to do it again after last week, I just couldn’t help myself. Woohoo!). When I got to St Kilda, I scouted out the ‘inland’ route up Inkerman Road to Hotham Road and then scooted across to Hampton. This route was great to get a feeling of what it’s like to ride on the road and to see the difference in bike infrastructure in certain areas and roads. When in Hampton, I visited some old mates Rumbo and Damo at Hampton Cycles and it was good to have a catch-up and a gasbag. For the way home, I headed out on the Bay Trail. For this ride, you can either take Beach Road or ride the parallel Boulevard bike trail from Hampton all the way back into the city. Either way, it is a stunning ride! I took a few photos on the way and enjoyed checking out the Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes, Elwood and St Kilda beach.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Cruising around Melbourne.

Over the course of these four days, I’ve pretty much been in all the main four directions of the compass on my bike. I got a real taste for the different city council approaches to biking and how accessible and convenient biking now is in Melbourne. It was both exhilarating and very enjoyable exploring new parts of, and revisiting my favourite haunt and coffee shops in and around town. Where ever possible, I chatted with fellow bike commuters and asked them about their biking experiences.

It felt great to be back on a bike.

It was also great to be out and riding longer distances and exploring the trails – getting sweaty, seeing the sights and having the whole day to really explore and fully enjoy every moment.

It was a real pleasure having five days completely off to go riding on such beautiful Melbourne summer days – I highly recommend it!

Not sure what trail to try?

 Try Bike Paths.com maps of Melbourne trails – or check this article out for a list of a few of Melbourne’s most scenic bike rides – many of I tried in the last couple of days. I hope have as much fun as I did riding these trails!

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

On Friday I went to the Bike Futures Conference 2017 in Melbourne St Kilda. Here’s quick review of the highlights.

Who attended?
This was my first Bike Futures Conference and I wanted to make the most of it after travelling down from Brisbane. There were over 150 local council representatives, engineers urban planners, school staff, public servants, bike advocates, academics, local residents and many more. Essentially this one-day conference was an opportunity to share current projects and discuss some of the main challenges, success and practical tools that various divisions around Melbourne have been working on. The main aim is to increase, make safer and improve urban cycling conditions. This was a great opportunity to connect and learn from industry experts and peers.

Conference Format
As well as the guided ride to the venue, the conference format was broken into three main sections. You can see the full program of topics and a full list of presenters which shows the range of issues and areas the conference covered.

Guided ride
My conference day started at 8 AM at Federation Square for the guided ride to the venue. There were 18 delegates on the ride, and it was a stunning morning.  Our route took us from Federation Square to St Kilda Town Hall showcasing some of the best of Melbourne’s bicycle-friendly infrastructure. We had three stops at key locations along the way where we heard representatives from Vicroads, City of Melbourne and City of Port Phillip speak about specific bicycle infrastructure, current projects and considered future developments.

Not only was it great as a social ride (I made a point of chatting to others when safe to do so), the presentations themselves were very informative.  I was also relishing being back on two wheels on Melbourne roads – I was flooded with memories and emotions as I relived endless glory days of pedalling in and around Melbourne on some of my favourite adventures with some of my favourite people.

An added highlight was riding along the Formula One Grand Prix track at Albert Park – something I just can’t do in Brisbane, and it added an extra festive zing to my day.

Riding the F1 Grand Prix track
1. Key guest speakers
1.    Claire Ferres Miles (General Manager, Place Strategy and Development, City of Port Phillip). This was a solid start to the conference good overview of projects and update of current and future plans for active transportation.

2.    Professor Chris Pettit  (Inaugural Chair of Urban Science at the University of New South City Futures Research Centre). Chris’s presentation was very interesting. It was research and a little nerdy. His work focuses on spatial planning and use of GIS and mapping technologies to investigate land-use change scenarios. He showed an impressive simulation based on Melbourne riders using the Logmyride app (I’ll do a follow-up post on this as it was very cool!!).

3.    Toby Kent (Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Melbourne). Far out – what a presenter. Not only an unexpected addition to the conference given the seemingly loose connection Melbourne City’s Resilience status has –  but Toby managed to connect with the audience, be squarely on topic, appropriate and clearly linked what his Office does to the audience’s experience – and a super charismatic orator.  Quite spokes, calm and very well prepared, I can see why he is in the top leadership role.

