Have your say: Survey on Australian Bike Riding Conditions

This post was going to be on the Melbourne Bike Rave 2018 I had the delight of participating in last weekend while I was down for the SLF. However,  I am putting this quick post in as it is time sensitive. Bicycle Network is surveying Australian riders and cyclists to gauge what people feel about the current Australian cycling conditions. The survey ends in a couple of days, so I thought I would put up this quick post with the link to the survey, so if you have not already included your voice, here is your last chance to do so! We’ll get back to the Bike Rave in the next post! See you then. NG


Have your say: Survey on Australian Bike Riding Conditions. Bicycles Create Change.com 16th Feb 2018
Image: Bicycle Network

In September 2017, Bicycle Network conducted a national survey about people’s views on Mandatory Helmet Laws.

The Nov results of that survey indicated a few surprising results and also stimulated some very interesting discussion, counter-arguments critique within the cycling fraternity.

Bicycle Network often undertakes surveys – not just of its members, but for all cyclists and riders.

Given that Bicycle Network is Australia’s largest bicycle advocacy group, and has over 50,000 members, the organisation likes to keep abreast of current cycling issues and help to push for more positive riding change for all cyclists – hence the survey!

Are Australian riding conditions better?

Do you think the cycling conditions have changed? What about over the last year? Five years?

Bike riding conditions in Australia are always changing, and it is interesting to see if bike riders notice any differences.

What changes have you noticed?

Do you think things getting better for bike riders?

What needs to be done?

Add your ideas and experience to the survey below and let’s see what kind of changes you have seen on the bike.

TAKE THE SURVEY HERE

The survey closes Monday 19 February.

Sustainable Living Festival – Bio Bike ACCEPTED

Sustainable Living Festival - Bio Bike ACCEPTED. Bicycles Create Change.com 28th Jan 2018
Image: SLF 2018

Hey, bike nuts! Welcome back!

The last week has been super crazy getting ready, because…

A while back, my regular creative collaborator and friend Claire Tracey and I put together a roving performance idea and application for the upcoming 2018 Sustainable and Living Festival (SLF)- and we got the news it was successful!

Sustainable Living Festival – Bio Bike ACCEPTED

The Festival’s Program Coordinator Big Weekend emailed:

Thank you for your Festival application. We are pleased to inform you that your event application has been accepted!  The team at the Sustainable Living Festival are delighted to have your event as part of our program.

Woohoo!!

So, we are heading to Melbourne to perform the Bio Bike at the 2018 SLF!

Previous SLF adventures – Leki & the Ova

The phenomenal Claire Tracey and I have previously collaborated for the 2014 SLF, where we created the roving performance/art bike Leki & the Ova.

This project used Leki as the basis for a pedal-powered no-money/barter/trade/swap, mobile op shop. It was sooooo much fun!

Leki and the Ova will be very familiar to regular BCC readers, given it is immortalised as the central feature image for the Bicycles Create Change homepage.

We roved the Festival and went out twice a day. We had a brilliant time and were a roaring success – the punters loved being part of it … and so did we!

Projects - Bicycles Create Change.com

 

It was a wicked project to make and present – and Claire and I knew we worked well together and have since joined forces on a number of ventures.

So we threw our hat into the ring for this year with our concept of the Bio Bike … and hey presto! We’re in!

So, no time to waste – we have to get organised!

But first a bit of background.

What is the SLF Big Weekend?

In it’s own words, the Festival’s signature Big Weekend event will be staged between the 9th and 11th of February. Held in the cultural hub of Federation Square and Birrarung Marr, the Festival’s Big Weekend showcases the main attractions of the Festival’s calendar.

Featuring interactive workshops, talks, technology demonstrations, art, film and live performance pieces (of which our roving Bio Bike performance will feature! NG).

One of the main attractions of the Big Weekend is the Exhibitors Market featuring over 100 exhibitors, including vendors showcasing the very best of organic food, beer and wine. Ethically-sourced clothing, sustainable building designs and gardening options will also be on show.

Treadlie and Green Magazine will be back to host the always popular Treadlie Bike Hub, with bikes, accessories and even a test track to help you make the switch from horsepower to human-power.

