Conference Presentation: creating memorable community bike projects

Hi bike nuts!

Earlier this week I returned from Adelaide (SA) after presenting a roundtable session at the national Australian Walking and Cycling Conference (AWCC).

I put together a kick-ass abstract to present a workshop earlier this year and in May I was accepted to present.

It was awesome!

I had a great time and made the most of my time there networking and getting the low down on what are the current issues, debates, research and trends in urban and rural cycling.

I’ll give some event highlights in the next post. There were so many sessions it would be difficult to cover them all. I was impressed by the range and scope of the cycling (and some walking) presentations.

My session was entitled: 

Bicycles Create Change: An innovative guide to creating memorable and meaningful engagement in community bike projects.

 

Basically, my presentation used some of my community bike projects as case studies to explore a number of key aspects of planning, managing and running bike events.

I undertook each of these events as a private, individual community member, which means that I did not get paid to run these events, but I also didn’t get any money from these events either – it was purely for the love.

I had  4 classifications to present the 6 case studies, which you can see more of on the PROJECT page.

The classifications they were:

  • Individual (Leki, and Art Bikes)
  •  Pair collaboration (Leki & the Ova)
  • Group (Bicycles Create Change Summer Internship)
  • Wider community (Recycled Dreams- Community Storybook and #Bikes_CISTA)

Here is my full PPT and notes of my presentation: Nina (BBC) Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017 presentation

Essentially, I was arguing for these key points:

  1. Create the community you want to live in
  2. Create opportunities to ‘talk to a stranger’
  3. Create community bike events where the focus is NOT on the actual ‘riding’ of bikes. This is because I think there will be better acceptance of bikes in general if the general public have more every day, positive and fun interactions with BIKES (in general) and not just see them in relation to RIDING – so create events that doesn’t rely on fitness’ access, confidence, age, or even having a bike, etc. This will mean that bikes are normalised into daily community life and are more readily accepted.
  4. Not to see cycling/biking only as a ‘sport’.
  5. Create ‘Bike events’ that cater to non-riders – create positive bike exposure
  6. If they don’t come to you – you need to go to them! Bike events need to go into the community- no more  events where the riders are (physically or otherwise) separated from the general public
  7. Debunk the ‘road-riding-is-the-only-type-of-cycling-I-see-in-my-community-and-that’s-not-me’ myth – create events where the focus is not on the type of riding, but that it is fun and anyone can use a bike for all kinds of things
  8. Seeing bikes as an object other than just for riding – better integration of bikes into our communities in ways that are not solely about riding
  9. creating events that invite participation, celebrate ‘local heroes’ and local surrounds
  10. Creating events that have a zero-waste policy. No more cycling events with plastic cups, copious amounts of advertising flyers in musettes or crappy McCrap-crap that goes along with far too many cycling events – better still, how about bike events that have a reverse-rubbish feature and turn any waste brought into the event into something more positive?
  11. ….and I’m sure you can’t think of your own ideas as well. I’d love to hear them!

I presented 3 x 10 minutes, each followed by 15-minute discussions.

To add a little interest, spark and creativity, I presented in a custom-made outfit made out of recycled bicycle tires and parts. I had the idea for this outfit as a prototype for a series, and as I was busy getting the presentation prepared, so my collaborating partner Claire Tracey made the outfit and hat based on my requirements and infused a little of her own magic. (Thx CT!) I made the accessories. This ensemble was the prefect compliment – and reflection – of precisely the points my presentation was making – Hazah!

(I’m in the process of getting some photos of the outfit and when I do I will upload them here – I was too busy presenting to get any shots at the event).

One of the best outcomes was following the presentation; I was approached by a group of young marketers who are working on a behaviour change project around getting more local people aware of (and riding) bikes. They want me to bring the Bicycles Create Change perspective to their project and consult! A wonderful end to the presentations. Whoopee!

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3Plus3 MTB Event

Annette Dexter’s enthusiasm, support and fitness is unquenchable!  Her last race post was on the 2017 Bayview Blast MTB 100km marathon . Here, she gives an overview of the popluar Queensland MTB event – the 3Plus3. Thanks to Annette for her time and energy. We wish her luck on her next amazing adventure! NG.


SEQ 3Plus3 MTB Event

On the weekend of 8-9 July 2017, South East Queensland (SEQ) mountain bikers again made a good showing at the 3Plus3 event at Spicers Hidden Vale. The midwinter 3Plus3 has become a firm part of the local riding calendar, along with Hidden Vale’s 24 h and 4 h events in April, the Dingo Duo in October and the Epic in September.

Originally held as a December event, the 3Plus3 migrated to July on a permanent basis after being cancelled due to rain two years in succession. It now serves as a mountain bikers’ Christmas in July. Like other mountain biking events at Hidden Vale, the event offers an opportunity to camp on the 12,000 acre property, rather than staying in limited cottage accommodation at the resort.

Format

Racing takes the form of 3 h lap events events on Saturday and Sunday, with separate courses of approximately 9 km each day in 2017. Riders can choose to participate on one or both days, either as solo riders or in a team of two.

