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!

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..

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!

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!

AWCC Abstract Accepted

Great news!

Late last month, I submitted an abstract to AWCC 2017 to present a conference session entitled ‘Bicycles Create Change’!

This week I got an email from the Australian Walking and Cycling Conference organiser that started with…

AWCC Abstract Accepted

Hooray!!

It was a lovely email to receive and I am very excited about doing this conference roundtable presentation.

I’m going to draw on insights, outcomes and learnings I arrived at after designing and managing some of my community art bike projects. The session will focus on providing some important, interesting and constructive considerations that could benefit other community bike events.

BUT!! The next couple of months are going to be a very busy time!

Funding submissions for the collaborative community art project The Albatross. 70 assignments to mark now, then a series of end of course exams. Also, need to prepare my PhD confirmation paper and presentation for early August. Phew!

So – that’s my limit for taking on any extra projects! My answer from here on in is NO MORE!

(Although I did register for the 2017 Bayview Blast Ride/Race this morning! But riding is different!!!)

So aside from riding…..

I am officially at full capacity (and very happy with my lot!)

AWCC Abstract Accepted


PS – to see how the conference presentation went – see blog post for July 21st, 2017: Conference Presentation: creating memorable community bike projects. Or click below!

Conference Presentation: creating memorable community bike projects

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017

So many good bike conferences in 2017….

There are a number of bike-related conferences coming this year that I would love to attend.

This year is the 200 year birthday of the modern bicycle, so I feel an extra special pull to get together with other like-minded bike enthusiasts and celebrate our common love of all things two-wheeled.

Outside of sports and pro-cycling meets, there are two main conferences this year that have caught my eye.

Asia Pacific Cycle Congress

The first is the Asia Pacific Cycle Congress to be held in Christchurch, (NZ), 17-20th October, 2017.

Mike Lloyd, a NZ academic who has published a couple of papers analysing a well-known mountain bike rage incident and then subsequently reviewed the same scenario from a mirco-sociological video analysis stand-point, reminded me about this conference.

I would love to go to this one, but have a prior date booked that overlaps, so will have to hold onto this one for next year. Plus I will be post PhD confirmation by then, which means the Uni will pay for me to go! Woppee!

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference

The second conference is the Australian Walking and Cycling Conference. This is being held on 17-18th July in Adelaide, Australia. Their website boasts that:

The simple acts of walking and cycling have the potential to transform the places we live, our economies and how we engage with our environment. The Australian Walking and Cycling Conference, to be held in Adelaide on 17-18 July 2017, explores the potential for walking and cycling to not only provide for transport and recreation but solutions to challenges of liveability, health, community building, economic development and sustainability.

The conference theme is Low tech movement in a high tech world.

After handing in my PhD Early Candidature Milestone Report last month, I am keen to take a step back from the theoretical, conceptual realm of ideas and connect back with one of the primary reasons I started my research – making positive community connections.

So I applied to this conference to do a Learnshop session based on some past Bicycles Create Change events.

I am planning a fun and interesting session – so fingers crossed!

Here is the abstract I submitted (parallelism much?!).

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017

The Lightning Furies

I love it when readers suggest and recommend people and projects for this blog.  RG sent me an email suggesting I check out The Lightning Furies – which I did. I checked them out online and then contacted them. Anna replied and we ended up meeting for a coffee. Here is what transpired. Enjoy! Nina.


 

The Lightning Furies

The Lightning Furies is one of a number of projects created under the SNAPCAT umbrella by Perth duo – artists Renae Coles and Anna Dunnill. As Snapcat themselves describe, their work is “ambitious, cheeky and political and involves painting, sculpture, video and participatory performance.”

Snapcat has produced a number of interesting, topical and provocative works – and none more so than The Lightning Furies. This project came out of their researching into women and sport and then was further developed in response to other input (like community consultations) into the feminist bike gang The Lightning Furies.

In their own words, The Lightning Furies are “a bike gang of tough women and non-binary people, dedicated to a feminist mission of utopic bad-assery. Wearing denim vests, bikes adorned with pennants, the Furies ride en masse through urban streets, wind through laneways and hold up traffic. Aesthetically, the Lightning Furies fall somewhere in between an outlaw bikie gang, Girl Guides, and the Vuvelini (Mad Max: Fury Road). We have a Manifesto and an Oath. We have gang colours and patches. We are fierce and inventive and ready to smash the patriarchy with boots and glitter.”

