Happy International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia!!!

 

Officially today is the actual day of celebration (17th May), however there have been a wide range of events happening worldwide for the whole week.

Of particular interest to lovers of life on two-wheels is the Tirana Gay (P)ride March in Albania.

 

Tirana Gay (P)ride MarchSource: Watermark Online

Tirana Gay (P)ride March

The Tirana Gay (P)ride March was first initiated in 2006 has been gaining significant participation and coverage over the last couple of years and is fast becoming one of the most colourful, cultural community-driven events in the Albanian calendar.

This story is great for a number of reasons. Aside from being an awesome international event addition for this weeks general celebrations, it is also great as Albania doesn’t usually make headlines (at least not enough for positive reasons). Also, most people do not usually associate progressive, fun, international bicycle-inspired community demonstrations for gay rights to come out of small Southeastern former Eastern Bloc European nation. But there you go!

So kudos to the Albanians for being such a wonderful and supportive international example.

(Queensland take note!!)

A dual protest for 2017

This year was an extra special event. To mark the international festival, participants in Tirana’s Gay (P)ride Parade rode bikes for one cause, whilst elsewhere in the city two hours earlier (yet overlapping), another protest was being held in response to the country’s political opposition.  The city was inundated with bikers strewn in multi-colored costumes with balloons, flags and pennants flapping the wind as they rode past a protest tent erected in front of Prime Minister Edi Rama’s office to raise awareness and support to pressure the current Albanian government to extend their 2009  anti-discriminatory laws to legalise same-sex marriage and also to recognise trans-gender citizens.

People taking to the streets to protest is not new, but the inclusion of highly decorated bicycles adds an extra element of personality, intimacy, community and creativity which is hard to beat and difficult to ignore.

Best of luck Tirana …our bicycles are with you!!

We hope you have a fun and successful ride to celebrate your 2017 IDAHOT!

Tirana Gay (P)ride MarchSource: Fox News

Below is a 7 minute video of the 2017 Tirana IDAHOT (P)ride March.

More details:

Official International website.

IDAHOT Facebook Page 

Twitter: @may17IDAHOT

Official hashtag #IDAHOT2017

So here is an unusual biking story ….. a mystery if you will.

A cautionary and very sad tale from Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, Florida (US), about the May 6th police shooting of a young hooded cyclist – and the strangeness of how this whole event occurred.

I will preface this post by stating: I live in Brisbane, Australia, so am not privy to the context or have adequate knowledge or access to the full story, people, or news channels. The phenomenon of US shootings (ie carrying guns and public/police shooting in general) is something that we Aussies have absolutely no experience with, so this story is even more difficult for Aussies to understand. Regardless, I am sure there are many Americans (and others) thinking the same thing – how exactly did this happen?

For this post, I’ll just present what info I have collected thus far –  so that you, dear reader, can sort it out, find out more if you are willing, and make up your own mind.

What is the mystery?

On May 6th, 2017, a young man was shot dead by an off-duty police officer at a car show. It was alleged he had a knife. Details of what actually happened are still super sketchy. One of the most provocative and unsettling themes to this story, is that the young artist, Nick Provenza (25), who had a history of mental health issues, was riding his bike and wearing a hoody at the time he was shot in public.

 Police Shooting – young hooded cyclist killed

There are a few gaps in this story that make it unusually suspicious.

From what I can gather, this story is inherently odd given the patchy way information that has been released.

There are too few details or no details at all.  The little details that have come out paint a very vague, dubious scenario.

There is yet to be confirmed evidence of there ever having being a knife.

Why the authorities’ focus on Nick wearing a hoody AND riding a bike (subversive/criminal profiling?).

How did the whole event disintegrate from Nick giving a false name/s to the officer, to Nick getting shot at a public event?

And how does a person ‘ride a bike suspiciously’ anyway? (- and how is that defined clearly enough to justify using deadly force? Is practising urban MTB trial tricks ‘suspicious’? Is it related to property, others, or yourself?).

The unfolding sequence of this story.

Here is the series of events I have been able to piece together.

This post is a step-by-step guide to the unveiling of this story as I discovered it.

If you are on Instagram, you can follow along and read the associated IG comments that add quite a bit of extra context.  If you are not on IG, then I have included the main images so you can get the main gist for each step.

Here we go ….. May 6th was when Nick was shot.

