Tonight my household is part of the international celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Earth Hour 2017. Horray!

Along with millions of other homes in 179 countries and in over 7,000 cities, from 8.30pm – 9.30pm tonight, those homes who have registered are turning off all the power for at least one hour in recognition of worldwide climate, resource and environmental issues.

How bicycles are part of Earth Hour 2017

I am very proud to see this Australian event take off internationally and to see how bicycles have been incorporated more and more into the event – here are just a few ways cycling is featuring this year around the world for Earth Hour 2017.

There are heaps of bicycle-themed events going on this year for Earth Hour. Here are some innovative examples:

Earth Hour 2017

Source: Press Reader. Click here for original article.

 

I was interested to find that in 2014 there was a spin-off version of Earth Hour called ‘Bike Hour’ – a very bicycle-inspired initiative.

Earth Hour 2017

Source: Cycle Space Click here to original

 

If you are interested – the short video below shows some of the highlights and impacts from Earth Hour 2016. If you are not already involved – and even if you are – perhaps you can host your own Earth Hour bicycle event! Good luck and have fun!!

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

National Indigenous Centre for Excellence (NCIE)

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

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

Indigenous Mountain Bike Project (IMTBP) – Background

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet states the program as being:

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

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

Some key details about the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project.

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

The IMTB Project Facebook site

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

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

So what happened?

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

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

IMTB PRoject

Source: IMTBP Facebook page

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

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

Why do some of the best projects fail to continue?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Free for the next two days?

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

Well!!

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

 

The CoastEd Bike Challenge – Gold Coast, Australia.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

City of Gold Coast

Source: City of Gold Coast

 

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

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

 

CoastEd

Source: CoastEd

 

CoastEd Organisation Background

Prepared and written by Sienna Harris.

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

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

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

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

I like listening to podcasts.

I listen to podcasts on a range of topics – including trying some lesser known bike podcasts – just to see what is out there and what other bike nuts are up to.

But as with any podcasting topic, biking podcasts can be hit and miss. It is a fine line between hosts providing enough detail in content to be valuable and engaging, versus too much variety in content so that it lacks depth or worse includes so much techie/gear/personal talk that it totally alienates general punters.

Having been interviewed by Caroline Jones (Community Reporter) and included in an ABC radio segment earlier this year for Brisbane’s Bike Week Style Over Speed event,  I was reminded that I love listening to audio and the it is an often overlooked medium of communication (especially in todays’ hyper visual world). It also reminded me to check out other more locally produced bike-based audio productions, radio segments and podcasts.

Call me crazy

I think listening to a variety of lesser known biking podcasts is a worthwhile activity to do, and I’ll explain why. Most not-as-famous bike podcasts are produced by people as a labour of love. These hosts are investing their most precious resources into promoting more biking, so no matter how terrible the sound quality or personality of the hosts are, I will always appreciate the effort that people put into producing podcasts – it is not an activity most people are brave enough to try, let alone undertake on a regular basis.

Also due to budget and time constraint, content is often more personal, more approachable and more immediate. So hosts often provide unique trip reports, reviews and interview their mates- which for me has a sense of authenticity and genuineness about it. It also means that content is often more localised to the immediate region of the producer and are usually advertisement free, unlike more popular sponsored shows.

The Problem

The problem is cases of lesser known biking podcasts – it can be like playing Russian Roulette – you never know what you’re in for until your download and start listening to that first episode. You find out pretty quick if the production quality is low, the content is irrelevant or worse, the host/s are not professional, structured, interesting or on-topic. What an instant turn off!

Briztreadley podcast

I decided to give the bicycle podcast called Briztreadley a go. This podcast is produced by Andrew Demack, who works for as the  Development Officer for Bicycle Queensland.

So this is what I did

I’ve had had a few misses with other bicycle podcasts in the past, so it was with a little trepidation that I downloaded my first ever episode of Briztreadley as I was not sure what I was going to get.

I was keen to support local bike enthusiasts and my local region and to hear what the show format was. I had heard about this podcast about six months ago and only in passing, but had yet to take action and listen to it. I have quite particular ideas about interviewing style and content selection (I think it is the teacher and researcher in me that makes me so particular about quality, clear, consistent and well managed audio communication,  so I was a little picky with which episode I chose for our maiden date. I resisted the newest episode and opted instead for the episode uploaded this time a year ago.