4.    Luke Donnellan (Minister for Roads and Road Safety). As would be expected, Luke coped quite a lot of flak – and deservedly so. Not only was he in full politician style of not directly answering questions, he missed the mark on a number of key issues, put his foot in his mouth by disrespecting a Western Council representative (of which she challenged him on very appropriately!) and was a terrible speaker by reading off his notes in a monotone and completely disinterested and unengaged way and made no attempt to looking at the audience at all. And then promptly ran away. Oh dear!

Sean Yates - Vicroads

2. Pecha Kucha Sessions
This format is quick and interesting, with each presentation having 20 slides (for 20 sec each) being about 6.5 min in total.
1. Evaluation of Bike Ed in School – Che Sutherland (Team Leader – Darebin Council)
2. St Kilda Road Safety Improvement – Sean Yates (Project Development Engineer -Vicroads)
3. Low-stress cycling in Whitehorse – Amy Child, Arup & Lean McGuiness (City of Whitehorse)
4. Greening the Pipeline Project – Emma Pryse (Project Coordinator – City of Wyndham).
5. Bike Safety and trucks Jamie Ross (Safety Officer – Metro Tunnel Project)

Bike Futures 2017

3. Afternoon Break-out Workshop sessions
After lunch, we split up across different rooms to attend our registered session themes.

Session 1: Jump starting Active School Travel
Investigating a very successful case study of Park Orchards Primary School. This workshop explained the process and strategies used to link parents, teachers and community member together to provide a ‘perfect storm’ for a community active transportation initiative spanning a school term in 2012. With a review three years later, the positive behaviour changes in kids and families using more active transportation to go to school was impressive. This workshop was generous in providing details, suggestions and insights of how the project was designed and what elements conspired to make it such as success. It is now considered the Gold Standard of what other schools could achieve. A great session that stimulated lots of conversation and was very through-provoking and inspiring.

Session 2: Getting Girls and Women Riding
This session was run by Bicycle Network and was reporting back on two initiatives – getting more teenage girls (high school) on bikes via a specific program designed just for teenage girls, and getting more women on road bikes via the Ascent event. This session was particularly interesting for me given the unique (and negative) experiences that the Ascent team had in organising and putting on the original 700+ women’s only road cycling event – and the subsequent difficulties they encountered trying to do it again the year after.

Bike Futures 2017
Wrap up
The notion of sharing new ideas about a range of new ways in which bicycles create positive community change was a fitting way to conclude the 2017 Bike Futures Conference. The conference closed with Bicycle Network’s Chief Executive Officer, Craig Richards call to action to “dream bigger make it happen”. After the official close, we then mingled and finalised any contact, got our bikes and those who were up for it headed to the pub across the road for social drinks and to continue informed and passionate discussions.

Final thoughts
For me, the best part of the conference was able to meet such a range of diverse people. From teachers, academics, health professionals, industry experts (lots of E-bikers) BUGers, engineers, transport technicians and lots of local council representatives.

The enjoyed being able to sit and listen to the presentations and take what I needed. I met a wide range of very interesting people and practised talking about my research and this blog. In fact, at one stage I went up to some Bicycle Network delegates to thank them for putting on the conference and I mentioned my work, the instantly connected me with another Bicycle Networker called Alex who is working in India with a Bike Aid program and we ended up finding a quite nook to have a good chat – awesome!

I had a great time at the conference, got some great new ideas and felt re-inspired. It made me miss not being in Melbourne amidst this charge of new bicycle development, but also provided some valuable food for thought and some wonderful new contacts. I was very happy I made an effort to go down to Melbourne to attend this conference.

Bike Futures 2017

In the lead-up to my next trip down to Melbourne, I found myself cruising the bayside foreshore doing my best to soak up the afternoon dying rays and the tail-end of day’s two-wheeled community.

On this particular afternoon, there were are groups of teenagers whizzing by,  parents yelling at wayward and over-enthusiastic toddlers to looks up as they blindly pedalled away, and road cyclists trying to squeeze in just one more Strava PBs before sunset.

 

On days such as this, I love Brisbane bayside bike riding more than ever.
As I neared my exit, a curious object caught the corner of my eye. In that quick moment as I passed, I tried to reconcile if I had actually seen a giant oversized bicycle wheel sticking out from the back of a tiny car. For a moment it didn’t register, then I logic set in, and I realised it must have been a penny farthing. Well, you don’t see that every day.

George's penny farthing

George’s Rapide

With my curiosity piqued, I turned back to double-check. Sure enough there she was – a shiny, big, black beautiful, penny farthing – glorious.  As I approached, I saw the owner sitting nearby. So we struck up a conversation.