Click here for a sneak peek at the SLF guide highlights.

Our Bio Bike Project Aim and Overview

As an arts collective, we aim to educate, encourage and empower participants to seriously think about their ability to affect positive environmental change.

Our event is focused on raising awareness about the necessity of transitioning to a ‘below zero emissions’ society and examines creative solutions to creating this widespread societal change as soon as possible.

The Bio Bikes roving performance uses positive reinforcement and humour to create public awareness about climate change and encourages viewers to participate in the performance by interacting with the sculptural bikes when they are stationary. 

Next steps…

So, it has been action stations to get the foundations organised and prepped for the Bio Bike. We already have a clear conceptual plan of what we want the performance to entail, but it is the props and bike itself that requires time, skills, materials and construction. With the Festival fast approaching, the making of the Bio Bike is a top priority.

So, I’ve been away for the last 5 days visiting a dear long-time friend, called Coolie, in northern NSW. (No internet there, hence the delay in uploading this post- sorry!). Coolie’s technical expertise, insight and fabrication workshop was invaluable in constructing a Bio Bike prototype which will be a major part of our roving performance.

The next couple of posts will be tracking our project development as we refine and work on the Bio Bike, props, costumes and production.

Stay tuned to see how it unfolds – and if you are in Melbourne, we’ll be seeing you at the Sustainable Living Festival in a couple of weeks!

Sustainable Living Festival - Bio Bike ACCEPTED. Bicycles Create Change.com 28th Jan 2018
Image: SLF 2018

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.
Image: Official Woodford Program Cover

Hey Bike nuts! This week I was at Woodford Folk Festival.

Woodford is Australia’s largest annual outdoor cultural and folk festival.

This year, there were over 2,500 amazing musical gigs, performances, shows, talks, demos, roving performances, gardens and activities.

It is a truely amazing experience to wander around Woodfordia.

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival

Here is a copy of the full program – EPIC!!

There is also the Speakers Program, which has over 70 talks on a massive array of topics – including many current social, political and environmental issues.

It is difficult to tell you everything you can see and do at Woodford, so I’m just going to hit the bike high points and let you explore the full shebang for yourself another time if you are interested (highly recommended!).

On arrival – bike parking

It was great to see that at the entrance, the ‘Bike Parking’ was already filling up and that cyclists had a direct and preferential access to the front entrance – rockstar parking for bike riders!

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.

 

Wozwaste

I was delighted to see Wozwaste was not wasting anything – and their market stall looked great! I am super impressed at how their product range has increased since I last saw them.

I popped in for a good chat and catch up. they are doing great work with recycling materials. While we were chatting, I asked a few technical questions about issues I was having working with bike inner tubes. They had had the same difficulties I was experiencing and so had decided to switch over to using motorbike inner tubes now as a result.

I really appreciate Wozwaste’s philosophy and commitment. It is inspiring to know people are out there whereby up/recycling is the basis of their business. It was great to see their range first hand and see what they have achieved so far.

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.

 

Roving Performances

The Rain Cloud

The heat and sun was super hot, so the organisers arranged to have the rain cloud bike roving to help cool off punters.

This is four person, pedal-powered bike which ‘rained’ a fine mist over those who stood near the clouds.

It was a great way to cool off, the drizzle was a very welcome reprieve. When the bike stopped, people were encouraged to sit on the float to rest and cool off – the kids loved it!

There were seven operators, all in various costumes who took it in turns to ride and/ore entertain as needed.

A very effective and impressive roving performance!

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.

 

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.

 

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.

 

The Woodford Postal Service

This roving performance also served a legitimate service.

Within Woodfordia, there is the Post House, from which there is a team of Posties on bikes whose job it is to rider around, interacting with festival goers by ‘delivering letters’.

The idea is that you can stop a Postie (or they might ask you) to ‘send’ a message or letter to someone throughout the day/festival.  It can be any message you like and you give a description to the postie and their job is to deliver it – which makes for some hilarious interactions as some of the descriptions are quite vague, so there are many posties going up to people asking them if they are so and so in an attempt to deliver a message.

