ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit

It has been a very busy week with my new course 10-week starting, a 4-day family trip and a 3-day conference to attend – among other things. Thanks for your patience, I know this post has come out a little later than usual (I will need to backdate). Now that peak crazy period has passed, here is an update of all that has been happening. Enjoy! NG.


Earlier this week I attended and presented at the ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit.

It was the first time I have been to this conference and I was very impressed.

To get details of each session – here is the Conference Program.

Essentially this conference uses Critical Pedagogy perspectives to unpack and explore aspects of contemporary education research, policy and practice that are complex and challenging.

The Summit has a strong political undercurrent with sessions wrestling with issues such as globalisation, the role of the state and markets, technocratic models of education and how equity, access, fairness and social justice are being addressed in schools and within wider educational dynamics and systems.

Super interesting!!

So what was the ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit?

This event was an awesome 3-day conference that covered an wide range of education policy, process and practice. There were 5 keynote speakers, a free public lecture, and event called Pedagogy in the Pub, and over 80 presentations in the form of symposiums, focus panels, individual research papers and workshops.

I was impressed with the range and scope of the presentations. You can always tell a good conference when you are conflicted about what session to go to for fear of missing out on the session you miss.

My Presentation

My presentation was part of a symposium of 3 other presenters. As a group we had developed the symposium abstract and each of us contributed a differing perspective to our main contention.

We decided to go for the practical, for the personal and for the challenging.

Unfornatunetly on the day one of our speakers (Ian) could not make it, so we were missing the male perspective, but it also meant that we had more time.

Our presentation was awesome.

We had a great topic and some really interesting and unique expreinces and difficulties to share.

Naomi started us off by presenting her experience of being a mother whilst doing her PhD to tease out some key political and neoliberalist tensions. Sherilyn followed up with a little more methodological view to processing some key transformative ‘moments’ she had during her work disrupting educational and social structures within in her own local community.

Then I ended by outlining some of the practical ‘shadows, cracks and hauntings’ that I have experienced in my work and telling 6 stories that hit at the heart of practicing gender justice.

This format worked really well and the session was a pleasure to be part of. The build-up and layering of ideas from one presentation to the next was strategic and served well to show the individual, dynamic and complex nature of the work we do as well.

I told a few stories that I have not told before and had put a lot of thought into what I wanted to say and what content (or stories) to include.

ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

Did I mention that Prof. Michael Apple, his wife Rima and Prof. Pat Thomson from the academic blog Patter (among others) attended my presentation? Talk about a big gun audience!

Following the symposium, I had a number of audience members come up and say how much they enjoyed it – which was very affirming!

I was touched when one woman said that she was very moved by the stories and that my presentations really made her think. She said it was so important to share stories of when things go wrong and to acknowledge that there are dark sides to research, researchers and researching – and I agree!

As a final boost, I was stoked when a friend sent me through this Twitter post that was uploaded from an audience member I’d never met before.

ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

One final thought about the Summit…. Prof. Michael Apple

Prof. Michael Apple

ReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

Listening to, and meeting Prof Apple was a real highlight for me.

It was so refreshing to hear his keynote speech on the second day, least of all because it was jammed pack full of provocative ideas. His topic was Can education change society and I was struck by his eloquence and skill as a public speaker – it was truly pleasure to listen to his educated arguments. He is a consummate orator and gifted storyteller – it was a delight to listen to.

To often keynotes are generic, pussy-footing-dont-want-to-upset-too-many-people-or-prensent-anything-too-controversial. But, Prof Apple went there, giving his ideas on some pretty tricky issues – which was great as it meant you knew exactly what he thought and could agree or disagree with it. So suddenly – hey, presto you have a conversation! Awesome! Thats what a conference is all about after all!

Before the conference, I wasn’t fully aware of who he was and I didn’t fully appreciate the immense impact and influence he has within the field of Education and Critical Pedagogy.

Turns out he is one of the fifty most important educational scholars of the 20th Century and one of the ‘first fathers’ that established this field of inquiry and was a contemporary of Paulo Feire and Basil Bernstein – a big deal in my circles.

And, after following up on some of the things he mentioned and finding out more about his about his amazing political commitment to progressing educational and social/cultural activism, I am now a big fan.