This is how I met George. He is not only the owner, but he hand-built this particular model. It took him six months to make all the parts – many of which he showed me. All the parts are measured specifically for him, the rims, spokes, wheels – the lot. He made it as in a penny farthing course that is offered only in Brisbane. There are official monthly penny farthing get-togethers around Brisbane, where all the owners, makers and enthusiasts catch up and go for a ride.

George's penny farthing

George's penny farthing

As a result of this course, apparently, there are 30 penny farthing course graduates getting around Brisbane.

George and I ended up chatting for quite a while, about bikes, riding, penny farthings and everything in between. George told me of a few daring exploits he’d had while riding his Rapide. He confirmed how difficult it is to navigate, balance and ride, but equally how much enjoyment he derived from taking her out for a spin. I t was inspiring to hear about the attention, effort and detail involved in hand turning all the parts to create this specific two-wheeled contraption – custom build by him, perfect fitted for him. Amazing.

 

George's penny farthing

 

Bespoke and custom-made – every part.

George showed me each of the individual pieces that he had made.

I marvelled at the commitment, time, dedication involved in making George’s Rapide. It certainly was a thing of simple style and beauty. I have always admired people who make their own bicycles – and even better, it was fantastic to see him out and about with it.

We were chatting at one end of a long stretch of bayside pathway, 6 km in total to the other end. George told me he was going to ride halfway up to meet a friend for lunch and then ride back. He said he liked to do it as often as he could. What a grand adventure! Although perilous when steering, he said as well as enjoying getting around on it, he liked showcasing her to the community.

It was lovely to meet George. It was just the creative and practical catalyst I was hoping for as I pack up to leave Brisbane for Melbourne for the Bicycle Futures Conference on Friday.

 

And on such a beautiful sunny day as well.
Bloody marvellous!

 

George's penny farthing

An unexpected (New Year) slump

In December my principal supervisor retired one week before Christmas. I had no idea this was going to happen. One of the main reasons I had asked this A/Prof. to be my supervisor was because of her sound knowledge, experience in PhD supervision, experience with all the workings of the University, expertise, and that she was going to stay at the university for quite a while and see me through my research journey. Doh!

It was a very unusual time for this to happen. One week before Christmas. I remember wondering what this mean in relation to my imminent first PhD milestone, my Early Candidature Milestone Report (ECMR) due in February. The day after she told me we flew out to New Zealand for an 11-day mountain biking trip. I was happy for the break from researching, I felt a little lost and unsure of what direction I was going in, so I was looking forward to having a good hard physical break to reset and come back with fresh eyes.

On my return in the new year, I had two weeks of intense marking to do for a course I was teaching. It was difficult and energy sucking. It rattled my routine and sent me into a stressful mode of working – not the start to the year I had planned. On top of this, there was all manner of other crap happening concurrently, most pressing that husband having an operation and was home flat out incapacitated – recovering for three weeks – meaning our home routine had also changed significantly.

 

Good grief!

By the start of this week, I realised pretty quickly that I had to proactively scrape back some semblance of routine and control over my work process, resources and PhD status. I could feel the cool grip of discouragement and confusion setting in. This was compounded by the fact that my uni was pretty much closed down over the holidays (so no-one was around), academics and staff were away (no-one to consult with), and I could feel the pressure of my ECMR submission date. I had made sure I was still on my bike and riding, but certainly not enough to stave off the beginnings of demoralisation. I felt like I was getting sucked into the Rooster’s new year transition vortex.

 

Time to take back control.

I needed some reinvigoration and to establish back some structure and clear direction. Reminding myself of my original aims and purpose for doing this PhD I find is a powerful way to connect my daily smaller actions with my bigger picture goals and justifications.

With this in mind, I decided to set aside half a day to sit down and map out my yearly goals. I set myself a series of activities and analysis strategies to process what I had achieved so far, what I was doing now, where I wanted to be and how I was going to get there.

 

Already feeling better – calmer, clearer and more collected.

I got a lot done that afternoon and things started to shift. My mood lifted and I was back in action and at the desk working. I talked to some staff, students and other candidates and decided now was the time to get the ball rolling on my PhD Supervision. I harnessed this momentum and sent out some emails to academics.

So this week I’ve been speed dating academics.

It has been a very overwhelming, interesting, surprising, and very thought-provoking. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations that I’ve with academics I’ve meet. It’s been great to be exposed in a truncated, introductory fashion each one’s unique interest area, ideas, approach to PhD Supervision and hear about what their area of expertise is. As well as sounding out these academics as potential supervisors, each one was also very generous with their time, ideas, sharing reading materials and contacts.