Age categories in the main event range from under-19 to over-50s, and a separate single-speed category is available. There are also kids’ events run across the weekend, with A, B and C grades riding laps of a 2.2 km course across both days and social riders completing the course on Saturday or Sunday only.

Event Evolution

In 2016, the event for the first time offered a separate social ride, with riders using an alternate course to the racers in an untimed event. For the Saturday social event, riders proceeded through transition to a short fire road descent, then up 007 trail, following Dodgem, Western Creek and Woodworm to the popular Plane Sailing trail, exiting halfway along for a descent to Ladder and a climb back to the main fire road, then turning away from race base to return along Gully.

Sunday racers followed the same course, while the Saturday race (and Sunday social ride) took in a short climb up Buckshot, the last portion of Plane Sailing and a descent through Snake to Juiced, followed by a loop through Airplane, Rock Bottom and Escalator. Escalator has had some much-needed spade work, so it is good to see older trails are not being neglected while Hidden Vale pursues expansion of the trail network further from the homestead.

The 3Plus3 remains a popular event, particularly for families. Participation has been growing from year to year, particularly with the addition of the social ride. A Saturday night Xmas feast is available for limited numbers and many riders appreciate an opportunity to stay on after the first day’s riding and catch up with MTB friends before completing the event on the Sunday.

Results

The 2017 overall win for women went to Imogen Smith, who was returning from serious hip and shoulder injuries sustained in a criterium race earlier this year. Imogen rode 14 laps across Saturday and Sunday in a total time of 6:36.

The men’s overall winner was Trek Racing’s Ethan Kelly, with 16 laps in 6:24.

Overall race results are available here. 

Source: Annette Dexter. 3Plus3 MTB Event 2017.
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Melburn Roobaix 2017

This in-depth, insightful interview and event guest post comes coutesy of the every effervescent and thoughtful @BettyLillowaltzen. Betty is an Artist, Educator, Keynote Speaker and all round amazing soul. This is a wonderfully comprehensive and enlightening discussion of one of Melbourne’s most loved (sub)cycle-cultural ‘bumpy’ urban rides – the Melburn Roobaix. Thanks to Betty Lillowaltzen for her time and effort in painstakingly interviewing all the key stakeholders, event organisers, riders and participants that went into producing this post – the extra details make this piece an extra rich and wonderful read! Mwah BL!


A quick survey of the Melburn Roobaix crowd and there is something immediately obvious: women!

Why does this adventure around Melbourne’s laneways enjoy the most gender diversity of all bike events in Australia?

“I’m in!”: my response to Zane Alford’s invite to join him and Wookie in the 2017 Melburn Roobaix. I hadn’t needed to hesitate as I knew that my complete lack of bike fitness was in no way a barrier to fun in the famously costumed ride, nor was my 1980s chevvy heavy stainless steel Malvern Star. Roobaix skills are seemingly more centered around an ability to decorate oneself and bike, eat and drink and look really silly; I’d be a natural.

That Melburn Roobaix was not going to be (in Andy’s words) “a sausagefest” as so many other bike events are, but instead a celebration and a great day out void of competitive elitist vibes I was certain of, but what I wasn’t so sure of was why? Inspired by the rise of women’s sport and, better yet, the rise of women within sport, I wanted to know how the Roobaix has evolved to be the most gender inclusive cycling event in the country (according to a recent survey by Cycling Australia).

Two questions burned: were the organisers conscious about involving women? and if so, how did they go about getting women involved?

Melburn Roobaix

Melburn Roobaix is a creation of Fyxo, the family company run by Melodie and Andy White. I knew Andy from back in the ol’ days when I worked for messenger bag company, Crumpler. I met him 15 years ago after an Ally Cat at The Public Bar: two years after the lock on the womens’ toilet door broke and at least nine years before it would get fixed; in the days of $1 pots of Geelong Bitter on a Monday, Punk bands and bestickered fixies piled along O’Connell Street. Andy was fancy dressed but still sporting his ‘Ask me about the weather’ badge, and talking with some couriers and female riders – even back in 2003 he was recruiting women to ride. He suggested that I ride in the next Ally Cat and I felt momentarily convinced that this would be a good idea but didn’t think I was up to splitting traffic on a fixie to keep up with Melbourne’s maddest riders.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

 

Melburn Roobaix 2017

Encouraging people to get on a bike has always been a talent of Andy’s, as is having a yarn, so I felt comfortable picking up the phone, not having seen each other in 8 years, to ask him some pretty pointed questions about women in cycling, race, LGBTIQ+ inclusion, men’s clubs and elitism in sport. He answered all my questions with grace, humour, references to anti-establishment, mutual outrage and added some radical plans.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

I was not surprised at all that encouraging the participation of women in the Roobaix was intentional, or that this year’s event also took place during World Pride – though this was underplayed, Andy reflected on being really quite chuffed that there was a turnout of transgender people this year and that as the ride becomes more community oriented it increasingly represents our whole community (though the lack of racial diversity is still quite apparent at all bike events and a challenge for the future).