  1. On Instagram, I saw this post from one of my IG buddies (if you are on IG, check out the comments). I was intrigued given that an ‘unnamed artist was killed for riding his bike suspiciously with a hoody on‘. I was also concerned that my fellow IGer was mistaken for being the victim. That took the story from being concerning and upsetting – and added a layer of personal. So, I decided to find out more.
US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

Source: @flowerbikeman

 

2. I went online to find out what the news said.

At the time, there was only one news report I could find. It was a news article from the Tampa Bay Times. Later on, I found another from Fox 13 news posted on the same day. Both of them had pretty much the same very sketchy details. The main difference was that the Fox report was the first time I saw Nick’s name publicly released.

It made me very interested and I went looking for more info to shed some light on what had actually happened.

 

3. @flowerbikeman uploaded another post which was:

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

Source: @flowerbikeman

 

4. Finally, on May 9th, the Tarpon Springs Patch provided a few more critical details.

The name of the officer who shot Nicholas, Officer Scott MacIsaac, was finally provided.

Interestingly, this is the first news report that explicitly says that ‘people have been spreading false information about the case and speculating about its details’ – yet the ‘false’ details discussed relate to another officer being identified as the shooter – but no mention of inaccurate facts pertaining to Nicholas’s actual death.

Still a mystery as to how it went from Nicholas giving a false name to him being shot.

 

5. On Thursday 11th May, @flowerbikeman had reposted this on IG – and I was very interested in the comments that this post provoked.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

Source: @flowerbikeman

 

6. Later that day, I found this news report online.

I had to do some extra scouting for it – but there is this news report about the incident (from ABC Action News).

Still very light on details. These pictures that were included in the report were new – and pretty powerful.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

Source: ABCAction News

 

7. By this time the local word was well and truly out on IG.

The local and wider community rallied and here are some of the responses:

A sober reminder from @flowrbikeman on IG.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

Source: @flowerbikeman

 

From @peenutbu on IG

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

 

A protest T-shirt from @orton_ndau to #handsupdontshoot

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

Source: IG @orton_ndau

 

From @cassnectao on IG

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

Source: @cassnectar

@cassnectar’s above IG message reads: “cassnectar_ My [pained] face is blurred for a multiplicity of reasons – majorly because there is no single face behind this cause. It is NOT about me and this is NOT to score my own brownie points. Please; like & share to spread awareness.
Devastatingly, we live in a world where our loved ones are being killed for naught, by those meant to protect us. For riding a bike in public alone. For wearing a hoodie. For looking “suspicious.” WE ARE THE SUSPICIOUS IN THEIR EYES. We are the targets. We need to and we will fight for what is just, we need to stand up to those targeting innocent men. We need to question authority. We need to question EVERYTHING.
TSPD murdered Nick for riding his bike alone in a hoodie. After committing no crime. For being there, when they didn’t want him there. That’s why we’re here and that’s why we’ll fight as hard and long as we all possibly can. Nick should not be dead. We are his voice now.”

 

And back to where it all started with @flowerbikeman on IG.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

 

So the mystery still remains as to what actually happened and why Nicholas was shot. I don’t think it would just be us Aussies who find this whole story particularly difficult to fathom. It is such a sad story. It is a sobering and disturbing reminder that our current society is still very resistant of, and reluctant to, accept people who are outside the mainstream hegemonic norm.

A tragic reminder that people who have psychological, sexual, cultural, interest, language or personal differences – those that I refer to as ‘divergent thinkers’ – are still sorely misunderstood and often (socially or otherwise) punished for their unique ways.

As someone who identifies with the group, I find this story all the more disturbing.

And you do not have to be ‘different’ to be moved by this story.

Ever owned or worn a hoodie?

Ever been in a situation where the police have come on strong and wanted to give ’em lip?

Been out in public recently?

Ride a bike?

No matter what the lead-up was, I’m sure we can all agree that the death of a young bike rider in such circumstances is shockingly tragic.

I’ll end this post with a memorial IG post from Rachel Reed.  Ride safe my hooded biking brothers and sisters.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

IG Source: @rachelreed_

 

Postscript: Queensland is known within Australia as being ‘the Police state’. It was certainly a cultural shock for me to move from Melbourne to Brisbane and experience daily the differences in limited social rights, expression and creativity – and dealing with imposing, and often draconian authority – of which I have previously posted. This story also resonated with me because where I live in Brisbane (Wynnum-Manly), there was a 2011 one-month trial to ‘ban’ hoodies in shops, followed by a six-month follow-up trial in 2013. It was a voluntary ban and the details, duration and process of the ban are still unclear. Police reported that armed robberies were reduced, but no report or update outside of the new reports linked into here have released to the public that I could find. There is still talk locally of making it a permanent ban and implementing it for the whole of Brisbane city.