In an age of instant text messaging, this kind of audience participation activity was inventive, creative and so much fun to be part of.

Everyone was getting into it and the posties did a great job!

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.

 

Out the front of ‘The Post House’

Festival-goers on wheels

Woodfordia has a great path network and the access is well thought out, so it was great to see a higher number of many festival visitors on wheels getting around.

There were a few wheel chairs, but far more hand-driven chairs and recumbents and a few scooters.

Most notably, there was a very popular trolley stall which hired out wagons for families to wheel their tired kids around. This a great idea for storage, sleeping kids, having some shade, reserving some space and being able to find your people at a distance – GOLD!

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.

 

Image: Rock n Roller Wagons

Bike Refreshments Stall

Throughout the day, I kept seeing Jeremy and his gorgeous pedal-powered refreshments stall rinding around. I had to go up and chat to him. He is a genuinely beautiful man and was so happy to be out and about. His happiness was infectious. Great shoes and what a smile!

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.

Unknown Pink Bikers

These guys had a compound that was open at certain times and they were entertaining people with tricks, magic and activities.

Later on, I saw them riding around interacting with punters and generally adding to the overall cheer and colour.

Great to see more bikes getting around, but some of the older guys in glitter glam hot pink Barbarella-style costuming might have scared a few of the kids.

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.

 

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.

 

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.

 

Opening Ceremony

I’m sure you will be able to get a hold of some footage of the official opening ceremony for the festival. There were massive puppets, fire work, a latern parade, an aboriginal welcoming ceremony and dancing, various singers to name a few.

Of most interest for this post was the use of bicycles during the later parade to help move the larger lantern around as needed – it was only when you looked closely could you see that bikes were instrumental in the latern below in particular.

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create Change.com 29th Dec 2017.

 

Overall – a wonderful time!

Whether you are going for bikes or the music or the culture – Woodford has it all.

It was great to see so much wonderful music, vibrancy, creativity, colour, energy, care and community.

What a great was to end the year!

See you in 2018! Happy and safe riding all!

Counterview and Critique of Bicycle Network’s Helmet Survey Results

On Nov 21st, I posted the results of the Bicycle Network’s Helmet Law Survey. I was delighted this week to see some topical debate about the results taking place amongst the wider Australian cycling community.  I was most impressed by the active, critical engagement and points raised by the Freestyle Cyclist Editor, who yesterday posted a very interesting commentary about the Bicycle Network itself and it’s handling of the Helmet Law Survey. If you haven’t see it yet, here it is. Always good to hear differing points of view and advocates pushing for more thoughtful approaches of key issues for further positive action! You can add your voice to the Helmet Law Reform here. Enjoy, NG.


Bicycles Create Change.com Dec 6th, 2017- Counterview of Bicycle Network's Helmet Survey Results

Will Australia’s largest bike riding organisation be influenced by the majority of submitted participation/injury evidence and surveyed public opinion when it decides over the next few months whether to continue supporting Australia’s mandatory bicycle helmet laws?

The Bicycle Network has published the results of its open survey during August and September on public and membership opinion of the helmet laws.
  • The survey was completed by 19,327 respondents
  • Respondents were mostly Bicycle Network members and people who ride bikes with varying regularity.
  • 2.6% of respondents were from overseas, and 1.9% of respondents said they never ride a bike.
  • 58.3% of respondents said there should be a change to helmet laws, while the remaining 41.7% said helmets should be mandatory all the time
  • 40.7% believe helmets should only be mandatory when the risk is high, for example, when racing, on road or for young people
  • 30.4% would ride more if helmets weren’t mandatory
  • If laws changed, almost all people who currently wear a helmet when they ride would continue to do so and the number of people who never wear a helmet when riding would only increase by 3.7%
  • As expressed by the Bicycle Network’s media releaseA survey of almost 20,000 people has found that nearly two-thirds don’t believe you should have to wear a helmet every time you ride a bike in Australia.
Which sounds similar to what Freestyle Cyclists has been saying for the past decade.
 
Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richard says the network will use the membership and public responses when evaluating its position on helmets, along with literature and expert opinions, with a decision expected in April 2018. “It’s great to get such a large amount of public opinion about bike helmets. It’s something people are clearly passionate about and it’s helpful to see how Australia’s helmet laws may impact people’s decision to ride,” said Mr Richards. “The opinion of our members and people who ride bikes is important and will help inform our policy on Australia’s mandatory helmet law. Along with academic research and information from experts, we will be able to make a fully informed decision.”
 
The Bicycle Network has about 50,000 members. Its influence could force media and political consideration of the helmet law issue if its policy review objectively considers the mountain of evidence proving Australia’s helmet law failure and if it does the right thing in April by recommending repeal.
 
A majority of Bicycle Network members are lycra cyclists who always wear helmets and it is interesting that 38.9% wanted some form of repeal in their survey responses. Among the network members, 70.4% would continue to wear a helmet every time they ride.
 
Bicycles Create Change.com Dec 6th, 2017- Counterview of Bicycle Network's Helmet Survey Results
 
Among all respondents to the Bicycle Network survey, 17.6% believed that bicycle helmets should never be mandatory, in line with the Freestyle Cyclists opinion that they should be voluntary among all ages. Only 1.9% of survey respondents said they never ride a bike and 30.4% of all respondents said they would cycle more if helmets weren’t mandatory.
 
Of course, the survey wasn’t measuring the hundreds of thousands of people who would actually ride a bike in the first place if not threatened with police punishment for cycling without a helmet.
 
The public health and traffic safety benefits would be enormous with both more cyclists and a 30% increase in current cycling duration. All the newly participating riders would otherwise probably be driving a car and the hospital data suggests fewer cyclists will be crashing and injuring some part of their body. 
 
The Bicycle Network is under pressure from many within its own membership, from Australia’s pro-law academia and from the media to make no change to its long-standing position of support for mandatory bike helmet laws. Most mainstream media such as in Western Australia continue to ignore any reference to the Bicycle Network’s helmet policy review, let alone the survey results. 
 
The few media outlets that have published stories online or in press about the survey results have highlighted the medical community’s opposition and/or quoted one of the many helmeted cyclists who so frequently crash and are convinced it has saved their life.
 

It’s likely that well over 99% of Australians are unaware of the review or survey, adding weight to the 19,327 who did know and let their majority helmet law opposition be known in the Bicycle Network survey.

Freestyle Cyclists urges the Bicycle Network to objectively evaluate the real world evidence of Australia’s mandatory helmet law failure and accept that its own pro-repeal survey results support the mountain of submitted evidence that the laws discourage a huge number of people from riding a bike, and with highly questionable injury results.

Readers are urged to read the expert opinions linked at the bottom of the Bicycle Network’s policy review page.

All 32 opinions are worth reading but we recommend those submitted by Freestyle Cyclists, Professor Chris Rissel,  and researcher Chris Gillham.

Bicycles Create Change.com Dec 6th, 2017- Counterview of Bicycle Network's Helmet Survey Results

 This post was originally posted on Freestyle Cyclist (5th Dec, 2017) and the full text has been reprinted here as per the original. Text emphasis is my own. Images my own sources.

Helmet Law Survey Results

The results of the Bicycle Network Helmet Law Survey are in! Big ups to all those who responded to the survey online and via my blog post on September 19th.  A summary of the key findings are at the end of this post. Very interesting!


Helmet Law Survey Results - Bicycles Create Change.com

A survey of almost 20,000 people has found that nearly two-thirds don’t believe you should have to wear a helmet every time you ride a bike in Australia.

It also found that if current mandatory helmet laws change to allow Australians to ride a bike without wearing a helmet, more than 30% of people would ride a bike more often.

The survey was conducted in August and September this year as part of Bicycle Network’s mandatory helmet law policy review.

Currently under the law, it is compulsory to wear a helmet whenever riding a bike in Australia, excluding the Northern Territory.

Bicycle Network CEO, Craig Richards, said the responses received from its members and the public will help the organisation evaluate its position on helmets, forming one part of a wider review which also includes a literature review and evaluation of expert opinion.