So how did they do it? Andy reflected on the first year of the Roobaix, explaining how “a guy showed up with all the gear, he had a Garmin and had worked out the fastest route which was mainly on roads and which was pretty unsafe.” He and Melodie wanted to make it less of a race and move away from the tricked out, almost exclusively male lycra crew, so they just eliminated a first place prize. “We are more excited about the costumes and the turnout and having someone show up dressed as a banana”, he explained.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

It’s important that everyone is safe. A sad reality of bike events around the globe is the inherent risk of traffic and obstacles, though organisers are always looking for ways to make cycling safer for everybody: as Andy says, “every event where no one dies is a good event”. The dangers of riding are all too familiar to the White family, as in 2007 Andy suffered a broken neck. Though he was lucky to be able to be back on the bike within a week of removing the halo, they had developed a new appreciation of the risks of riding. Andy was emphatic that making an event less competitive did help to attract a broader demographic, but that he in no way considered female riders to be non-competitive. While for many people the Roobaix is the first organised ride that they participate in, there are plenty of female riders who go on to compete in timed events and women who are already riding competitively.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

Bike racer, writer and blogger Verita Stewart is one such rider. Verita had been a regular bike commuter, but it wasn’t until moving to Melbourne from country Victoria a few years ago that she joined other riders and started to compete. Verita was able to identify other reasons that the participation in the Roobaix was so high and diverse: “You can ride on any bike. This weekend is the Grand Fondo and you can’t just rock up on a mountain bike or a cruiser or BMX or tandem or recumbent or folding or narrow bar fixie or adult trike or city bike or hybrid. Each event requires a really specific bike and kit and for many people that’s a barrier. Wearing lycra is also enough for some people to say ‘that’s not for me’, and I know that some of my friends have not participated in other events because of that”. Melburn Roobaix was one of the first events that Verita rode in and each year she met more people in the cycling community and brought more friends along, many of whom wouldn’t identify as bike riders. “I know that tennis isn’t for me. I can’t hit a ball to save my life. Cycling as a sport isn’t for everybody either. The Roobaix is more of a community event than a race though, it’s more about being in a big community and maybe putting on a cossie and exploring places you haven’t been before, and that’s why so many people say ‘I could do that’.“

The types of costumes that people wear are usually naive and silly and we don’t see the kinds of sexualised costumes that people wear to other fancy dress events. I asked Verita how she thinks the Melbourne Roobaix has developed its particular style? “Well, it’s a really family and community event so I think that if you showed up dressed in a French maid’s costume you’d just feel like a bit of a twat”. Not many of the other bike scenes have been as progressive, and we spoke for some time on what we thought caused some of the costs, perceptions and gender inequality that are still so prevalent at other events and which form real barriers for people entering cycling as a sport in all its various forms.

Personally, now in my mid-thirties, I’m more active than ever: not the most fit that I’ve ever been necessarily, but I find myself enjoying a greater variety of sports than I ever have before and participating with less and less trepidation. I regularly surf with other women and it’s been exciting to paddle out each weekend and see sisters lined up along a break. It’s more than just exciting, it’s inspiring and exhilarating. We often joke about approaching middle age and just starting to have the childhood we wished we’d had if we hadn’t felt so discouraged from having a go. Imbued with the excitement of events like the Roobaix, WAFL, surfing and the power of staunch advocates and idols such as Serena Williams, I am excited for a new generation of women.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

We still have such a long way to go but already the surge of excitement around women in sport has had a distinct effect upon me.

Where I may once have said “I’ll get back to you”, I now say “I’m in”.

 

Melburn Roobaix 2017

Melburn Roobaix 2017

For a great collection of event pictures see FYXo’s Melburn Roobaix Flickr Album.

Or see up to 342 great images from event photographers Michael Christofas / Peter Tsipas 2017 Melburn Roobaix Flickr.

@bicycles_create_change

#Lowercasev

#bikefeminism

#bikeart

#MelburnRoobaix

#Fyxo

Thanks for the invite @ZaneAlford. See you all at #MelburnRoobaix2018 !!

 

 

*All images coutesy of photographers as per watermarks. All pictures included with Fyxo permission..

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NAIDOC Week 2017

What is NAIDOC Week 2017?

This week is NAIDOC Week 2107 in Australia.

NAIDOC is the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Each year for the first week of July, Australia celebrates its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and contributions to country and society.

This years theme is ‘Our Languages Matter’.

NAIDOC Week 2017

 

NAIDOC Week is a great opportunity to meet with elders and community, learn about culture and heritage and help establish a better understanding of community for all.

 

Last year I posted about some Aboriginal Bike Safety Programs for NAIDOC Week 2016.

For this year’s National Reconciliation Week, I looked at WA’s The Indigenous Talent Identification and Development Squad (ITID) to develop a team of Indigenous Olympic Track Cyclists.

This year I went to the Redland Performing Arts Centre to support their Our Languages Matter: A NAIDOC Showcase.

Redlands NAIDOC Week Celebrations

It was a terrific day.

There was a  traditional smoking ceremony, cultural and dance demonstrations, weaving workshops and a sand art/play space.

IndigiScapes Tea Garden Café kept us happily fed with copious amounts of bush tucker tasting including yummy croc curry, bush kangaroo sausages with sweet BBQ sauce and homemade kangaroo pies.