Meeting The Lightning Furies

Following a reader recommendation, I contacted the The Lightning Furies and this weekend met up with one of the co-creators, Anna.

Over a coffee, it was very inspiring to hear the background, development, reasoning and evolution of how The Lightning Furies came to be – and what they do.

I was intrigued by this project for a variety of reasons. It has significant impacts as an arts project and for personal and community development, as well as creating a space for much needed further discussions about important concepts such as gender, access to public spaces, the Australian cycling culture/s, normative behaviours, social governance and civic participation.

Their website gives a broad overview of the monthly rides and few cool snapshots of what happens on the rides, but correspondingly, these rides as a rich platform to cast a light onto the underlying ideologies, practices and outcomes that this project is addressing.

During our conversation we spoke about many ideas. We covered bikie groups, girl gangs, females feeling safe to ride bikes on the road, public perception of women riders, feminism, being part of inclusive group, how to get more women riding bikes, The Lightning Furies being invited to perform at events, the role of patches and branding, sport and female participation, and how women do (or do not) ‘take up or use’ public space. It was a great conversation!

Sharing stories and riding bicycles for personal confidence

Particularly interesting for me to hear, were the other critical ’empowerment’ aspects that were built into the project – such as the ‘crafternoon’ sessions that happen before the rides. In these session, participants make their own customised patches, bike pennants and other decorations to adorn their outfits and bikes which encourage individualism, expression of self and celebrating vibrancy through colour and art.

Not only is it valuable to be physically creative and to have a space to express yourself, but also a safe place to share stories.

It was inspiring to hear how important the ‘making’ sessions are for participants to come together and have time to not just work on this projects – but also to connect as a group of women. Anna told a few stories that while making decorations, participants would open up and discuss their riding experience, their fears, new insights and later on, how much stronger and more confident they now felt after being on a Lightning Furies ride – and how they had been able to hold on the excitement and strength they had felt during the ride, and translate it into other areas of their lives to great effect. So great to hear.

I thoroughly enjoyed my meeting with Anna and came away feeling inspired and excited about the innovative and creative ways that people come up with to get more people on bikes and The Lightning Furies is just one example of this.

 

The Lightning Furies
Source: The Lightning Furies Website

The Lightning Furies

Source: The Lightning Furies Website

 

Future Furies Action

I will be staying in touch with Anna and have invited the The Lightning Furies to guest blog post – I am very keen to see what the future holds for this group.

Whether The Lightning Furies is your style or not, they are a wonderful example of a local grassroots collaboration driven by genuine passion, creativity and a strong commitment to positive social change.

The Lightning Furies is just one example of how two women have come together to address an issue that important to them  – it presents the rest of us with a delicious challenge – what issue is important enough for us to get up off our butt and get some action and how would we go about doing it?

Rotorua’s Tree of Bikes

Imagine my surprise when arriving in New Zealand, I saw another bicycle-inspired ‘Christmas’ Tree! After having just left Brisbane a week ago and seeing Brisbane’s bicycle-powered Christmas Tree at South Bank, I found that New Zealand have their own spin on the bicycle-themed (Christmas) Tree.

 

NZ’s Tree of Bikes

Just like my PhD topic, NZ’s Tree of Bikes was specifically designed to raise awareness of the vital role that bicycles play in getting children who live in extreme poverty to school – awesome!

The NZ Tree of Bikes is the brain child of ChildFund and was created in collaboration with Enterprize Steel and Beca Engineers. It was originally erected in Queens Street Wharf, Auckland for Christmas last year (2014/5). Aside from raising awareness about bicycle-for-education needs in developing nations, the tree was also a focus point to promote ChildFund’s Gifts that Grow program during Christmas. Although the Gifts that Grow program doesn’t have a specific bicycle-for-education option, it does provide aside range of immediate, sustainable, community-orientated and positive present-giving replacement options in a similar theme to Bicycle Create Change’s previous post of bicycle-inspried alternative ethical gift alternatives to help support other less fortunate and those living in extreme poverty.

 

The Tree of Bikes Origin

There are two versions of the NZ Tree of Bikes. Bother trees have the same structure, features and function.

For example, the first Auckland Tree of Bikes was a 7-meter high Bicycle ‘Christmas’ Tree that had a central steel structure that was adored by 120 up-cycled bicycles and an array of bike parts. The 120 bicycles that make up this tree were all donated by local Aucklanders and after the tree was exhibited over Christmas, the tree was dismantled and the all the bicycles were donated to local community groups like the Refugee Centre.