 

Now, I’m back on track.

I felt myself getting re-motivated as we discussed my project, more enthusiastic with each conversation. I was overwhelmed with interesting suggestions, resources, follow ups and observations about my project, possible future directions and collaborations. It was great to hear that each one thought my project was super interesting and valuable and wanted to stay in contact regardless of which supervisor I chose. I walked away from each ‘date’ with a head full of ideas and feeling super positive.

 

I’ve made my Supervisor choice and am excited about the next step.

I’m really glad I took the initiative to meet with those that I did, (aside from it being necessary for me to find a new Principal Supervisor) and went about it the way I did and was so highly selective of those I met with. In doing so, I was privy to some very stimulating, practical and intelligent ideas. It has helped reactivate my brain, get me out of my new year funk and spark me up for the next phase of my academic journey.
This was the kind of start to the year I had in mind!

Perfect timing too. I can utilise this renewed energy as I complete my ECMR and get prepared to head down to Melbourne next week for the Bike Futures Conference!

It’s good to be back on track!

Speed Dating Academics

I decided it was time to leave the downward spiral and exit the New Year labyrinth. Time to get inspired, confirm my new Principal Supervisor and get back on my previous productive PhD research track! Nice Save (*phew*)!!

Two months ago the Bicycles Create Change blog started posting on Instagram. This happened as a result of a conversation I had with a friend. I went through the usual excited and overzealous initial period or exploring, locating and investing in producing and posting images and its truth be told I enjoyed the whole precess and have learnt a lot. This particular project I am currently undertaking specifically utilises and capitalises on all the best visual and sharing aspects that Instagram has to offer.

 

 Cycling Interspecies Team of Awesomeness (Bikes_CISTA) Project

The Cycling Interspecies Team of Awesomeness or Bikes_CISTA Project is a collection of photos I have taken while riding Leki (my flower bike) around my neighbourhood and features the people I spontaneously stop, introduce myself to, have a chat and request to take their photo. All this is because they fit the inclusion criteria for the Bicycles Create Change Bikes_CISTA Team.

The eligibility for a photo invite requires:
– at least one person
– at least one dog
– at least one bike
– all are happy to stop and have a chat with me
– all give their verbal permission for me to take and post their photo (which I provide a link to).

 

Bicycles Create Change.com

Bicycles Create Change.com

As of today, I have posted 27 Bikes_CISTA teams on Instagram -with two ready to go.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this project. It gets me out and about, meeting new and different people, it requires me to brave in approaching new people and has helped me perfect my approach and explanation of the project. It is an easy way to start more conversations about bikes, community, enjoying the local area and life being better with dogs.

In addition to adding experiential value to my daily routine, it also provides a space for actively encouraging more personal social connection with my local neighbourhood and the locals.

It also has been pushing me to talk more openly about the blog and my research.

Bicycles Create Change.com

By doing this project, I not only derive incredible personal satisfaction from engaging with the personalities, stories and encounters I have with those I feature, but I also like the unpredictability and immediate nature of spontaneously interacting with people in my community.

Bicycles Create Change.com

In the very least, it is a good way to test my mettle and effectiveness in discussing my common bicycle/dog interests, promoting my blog and creating the opportunity to practice explaining in easy and clear ways what my PhD research is- this alone is an excellent skill to have!

Who have you met?

Most people I approach are great, a rare few say no, others settle in for a good chat – it has been such a range of unexpected encounters! I often walk away from my last interaction flush with new information and surprised with the generosity and friendliness of strangers-now-aquaintances. I’ve even seen a few since our initial meeting, and we have now progressed onto waving and first names basis.

Bicycles Create Change.com

Celebrate the best of you locality and positive lifestyle

Approaching people with a Bikes_CISTA invitation is my way to identify and recognise people who best represent some of what I consider to be some of the essential and most productive lifestyle choices and activities one can undertake – namely participating in a local, outdoor, social, healthy, active, dog-friendly biking community.

It been so enjoyable investing time, energy and focus into the Cycling Interspecies Team of Awesomeness – Bikes_CISTA Project. The whole precess has given me much food for thought and has proven to be a powerful technique of uncovering social and personal insights. I love getting out on Leki and keeping an eye out for potential teams to approach.

I can’t wait to see where this project goes.

On Instagram – check out more Bicycles Create Change Bikes_CISTA Teams at #bikes_CISTA or the@bicycles_create_change.

