Ride the Night – Brisbane 2016

Last night I went to lend a hand for the inaugural Brisbane Ride the Night event.  It was a collaboration between Bicycle Network and Youth Services to create a 70km night ride around the city to raise money for homelessness and disadvantaged youth and for bicycle advocacy. This event has been successfully running for a number of years in Melbourne, but this year was the first time that Brisbane and Hobart also, held the event with Melbourne simultaneously – making last night the largest Australian night ride event to date. The organisers on the night did a great job, and I was especially impressed that the mechanics tent provided had an all female mechanics team- which was very refreshing.

 

The weather was threatening to rain (which apparently it did in Melbourne), but the Brisbane evening remained balmy and clear – a perfect night for riding!! Overall about 3,000 people attended the three events, with 900 being from Brisbane. Many bikes were decorated with night riding carrying neon lights, glow sticks and an array of colourful torches. Lots of people came with friends; some had  music playing from their bikes.While there were a few tutus and team colours, I actually thought there would be more dressing up and costuming – but it was only the first time – so I considered it a warm-up!!

 

The Ride Highlights

It was great to see lots of cyclists out in force with the crowd gathering from 10pm onwards. A relaxed crowd milled around, chatting, catching up, drinking coffee and sharing stories. The surrounding cafes stayed open to accommodate the happy throng. I had time to chat and take a few photos (see below). There was a ride Briefing and then participants were ushered into the start zone. The official start was at midnight when six groups were released in waves -with two minutes apart to give some space and visibility for the participants as well as other road users. The riders then took off into the night to ride a set Route laughing, dinging bells, singing and chatting – settling in for a friendly excursion around their city. There were a number of Stops along the route: cocktails served for riders at the Kangaroo Point station; musicians playing and a giant Chess game at the State Hockey Centre; there were some Jenga and other activities.  The finish line saw riders regrouping and swapping nighttime adventures over an Event coffee and breakfast. The word was that the pulled pork and mayo roll was the best choice.

 

The ride was publicised as being 70 km- but Strava stats clocked 48kms – which was no biggie, except that my mates group finished earlier than they expected -the first pack of riders rolled into the finish at about 3.30am. The only problem was that they had caught public transport and were a little stranded as trains started about 2 hours later – at about 5.30am. But this was easily rectified  – a leisurely, quiet and fun ride 20kms home! This meant our riders got home earlier than expected; did the full length (then plus some with a total of 78km) and did not have to wait for the trains! Perfect! It was a crystal clear night – perfect for cruising around the deserted city streets with mates and having a laugh.

 

Events like these are a great idea because of the novelty of Night Rides and the exhilaration of riding when others are not. It adds a distinctive adventure quality to the experience. A massive amount of coordination was required to pull this event off. I tip my hat to the organisers for having such an enterprising and creative idea and the confidence and resources to make it happen for the rest of us.

 

Congratulations to all who helped make this a fun and purposeful event

….and to those who Rode the Night!!!

 

Bicycle Pram Sidecar (1951)

Thanks to MK for sending this 1-minute video to me.  It is a quick glimpse showing an ingenious British bicycle pram sidecar design from 1951.

I find this design actually very functional in practice as the pram has no further attachments needed and can be very quickly and effectively attached to a bike. Although the hazards of: car doors opening, getting around pedestrians, turning, safety and navigating shared pathways (let alone roads) these days would definitely be more of an issue than in 1951!!

Call me old-fashioned, but I like the design and ease of this sidecar in principle, although the design may not be as popular (or legal?) now due to safety reasons. Nowadays, this sidecar would probably be seen as risky, especially as most current designs now have the child/ren in front or behind the rider. (*All the better to see you with!*) It would also be interesting to see how this 1951 design might be used or changed due to contemporary bike lane (width) laws in Australia – or if that would even factor into the equation.

Given that these days, more and more young kids are being transported by bikes, I’ve noticed three main designs being used (not in order of popularity) –

1) a box attachment that is part of the actual bike design – like a Christiana bicycle.