I was blown away to see Che ‘Cockatoo’ Collins there, one of my childhood AFL heroes in the flesh – awesome!!!

There was a super informative demonstration by Matt Burns (from the Qunadamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, Stradbroke Island) about Aboriginal culture, tools and lifestyle – by far the best presentation I have seen – full of super interesting facts (like the Guinness World Record for javelin throwing is 104.80 m, as opposed to throwing a spear with a woomera 147meters, which William, an Indigenous man in Kuranda QLD did to become the Guinness World record holder).

Best of all was the concert by Bunna Lawrie and Coloured Stone in the RPAC Concert Hall.

NAIDOC Week 2017
Redlands Performing Arts Centre gearing up for a big NAIDOC event
NAIDOC Week 2017
Awesome Presentation by Matt Burns
NAIDOC Week 2017
Bush tucker: Crocodile Curry & Kangaroo Sausage with Sweet BBQ Sauce
NAIDOC Week 2017
Bunna Lawrie & Coloured Stone Performing

Custom Made Bikes by Aboriginal Artists

For the cycling NAIDOC Week 2017 fanatics, I’d like to share this custom made bike I saw in Cairns Airport when I was last there.

In the places I’ve seen painted bikes, it has been bikes painted by local or well-known Aboriginal artists that are then auctioned off for charity.

This bike was custom made (bamboo) and beautifully painted. It was part of the Ironman display, which was on at the time.( It’s a bugger the picture resolution is not good enough to read who the artist is to follow up – what a pity! I couldn’t find anything about it online about the bike or artist either! Grrr!).

Regardless, it was a stunning bike and well worth being showcased.

The photo does not do it justice – the detail in the painting was brilliant and the colours super vibrant.

What a beautiful bike – imagine hitting the road for your Saturday pack ride with this beauty!

Stunning!

What a great way to be proud of and share the elegance and heritage of Aboriginal art.

More like it, please!

Happy riding this NAIDOC Week!!


Postscript: I like to think this blog reflects a positive approach to people, life and choices.

I had a great time during NAIDOC week, but I was sorely disappointed but how few non-indigenous Australians attend NAIDOC events and support Indigenous Australia.

I have since been thinking about this a lot since NAIDOC.

I think it is time that as a nation we stand up and be proud of our indigenous history and peoples.

I find it unsettling that for the majority of Australians, this critical issue is of little or no importance.

So here is my challenge…

Still a long way to go for recognition and understanding

I am disturbed about the vast amount of misinformation that circulates about indigenous Australians.

Which is why events like NAIDOC are important.

In 2011, Indigenous Australians made up only 3% of all Australia’s population, and the vast majority of non-indigenous Australians have never spent any meaningful time meeting or speaking with Aboriginal Australians.

I think this is part of the problem.

Where was the non-indigenous community supporting NAIDOC this week?

I saw only a handful of non-indigenous people at the Redlands NAIDOC event.

Get better information about Australian history

For non-indigenous people who are interested in finding out more about Australia’s history (as opposed to the superficial, limited, romanticised, watered-down precis you might have got in school), there is a TV show I’d recommend as a starting point:

SBS’s First Australians seven-part series presents Australian history in a way that to date has remained predominately untold.

It is poignant, well-researched and important to know part of Australia’s history that needs to be known more widely.

See you next NAIDOC Week.

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2017 Bayview Blast – Event Overview

This guest post is by Annette Dexter who is an avid mountain biker and rode the Bayview Blast Sunday 100km marathon for the first time this year. Annette has also been working tirelessly on the new upcoming RATS Cycling Club website. (Until it goes live see this RATS website). Thanks to Annette for this post. I appreciate you sharing your post, I know you are super busy – both on and off the bike! NG.

2017 Bayview Blast – Event Overview

The weekend of May 27th-28th 2017 saw the fourth edition of the Bayview Blast, run by the RATS Cycling Club at Bayview Conservation Park, Redland Bay (Brisbane). The race has developed significantly since its first edition in 2014.

The debut race featured two, four or six laps of a scrappy 13 km course and was run on a scorching hot November day. From 2015 on, the Blast benefited from Redland City Council’s development of a new race base on German Church Road.

New entry and exit trails (Wolf Peach and Sorceress) were added and the course length was increased to 25 km, with race options of one, two or four laps. In 2016, the race moved to a winter date, and the Blast is now a firm part of the national XCM series.

2017 Bayview Blast Event Overview

Race format – 2017 Bayview Blast

The 2017 Bayview Blast involved racing across two days.

Saturday racing included junior events with up to four laps of a 2.5 km course, team and corporate challenges and an all-comers fun lap. The 25 km Saturday race included a separate women’s start wave, with some thirty participants.

Sunday racing taking on either two or a challenging four laps of the long course, with the full-length event involving just over 100 participants and the half-marathon distance attracting a further 250 entrants, including teams. Sunday participants spanned a broad age range from juniors to over-60 racers.

Elite participation was down on 2016 due to a date clash with the Newcastle Port to Port stage race, but Michael England improved on his third place from last year to take the win in the men’s field in 4:50, while local Leela Hancox won the women’s race in 6:08.