Every so often, I really leaving Melbourne – especially on days like today!!

Today was the Ginger Pride Rally 2017.

As a passionate and enthusiastic lover of redheads, I sorely missed not being able to support my fellow copper-topped brothers and sisters

in person today (*sigh*).

The Melbourne event looked awesome!

It was not only a great opportunity for local redheads to shine, but the event also raised some valuable publicity about bullying issues.

I was delighted to see over 1,000 redheads march and that the event received some good news coverage.

Ginger Rally 2017

Source: News.com

Ginger Rally 2017

The Ginger Net organised the event – and spruiked the event on their website thus:

Redheads and copper-tops of Australia, the time is nearing for the hottest event in the 2017 social calendar! The Ginger Pride Rally hosted by Buderim Ginger and our friends at RANGA s back in Melbourne for a second year and set to be bigger, better and more fiery than the last!

Assemble your ginger and redhead #squad to celebrate our super powers, unique fiery manes, enviable moontan complexions and unbreakable spirit with a ginger rally starting in Federation Square, marching to celebrate uniqueness and diversity in the community. The march will be followed by a finishing festival back at Fed Square with free ginger beer, vigorous games of ‘Ginger Beer Pong’, photo booth fun, a kid’s activity zone and for the first time ever ginger speed dating hosted by Singles Events Melbourne! Oh and plenty of shade and sunscreen of course.

You’ll also be bopping along to bangers from redhead bands including The VannsLuize Scott and X Factor standouts Brentwood. We’ve also partnered up with the Alannah & Madeline Foundation to help raise awareness and funds to stop bullying against children, including mini gingers to help deliver community education programs to make a valuable change in the life of so many kids.

Advance Ginger Cyclists!

For those of us who could/did not attend, it is a great opportunity to reflect, encourage and pay homage to the beautiful, robust, vitally important and wonderful flame-haired cyclists among us – whatever their age, bike choice or ability.

So in support of the Ginger Rally 2017, here are a few pictures of inspiring biker redheads through the ages and across all biking disciplines – Enjoy!

Ginger Rally 2017

Source: Ana Rosa – Girls and Bikes Ginger

Ginger Rally 2017

Source: Pintrest Redhead men

Ginger Rally 2017

Source: Pittsburg murals and pubic art

Ginger Rally 2017

Source: Cyclingpigs

Ginger Rally 2017

British cyclist Jason Kenny by Bryn Lennon

Ginger Rally 2017

Source: Colin Meagher (Pinkbike), Rider ??

Ginger Rally 2017

Source: Bause.at Rider: Angie Hohenwarter

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?

What is the Indian Pacific Wheel Race?

The Indian Pacific Wheel Race is an epic one-stage, unassisted 5,500 km adventure race across Australia. The IPWR website has all in the background and info you need including the route coordinates, so I won’t rehash those details here. This race is well worth taking a look at just to gauge how ‘motivated’ you consider yourself to be as a rider….

The Indian Pacific Wheel Race (also known as the IndyPac or IPWR) also has some specific rules given that it is a long-distance unsupported road ride. It is very well managed and I am impressed with the level of technology used to track riders and how effective the communications and media coverage for this event is – by the race organisers, the riders themselves (see Jackie’s page below) and the race supporters and rider fans.

It starts in Fremantle, WA and ends at Sydney Opera House, taking in 4 main section:

1. The desert (incl the Nullarbor Plain);
2. Rolling hills of the famous wine districts of South Australia;
3. The iconic Great Ocean Road; and
4. The Australian Alps.

Here is an overview of the the course:

Indian Pacific Wheel Race

Source: ABC News

Jackie Bernardi

Jackie Bernardi is one of only seven female riders registered for 2017 IndyPac.

I admit to being completely biased as Jackie has been a dear friend for many years.

It has been amazing watching her transition from rock climbing to cycling and equally inspiring to hear about her rides, adventures and exploits over the years and and to see how devoted she is to riding.