2) a separate (bob) trailer attachment where there is room for one, two (or more? and dogs?) kids to sit which is pulled along behind the bike.

3) a seat attachment is usually in front (sometimes behind the rider) where the youngster is seated close to the rider.

 

 

I have been flabbergasted by the design and features of mobile child transportation. Consider the prevalence of bike prams and bugaboos, which can range widely from (not very modest these days) to soupped up mobile mountains of robust kids-and-crap-uber-transportation costing anything up to $1800  (or more) with which parents can comfortably complete a Parkrun. If this original Bicycle Pram Sidecar design was still legal, safe and available, I wonder how many families would use the bicycle pram sidecar given the logic and functionality of this sidecar device.

Forever Bicycles 2015

Forever Bicycles 2015  is a massive outdoor installation specially designed by Ai Weiwei for the National Gallery of Victoria. It is constructed of over 1500 bicycles and stands over 9 meters tall and will feature outside the Gallery from December 11 to April 24. It is a visually spectacular installation and speaks to a number of significant social issues. If you have not seen this art piece before, I strongly recommend you to go and see it live. It is quite a special thing to behold in its entirety. Of [articular interest is the way in which the wheels rotate with each bicycle interlocked in a very strategic and clever way. Your perception of depth is manipulated somewhat and it evokes a number of very interesting thoughts as you wrestle with looking at the way it is constructed. It is quite extraordinary standing on a major city street looking through the sculpture.

 

As a bicycle enthusiast, I find it very exciting to see the grand scale and amount of popular attention this piece has been drawing.  Ai Weiwei is well-known for being a social activist and many of his pieces have strong social justice and political themes. It is in huge contrast to the scandalous bicycle laws proposed in NSW and an expression of the strong bicycle culture of Melbourne. The fact that this installation is in the NGV,  a major public place and a popular tourist location on St Kilda Road is highly significant. It is exciting to have such an obvious homage to the humble bicycle and to have it symbolised so resolutely and proudly in the CBD amongst all the city workers, tourists and locals.

 

African Bicycle Ambulances

The research I looked at today was how African bicycle ambulances are being used to provide a more effective maternal health services.

 

This is an area of health services that has a high priority within the UN Millennium Development Goals and in Africa, this is an area of significant concern and where much aid effort is concentrated. One older Transaid project from Zambia, which implemented a number of bicycle ambulance projects in various regions in Africa, stood out for me in particular, so I thought I would share the project highlights with you.

 

Background to African Bicycle Ambulances

Transaid is a charity organisation established by the Charted Institutes of Logistics and Transport in association with Save the Children Fund. Its primary objective is to address major transportation issues faced by poor rural African health services. This project focuses on maternal health, as these indicators provide a solid representation of the efficiency of the overall health care system in a given area. Rural Africa faces severe patient mobility issues, even for short distances, with access and cost being the most critical factors, especially in emergencies and fistula cases. Additionally, the further demand and requirement for Immediate Modes of Transport (IMT) ‘is significant among maternity cases’ and this is most significant given that ‘one of the biggest reasons for the large number of maternal mortalities in developing countries is the time and distance pregnant women have to travel to the nearest clinic to receive proper care’ (Forster, Simfukwe, & Barber, 2010, pg 13). One example of the seriousness  of this situation comes from an Ethiopian Fistula Hospital, which reports that it takes women in labour an average of 11 hours to reach a health facility that can provide for their needs – and this is in the urban capital city of Addis Ababa!

 

Project

To increase access to urgent health care services, 40 bicycle ambulances were provided to rural communities in Zambia in 2008, which provided a free bicycle ambulance service for community members. This project was better thought out than a number of others I have read, mainly as the bicycle ambulances were allocated to community-based home carers (personal) and not assigned to be stored and/or work out of a health clinic (location). This is much more appropriate, as location issues such as access to a bike (if they are in a room or shed on location which is locked), or only having one particular staff member who has a key, limited clinic opening hours or collecting oxen to be hitched to a cart from surrounding areas, – have all often hampered response times in similar projects. Additionally, ten local field mechanics were trained to construct and service the ambulances, which was found to be a major success factor.