So the episode I listened to was Briz Treadley Podcast 2016 Episode 1: Finishing off the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail with regular hosts Andrew Demack, Chris Welsh and Jordana Blackman (released 21 January) 2016. I chose this episode because I wanted to see what was happening in the local area around this time and also I like listening to some earlier work on podcasts and then compare with more recent episodes to see the development over time and what has/not changed.

So how was it?

I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the show. I found the 27 minutes easy to listen to, well-paced and interesting. IT touched on a few different riding genres and provide a thoughtful snapshot of a selection of cycling news and events.

What I liked about it – among other things:

• Local and community focused
• Variety of skills and thrills
• Not too long (just under 30 minutes)
• Short, simple sound bites of variety and interest, no ego.
• Balanced, normal, not too techie
• Great to have a competent and engaging female voice/host

I was delighted to hear early on in the podcast the hosts discussing NZ MTBing at Rotorua. IT was pretty much this time last year we left for a 10 day MTB trip to Rotorua last year, which we are doing again this year, leaving next Thursday for 11 days this time (I can’t wait!!).

So it was great to hear Whakarewarewa Forest being featured – and also to hear it correctly referred to and pronunciated – it still makes me smile, and I still don’t dare say the local version (tee hee).

I like that this episode also covered a few aspects without wearing glossing over the topics superficially. So some comments on things like newbie MTB riding at Mt Cootha, NZ Rotorua MTB riding at Redwoods and the new jumps set for Crankworx 2015. The main segment is based on a phone in interview with Paul Heymans discussing the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail $1.8 million investment announcement. (*Since this episode aired, the Brisbane rail Trail has already had a few updates* )

There was also some discussion about some upcoming cycling events in RAdelaide (or when the episode went to air ‘upcoming’ events) such as the Women’s Santos and Tour Down Under and Bridie O’Donnell’s 2016 1-hour World Record attempt. Some interesting little tit-bits that were raised – from Bridie’s interview re doping issues, micorsurging, mental training, aero positioning and other people’s doubts of her world record attempt at 41 years old.

 

So what now?

Overall, I was happy I took a chance and listed to Briz Treadley Podcast. I was pleasantly surprised with the variety of content and warmth of the presenters. I appreciate the labour of love that it is. I though it showcased Brisbane and its surrounds very well and achieved its aim of informing and motivating people to get out on bikes more. I will certainly be downloading a few other episodes to take with me next week on the plane to NZ.

So if you have not already done so, either check out Briz Treadley and let me know what you think – or find another bike podcaster in your region and give them a go.

After all, these podcasters are making the massive effort and commitment spreading the bike word, love and community – so why not give a couple of episodes a try?

You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find!

Briztreadley

Today is Australia’s National Ride to Work Day 2016.

Last year was my first year registering and it was one of the best things I did since coming to Brisbane. I registered last year thinking I would give it a go, support the event and try something different. I was a little unsure of how I was going to get there, as I find the Queensland roads spectacularly challenging and unsafe – especially when you have no orientation or experience in the area.  So to find the best route, I ended up using the Bicycle Network’s quick and easy Brisbane City Plan my Route  – and it planned my whole trip door to door, while linking up all these backroads and bicycle tracks that I had no idea even existed. I have been riding to work ever since.

This year

So I am excited about the event this year and registered as a co-ordinator for my department. Although many of the teachers are supportive of bicycle riding, very few actually engage with it – so I did as much email promotion and talking to people as I could and looked at it as a awareness raising campaign. The event has a lot of activities and associated initiatives that go along with supporting riders to ride to work on the actual day – and the list of resources, info and details on the Ride to Work website is quite impressive.

 Breakfast BUG

Although I was (regrettably) was unable to ride myself this morning, I met up and joined the Griffith Uni BUG (Bicycle Users Group) for the tail end of breakfast at Nathan Campus. It was lovely to meet some new cycle-minded staff and I felt very welcome.  A number of them introduced themselves and thanks especially to MD who ended up inviting me to join their monthly ride with them all from Brisbane City to campus. I am now on their mailing list and look forward to more potential future cycling adventures with some new faces!  Overall, breakfast was cheap and cheery and I am looking forward to seeing what other groups did for the day – and of course keen to see how the daily stats and results end up. I hope that it was as popular this year as last year. Click here to see some great photos from the fun last year. I know that last year 43% of all new riders who took part are still riding to work – so I am hoping that this statistic will improve.
Happy riding!
ride-to-work-day

For the last two or three weeks, I have been totally immersed in conducting workshops, teaching and marking my tutes (now in their last two weeks thank goodness), working on my Lit Review and trying to put in some distance into my legs for my first upcoming marathon. It feels like every time I get on the bike recently because I have been inside and working so much, that I have this unusually heightened sense of freedom and release.