“It’s great to get such a large amount of public opinion about bike helmets. It’s something people are clearly passionate about and it’s helpful to see how Australia’s helmet laws may impact people’s decision to ride,” said Mr Richards.

“The opinion of our members and people who ride bikes is important and will help inform our policy on Australia’s mandatory helmet law. Along with academic research and information from experts, we will be able to make a fully informed decision.”

When it comes to relaxing laws, it’s not one-size-fits-all

While most people said they don’t support mandatory helmet laws, there was a divide in whether laws should be fully relaxed, or adapted in specific situations.

41% think helmets should still be mandatory in some circumstances, such as riding in ‘high risk’ situations, like racing, riding on roads or under 18 years of age.

“Understandably, there are people that feel safer wearing a helmet. But there are situations where some people have told us they would feel safe without a helmet, like riding on a trail next to the beach,” added Mr Richards.

“If we were to change our policy on Australia’s mandatory helmet laws, it may not be as simple as saying you’ll never have to wear one again.”

Bicycle Network is Australia’s largest bike riding organisation representing 50,000 members.

It’s mandatory helmet law policy review began in August this year and is expected to be completed by April 2018.

 

Helmet Law Survey Results - Bicycles Create Change.comSummary of Bicycle Network’s mandatory helmet law survey

  • The survey was completed by 19,327 respondents
  • Respondents were mostly Bicycle Network members and people who ride bikes with varying regularity. 2.6% of respondents were from overseas, and 1.9% of respondents said they never ride a bike.
  • 58.3% of respondents said there should be a change to helmet laws, while the remaining 41.7% said helmets should be mandatory all the time
  • 40.7% believe helmets should only be mandatory when the risk is high, for example, when racing, on road or for young people
  • 30.4% would ride more if helmets weren’t mandatory
  • If laws changed, almost all people who currently wear a helmet when they ride would continue to do so and the number of people who never wear a helmet when riding would only increase by 3.7%

This post was first published by Bicycle Network on 21st Nov, 2017.

Helmet Survey – Last Chance!

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!

Do you agree with compulsory helmet laws?

Helmet use for cyclists is an ongoing and contentious issue.

Lately, there have been some very heated, passionate and convincing arguments being thrown around.

So it is very timely that Bicycle Network (BN) is undertaking an open invitation to participate in a Helmet Survey to gauge current community feelings about compulsory helmet laws. Have you put your two cents in yet? Better hurry!

TAKE THE HELMET SURVEY HERE

The survey closes Friday 22nd September.

Anyone, anywhere can fill out the survey.

It will take about 5 minutes.

 

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!
Source: Google

Bicycle Network is Australia’s largest bicycle advocacy group. It is the resultant amalgamation of Bicycle Victoria, Bicycle NSW and Bicycle Tasmania (QLD, SA and others opted not to join). This group has over 50,000 members and is proactive in responding to current issues and driving more positive change. Hence the survey!

I have been a member for a number of years. In Feburary this year, I went to Bicycle Network’s  Bike Futures 2017 Conference. I was impressed by the range of sessions, quality of work undertaken and  large number of attendees. The event was very well organised and it was exciting to be invovled with such a motivated community of cycling activists!

So it is no surprise that as of today, over 18 thousand people have already completed the Helmet Survey.

However, only 23% of respondents are female – which is a pitiful representative considering that women make up 1/3 of all cyclists.

Why the low representation of females in this survey? This is not good.

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!

More females needed to complete the Helmet Survey, please!

Anyone can fill out this survey. You don’t even need to be a cyclist.

Bicycle Network would like to hear what the WHOLE community feels about this issue –  including people who ride bikes – as well as those who don’t.

What to do?

  • Step 1: If you have not done so already,  fill out the survey.
  • Step 2: Ask at least two female cycling mates to do the same!

In my discussions with people about this issue, I’ve heard the full gamut of positions, like:

  • Some people have strong opinions about helmets (both for and against)
  • Some people are still deciding
  • Some think this issue doesn’t affect them
  • Some haven’t thought much about it
  • Others couldn’t care less

Patrick Williams published a good little article for ABC Brisbane that touches on a few of the key issues and well worth a quick look if you are interested to hear a little more. (Very interesting reading some of the comments below this article as well!)