Bicycles Create Change.com

While travelling the Northern New South Wales coast this week, I had a chance to catch up with some indigenous mates. We got chatting about bike riding. Lots of the local kids on the missions use bikes to get around, meet up with friends, go fishing or hang out at the local skate parks. BMX is pretty popular and I also saw some mountain bikes getting around. After our chat, it got me thinking. I decided to find out if there were any programs specifically supporting local NSW indigenous cyclists. The most prominent program that popped up was the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project (IMTBP) and it also piqued my interest for other reasons, like program viability.

National Indigenous Centre for Excellence (NCIE)

This is a NSW specific biking program. This was one of the many LIFE (Lifestyle Innovations For Everyone) programs run by the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE). The actual centre is based in Redfern, Sydney, but the actual MTB program had services and trips spread out all over the state. The central NCIE focus is to provide services, training and opportunity to increase health, life skills and talent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. NCIE has an array of educational, arts and culture, a conference centre, sporting, recreation, social, health and wellness services that develop skills, enterprises, occupational and technical opportunities and the like – all aimed at improving the learning, development and positive lifestyles for its members.

The Indigenous Mountain Bike Project was one of the services the NCIE offered and it was created to get more indigenous people riding bikes. It was launched January 2012 and the main driving force, legs and faces of this project was Sean Appoo and Ben Bowen.

Indigenous Mountain Bike Project (IMTBP) – Background

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet states the program as being:

“The Indigenous Mountain Bike Project is run by the Lifestyle Innovations For Everyone (LIFE) team at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in New South Wales. The aim of the project is to promote bike riding as a form of physical activity to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages and health levels. The IMTBP has a fleet of 19 bikes for use by staff and program participants.  The program offers:

  • regular bike trips for groups of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people around Sydney
  • entry into local and regional mountain bike competitions
  • workshops on bike maintenance and safe cycling skills.”

Some key details about the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project.

  • This project ran From Jan 2012 until June 2015, whereupon it looks like the project was stopped. During those three years, the project held many social and skills rides, supported and attended events, had a good social media presence on Facebook and built up a community of active and enthusiastic cyclists.
  • Of the 19 bikes used, 3 are hybrid bikes and the other 16 are mountain bikes.
  • The fleet was not just used for training and maintained programs for new beginner riders, but were also used in local and regional MTB competitions, races and events.
  • The program was operational and participated in the Inaugural Koori MTB Cup in 2014.
  • The project had a team of representative riders who raced events such as the JETBLACK 24Hr, Koori MTB Cup and the Huski 100.
  • When the bikes are not being used for programs, events, trips or for local and regional MTB competitions, the NCIE staff use them to ride to and from meetings during work hours.
  • Other local inner city rides and meet ups were an adjunct feature of this program getting more people on bikes – local businesses, commuters and weekend rider forums popped up with riders sharing trip reports, ride details, invites for meet ups and technical knowledge.
  • The program received quite a bit of publicity and was feature in an SBS featurette in June 2015 (see below).

The IMTB Project Facebook site

Although no longer actively used since May 2015, the IMTBP Facebook site is still a testament to the range of biking services, popularity and community that this project built. There are numerous videos event posters and invites, people posting their trails via mapmyrides and sharing details for upcoming rides and active discussion forum for all levels of fitness, ages and cycling types.

There are a series of videos detailing the IMTBP team and adventures on MTB trials and during the JETBLACK 24 hr race at the LIFE TV YouTube channel, which show skills sessions, training, the IMTBP team riding in various events and it also has a few IMTBP rider profiles which are good to see. It also demonstrates the time and effort that many different people put into this project.

So what happened?

On the face value, it seems like the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project was a ‘success’. But what does that mean and how do you measure it? What were the outcomes of this project? It seems to have got a good following, achieved its goals of getting more indigenous people riding and created a thriving community that had a good presence – so what happened to this program? Did funding run out? Did attendance wane? Was there no one to hand over to?

The only indication given was this post on Facebook group on June 2015.

IMTB PRoject

Source: IMTBP Facebook page

But this post gives few details about the status of the IMTBP (but certainly showcases the massive effort and impact Sean and Ben had during their time there).  Even though Sean and Ben are ‘wrapping up’,  it is unclear if that means the IMTB project finished as well. If it did, then why?

I called the National Indigenous Centre for Excellence LIFE Team’s 1300 866 176 phone number as provided online. I wanted to find out what happened to this project. But the number was disconnected. I tried the NCIE landline (02) 9046 7802 and had to leave a voice mail message. So I still don’t know what happened. Seems strange…

Why do some of the best projects fail to continue?