Jackie has been particularly active the last couple of years in Australian long-distance bikepacking adventure races including the Cloudride 1,000km race in the mountains surrounding Canberra and the Great Dividing Trail Race in Victoria, as well as going further afield last year to race the 4,500kms Tour Divide that runs from Banff (Canada) over the Continental Divide through the U.S. and down to the Mexico boarder, where she was one of only 11 female riders out of 191 starters (only 73 completed the race)  and of which she was #1 female for the race in a time of 19 days, 21 hours and 41 mins!!! So she is certainly up for the IndyPac challenge!

Jackie is an inspirational woman and a phenomenal athlete. Her tenaciousness on the bicycle is nothing short of impressive. It has been great to see Jackie’s updates and videos as well as track her progress throughout the race via the Jackie Bernardi IndyPac 2017 Facebook page  – which gives some great insights into the conditions, issues, tips and pure will power required to undertake and push on in a long-haul event like the IndyPac.

Indian Pacific Wheel Race 2017

Source: Jackie Middleton

 

Update below shows Jackie coming in hot to Adelaide and setting a mean pace earlier this week for the half way mark.

Indian Pacific Wheel Race

Source: KO’s Facebook update.

Sad news cuts IndyPac 2017 race short

Today the IndyPac Race was cancelled due to the devastating news that early this morning, a car crash killed Mike Hall, one of the IndyPac cyclists.

At the time of the accident, the race was still underway. Mike was in second position and the lead riders were due to arrive at the finish line in Sydney later today (Friday 31st March).

Mike was a 35-year old British cyclist and well known for being one of the world’s best ultra-endurance racers and holds the record for the fastest completion of the Trans Am and Tour Divide bikepacking races in the US.

The sad news has been difficult for riders, organisers and many of the race’s fans and other cyclists alike. 

Today there were a number of  Mike Hall Memorial Rides in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, all of which had massive turn outs.

It is such a heartbreaking way to stop any event, especially an international endurance road race.

Our thoughts are with Mike Halls’ family, the IndyPac riders and their support community.

 

Indian Pacific Wheel Race

Source: Sean Conway

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!!

Meet Nathan Berry, a Memphis-based photographer who has a panache for bicycles.

 Project Bike Love.

Bicycles have featured predominately in Nathan’s work for some years, but my favourite series of his is the 2011Project Bike Love.

This particular series of 28 photos reflects my interest to record and celebrate community members and their bicycles.  My #Bikes_CISTA (or Cycling Inter-Species Team of Awesomeness) features at a minimum one bike, one rider and one dog and they need to be spontaneous meetings in my local area. My series is on the grassroots and immediate end of the photo series spectrum.

What I like about Nathan’s series is that it has a similar approach in that it features locals with their bikes within the Memphis locale. However, Nathan’s shots are distinctly professional and beautifully reflect the polished and expert end of the curated bike/community photo spectrum.

Style, Simplicity & Authenticity

I like the simplicity and authenticity of this series. Simplicity in that the setting is visually additive without being distracting, and authentic as a few key props or clothing really helps frame the personal narrative of each subject without being overly manufactured.

I also appreciate the variety of people selected and the personality that comes through in each portrait. With only 28 participants, the subjects have been judiciously selected for their occupational, recreational or unique valuable perspectives, each of which is highlighted by a short description detail about rider, bike and context. The concise and precise blurbs are tantalising and engaging – just enough basic description to set the person, place and bike – but after that, the rest if up to the viewer to fill in the details for each story.

Bikespiration

The diversity portrayed reflects life choices, lifestyles and just enough identity to glimpse contrasts and associations. It is an interesting choice to provide the job or current activity for each subject as a primary determinate – the juxtaposition between setting, owner and bike – very bikespirational.

The delicious smattering of occupational divisions (community work, hospitality, medicos, commerce, adventurers, even the Mayor, and others ) are a great way to showcase the people, vibrancy, multiplicity and possibilities of living in Memphis.

It gives a unique insight into the Memphis community that I would not otherwise have had. As an outsider, it also makes me curious about Memphis if this is the calibre and characters that live there.

I also love seeing the full range of bike genres represented and seeing what kind of person rides what kind of bike. Stylistically, I like that some of these shots are taken inside and that many of the shots are site-specific and purposefully mirror the individual and bike featured.

See more of Nathan’s work on bikes

So if your mood needs a little lift and you are up for some quality Memphis-based bicycle-inspired art, check out Nathan’s zenfolio, which includes other bicycle photo series such as The Memphis Bike Co.

Here is a small sample of what Project Bike Love entails – see the whole 28 photos here.