RATS Cycling Club Events

The development of the Blast parallels other efforts by the RATS Cycling Club to foster women’s mountain biking in particular. The Chicks in the Sticks start wave in the Saturday race carries the same name as a women’s-only race run by the Rats at Karingal Scout Camp, a short distance from Bayview, and separate women’s racing is also available as part of the annual Summer Sprints series at Underwood Park.

Council and community support are also contributing to the development of an expanded trail network that is ultimately expected to link Bayview with trails at Karingal, West Mount Cotton, Cornubia and central riding opportunities at Daisy Hill and Underwood.

The future for mountain biking in Brisbane is certainly bright!

All results from 2017 Bayview Blast event categories can be found here.

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Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

A few days ago, Melbourne’s beloved community bicycle engagement project The Squeaky Wheel announced it is closing after 6 glorious years in operation.

The Squeaky Wheel was a much loved proponent in progressing Melbourne’s bicycle community.

For those who do not know about this organization, it is well worth the effort to check out the creative and popular events, rides, initiatives and programs that were organized by The Squeaky Wheel –  a very impressive and influential range!

Leaving behind a wonderful legacy and example for others

So this post is a homage to the amazing work that Pip Caroll and the whole Squeaky Wheel team (and their partners) have achieved over the years.

This venture was truely a community-driven organisation that had community and positive cycling for all as its core.

Although it is sad to see The Squeaky Wheel  close and I will miss supporting their events (as will thousands of others), The Squeaky Wheel leaves behind a wonderful legacy and example for others to follow.

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

A massive range of community participation and bike-inspired projects!

Over the last 6 years, The Squeaky Wheel has managed and produced an impressive array of bicycle participation, projects and advocacy campaigns. Their volume, scope and range speaks to the passion and commitment of those who made it all happen – events like …

Even though the main umbrella is retiring, a number of their popular projects will still be operational – hooray! I am delighted to see that a number of their projects will still continue such as Roll Up (who have also taken over Bike ‘n Blend) and the sensational Pushy Women annual event is also set to continue. Pushy Women is a great event where a panel of well-known women tell their stories about bikes, bike riding and cycling. This show is always peppered with moments of empowerment, hilarity, poignancy, nostalgia and thought-provoking experiences – always a top event. I’m happy to hear that this event will continue.

But others will not continue. So in memorandum, here is reminder of the plethora of The Squeaky Wheel events, rides and tours that have been put on over the years – incredibly prolific community engagement!!  I’ve listed the events below (you can find out more about each event at their website), to get a visual gauge  of how productive this collective was – and to showcase the range, dedication and scope that The Squeaky Wheel is revered and loved for. Their events list is humbling.. check these beauties out….

Farewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Adios The Squeaky Wheel!!

As a final adios to The Squeaky Wheel – below is a 4′ 39″ video of their 2012 (3 week) Melbourne BikeFest- which was just one of many of their amazing events over the years – but one of my personal favourites!

For all those involved with The Squeaky Wheel will miss you, thank you for all your amazing work over the years. We wish you luck for your next riding adventures!

See more videos of The Squeaky Wheel events here.

 

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Knitted bike seat covers

 

It is now winter in Australia.

We have had a few particularly cold and frosty mornings.

If it keeps chickens warm, it can work for cyclists!

On one of the more colder mornings in the last fortnight, I was heading to work listening to ABC Radio National. There was a lovely short feature segment about a group of Gold Coast locals who meet regularly in a café to knit jackets for a flock of ex-battery hens who are residents at Storybook Farm – a refuge for rescued animals and animals with disabilities.

The jackets were knitted for the chickens to keep warm during the cold wintery season. For these rescue chickens with little feathers left, these kitted jackets can save their lives. It is a fantastic little story about a community coming together to help those less fortunate and is, and well worth the listen at the link here.

It got me thinking about the link between knitting and bikes – and I especially wanted to take inspiration from the chicken’s knitting approach for keeping warm in the winter months….so….

Knitting, croqueting and needlepointing bike accessories

Many people have seen bikes that have been yarn/stitch bombing and can appreciate how colourful happy and creative the final bike can be.

But what about knitted bike seat covers?

I’ve noticed the range of practical knitted bike accessories online has expanded with places like Crochet Concupiscence providing crafty folks with new ideas and patterns on how to apply croquet (as well as knitting and needlepointing) to bikes.

Knitted bike seat covers

If you are up for adding a little bit of ‘personality’ to your bike, then a knitted bike seat cover is a this is a great way to do it.

There are many good reasons to have a personalised knitted bike seat cover….. here are just a few….