Bicycle Ambulance Design considerations: Three different bicycle ambulance designs were trialled and assessed. A design with a stretcher, full canopy and a non-flexible hitch was the considered the most comfortable and popular by riders and patients. Other interesting feedback considerations were:
• The bicycle should be permanently attached to the ambulance to extend the life of hitch apparatus.
• Rear wheel post frame hitching made turning more difficult than seat post hitching.
• Provision for a pump, basic maintenance tools and a first aid kit is needed.
• Lights were required for night-time call-outs.
• Bicycles needed to be lighter or adequate gears used for uphill trips.
• Clothing should be provided such as a high visibility vest and a rain jacket.
• The size of local door frames was an issue as the original prototype ambulance was too wide to fit through a standard Namibian door frame – which impacted on patient transference.

 

 Results
• During the whole program, the bicycle ambulances took 251 life-saving journeys – the longest trip being 40 km.
• During the pilot program (first 4 months), the bicycle ambulances were used 82 times to transport patients to health care facilities.
• By having a personal bicycle ambulance, 96% of the recipient caregivers were able to be more effective in their work.
• Travel time was significantly reduced (from 2.5 hours by ox-cart down to 30 minutes) by using bicycle ambulance.
• Patient safety and comfort increased – they could lie down on the bicycle ambulance instead of sit (or ride) on a personal bike.
• The bicycle ambulance canopy provides shelter (rain, mud, sun, animals) and privacy for patients (especially important for women who are nearing birth – i.e. waters breaking etc).
• Having a stretcher attached meant that river crossings were much safer and easier and the bikes were able to take walking paths that oxcart transportation was unable to manage.

 

Comment

There has not been any further monitoring and evaluation data from this particular project – but as it stands, this project seems to be a step in the right direction. It is encouraging to see bicycles being utilised to help address some of the most pressing and urgent health issues that disadvantaged poor African women face. It is incredibly important that such initiatives are investigated, promoted and disseminated. It is also a very humbling reminder for people living elsewhere, (like Australia) who can often forget how significant and urgent basic (community) health services can be.

 

Source: Transaid

Forster, G., Simfukwe, V., & Barber, C. (2010). Bicycle ambulances have impact. Appropriate Technology, 37(3), 13.

The right to feel the wind in your hair – Cycling Without Age

Everyone has a right to ride a bike and feel the wind in their hair – so here is a community cycling initiative that is right up my alley!!

“Cycling Without Age” is a movement started in 2012 by Ole Kassow. Ole wanted to help the elderly get back on their bicycles, but he had to find a solution to their limited mobility. The answer was a rickshaw. He started offering free bike rides to the local nursing home residents. Cycling Without Age website. Now four years into operation, this project has made thousands of elderly people incredibly happy; has over 400 purpose built rickshaws, ridden by 3,000 volunteer ‘pilots’ and can be found all over Denmark, as well as Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, UK, Germany, Austria, Italy, Singapore, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, Slovakia, Netherlands, France and Chile. I can’t wait for it to come to Australian cities.

 

 

I think this project is highly progressive for a number of reasons:

It’s an amazing way for the elderly (or others?) to be reintegrated into everyday life, despite various mobility or health issues.

It provides an amazing opportunity for those who would not necessarily get outside often (if at all), including the invigorating and curative physiological and psychological effects that fresh air, excitement and social contact have on degenerative conditions.

To remind an ever busy, self-centred and technological world of the finer things in life, like taking the time to ride in a park with friends – and for it to be so meaningful.

The organisation has even taken ‘international’ cycling trips – from Denmark over the sea to Norway, for one – what an amazing trip of a lifetime at any age.

It serves as a reminder that our Elders still have dreams, hopes and life to live – just as we all do.