It can be incredibly frustrating and unfortunate that community programs such as this one can be planned, funded and implemented, yet are not sustainable to endure and provide such a valuable service. These kinds of scenarios occur all the time in the community/international development sphere. Whether it is a community group or multilateral international aid organisation, sustainability and how/why projects finish is a massive industry issue.

In my field of International development – one organisation decided to meet this issue head on. I will never forget seeing the 2008 Engineers without Borders Failure Report and watching David Damberger talk about what happens when an NGO admits failure – and hearing of project insights that were learnt, yet rarely acknowledged or shared.

I am by no means suggesting that the IMTBP was a mistake or ‘failure’, merely making the observation sad that such a positive biking program that obviously had community popularity and traction was not able to continue operating – which begs the questions – why not?

I thought back to my chat about bikes with my indigenous mates earlier this week. I wondered if the program was still operating would there be even more Koori riders? With such a strong community following and uptake, why was this initiative not picked up by local/national councils? Are we short changing the next Indigenous Anna Meares or Cadel Evans? What a great biking and community initiative – and what a pity it has not prevailed!

This morning I am heading interstate to NSW for a week.

After registering for the upcoming Bike Future 2017 Conference in Melbourne, I find myself wanting checking up on the some of the latest urban bike programs and initiatives being undertaken south of Queensland’s border. So I started looking into some key current cycling issues, changes and policy directions happening in NSW and Victoria.

 

Think of the Impact – Car Dooring Awareness Program  – New South Wales (NSW).

In investigating all sorts of programs, one Sydney program that caught my eye. It focuses on the issue of car dooring and the program is called Think of the Impact. It turns out that the major hot spots for car dooring in Sydney are Kings Cross, Newtown and Surry Hills. After recognising the obvious increase in people cycling, having seventy-four car-dooring incidents reported and under pressure from local cycling advocate groups, the Think of the Impact initiative was created.

This project was undertaken as a Sydney Cycles Ways project in collaboration with City of Sydney and NRMA Insurance. It was in response to the increasing levels and problems of cycling in Sydney. I’m not going to rehash the background of this program because if your keen to read more  about this NSW project and its origins – you can find it here.

 

Car dooring of cyclists is an issue in major cities

I had not seen this particular program before. It rally struck an immediate cord with me as car dooring was an ongoing and critical issue when I was commuting every day to work by bike when I was in Melbourne. I had a few near misses myself and I saw many others car dooring situations as well, with various outcomes. It was a very challenging – and was a very real clear and present danger.  It was something that many Melbourne cyclists talk about as well. It was interesting to hear that the issue of car dooring and urban cyclist safety is a similar and prevalent concern in Sydney (NSW) as it was in Melbourne (VIC).

In NSW, car drivers can be fined $319 and lose 2 demerit points if they pass too close to cyclists.

As of 2012, Victoria increased penalties so that car dooring fines now incur a maximum of ten demerit points, and fines have since increased from $423 to $1,408.

I’ve noticed that in Brisbane (and Queensland in general), there is a clear media reticence about reporting car dooring and cyclist safety in general. It is certainly not a key media or community issue or nowhere near mentioned as often in the media as it is down south. Car dooring is definitely a bike safety issue in Brisbane, but local media reports of cycling in Brisbane do not highlight car dooring as a major traffic or cycling issue. In fact, most Queensland media reports on road/urban cycling in Brisbane detail fatalities. Fatalities are the most reported cycling safety issue in Brisbane given the lack of bike lanes or shoulders, heavy reliance (and love) of large motor vehicles such as 4WDs, trucks and utes with boat trailers, minimal bike infrastructure and heavily congested road traffic.

 

Why this particular program?

Sydney Cycles Ways is responsible for this program and decide to run the program based on compelling data of local cyclists’ car dooring experiences. As a quick check in with the cycling community Sydney Cycles Ways, mid last year did a quick online survey via Twitter to get some feedback re car dooring occurrences, and this is what they found:

Source: Think about the Impact

Free stickers to promote awareness of urban cyclists

Another reason why this NSW program is particularly interesting and proactive – is that it offers free stickers for cars to remind and promote other road users (car drivers specifically) about car dooring – hence the name of the program.

The idea is to get more car users actively checking for cyclists before opening doors.

Here are what the smaller stickers and larger (car) stickers look like:

Source: Think about the Impact

 

Source: Think about the Impact

 

I have not seen these stickers before, but then again, I don’t live in Sydney. I wasn’t aware that this program had been launched in NSW and so I missed out on knowing that the public could order sets of 4 small rear mirror stickers and/or larger car door sized stickers in two colour choices – for free. Apparently making merchandise available for free to the general public as part of an awareness-raising campaign is a pretty effective strategy to get more people participating and publicly sharing the message.