  •  It is a great way to keep warm
  • People will start a conversation with you about your unique bike style
  • Shows you are a creative, cool and colourful person
  • Support local artisans and handcraft skills
  • It a small-scale knitting project for beginners to start practising on
  •  Supporting DIY, recycling and refashioning of materials for innovative purposes
  • Great way to share your (or friends) knitting skill
  • Indicates interest areas (pets, hobbies, depends on what you design you have, etc.)
  • Helps you find your bike quickly and easily at a filled bike rack
  • Added cushioning support for your tush
  • Imbue your community with a little more style and fun when riding around
  • Be a role model for others to be have a more creative approach to bikes
  • Great for your mental health and happiness – will keep you smiling
  • They are personalisable – so can be made more playful, cheeky, unusual or unique to suit your taste, aim and styles
  •  If bought, helps support income-generating opportunities (pattern-makers and artists)
  • Help deter bike theft

 

Pinterest is full of amazing knitted bike seat designs, colour and ideas (just use keywords as per below)– and you can find all manner and types of bikes seat covers to suit all kinds of styles. Just check out these keywords…

Knitted bike seat covers

As a sample representative of that vast array of styles available, here is a quick handful of some of the more distinctive bike seat covers to show here… all manner of shapes, patterns and motifs to suit any cycling persuasion or interest.

 

 

 

They may not be for everyone.

But at least the are a great indication that you are a person of humour, style and confidence!

And that you don’t take yourself – or your riding – too seriously (*heaven forbid!*).

So how every you choice to do it – happy warm bums on bike seats!

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Bicycle Film Festival 2017

I love Bicycle Film Festivals (BFF)!

You get to go with your bike mates to see films about bikes, made by people who love bikes.  BRILLIANT!!

BFF contributions can be quirky, inventive, sweet, hilarious, poignant, thoughtful, exciting, through-provoking, suggestive – and everything in between!

I’m bring up BFF now as we are nearly halfway through the year.

This means there is 6 months left to get to a BFF – if you have not already done so.

This post will help get you inspired with 2 Bike Film Festivals – one Aussie and the other is the Bicycle Film Festival (World) which has just launched and is currently on in NYC.

1. Upcoming 2017 Australian Bike Film Festival

I’ve not yet been able to find any BFF dates or info for Hobart, Perth, Canberra or Darwin. (If you hear/see of any please let me know!). Melbourne and Sydney have yet to release BFF 2017 dates (maybe later this year when the NY BFF goes overseas – fingers crossed). Brisbane BFF was held in March 2017. So, to date, only Alice Springs has an upcoming confirmed BFF.

Alice Spring Bicycle Film Festival

This BFF will be held on Friday August 11th, 2017 at Olive Pink Botanic Gardens. Film submissions are free to enter and are due on August 3rd. requirements are the film must have something bike/cyclist related in it – but other than than you have tree reign! All local films are in the running for the People’s Choice Award.
To enter for the Best Film Award (awarded via judging panel) email ASBFF for what you need to do and criteria. Entrants must be in .MOV format and be under 10 minutes (inc credits).  Family friendly BFF.  For more info call Don on 0415 361 392 or Phil on 0438 887 952. Details: alicespringsbikefilms@gmail.com.  www.alicespringsbicyclefilmfestival.com

 

Bicycle Film Festival 2017

Source: Alice Springs Bicycle Film Festival 2017.

2. Bicycle Film Festival (World -New York) 2017

This Bicycle Film Festival tours internationally and was established in 2000 by Brendt Barbur after he had an accident with a bus while riding his bike through New York City. 2017 will be this festival’s 17th year and it has gained traction locally and overseas. As the official FB page states:

The Bicycle Film Festival celebrates the bicycle. We are into all styles of bikes and biking. If you can name it – Tall Bike Jousting, Track Bikes, BMX, Alleycats, Critical Mass, Bike Polo, Cycling to Recumbents – we’ve probably either ridden or screened it. What better way to celebrate these lifestyles than through art, film, music and performance? We bring together all aspects of bicycling together to advocate its ability to transport us in many ways. Ultimately, the Fest is about having a good time.

So basically this BFF covers all bike genres and is incredibly popular.

Which is what these events are all about!

At BFFs you get such a smattering of ideas, lifestyles and insights.

I like not knowing what films are on offer before going in and just letting each film speak for itself.

If you can go – GO! If you cannot, advocate you local cycling group to push to get your national city added to the tour dates (??) and watch the trailers – and maybe even host your own BFF!!

Preview the trailers! The BFF (World) 2017 program has heaps of awesome bike short films – click here to see some of the trailers for Bicycle Film Festival (World) 2017.

Find out more about the BFF (World): @BicycleFilm Festival, or on Twitter @BFFWorld or Facebook: Bicycle Film Festival

Bicycle Film Festival

 

I’m a little concerned about the BFF (World) schedule (as shown above for the offical website) as there are no Aussie dates this year and the international tour looks VERY limited compared to last year!

Baisikeli – BFF (World) 2017 Short Film

One of the entrants this year is the Baisikeli Trailer (Director: James Walsh).

This short film documents the origins of the Kenyan National Cycling Team as they work towards gaining similar successes to their marathoners.

For me this short film is of particular interest as Kenya is one of the possible locations for  where my PhD community bike intervention research project maybe located. Even though this film is based on elite men, it is still heartening to see increased interest, investment, effort, promotion and more cultural acceptance for bicycle use in Africa. I’m looking forward to seeing how this bike advocacy and acceptance can be harnessed to enable females in  rural communities to use more bicycles for mobility, employment opportunities and to increase access livelihood services (like health clinics and education).