Basically, this is a community service. Not only does it genuinely promote cycling for all ages, it also actively integrates elders into society. As well it creates opportunities for unusual and significant social networks and relationships to form between disparate community members – like the riders and the passengers, who otherwise would probably not have ever met.

In many eyes, this is a fantastic example of how bicycles can have a truly positive effect on people and communities. What an inspiration!

For more background and details, see Ole presenting his project at a TED Copenhagen in the video below.

 

Shame on NSW bike laws

I was shocked to hear the news that the NSW government is implementing surprising mandatory NSW IDs for any cyclists and increasing fines for cyclists by 500%. Now, my Blogs are about the positive changes that bicycles create. So this post is somewhat of an anomaly as this is the first time I have ever posted about an event/policy which is actually going to have a highly negative impact on the community if put into effect and will restrict and ostracise cyclists as being some sort of social pariah. It is not my style to reproduce content, but I am making an exception in this case as the Bicycle Network sent me the following communication that best outlines the outrageous bicycle laws proposed – check this out and see what you think….

 

In a move that smacks of totalitarianism—and demonstrates contempt for people who ride bikes—NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay will introduce next March compulsory photo ID for bike riders in the State.

This oppressive step is a new low for the treatment of bike riders in NSW, who have been under the heel since the ascent of Mr Gay as Roads Minister.

Everyday people who are riding bikes for health, employment, education or just plain enjoyment, are being characterised as a menace to society—people who require surveillance, supervision and control.

Bicycle Network condemns this initiative in the strongest terms and will work to prevent its introduction.

Compulsory photo ID for bike riders is something that few people would have expected to be introduced anywhere in the world in 2015, least of all a supposed modern democracy like NSW. Now NSW is planning to stand alone as the only place in the world with compulsory ID for riders.

What’s next? Compulsory ID for pedestrians?

Mr Gay has also announced, just days before Christmas when governments hope to bury unpopular news, a raft of massive increases in fines affecting bike riders.

These include:

  • Not a wearing helmet (from $71 to $319)
  • Running a red light (from $71 to $425)
  • Riding dangerously (from $71 to $425)
  • Holding onto a moving vehicle (from $71 to $319)
  • Not stopping at children’s/pedestrian crossing ($71 to $425).

Increases of this magnitude are unheard of. Imagine the outrage if fines for motorists jumped 500 percent.

In a move that appears designed to cloak Mr Gay’s harsh measures, the government is planning to simultaneously introduce a trial fixed distance passing law. What’s worrying is that under the new fixed distance passing law penalties for driving too close to a rider look set to fall to a lower penalty than under the current safe passing distance law. Surely a bike rider’s well being is worth more.

And to cap it off, NSW will also ask bike riders to give a metre to walkers on shared paths. No mention though of how much space riders have to give a dog!

Bicycle Network CEO, Craig Richards, said today that the announcements could set bike riding back decades in NSW.

“Bike riding has been growing rapidly around Australia because it appeals as a healthy activity that everybody can participate in regardless of age or status.

“But now you need the official stamp of government approval—you can’t leave the house without your officially mandated, government issued ID card.

“In a time where we need greater cooperation from all road users, these proposals will result in bike riders being seen as a fringe group that needs special rules to keep them in check.”

To support your fellow cyclists and your right to ride free in NSW – take simple action by clicking here.

Bicycles Create Change Summer Program 2016

Today is the end of the first week of the Bicycles Create Change Summer Program. This inaugural internship is an 8 week collaborative skills development program, which is specifically tailor designed for – and with – four progressive international students from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds and study majors. The program has three main areas, namely, business project skills, general professional skills and an individual project (self-directed). It was a very busy first week and there are some very interesting outcomes, exchanges and reflections already.

 

Focus: This is an explorative and cooperative participant-focused program, with an emphasis on extending academic skills, developing professional business skills and fostering greater confidence and experience in each participant’s individual specific industry.