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!

This is what Bicycle Network plans to do with the results of the survey…

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!
Source: Bicycle Network 

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!

PhD in Transport Opportunity

Here’s an opportunity for a bike-rider who wants a research challenge.

Earlier this week I met with Assoc. Prof. Matt Bourke after he contacted me to discuss a few projects he is working on and exchange some ideas.  Matt is the Principal Research Fellow for the Cities Research Institute (CRI – Griffith Uni).  I was delighted to find out he is a bike rider and to see cycling

I am always happy to met a fellow bike rider making positive change. It was great to see cycling paraphernalia dotted around his office. We need more prominent two-wheeling academics!

Matt and I have a number of research and interest overlap in non-motorised travel, physical activity and health and urban travel. However, my interests are squarely on bicycles, community engagement and contested spaces, whereas he is more transport planning, policy, design and implementation.

Which meant there was lots to talk about!

One interesting thing we discussed is that Matt is currently looking for a candidate to undertake a PhD in transport and equity with his team.

Anyone up for the challenge?

PhD in Transport Opportunity - Bicycles Create Change.com
Source: Griffith News Website

What is the focus area of this PhD?

The CRI forecasts requiring double the amount of post-graduate degree candidates within its first six months – this is part of that expansion.

Currently, CRI  is focused on investigating ‘place based social policy in Australian cities’ and has over  100 students working on:

  • Urban planning and water: Towards a new institutional paradigm
  • Environmental management tools
  • Working with marginalised groups via cultural development practices
  • Improving state governance of Australian urban regions

What exactly is this PhD in Transport Opportunity?

Here are the details for SEEK. To apply and get the links click here.

PhD in Transport Opportunity - Bicycles Create Change.com

PhD in Transport Opportunity - Bicycles Create Change.com

PhD in Transport Opportunity - Bicycles Create Change.com

Why is this PhD role so special?

This role also is very prestigious within the transport sector as it is working with CRI and Griffith University, which are highly regarded as:

  • Griffith University is in the top 100 in the world for Transportation Science & Technology in the latest Shanghai Rankings Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2017.
  • The Griffith Transport Research (GTR) team was awarded the Griffith Sciences ‘Excellence in a research team’ award for 2015.
  • GTR has at least ten PhD scholars working in transport research at any one time across the group.
  • The GRT has won six prestigious Australian Research Council grants since 2009, and they have collaborations with leading international researchers from Europe, North America and increasingly in Asia.
  • GTR work with and cross various disciplines including travel behaviour, transport & land use, transport economics, transport engineering, transport planning, transport law, logistics, and transport & environment.
  • Their work covers all modes including walking, cycling, public transport, ferries, roads, freight, shipping and aviation.
  • The new CRI is designed to become the pre-eminent Australian centre for trans-disciplinary research on the integration of infrastructure, place-making and community and economic development in cities.
  • This role is based at Griffith Uni’s Brisbane campus at Nathan in the Sir Samuel Griffith Building, which is an innovative flagship research building and is an award -winning 6-star sustainable building produces zero emissions.

 

I would love to see more bike riders taking an active role in research, planning and policy – and this is one great way to do it. A PhD is a serious undertaking, but for those who are up for the challenge, the results would be not only personal gains but would have significant positive and enduring impacts for the future of city development and for all community members. What a brilliant way to progress the cycling and active transportation agenda!

If interested, contact:

Assoc. Prof Burke
Skype or WeChat (with the username/ID ‘drmattburke’)
Phone: +61 7 3735 7106
Email: m.burke@griffith.edu.au

Victoria Bridge – bike ‘die-in’ protest

This time last week, I was in Adelaide at the national Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017. After one of the sessions, we had a discussion about whether shared bike lanes were the way forward, debated contested urban spaces, and some of the major implications for cities when they don’t adequately plan for future active transportation (cycling) growth. So imagine my surprise when I got home to Brisbane to find my local two-wheeled brothers and sisters taking innovative action on just these issues! NG.