This was especially the case for this program, where the response to these free stickers was very encouraging. By halfway through 2016, there had been a great community response to the program and 20,000 stickers had been requested.

I went online yesterday and ordered 4 sets of the small stickers and one large car sticker. I’m keen to see what they look like.

I can immediately see the attraction of the smaller stickers, but I’m not sure about the car door stickers – realistically how many people would put the large sticker on their car door – would you?

If you would like to order a free set of stickers that will be posted to you – click here.

 

Source: City of Sydney

 

For more information about this program, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Bridget Ahern, phone 0423 505 854 or email bahern@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

One of my goals for this year is to support and attend more bicycle infrastructure, policy and research events.  After all, 2017 is the ‘Year of the Bicycle‘ and my research is entering a stage where it really has social viability, so looks like I’ll have to dust off my dancing shoes for a few shindigs!

So to kick off the year right, I am heading down to Melbourne in a few weeks to attend my first event of the year –  Bicycle Network’s Bike Futures Conference 2017. Tasmania and Sydney have already held their state conferences and there appears to be no state conference set for Queensland – at least not in 2016 or 2017 that I have found. (Oh  dear Queensland! Not again!! Such a pity you are always so far behind the world and rest of Australia when it comes to supporting any kind of progressive cycling or biking – tsk, tsk – perhaps this is the year to turn it all around!!).

So it’s off to Victoria!  It is also a great excuse to revisit to my old hometown and see some family and friends after being away for what seems like an age!

Bicycle Network Bike Futures Conference 2017

This is a one-day forum aimed at bringing together researchers, policy-makers, bike advocates, businesses, government agencies and others to share the latest developments in cycling provision. The overall aim is to improve biking conditions and encourage more people to ride bikes. The program details a good range of speakers confirmed from various educational, business, political, health and social spheres.

On the day there will be plenary discussions, presentations and workshops on a range of topics (see tentative program below) such as safety, planning, behaviour change and various urban uses and infrastructure approaches.

I’m very excited to hear what cycling development Victoria has implemented over the last 2.5 years since I have been away and to hear what has – and has not worked. It will be a great opportunity to make some contacts and network as well. The program looks diverse and engaging and I am keen to attend pretty much every session!

I am going as I want to make some industry contacts and hope to hear about a range of interesting, challenging and/or informative sessions. I’m looking to get inspired – and hopefully, the event will also help stimulate and distill some new ideas. If I am really lucky, maybe it might even open up some new directions on how I can apply some key learnings from Melbourne’s experience to my own PhD research project.

 

Opportunity to scout some new BCC blog talent and features!

I’m going to make the most of this trip to Melbourne. To do so, I am also organising some introductions, meetings and site visitations while there. I’m keen to catch up with some old friends and see what has changed, and to follow up on a few leads featured previously on this blog – and to make some new contacts to feature as well!

I’m also looking forward to riding around Melbourne and rediscovering her biking treasures and secrets.

It is a great opportunity also to investigate what cycling events are going on in and around Melbourne.

So if you know of any biking research or events happening in Melbourne from Feb 7th – Feb 21st, 2017 that you think is worthy of a look-see, or want to recommend a person, group or event I should contact for this blog, please let me know via the comments box below. Thanks in advance! I would really appreciate your suggestions!

 

Morning Bicycle Network

Bicycle Network

Source: Bicycle Network

 

Prescript – I am teaching a Summer Semester course at Griffith Univerity called ‘Community Internship’. There are 33 students in my workshops. This course provides an opportunity for students to develop a range of professional and personal skills while making a difference in their community through combining volunteering with academic learning through a community internship in which they undertake a 50-hour minimum volunteering. This week the students are doing their Peer Discussion assessments, where they discuss and analyse key aspects, events and learnings from their placements.

Imagine my surprise when during one of these sessions, Sienna Harris, who is working with the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management, mentioned that her organisation was hosting a bicycle treasure hunt! After the assessment, I got the details – and here they are. I’m very grateful to Sienna for sharing this event here. Best of luck to the CoastEd crew for this event and to Sienna for completing her internship!

 

Free for the next two days?

Got your bike and not sure where to ride while visiting the Gold Coast tomorrow (19th Jan) and Friday (20th Jan)?

Well!!

What better way to enjoy the stunning Summer sunshine at the Gold Coast, than to grab your bike and some mates and participate in an explorative treasure hunt to learn more about the gorgeous local coast environment there?  Let’s go!