Nathan Berry's Project Bike Love

Source: Nathan W Berry. Thomas Elliot and his All City Big Block. TJ is a veteran combat medic in the United States Army, on active reserve after serving in Afghanistan.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series

Photo by Nathan W Berry. John Payne and his racing cycle. John Payne is a senior financial analyst for Autozone in Memphis. As a member of the Memphis Runner’s Track Club, John competes in all distances including marathon.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series

Photo by Nathan W Berry. Gabe and his Trek 520 touring bike during his stop in Memphis. Having started in Dallas, TX, Gabe is riding cross-country.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series

Photo by Nathan W Berry. Bikesploitation at Sears Crosstown, Memphis, Tn.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series

Photo by Nathan W Berry. Kerry and her Schwinn Collegiate. Kerry is the author of the I Love Memphis blog.

Ride2School 2017

 

Today is Australia’s National day for Ride2School 2017.

This is a national active school transportation initiative (celebrated elsewhere overseas as well), whereby schools register that their parents, student and teachers will use active school transportation on the day. Active transportation can be by bike, walk, scooter, skateboard or other unmotorised means. The aim is to get more new people involved in active school transport, while equally recognizing the few who do it regularly.

In the 1970s, 8 out of 10 kids rode or walked to school, but today the average is 2 out 10.

Seeing as though it is St Patricks’ Day as well, there were many ‘Green Themed’ school bikes getting around.

Ride2School 2017

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

A Ride2School success

Bourke Street Public School is a wonderful exemplar case study for this annual event. This Sydney school already has one of the highest rates of student active transportation with 80% of its students using active transportation to get to and from school. It is an excellent role model for other schools for how to promoting and maintain safe and healthy walking, cycling, skateboarding and scootering school travel. Today they had a massive festival and parade to show off their decorated bikes – awesome! Great to see school administration really getting behind the event.

Ride2School 2017

Source: Sydney Cycleways

QLD – Parents fined for allowing their kids ride/walk to school

As those of you who are old friends of the blog will know, it was a massive (cycling) culture shock for me going from progressive bicycle-loving Melbourne to archaic police-state Queensland. Queensland authority’s aversion to implementing, supporting and engaging with a range of enterprising cycling initiatives, such a being the National Super Sunday bike track users count or the International Naked Bike Ride to name just two is indicative of the pervasive negative mindset towards cycling and biking.

A case in point.

Today is national Bike2School and many schools in Queensland joined in. I am sure the Queensland parents, teacher and students involved had a lovely day, as did thousands of other schools nationwide.

However, I can’t help but think that Queensland is hypocritical considering it previously fined a single mum for encouraging her kids to use active transportation to school – as well as publicly threatening other parents through a school newsletter no less with similar or more severe punitive measures – including jail.

How quickly we forget!

The story of how this mum was fined made serious headlines just over six months ago – and is quite interesting in light of today’s national celebration.

Essentially, this mum (from Miles, QLD) was charged under section 364A of the Queensland Criminal Code, which says: “A person who, having the lawful care or charge of a child under 12 years, leaves the child for an unreasonable time without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child during that time commits a misdemeanour. Maximum Penalty — 3 years’ imprisonment.”

This was done under the guise of keeping ‘kids safe’.

So what is an ‘unreasonable time’ to travel to school? Sounds very subjective and arbitrary to me, something that a police officer would be able to ‘interpret’ depending on the given situation.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE NEWS REPORT OF THIS INCIDENT (sorry, cannot embed it).

Bike2School 2017

Source: The Courier Mail – August 5, 2016 9:14 am.

Queensland……penalising parents for allowing their kids to travel independently to school.

Based on past evidence of Queensland’s stringent autocratic surveillance and control of community (and specifically biking) practices and behaviours and my own experiences of how Queensland authorities’ moderate community regulations and behaviour, I am not surprised that such a contradiction occurred.

There could well have been other mitigating circumstances, but the dismissive lack of regard for justifying and explaining the situation is as equally disturbing as the original fine.

I think it is disgraceful to fearmonger and penalise parents who chose to raise active, healthy, socially-adjusted, independent, responsible kids.

So what is the issue here?

What a pity Queensland police cannot see the bigger picture that parent like the poor Miles mum and Ride@School Day contribute, considering increasing community concerns about the health of today’s youths, or the fact that they are overly “cosseted and chauffeured”, or that the ABC reports alarming children obesity rates, or that there are valid and serious questions being debated about the individual and community impacts of having fewer children riding to school.