On the weekend, Brisbane cyclists staged a ‘die-in’ protest on Victoria Bridge.

The Brisbane cycling community has been having an on-going battle with Brisbane City Council, which has slowly been restricting bicycle access to the city via this bridge.

Although there have been some good moves towards improving Brisbane cycling infrastructure of late, for some local cyclists, this news is considered  particularly serious setback as it involves major bike commuter access and safety for riders getting in and out of Brisbane, as Victoria Bridge is one of the main city throughfares.

So the latest plan to remove the current bike lane completely, proved too much for some Brisbane cyclists.

This latest proposed restriction, will be a major issue for thousands of bike commuters who use it to get into the city as part of their daily travel.

Victoria Bridge currently has a designated bike lane each way installed, which the Brisbane City Council is planning to remove as part of the new Metro improvements. The Metro project is a $944 million push to remove general traffic from the bridge and double pubic transport capacity – which sounds like a great idea. The planned Metro improvement will remove ALL private cars from Victoria Bridge, leaving only buses to use the road. But to do so, BCC Active Transportation chairman and representative Adrian Schrinner claimed this week that:

Independent expert civil engineers have assessed the Victoria Bridge, and due to weight restrictions, it cannot be widened without undermining its structural integrity. It is simply not safe for cyclists to be in the same lane as Metro vehicles and buses and there is no space to provide an on-road barrier to allow on-road cycling to continue.”

So, the BCC says that the Metro proposal will have cyclists sharing the side footpath with pedestrians.

This is unacceptable to a number of vocal pedestrians and cyclists alike, most citing safety issues as one of the many, but major concerns.

This is a very real and convincing concern, given that Brisbane is still reeling after the recent death of number of cyclists, including a 16-year old cyclist and  an older road-rider earlier this month at Mt Nebo as just two examples.

Many locals feel there have been far too many cyclists dying on unsafe commuter main roads when riding into the city.

So this mass protest was staged and the concerned cyclists took over the bridge to stage a ‘die-in’ protest.

Leading the charge in this protest is the Greens Cr Jonathan Sri (Councillor for The Gabba),  who has been outspoken about the cycling safety issues and claims that BCC is probably ignoring alternative options to the proposed plan for restructuring Victoria Bridge. He is also concerned about this change causing detrimental conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists – and he is not the only one. An interesting point raised by Cr Sri is that:

“the council has made the mistake of focusing too heavily on current cyclist numbers, rather than recognising that cyclist numbers will continue to grow in the future. All we are suggesting is that council converts that widened pedestrian-only lane, which will be almost four metres wide, to be shared by bikes and pedestrians and that will address a lot of our concerns”.

Is this ‘suggestion’ possible?

Outside of the actual protest, one of my favourite comments came from Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk who said “The reality is that this administration has done more to advance cycling in this city than any other time in the city’s history”.

Point taken. But, given that Brisbane is still so far behind the times, this is not saying much. Applying this pollie-speak logic, if Brisbane City Council did nothing for cycling in the last 200 years, then painted a white line on the road, that would also constitute more to advance cycling in this city than any other time in the city’s history – but that still doesn’t mean it is adequate or safe or enough. Nor are these issues a tit-for-tat-points-scoring game where if the council does one thing to support cycling (which to be fair they have done quite bit more recently), then you should be happy with what has been given to you and there is no need to keep developing improvements as it has already ‘advanced cycling more’ than previously.

I am just presenting this event as an interesting case – you make you own mind up about whether it is productive or not. I am still deciding how I feel about it.

But this discussion did  raise a few other issues for me. For example, it still pains me that such discussions (about Brisbane, or bicycle access in general) are still held as if they are in isolation and are removed or separate from so many of the other social and environmental issues we are facing as cities. I’m sure the Mayor and others, are very aware of the imminent disastrous health, environmental and economic statistics on current (let alone forecasted) petrol emissions, obesity and mental health issues in our community – and the plethora of research linking cycling and physical activity to mitigating such impending and costly issues …. but it appears that such issues still so often not included as part of the public debate on such issues (like the Victoria Bridge usability and access. These issues are critical for future mobility and sustainability planning of a cosmopolitan city and ensuring the wellbeing and productivity of its inhabitants….maybe these tenets are so ‘implicit’ in these discussions that I missed them…. now… back to more important things – ROADS for motor vehicles – I mean buses!