 

The CoastEd Bike Challenge – Gold Coast, Australia.

This activity is a fantastic community engagement initiative as it: raises community awareness about current coastal management projects, helps increase local knowledge, encourages direct social/educational engagement with the surrounding coastal environment, is a fun family friendly event, and best of all …. all done on bicycles!!

The focus of this event is a 1.5-hour treasure hunt bike ride around the local Gold Coast Spit region. On this bike ride you explore the north region on Thursday (19th Jan) and the south beaches on Friday (20th Jan) – so you can go for one session or both. The main idea is to enjoy a beautiful morning out riding on bikes while learning a little more about the diverse and unique coastal wildlife, plants and natural features of the Gold Coast beach area and how they are being managed.

I think this initiative is an innovative and memorable way to encourage more people to get out on two wheels as well as exploring the beautiful spit coastal area while getting updated on current coastal management challenges, responses and successes.

Not only a great day out on the bike – but a great way to wow your friends at dinner parties with your new found knowledge of Gold Coast coastal protection practices!

You can bring you own bike for free or hire a bike on the day.

 

North Spit Area (Thursday 19th, January 2017 ) and South Spit Area (Friday 20th, January 2017).

City of Gold Coast

Source: City of Gold Coast

 

It looks like the CoastEd team has been working very hard to put together a thoughtful, fun, informative and appealing series of community events. I hope we see more community events like this that are focused on getting locals (and visitors) out on bikes in an active, social and educational way. It is also great to see a summer program that is not pushy, exclusive, condescending or over-priced in content, audience or marketing.

So, if you are in the Gold Coast area over the next couple of days – book in, grab your bike and head down for some awesome bike-riding treasure-hunting coast-protecting fun in the sun!

 

CoastEd

Source: CoastEd

 

CoastEd Organisation Background

Prepared and written by Sienna Harris.

The CoastEd program is an educational component of the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management (GCCM) that began in 2001 to create a bridge between policy makers and the community. For the past 15 years, the program has worked in partnership with the City of Gold Coast City Council, who have assisted with funding the delivery of this outreach program to the local community and school-based groups. The program was implemented and developed in response to enquiries directly from the Gold Coast community about information, complaints and questions on coastal management. It started small at ten sessions per year and now caters for over 5500 participants at sixty sessions a year, providing an opportunity for Gold Coast community members and youth to learn about our local coastline. The CoastEd program seeks to increase the capacity of the local community to participate in coastal decision making through raising awareness of South-East Queensland’s current coastal and environmental issues. These include management issues, engineering structures, wildlife and its habitats.

Primary and secondary schools, kindergartens and community groups centred on the Gold Coast are offered free and subsidised education sessions based on a wide variety of topics that relate back to the region’s coastal zones. The interactive, hands-on sessions that run for either 30 or 60 minutes have been tailored around the Australian Schools Curriculum and the three main learning styles; visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Schools are also offered optional curriculum-based worksheets tailored to the level of the participants. Although it was initiated on the Gold Coast, the sessions have also been run in schools from Brisbane to Northern NSW and can be delivered at the school, community hall, on campus at Griffith or on field trips that are undertaken on local beaches. The sessions are run by researchers in the fields of coastal management, marine science and environmental education, and involve surveys, flora and fauna identification techniques and primary data collection.

The information provided during sessions is based on the latest and most up-to-date coastal research because of the ongoing research conducted at the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management and via current data that is provided through their partnership with the City of Gold Coast. Maggie Muurmans coordinates the CoastEd program, but the team also includes Peta Leahy, Daniel Ware, Sally Obst, Chantal Hujbers, Tom Murray, Tegan Croft, and James Gullison. The team’s knowledge and expertise in a wide range of fields have allowed them to produce Coastal Plant Pocket Guides for both the Gold Coast region and Western Australia, and a Rocky Shore Pocket Guide for the Gold Coast. As well, Teacher Packs ranging from Prep to Year 12, which cover the topics of Coastal Management and Engineering, Coastal Ecology, and Coastal Tourism and Recreation.

The CoastEd program also works closely in conjunction with other coastal management programs and initiatives that run through the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management; these include BeachCare, Dune Watch and Ocean Connect. On top of these other sessions and activities, Maggie Muurmans also runs School Holiday programs, (twice weekly) which are aimed at children, young people and families. These sessions and activities are interactive and hands-on, with a focus on connecting the community with their ocean environment for educative purposes, but also in the hope of building community stewardship and responsibility.