Prof. Michael Apple has written widely on educational and social activism with the most recent being his article Critical educational reforms and dirty toilets: being honest about blockages and contradictions for AARE – a very interesting read indeed (especially given some of the ensuing comments).

I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference! See you there!


To give you an idea of the topics covered, below is the 2017 schedule:

ReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create ChangeReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

ReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

More info please!

The website Rage and Hope gives a great overview of the key thinkers of Critical Pedagogy.

For more details on the main thrust, debates and foci of the Critical Pedagogy movement, Aliakbari and Faraji (2011) Basic Principles of Critical Pedagogy is a clear and easy read to get the basic principles and concepts of what Critical Pedagogy is all about and how it is related to education, politics and society.

Recommended for PhD Confirmation

PhD Confirmation happens about 1.5 years into your research. It is a major milestone to check you are on track before you go out for data collection. Essentially, it is a pass or fail milestone – but they don’t actually say it like that, they call it ‘recommend to continue’ (pass) or ‘recommend to revise’ (fail).

After the candidate gives their 30-mins presentation, there is an open Q & A. Then everyone (including the candidate) is asked to leave and the panel (your supervisors, the HDR Convenor and your independent assessor) discuss the work in private. Then only the candidate is invited back in. Then, in private the panel give immediate feedback on the study and the presentation and let the candidate know if they are recommending for continuation or not.

On Friday I had my PhD Confirmation Seminar

PhD Confirmation is a big deal as it is the first time you show your research to anyone outside of your supervisory team. It is where you have to submit you first 4 dissertation chapters (Intro, Lit Review Theoretical Perspectives and Methodology). My first 4 chapters comes to 191 pages and 50,718 words. Two weeks after you submit your Confirmation paper, you present your work.

So on Friday, I  presented my PhD Confirmation seminar to explain, justify and defend my bicycle NGO research study.

Here’s my PhD Confirmation flyer.

Bike PhD Confirmation- Bicycles Create ChangeA Successful Seminar! Recommended for PhD Confirmation!

I’ve been recommended to proceed with my study!

It was a very stressful and interesting process putting the seminar together. Big decisions  had to be made about what to leave in and what to leave out.

My study is pretty complex, but I managed to get it all organised on the day.

The seminar itself went well. There was a great turn out and it had the largest attendance to date! While waiting for the seminar to start, the audience started singing The Pushbike Song, which boosted the energy in the room instead of being so formal and academic (which it was) and made me feel very supported. There were some good questions at the end from the audience at the end, which I was able to answer and had slides prepared for (phew!) to the point where the questions almost looked like a plant (they weren’t!).

I got called back in and was asked the difficult questions in private. No surprises in the immediate feedback I received. The study will need more shaping and ‘massaging’ and I already have a few other ideas I’d like to change and discuss with my supervisors.

I get the Confirmation reports from my panel back in 1-2 weeks.

I’m very interested to hear the feedback!

The panel has recommended me for PhD Confirmation! Yahoo!

This recommendation goes to the Dean of School of Education & Professional Studies to be approved. It is rare that a panel’s recommendation is overturned, but I still have to wait for the official approval from the Dean.

Bike PhD Confirmation- Bicycles Create Change

I was completely wiped out at the end of the seminar.

For the last 4 weeks, it has been a massive big push to get my Confirmation paper prepared and then to arrange  the seminar.

My brain is officially mush.

I am happy with the result, but too tired to celebrate just yet.

My main task over the weekend is to have a glass of red wine while reading a good book in the bath – and recharge!

Top List of Infosharing Software

The last post detailed the Advancing SQLR session I attended. At the end, I suggested a couple of design  programs fellow PhDers might look at using to present their data. I got quite a few emails and requests for a full list – so here it is!  If I am missing your favourite program  or you have another suggestion, let me know in the comments below! Happy Designing! NG.


Pedalhistory.com-Bicycles.create.change.com
Source: Pedalhistory.com

As a bike researcher, one issue I wrestle is adequately communicating the dynamicism, embodied and affective nature of people cycling through place, time  and space.

For me, 80,000 typed words, Excel tables and ‘theoretical anchors’ do not quite capture the thrill and rawness of riding a bike …(boring!!!).