The Auckland Tree of Bikes was so popular and successful, that a similar, second tree was organised and installed in March 2016 by the Rotorua Lakes Council to coincide with Crankworx Rotorua. It was great to see local council getting behind the intiative and fully supporting the project by providing with a donation drop-off point, publicity and clearing the red tape to ensure that such a great project is endorsed, encouraged and prioritised. As with the Auckland Tree of Bikes, the local residents of Rotorua donated 150 bicycles and parts to create the 2016 Bike Tree public art instillation that featured prominently at the Crankworx Village Green.

 

Rotorua Bike Tree
Source: Radio NZ:Andrew McRae

Why can’t all local councils be as forward thinking as Rotorua?

Although a seemingly small project, the Rotorua Tree of Bikes is yet again another example of how NZ finds innovative, community-based initiatives that are interesting, promote cycling and increase positive community participation.

Last year when we came to Rotorua for a similar mountain bike trip, I posted on the impressive infrastructure plans and that the local, regional and national NZ Municipalities had in relation to the Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018. Previously and currently, the local Rotorua Council continue to invest and support development that ensures and cements Rotorua as the premier mountain biking Mecca for the Southern Hemisphere. With such committed political and community investment, the benefits are paying off as word spreads in the mountain bike and enduro scene that Rotorua is the one of the best places to ride.

Why is it so hard for the rest of the world (and Brisbane in particular) not to see that investing in road and trail cycling is profitable, positive and socially beneficial? Rotorua is a fantastic example of this can be mutually advantageous for  tourism and local businesses, as well as for bikers of all ages and stages.

So when you get here, I’ll either see you on the trails or under the Tree of Bikes!

Turkey’s Fancy Women On Bikes

Theis story of Fancy Women On Bikes was sent through to me by a very dear friend MK, with whom I share a passion for positive action. MK sent this post after seeing it in the A Mighty Girl Facebook page and knew it that the floral, bicycle and social justice combination is right up my alley.  It is such a comprehensive post that I contacted A Mighty Girl and gained their permission to repost it here as a Guest Post in its entirety. Thanks to MK and A Mighty Girl for sharing such an important and colourful story with us all – NG.


 

Guest post by A Might Girl (3rd November 2016 ay 10.22). A Might Girl is a forum that provides a fantastic array of resources, stories and material to support families and communities to raise more intelligent, confident, and courageous girls.

 

Thousands of women — wearing flowers in their hair and riding elaborately decorated bicycles — took to the streets of cities across Turkey to proclaim women’s right to cycle free from harassment or bullying. The women, who call themselves “Fancy Women On Bikes” or Süslü Kadinlar Bisiklet Turu, were riding to raise awareness of the intimidation and harassment that many women are subjected to while cycling. Sema Gur, the founder of the movement, says learning to ride a bike at the age of 38 changed her life: “I can go to places that I wouldn’t walk or drive to,” she asserts. “I can stop, slow down, smell the things around me, talk to people, and be more mindful and healthy too… It’s a freedom like no other.” After Gur connected with other female cyclists who had grown frustrated by the status quo, the “Fancy Women on Bikes” movement was born to unite women in reclaiming their right to public spaces with the simple yet powerful message: “We should go wherever we want, dress however we like, be visible, yet not be disturbed.”

According to Banu Gokariksel, a feminist scholar of geography at the University of North Carolina, the changing political climate in Turkey has made the need for social movements like “Fancy Women on Bikes” even more important. “The rising social conservatism in Turkey in the recent years deteriorated women’s public status and freedom. With harassment and road bullying, women are denied their rights to the city,” explains Gokariksel. Gur, like many other female cyclists, frequently experiences catcalls, threats, and road rage, even in her liberal hometown of Izmir — and in more conservative areas, some women were being intimidated into stopping cycling altogether.

“Women’s visibility in urban spaces is key to reclaim that right to the city,” says Gokariksel. “Cycling is a particularly powerful way to do that – because it exposes a woman’s body in the traffic. It leaves them vulnerable in a way, but changes the way they interact with the city. Regardless of their backgrounds, transportation is a big issue for all women around the world. Women being able to peacefully ride bikes isn’t a trivial thing. This movement can trigger bigger changes, if it can overcome the differences such as class, religion, ideology and ethnicity.”