 

Rationale: Many students complete their academic bridging studies in December, waiting for 2 months until the end of February for Semester 1 to start. In most cases, this 8 week period is dead time – some go back home to visit family, but most others pass the summer waiting for Uni to go back – in both instances, English proficiency often declines significantly after such an extended break from set study routines. It is very difficult for international students to secure summer break paid work or internships. For the lucky few who do, the work is often menial, fastidiously supervised and devoid of the interns being afforded any genuine ownership and responsibility for the tasks undertaken. Inspired also by Sir Kenneth Robinson’s argument that education kills creativity, this program applies an almost action research element of reflection feedback into praxis loop.

 

The aim is that the participants have direct authority to generate their individual, pair and groups requirements to achieve each of the academic, professional and creative details. This is crucial so that students can have be able to demonstrate that they have experience with the top ten intern employability skills of reliability, willingness to develop new skills, consistency, dealing with constructive criticism, efficacious time management, ethical conduct, prioritising tasks effectively, displaying initiative/self-motivation, commitment to producing superior work and demonstrating professional behaviour (Gault, Leach & Duey, 2010).

 

Perspective: I wanted to look at what it would look like if interns were more directly responsible for the planning and management of their work experience program, so that there could be a move away from the ‘student/learning’ mindset, to better harness and capitalise on each participant’s professional skill and expertise. With this in mind, I designed a program matrix of tasks, processes and resources that gives prominence to enhancing “a greater awareness particularly of their leadership, project management, organisational and team working capabilities” (Jones & Warnock, 2015, p 212).

 

Participants: There are four participants for this program; Sachie – Liberal Arts undergraduate (Japan), Gabriel – Masters in Social Work (Cameroon), Mauricio – IT Masters (Colombia) and Juliet (India) who is undertaking a Masters in Special Education (Autism). I will post intermittent highlights as we progress and you can expect to see guest posts from the participants as they report on bicycle initiatives from their respective corners of the world.

 

This program is being modified and adapted as the each task is undertaken, completed, discussed and reflected on – with the focus being more on the critical reflection of the process. There is much still to plan, deliberate and connect for this program and it will continue to be a work in progress. It has been fascinating to see the solo and team progress, achievements and decisions made thus far already. Although time consuming and slightly stressful at times, it has already proven to be a very productive and gratifying enterprise and I am delighted with the participants’ enthusiasm, commitment and energy so far.

 

Bicycles Create Change: Summer Program
Source: Vehr Communications

 

Gault, J., Leach, E., & Duey, M. (2010). Effects of business internships on job marketability: The employers’ perspective. Education + Training, 52(1), 76-88. doi:10.1108/00400911011017690

Jones, H. M., & Warnock, L. J. (2015). When a PhD is not enough: A case study of a UK internship programme to enhance the employability of doctoral researchers. Higher Education, Skills and Work – Based Learning, 5(3), 212-227. doi:10.1108/HESWBL-05-2014-0013

Politicians and Prime Ministers riding bikes

Having been back in Australia for a few days now, I was reminiscing about my recent NZ trip. I found myself revisiting the Rotorua Strategic Cycling Plan 2015-2018. Particularly, I have been reflecting on why it is that Australia has not yet implemented any similar clearly worthwhile initiatives. The backing of the local, regional and national governments has been instrumental in the success of NZ’s burgeoning cycling popularity.

For example, here are just some examples of how the NZ government is providing political ordinances and a proactive context for prioritising and promoting cycling in Rotorua and New Zealand:

National: Safer Journeys 2020Transport Demand Management StrategySafer Journeys for People who Cycle 2014NZ Transport Agency’s Cycling Safety Action Plan

Regional: Regional Land Management (RLM) 2011-2041

Local: Rotorua Integrated Network Strategy 2012-2014Rotorua Sport & recreation StrategyRotorua 2030 – Tatou Tatou – WE TOGETHERGrow Rotorua – Rotorua Biking Strategy 2014-2024

After my summer experience and seeing such forward thinking policy-making – it is obvious that Rotorua (and New Zealand in general) is light years ahead of Australia in relation to welcoming and harnessing the positive social and economic impacts that a well-managed and diverse cycling destination with purpose-built infrastructure has to offer. Melbourne has a number of colourful and energetic cycling communities, yet NSW is about to implement some of the toughest cycling fines Australia has seen, which has caused a national uproar. As the Rotorua Deputy Major identifies “These accomplishments don’t happen by chance. It takes amazing collaboration and community contribution to pull off such feats, and we certainly appreciate these continued efforts to boost Rotorua’s appeal as the world’s premier all- year-round mountain biking resort” (Rotorua Lakes Council, n.d.).