Brisbane is trying to move towards being  a ‘greener’ city

At this point I think it is important to also keep in mind a few things. Public Transport needs to be expanded to accomodate the ever growing number of commuters into the city. How  to retrofit a predominately car-based city is a dilemma for all concerned. Brisbane City Council has committed and has been working towards moving to a ‘greener’ city for a number of years – and has made some very good headway in this area to date. The bike ways that have been implemented in and around Brisbane are awesome. Although many see Victoria Bridge being closed to cyclists for the purpose of allowing more ‘gas guzzling buses’, keep in mind that 600 out of the 1200 buses in Brisbane’s fleet run on compressed natural gas with the aim to reduce the city’s emissions.

Some argue that buses are not the best public transport mode to transfer large about of people in and around the city. My view is that it is easy to identify and criticise the problem, it is much harder to come up with the solution.

Brisbane has taken some positive steps to improve cycling infrastructure in and around the city – like updating current bikeway and bike paths.

So is this protest beneficial to progressing the cycling agenda or not?

Not all Brisbane cyclists agree

This protest was quite polarising for Brisbane cyclists. It was very interesting to see the comments and various views expressed on the protest invite page – where a number of cyclists voiced opposition for this protest and gave some super solid reasons.

Here are a few examples of some of the alternate view from cyclists:

  • Be understanding or empathetic to the cause, they won’t even know what the underlying reason for it is. They’ll be all be thinking one thing; f***ing cyclists inconveniencing us again. This is a terrible idea given the hostile contempt many motorists already hold towards cyclists, which will in all likelihood only be only aggravated further as a result of this protest.Surely there is a better way than intently aggravating motorists. This won’t do cycling any favours in my opinion.
  • Yeah, blocking the car lane will REALLY endear cyclists to the motorists…Did anyone actually think this through???
  • We should of course always advocate for better and safer bike facilities; but possibly people don’t know that it is completely legal to ride a bike in a bus lane. They’re our lanes too!
  • I have stated clearly before that activist behaviour in this instance will only put up more barriers to what you wish to achieve at all levels. The cycling community has won many wonderful pieces of infrastructure and legislative changes but want more in a very crowded space where recreational cycling really is unnecessary and a bonus if and when it comes about. More pressing is the dangerous and intimidating cycling behaviour on the cycle and shared paths that is only increasing. This is our issue and needs rigorous education and behavioural change to make the oaths we already have safe for families and children.
  • Sorry Jono – I can’t support this one.
  • Since the Council has now stated that they are in fact providing room for bikes on the bridge as part of their planning. What is the purpose of this? Other than to upset other road users and further create division between them and cyclists.

What is a ‘die-in’ protest?

This involved a hundred or so cyclists and their bike strewing themselves on the ground to visually represent the danger and impact that maybe inflicted if this plan goes ahead – and also in homage of those who have already lost lives in bicycle road accidents.

After meeting at South Bank, and with the Bee Gees Staying Alive as their anthem, the group rode to the bridge, gathered for a minutes’ silence to remember those who have already died, then set up for the protest.

Some cyclists came very prepared, with a few splaying red sheets underneath them to simulate blood pools – it was visually very effective.

Victoria Bridge - bike 'die-in' protest

The whole event was well received and a massive foot crowd watched on and offered comments of appreciative support from the side-lines.

The ‘die-in’ was a very effective strategy and got well publicised in local and national media outlets as a result.

This publicity had to do with the effective and provoakative imagery of having so many ‘dead’ bodies laying all over the main city arterial – and literally stopping traffic (all traffic was diverted for the hour-ish long protest).

Following the die-in (which didn’t last too long) the group collected their things and rode away dinging bells and waving to onlookers and media.

I’d be interested to see if this event gets the results is was aiming for.

Do you support this bike protest?

#VictoriaBridgeBikeBlockade

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.

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.