With “Fancy Women on Bikes” rides recently taking place in 26 provinces throughout the country, the group knows it’s making an impact both in encouraging individual women to feel more comfortable about riding on their own and in sending the message that women will not allow themselves to be intimidated off the roads. Gur knows that not all of the women who participated this time will become regular riders, but she believes that their movement will lead to lasting change. “You cannot bring patriarchy down overnight by simply cycling, of course,” she says. “But it’s a start and it’s what we can do. [When we were on the bikes] thousands of people saw us. Now perhaps they will be less surprised when they see a woman riding a bicycle and treat us better.”

To read more about Fancy Women On Bikes movement on The New York Times, visit http://nyti.ms/2e09ElZ – or check out their Facebook page at Süslü Kadınlar Bisiklet Turu

For a fascinating book about how bicycles became a tool of women’s liberation in the early women’s right movement in America, we highly recommend “Wheels of Change: How Women Rode The Bicycle To Freedom (With A Few Flat Tires Along The Way)” for ages 10 to 14 at http://www.amightygirl.com/wheels-of-change

For an excellent film about a young Saudi girl who dreams of greater freedom — in the form of having a bicycle of her own in a country where women are banned from freely riding bikes in public — we highly recommend “Wadjda”, for ages 9 and up at http://www.amightygirl.com/wadjda — or stream it online at http://amzn.to/2ef9h2p

Wadjda’s story has also been released as a book for ages 10 to 13, “The Green Bicycle,” at http://www.amightygirl.com/the-green-bicycle

For a fun picture book celebrating the joy and freedom that cycling brings, check out “Sally Jean the Bicycle Queen” for ages 4 to 8 at http://www.amightygirl.com/sally-jean-the-bicycle-queen

And, for our favorite t-shirt celebrating fierce Mighty Girls like the “Fancy Women”, check out the “Though She Be But Little She Is Fierce” t-shirt — available in a variety of styles and colors for all ages at http://www.amightygirl.com/fierce-t-shirt

Source: A Mighty Girl
Source: A Mighty Girl

Walt Cahill’s INKtober cycling

Walt Cahill

Today I want to celebrate our mutual positive love of bicycles and all things riding by sharing the beautiful and insightful illustrations of Walt Cahill’s INKtober contributions.

INKtober

The origin of INKtober is similar version of other  monthly challenges – in this case, to produce one ink drawing each day for the whole month of October. There are many different versions of weekly, monthly (in some cases yearly) art/craft challenges – my favourite is still Noah Scalin’s Original 365 Skull-a-day, but each with the intention of producing work, igniting creativity and building skills and ideas.

INKtober began in 2009 by Jake Parker, and it has steadily grown in popularity since.

The idea is that you:
1) Make a drawing in ink
2) Post it online
3) Hashtag it with #inktober and #inktober2016
4) Repeat

Jakes’ website states: ‘you can do it daily, or go the half-marathon route and post every other day, or just do the 5K and post once a week. Whatever you decide, just be consistent with it. INKtober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more you’re consistent the better.’

Each day has a theme. If you are on Instagram, check out some of the amazing art people are contributing this year #inktober 2016.

This years’ prompt list is:

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-8-42-42-pm

 

Walt Cahill

One artist I found participating in INKtober this year is Walt Cahill. His work caught my eye as I saw one of his ink drawings on a totally unrelated site and followed the crumbs back to his official website. So, I went on an internet wonder and this is where I discovered he is combining his love of bicycle and riding with INKtober this year.

What a gift!

Since then, I’ve been checking in to see Walt’s latest creations.  Also, his work still makes me smile and I have been thoroughly enjoying his style and unique offerings.

To date, my favourite is still his work for Day 7: LOST because of its whimsical nature, colour and juxtapositions. I’ve included a small selection of what Walt has created this month, but to see the full range, go to his website.

Source: waltcahill.com
Source: waltcahill.com

As the month comes to a close, Walt’s work is a lovely way to reflect back on a challenging month. The vignettes express the emotion, mood and situations simply and cleanly. Walt’s style is no fuss, uncomplicated and recognisable styling – life and riding should be just as unambiguous.

I appreciate Walt sharing his INKtober work so freely – it has been a source of inspiration and comfort for me. It is wonderful to see bicycles being promoted in such a positive, vibrant and affectionate way.

His attention to detail and personal aesthetics makes his work widely accessible to many, not just cyclists. It reminds me that despite some hard work which is necessary, that life is always better when bikes are involved.

Source: waltcahill.com
Source: waltcahill.com
Source: waltcahill.com
Source: waltcahill.com
Source: waltcahill.com
Source: waltcahill.com