One step at a time I suppose!

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World Refugee Day 2017

Today is World Refugee Day.

Currently, there are 65 million people forcible displaced globally and the number is growing every day.

The UN states that the World Refugee Day commemorates “the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. This year, World Refugee Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee.”

To highlight this issue, international organisations such as UNESCO and many others have been actively promoting the stories, issues, data and conversations then need to be talked about as the countries individually and collectively struggle to deal with critical refugee issues.

The refugee crisis is an issue that every country has to deal with.

So below I have 3 ideas for Aussie cyclists to mull over* in honour of today’s theme.

3 Considerations for World Refugee Day 2017 

1. Is Australia really helping the Refugee Crisis enough? 

YES! It is!

SBS reported Australia’s current refugee involvement in a positive light by publishing the following encouraging stats:

$33.9 million has been raised in the last year (2016-2017) by Australia for UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) official partner in Australia) to support the UN’s worldwide emergency and humanitarian programs.

Of the record $33.9 million that Australia for UNHCR has raised:

  • 75% are for UNHCR’s general emergency operations
  • 19% for emergencies in Syria, South Sudan, Iraq & Ecuador
  • 6% for specific projects providing targeted support for women, girls and children
  • $550,000 was raised by the community in NSW, QLD, WA and SA, to support Australia for UNHCR’s appeal for Syrian refugees.
  • There was also a significant contribution from Australia’s Vietnamese community, which has previously benefited from UNHCR support.

NO! Its not!

SBS’s report is a stark contrast to Tim Costello’s moving article entitled Even Poor Countries Are More Generous to Refugees than Rich Australia: Australia’s efforts would suggest we’re losing a sense of our shared humanity published in the Huffington Post.

Tim draws parallels between Australia’s efforts compared to Uganda (one of the top three refugee hosting countries in the world) and poignantly reflects that:

‘I was profoundly moved to witness how this relatively poor nation has welcomed hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese fleeing famine and war. How can it be that such a poor country does so much to shoulder the humanitarian load when we, rich and prosperous with a per capita income almost 25 times higher, do not?”

It is a sobering and honest point he makes that ‘we’re losing a sense of our shared humanity, which for a country built on migration is, at best, ironic’.

It is a very interesting article to read.

World Refugee Day 2017
Source: Huffington Post/Tim Costello Twitter

2. Ride for Refugees Event

Aside from wider political and economic furor – cycling and biking events are a great way to promote social issues and get people involved – so today is no exception!

There were many biking events and rides this year, but my cycling event for World Refugee Day 2017 goes to Nepal’s ‘Ride for Refugees’. This is the second year this event has run and 2017 saw a turnout of over 500 people. Spotlight reports that people riding included ‘government officials, diplomats, refugees of diverse nationalities and local residents of the Kathmandu Valley showed their solidarity with refugees — both in Nepal and globally — by participating in the second annual “Ride for Refugees” cycle rally south of Patan’.

Aside from riding  in the critical mass event with all the locals, celebrities, ex-pats, supports and the like, Kathmandu is hosting an array of ‘Refugee’ events throughout the city including a photo exhibition, site visits and discussion meetings.

 

World Refugee Day 2017
Source: Spotlightnepal.com. (From L to R) Swiss Ambassador to Nepal Jörg Frieden, UNHCR Representative in Nepal Kevin J Allen with Miss Nepal Asia Pacific, Sahara Basnet and Miss Nepal Earth, Rojina Shrestha at Patan Dubar Square for ‘Ride for Refugees’
World Refugee Day 2017
Source: UNHCR

3. The Nashville Food Project Celebration

To keep the fun and community in perspective I’d like to acknowledge a smaller grassroots honorable mention from last year (2015) – undertaken by The Nashville Food Project. You cannot go wrong with friends, family, food and farming!

As stated on their website, this lovely inclusive event was a collaboration and art project for World Refugee Day included such a meal. The Nashville Food Project joined friends from the First Center for the Visual Arts, the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee, Oasis Center and members of their International Teen Outreach Program, Bhutanese gardeners and neighborhood gardeners at the Wedgewood Urban Garden.   

“I just loved sharing a meal with all these people who came together around growing food, volunteerism, making art and celebrating World Refugee Day,” said TNFP Garden Manager Christina Bentrup. “There were people and foods from both around the world and from different neighborhoods around Nashville, It was a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-generational group of folks celebrating community and diversity. It doesn’t get much better than that.” 

The group also turned recycled bicycle parts into art for the garden (see below) and then had a big community pot luck lunch together!!

At the end of the event description on their website is a great squash recipe, which to me highlights the significant interconnection between community, food and garden.

What a wonderful way to celebrate the day!

World Refugee Day 2017

World Refugee Day 2017
Source for these 3 images: Nashville Food Project

 

How did you celebrate World Refugee Day 2017?

How about next year planning some grand celebratory biking plans that will bring together locals, refugees and community?

Infuse it with welcomeness, fun, inclusivity and of course… biking!!

Best of luck for next year’s bike-themed World Refugee Day event!