I don’t have kids myself, but I am not the only person who found this situation very odd.

An interesting case for Bike2School Day 2017

Today certainly provides some useful material for reflection and discussions friends, locals and school community members.

It is a wonderful opportunity to uncover the wider implications and more nuanced quandaries of the jovial national celebrations underway regarding active school transportation, kids and community participation and mobility – especially within the Queensland context.

Ride2School 2017

Happy International Women’s Day  – A quiet ride to celebrate.

I have just returned back from celebrating International Women’s Day 2017 (IWD). It is late now, just past midnight in fact, so technically it is the day after IWD. I’m late as I had spent the afternoon and evening going for a wonderful IWD ride. So before my IWD night officially ends, I thought I would put up a quick considerations to mark the occasion.

International Women’s Day Background

For those who don’t know, International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

International Women’s Day has a long history in the West dating back to 1909. In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly made the holiday globally recognized by inviting member states to declare March 8 a day for women’s rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment. Since then, the UN creates an annual theme for International Women’s Day. Today also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity and the theme for this year is Be Bold For Change.

This day is important for many reasons, but  with the World Economic Forum prediction that the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186, the struggles of many women in disadvantaged situations is more acute than ever.

Therefore, International Women’s Day (IWD) is an opportunity to raise positively contribute to

  • celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women because visibility and awareness help drive positive change for women
  • declare bold actions you’ll take as an individual or organization to help progress the gender agenda because purposeful action can accelerate gender parity across the world.

International Women's Day

Two Awesome Historical Stories of Heroic Cycling Women

I got a real kick out of reading Peter Zheutlin’s article about his amazing great great-aunt Annie Cohen Kopchovsky’s ride way back in 1895 and the legacy that this event has had since in helping women to break boundaries – inspirational!

Another historical piece by fellow bike Blogger Nicola from Women Who Cycle offered some insightful comments when considering the impact and connections between bicycles and specifically American women (based on a Wisconsin stimulus).

 

International Women's Day

Source: Bike Penticton

IWD 2017 – Who, what and how?

IWD is not all about women – it is equally important that our brothers and the gorgeous men in our lives are also recognised! In fact some of the most staunch feminists I know are men.

There are many places to find out what is on this IWD. Some people offer ideas such as hosting your own events, for others who might want time alone or to be with friends, there are numerous suggestions on ways you can celebrate and share the day.

International Women's Day

How are riders around the world celebrating International Women’s Day 2017?

For the cycling community, regardless of what gender you are  – IWD guarantees a plethora of events, celebrations, awards and all kinds of reasons to get together for a ride – for example:

  • There were celebrations and rides all over the world, although coverage of these reports varied in detail and depth for example Malaysia, India and  the UK.  There was also a massive march in New York City, which some friends of mine attended and said they saw a large cycling cohort represented – hooray!
  • More locally, the Bushrangers MTB Club celebrated more women registering in the club than ever before.
International Women's Day 2017

Source: Total Women’s Cycling

 

Quiet time to reflect and give thanks

Personally, I celebrated International Women’s Day 2017 in low-key style. This year I wanted to mark the day with simplicity, gratitude and in a way that acknowledged the ordinary and everyday.

Instead of going to a big event, I opted instead to take a solo ride along the coastline and have time to reflect. For me, this was a more honest and personal way to ruminate and commemorate on the processes of womens’ struggles.

As I rode, I thought about my life and the lives of others.

I thought about the current situation of fellow sisters throughout the world, the amazing progress the world has made and areas that still need improving. I thought about how I impact the world, and how I felt I was making a difference and where I though we needed more change.

I took time to stop and gave thanks.

I watched the bay and listened to the lapping of the waves. It was a stunning afternoon. The ocean breeze was cool and reassuring, the sunset spectacular and full of promise for the next day and I was very grateful to be alive and riding my bike.

What did you do to commemorate this day?

What ever it was – Happy International Women’s Day!

This post is an interview I had with Xavier and Will, two young friends who live in a Victorian country town about 1.5 hours out of Melbourne. I have been staying with family and happened to spot these two industrious lads out in a yard with shovels ablaze and bikes strewn close by, so I went to see what they were working on. We got chatting and I was impressed with their initiative and thoughtfulness in constructing their own backyard MTB track given their limited resources. The following interview details what we discussed. Thanks to the parents of both boys for permission to publish this story.