I put my strange reaction down to just being too busy during this phase of the semester, then realised yesterday that I have not recently participated in many (any!) social, pubic or community bicycle related events which are when I usually get my fill of social interactivity with other cyclists. I reasoned that this is probably why I was feeling so insular and separated and what I have been missing for the last few weeks, hence the magnified sense of emancipation when riding.

To remedy this, I went online to check out any upcoming bike events – having an inkling that it was about time for some big event (surely!) and yes … there it was … Queensland Bike Week!

What’s on Queensland Bike Week 2016

I felt both relieved (yes, something to do!) and sheepish (how did it creep up without me realising?). Either way, I went online to see what events were on and what the program had to offer this year. I usually know about these kinds of big events in advance – even plan or/and contribute to them – but this year was different, so it was a case of perusing and seeing what took my fancy. There seems to be enough on offer with events mainly in and around Brisbane. There has been some thought given to catering for an array of skills, interests and styles.

A few things that look interesting are:

Friday Night Style Over Speed

But for me and my limited time, this year I’m going for the Friday Night Style Over Speed event. I make a point of not going into Brisbane city on Friday nights, but, as this is my one social gathering for this event and that it starts and finishes early, I’m going to make the effort to dust off Leki, get dolled up and cruise for a slow ride around town. Perfect medicine for a crazy end to the uni semester.

 

The more I think about it, the more I am looking forward to it – who knows, I might even see you there!

 

Source: Brisbane Bike Week

Source: Brisbane Bike Week

Last December, following a very enjoyable MTB trip to NZ, I was lamenting in the Politicians and Prime Ministers riding bikes post the sad state of difference between the progressive, decisive and uber cycling supportive NZ Government and that of our own fickle and overly car-dependant Australian (especially Queensland!) Government.

It seems that Australia has an obvious lack of political forward thinking and active leadership in moving towards a healthier and more sustainable society, which incorporates citywide safe bicycling into current city designs and future infrastructure. Which is a pity, because most other developed countries and major cities elsewhere have adopted such urban policies as a political, economic or social imperative – like Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, France – where ‘continued investment’ in bicycles is known as ‘smart investments’.

During my lament, I had mentioned that it was sad that NZ politicians were out on bikes (in suits no less) and that I was yet to see their Australian counterparts do the same.

Well, this week my wish came true.

 

Pollie Bike Ride: The Australian, April 4th, 2016

Pollie Bike Ride: The Australian, April 4th, 2016

Pollie Pedal Charity Bike Ride

A I know that just getting on a bike for a few minutes media photos shoot is not the same as changing laws for better active transport nationwide. However, unlike the NZ pollies (who were in suits and obviously doing a photo shoot) at least some of our politicians have committed to decent whack of time in the saddle for the 19th Annual Pollie Pedal Charity Bike Ride.

Tony Abbot has been the most publicised pollie in this year’s ride – and leaving actual politics out of the event (which is a little hard), the ride is not only raising money for charities, it is a decent length at 1,000km in 8 days ride. It leaves Parliament House for Melbourne to onto Sydney. It is travelling through the worst of the Black Saturday areas and has regular stops at schools, pubs, public services and local business.

No matter what you may think about Tony Abbott, his politics or his former leadership, it is difficult to criticize him for getting on a bike to raise much needed money for charity. Although it will be a continuous media circus the whole Tour D’Abbott, it is hard to begrudge any politician who stays fit and will get on a bike for 1,000km. It is not like Belgium’s Health Minister Maggie de Block, who at 127kgs (20 stone), could well be in a position which some may argue, she is not ‘fit for’. Conversely, according to data from 2008, 47% of all adults in Belgium were overweight, so maybe she truly is representing the common people.

Either way, at least we still have politicians who get out and about, even if it is for 9 days a year. The Pollies on the ride still have to sit on their bike seats and ride – just like the rest of us.

 

Source: Executive Styles.com

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

 

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

 

The Ride Highlights

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

….and to those who Rode the Night!!!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

What’s next? Compulsory ID for pedestrians?

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

These include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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