Some of the NZ Policies to promote cycling, like the Regional Land Management, are projecting for 2041!! Talk about managing sustainable cycling for future urban development! Where is Australia’s enduring forethought towards providing a safer, more active, more fit and sustainable society? How is it that in Australia, we don’t see our politicians and Prime Ministers riding bikes around our cities?

How is it possible that there are still such major inconsistencies and barriers in Australia for better cycling, when cities like Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Portland are celebrating and (socially and economically) benefiting from honouring and championing cycling as being a normal part of being a healthy, happy and productive citizen?

Simon Bridges, John Key and Todd McClay, on a ride around Government Gardens in Rotorua
Source: Waikato Times – Simon Bridges, John Key (NZ Prime Minister) and Todd McClay, on a ride around Government Gardens in Rotorua, 2015.

 

Back at Work

What a change – from riding endless breathtaking mountain bike trails with good mates every day to the sharp jolt back into the hot seat and the office *OUCH*!! First day back at work and it has been very interesting managing a new timetable and new class responsibilities with continuing commitments for research, work and riding. Returning from such a great riding trip has left me feeling recharged and content, but physically quite tired so it will take a little while to restablize back into office mode after being outdoors and riding every day – although finding author Anna Brones‘ image below made me smile as I donned my formal office wear.

 

Bicycles Create Change
Source: Biking to work is sexy – Anna Brones

 

I am still trying to get into a rhythm of regular blog posting and the holidays have thrown up myriad challenges. These have given me some very interesting insights into how some of my current choices and routines, either work – or in some cases, don’t work! Such insights inform what I will need to implement to be more strategic with time, tasks and output so I can be more organised and productive.

I have a number of big projects ongoing at the same time. I am conscious that I need to manage my time better so I can give focused, constructive and deliberate input into each of the projects. I also need to check in with my expectations of what needs to be done, and whe;, to make sure that I am not pushing too hard, or if I need to refocus or divert energy, to free up certain periods of time so that my routine is sustainable. I also want to make sure that I don’t feel overwhelmed or that I am getting behind – which,  as the University semester gets underway at the end of February, is a constant struggle to manage.

Over the summer I was looking at my favourite writing resources such as The Thesis Whisperer, Jeff Goins, Patter, Brain Pickings, A Life of Productivity and Shut Up and Write sessions and found a truckload of inspiration, techniques and great tips – it is just a case of experimenting with some of the strategies and implementing those that are most useful.

For the next 5 weeks my main Projects are:

  1. Teaching and class management for a new class (5-week block)
  2. Editing a conference paper for publication
  3. Organising and managing the inaugural Bicycles Create Change Summer Program
  4. Completing my online course Ignite your Everyday Creativity with The State University of New York
  5. Prepare and start writing next publication article
  6. Get into a regular routine of posting for this blog

So for the next couple of weeks I will be trying to clarify and consolidate my various commitments to research, work, fitness and family – I do not think I am alone in this regard – no doubt there are many of us coming out of a hectic holiday period and back to work who are all grappling with such challenges and readjustments.

What strategies or resources do you use to help re-orientate yourself after holidays back into intensive work mode?

Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018

After visiting Rotorua this summer, I was impressed by the amount of support for cycling that the local Council and Businesses provided. As a visiting cyclist, it was easy to get around town, given the safe and considerable bike lanes that weave throughout town and around the local tourist attractions, parks, lakes and geysers. I found like-minded people at cafes like Zippy’s where there is ample bike parking out the front (and good coffee!). Rotorua Airport has a shipping container at the arrivals door with lockers and an assembly stand and tools so you can build you bike straight off the plane. We stayed at The Alpin, which provided exceptionally bike-friendly services, including a designated MTB bike wash station in the courtyard and private thermal pools for each room. (Michelle was really happy to have bikers stay there, and was so welcoming and helpful that I am not surprised it is a favourite place to stay for MTBs). Aside from all this, the amazing forest at Redwoods was a pure delight to ride around.

I was also deeply impressed by the cooperation and multi-use agreements that obviously work so well between so many different stakeholders within the Whakarewarewa Forest, such as mountain bikers; walker;, horse-riders; family day-trippers and loggers – it was remarkable (and relieving) to see it work so harmoniously and effectively.

 

While here I checked to see what are the future cycling plans for the region and uncovered the Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018.This Plan focuses on developing local cycling infrastructure and participation. Much has already been achieved on this front as Rotorua is already a hot spot for cycling with award winning MTB trails, an annual Bike Festival, an expanding Green Corridor inner-city link network as well as hosting numerous international competitions such as the UCI World Champs 2006 and Crankworx 2015.

So far, Rotorua has already completed the Te Ara Ahi (Thermal by Bike) Trail, which is 47-51 km link that begins in the CBD and passes through the Government Gardens and then meanders past the most stellar Rotorua thermal attractions such as Whakarewarewa, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Wai-O-tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waikite Valley Thermal Springs, showcasing the rich local environment, animals, history and culture.

The four main overall aims of the Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan are to:
  • Enhance and reinforce the district’s brand and reputation as a key cycling destination for domestic and foreign tourism
  • Contribute to improved health outcomes for the community by promoting active modes of transport and by reducing adverse impacts on our living environment
  • Help address future demand on limited road capacity by reducing the number of trips based on motor vehicles and increasing trips through active transport modes
  • Contribute to achieving sustainable and affordable infrastructure thus reducing the funding burden on the community

Rotorua plans to link up all the urban and inner-city bicycle networks to create an integrated Urban Cycleway Network, which connects major tourist attractions, cycling facilities, schools and the CBD together to make access by bike a safer and easier option for locals and visitors.

The 2015-2018 Strategic Plans are the next step towards achieving Rotorua’s 2030 goals and is informed by consultation with cycling stakeholders. The New Zealand government has recognised the importance of cycling and has prioritised it by putting into practice an Urban Cycling Fund (UCF) 2015-2018 to stimulate regional cycling developments. Rotorua applied to UFC and was awarded NZ$5.5 million to develop over 27kms of shared pathways to help link up the city’s Cy-Way network. There is talk about future plans to link up a series of the bicycle tracks throughout NZ so that the whole country can be connected and ridden as a complete trip. Now that’s exciting!!

As the Strategic plan outlines, ‘The completion of Rotorua’s primary cycling network will provide easier and safer access for people cycling to school, with almost 14,000 students within 500 meters of the primary cycling network. The completed network is expected to increase cycling from the suburbs within 20 minutes of the CBD, aiming to achieve an increase in mode share for cycling to work and to school. The network will also have benefits for tourism and economic development by furthering Rotorua’s reputation as a cycling destination and recreation- friendly city’ (Rotorua Lakes Council, n.d).

Eventually, this Cy-Ways link-up would connect the city by shared pathways in a way that will transform access, time and safety to the CBD for locals and tourists as well as making cycling the most desirable mode of transport around Rotorua. Such an approach will significantly reduce reliance on petroleum-based transport, increase the quality of the local environment as well as contribute to raising levels of health and fitness.

Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018
Source: Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018

What an amazing feat of policy-making! It is exciting to see proactive and innovative strategies being implemented on a wide scale that have such prominent, meaningful and sustainable impacts to create change for so many people in so many ways. Congratulations Rotorua for leading the way! I can only hope that we see more city planning along the same lines elsewhere in the world.

Ref: Rotorua Lakes Council (n.d) Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018.