Two young friends make their own backyard MTB track

 

How long have you been living in this town?

Seven years ago Xavier moved here from another town. He was already riding up there and had started riding a motorbike when her was two or three. Will was given a pushbike when he was three and still has the same bike and has been riding ever since. We like riding in the street and testing out our new bikes.

How long have you two been friends for?   

Since grade one – which was in 2013. So we have been friends four years.

Boys Backyard MTB Track

Why did you make the mountain bike track?

We did have a few bike tracks but they all got washed away in the floods. So we decided to make our own just for us. We also made it for guests to have fun – and because it is in the backyard and not near the river like the other few before, this one won’t get washed away.

We just used all scraps from here and there are got some shovels and just got started.

How many bike tracks have you made?

We decided to have one main one before we had this area, it went all around the garden.  We did it just to do big holes in the ground and do rallies down and jumps on. Now we’re not really like jumping, we’re doing more skills and obstacle stuff which is more advanced.

Do any adults help you make the tracks? No, only our neighbour does (kid the same age).

Do any other kids ride your tracks or help? Not without our permission, since it is on our property.

How did you decide on the design of the track?

Designing the track meant that we got the ideas from our heads and talked about it.  Then we started playing with ideas and decided what were the good ideas and put those into the track. Then we had something there with the things we wanted and we just keep going. We also used our prior knowledge from magazines and we have experience scootering (riding scooters). We also got some ideas from skate parks. Then we just made it!

How long did it take you to make it?

Well before we were both here we worked a little bit on the track, but we were just mucking around. The next time we really got started. The track has moved a few times, but now it is in Will’s backyard so we don’t have to move it again and we can work on it anytime we want to. When we started, it probably took us two hours to get the main loop in, but we still work on it and change it – like today we spent an hour fixing up the rock garden and making a log bridge. We still haven’t finished and there is still a bit more to come.

The track started happening really when there was the start of a berm and we wanted to have a rough time (make it rougher). So we started using wood pallets then we have some whoops to work the bike’s suspension and then included starting points and finishing points.

What are the skills you wanted to practice? Why did you put those obstacles in? What is that you will achieve? We want to practice our balance, remembering all our manoeuvres and just have fun. We are going to need to practice in case we need these skills for when we go riding on the volcanos nearby. There are a few tracks around the mountains here and they go over and around the volcanos in this area, so you need to be prepared to ride volcanoes with these kinds of skills.

 Why do you like riding bikes? Well to keep fit and generally keep your heart rate up and for just having fun. It can be useful from time to time – say someone needs to get to a bus station or from the train station to another train station. Or just around town. We actually use the bikes quite a bit. Then there are the days we can always go bike riding. Mt Tarrengower has got a really cool bike track. We also do trips down to the shops, so maybe mum needs some milk. So I ride down to the IGA and buy the milk and return it to her.

Here are some key parts of the track

Boys Backyard MTB Track

 

Boys Backyard MTB Track

Sand on LHS is being developed into a berm – lead into the rock garden

 

Boys Backyard MTB Track

The rock garden

 

I love this story. I find it very heartening that young boys are self-initialising such a productive, healthy and creative venture – as adults I think we need to encourage such activities. I love that the families of both boys were super supportive and encouraging of their ventures as well – what great role models for others. This skills track is not only a great way to develop bike skills, keep fit and cement a friendship, but it is also a brilliant example of two young mates working cooperatively to build something original and solely suited to their own needs. I love that materials, know-how and fun were just applied without any limiting self-doubt – and the results more so enjoyed as a result. The origin of having their own ideas melding it with their experience at scooter/skate parks and ideas from magazines demonstrates how trusting and confident they both are – of themselves and each other.

The resilience, creativity and practical application of putting this track together, which may seem basic to some, is a fantastic example of perseverance, following through with an idea and trusting yourself (and/or a mate) to work on a project together and see it through. I like how these boys demonstrate the willingness to put the work into a project –  and to just make it happen.

Now that they have the main part of the track established, Will and Xavier will be able to develop and modify it to suit their skills and interests as they develop. I see this track as a great accomplishment. I don’t know many adults that are this industrious, proactive and collaborative in progressing their friendship and love of bikes. A valuable and quietly inspirational lesson for us all. 

Best of luck to the friendship of Will and Xavier – and for their future track building and bike riding adventures!