*Note the two  news articles used for point ‘1. Is Australia really helping the Refugee Crisis enough?’ should be taken as a stimulus to explore your own reflections (and reasons for your answer) to this question. The two articles included have been artbitrarily selected as two opposing points of view on this topic and are not to be taken as definitive or sole proof of (or any other variation of) this position. So please use your amazing brain. Research and make you own mind up based on the best quality and relevant information.

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Reflection on 3DS

Last week I returned from the 3 Day Start-Up intensive.

This event ran 40 Griffith PhD candidates through an entrepreneurial practical intensive on how to develop a start-up business.

I needed a little time between the 3DS event and posting about it to decompress, recharge and digest all that went on – and I am glad I did.

It certainly ‘intensive’. The actual content and structure was well thought out and very useful, the challenge was in the level of input and quality of work you wanted to achieve. This plus an added pressure of going market research, having a round-robin of mentors consult with you as you are preparing a pitch and the overall organising, synthesising and production of a real-time sales pitch with a team that you have never met before – (*phew*).

3DS – 5 Reflections

Rather than giving you everything that happened, here are the top 5 things I got out of the whole experience:

1. Working with a new team on developing my Campus Bike Start-up idea.

After a few warm-up activities, the room was invited to come up and pitch an idea for a possible business. There were about 25-30 ideas. In the spirit of participation, I contributed an idea called Campus Bike. We then had an anonymous vote for the best 6 to carry on developing for the rest of the course through to final investor pitch. There were some great ideas. So imagine my surprise when Campus Bike was voted as a finalist. Campus Bike ended up with a team of 5, of which I was the (un)official manager.

Managing this team (and myself) for the duration of the intensive was challenging, interesting, rewarding and surprising for a number of reasons. I got a lot out of working with my team, and learn a lot about working with new people (what worked and what didn’t) as well as reaffirming some home truths about dynamics, management, goal setting, leadership and individual/group effectiveness.

Bicycles Create Change 3DS

Bicycles Create Change 3DS

 

2. Useful frameworks
The Lean Canvas was a preparation framework that was presented to us on the first night as a way of starting to distill and tease out our start-up idea into more detail. As a structure fanatic and a big fan of using visual organisers to clarify complex ideas and document progress, I liked this model. It is easy to use, comprehensive, helped focus our team and meant that we had a clear out line of considerations. It was a very effective tool and once completed, we received feedback we could the incorporate and develop in next stage ideation.

3DS

Source: Running Lean by Ash Maurya (p18)

3. Environs
I was surprised at how affected I was by the environs. It was held at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus in a large room of 40 people (most I did not know), run by American Facilitators, had long hours (9 am – 10 pm, food was provided, but you work while you eat) and was a very energy/concentration intensive process (including added daily peaks in extra stress for pitch prep and presentation). I was also staying at a colleague’s house, (which was so lovely, but not my normal home and bed), so I did not sleep well at all.

I was away from my usual productive morning routine and was grumpy for not being able to have my bike to go for a ride and release some tension and get some fresh air for three days. Combined with being run down, overtired to start with, having some serious IT issues and complications with PhD and one of my classes back in Brisbane, meant that I was most certainly not in prime form. In recognising this, I made some significant changes to my approach to make sure I minimised stressors and was able to monitor myself physically, emotionally and mentally. But it was a big ask and pretty draining – so I learnt quite a bit about managing myself in challenging and new environs and what was okay and what was not. It was a great reminder and I welcomed the challenge to my character – good to know I can keep it together when I am not 100%!

4. Working the pitches

I gained a lot of insights and ideas watching my group and the others work on – and develop – their start-up ideas as a progression over time. At the end of each day, we pitched. This  meant that you could see the development of the idea and what decisions, changes, embellishments and omissions were made. I found this fascinating to watch.

As a teacher, I am curious about the learning process and seeing how each pitch morphed and changed – sometimes positively, sometimes not. I found these changes to be super revealing. It showed not just about what worked, or how to apply the process/business concepts we were being exposed to, but more interestingly, it divulged more about the team members themselves and how they interpreted and integrated new content.

3DS

Source: Running Lean by Ash Maurya (p18)

5. Motivated to initiate a start up
I was super impressed with the logistic and coordination for this event. Each day we had teams of local business people, entrepreneurs, advisors and mentors streaming in and out – all with super interesting ideas, suggestions, insights and advice. The mentor consultations were invaluable. The quality of guidance and depth of knowledge was excellent. Our discussions were constructive, and the mentor’s input pushed us to consider ideas that we had not previously accounted for.

It reminded me of my time working in business in Sydney and what a buzz it can be working with like-minded passionate entrepreneurial – it was very energising to get a taste of that again. The event also served its purpose of encouraging the PhD cohort present to see start-up business as a very viable opportunity.

I consider this event to be a success. It was hard work but was also a very useful experience. I was impressed with my team and the other teams as well. The organisers did a terrific job of managing the time, content and mentors – kudos and thanks!

As a clincher, I found out after we had finished that 3 out of the 6 teams have decided to go ahead with their business idea that they had been working on and will be actually taking their idea to market. Awesome!!

 

Bicycles Create Change 3DS

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