I want my dissertation to bring my research to life – the bikes, the environment, the people, their stories and the African locations where my research is based. I want to capture it in all its glory…the sights, smells, topography, climate, risk, colour, activity…the lot.

So, I’m supplementing the written component of my PhD with a healthy dose of images, infographics and diagrams.

Producing these images has meant learning a few creative software packages. This has been challenging, but very rewarding. The design skills I’ve learnt are transferable for many purposes, like this blog!

History of cycling - Bicycles Create Change.com
Source: Infrographiclist.wordpress.com

My top list of Infosharing software programs.

Software Programs that are quick and easy for non-specialist users.
Additional functions (free trial period/ full pay access)

A few scientist mates have shown me simulation and real-time graphics programs they use for presentations. But these are a whole different ball game…I’ll look at them later, maybe for presentations – not so much for dissertations! (Stay focused! Another post!!).

Using the list above can produce more engaging data like:

Sydney bike commuters by gender - Bicycles Create Change.com
Source: City of Sydney Council (n.d.)

Other ideas from Research into Action. Focused purely on communicating complex data, this site provides some innovative ideas to get inspired….their suggestions on this topic are:

  • StatPlanet: this browser-based interactive data visualization and mapping application allows you to create a wide range of visualizations, from simple Flash maps to more advanced infogrpahics.
  • Xtimeline: allows you to create your own timelines of data.
  • Gap Minderthis site created by Hans Rosling allows you to upload data and create an interactive motion charts and graphs.
  • Creately: this is easy to use Online Diagramming software – purpose built for team collaboration.
  • Hohli: this online chart maker is simple to use and allows you to create a range of colourful pie, line, scatter, radar and bar charts.
  • Tagcrowdallows you to upload texts and highlight the most common concepts. The clouds can be exported as images and inserted in a website or power point presentation.
  • Wordle: similar to tagcloud, this application lets you create images out of key phrases and words relevant to your research, great for using in PowerPoint presentations.
  • Tableau: a free Windows-only software for creating colourful data visualisations.

Some examples of researchers presenting work in new innovative and visual ways:

  • Information is Beautiful: David McCandless, an ‘independent data journalist and information designer interested in how designed information can help us understand the world.”
  • Flowing Data: This blog explores how “designers, statisticians and computer scientists are using data to understand ourselves better.”
  • Afrographique: Ivan Colic’s “small contribution to assist the changing perception of Africa and it’s people…This blog aims to collect as much data as possible with the aim of presenting the information in an exciting and digestible format to all.
  • For inspiration and not so much for academic purposes, but shows how info can be presented in a very digestible way for the wider public – see Farming First. They have series of infographics on agriculture and the green economy in the context of international development which are simple and clear.

Next steps

No more boring text-heavy Excel data tables!

Creative visual data is more interesting to create and  far more engaging to read.

Get inspired with David McCandless’s video below and get experimenting to share more bike information!!

Good luck!

Bikes in Libraries

 

Bikes in Libraries - Bicycles Create Change.com
CB Regional Library

More bikes in libraries, please!!

Public libraries are a major hub for many communities.  When I presented at the Australian National Walking and Cycling Conference in Adelaide in July, I suggested local libraries are an ideal location to integrate bicycles more into the daily community experience.

My approach was slightly subversive.

Instead of building massive expensive road transportation infrastructure to try and get more people cycling (Herculean effort!), smaller actions could be taken to ingratiate bicycles (not cycling) more into the everyday community experience. This kind of low-key familiarity and regular exposure to bikes would be ‘just part of the everyday experience’ for people. That is where I see bicycles become more socially accepted, especially by non-cycling people. This is where positive social change and greater community acceptance of bikes could be made.

So how can you start with libraries?

My suggestion was to decorate a series of bicycles in book genres. As an example I used my art bikes to help explain.

This is easily done. Decorate one bike as Romance, another with Cooking, another as Sci-Fi, Crime, Thriller….well…..you get the picture! Alternatively, you can use another theme, event or ‘International Day of the X’ ….or the library can come up with their own idea.

In any case, once decorated, each bike has a rack (bookshelf) hanging from it that offers books in the genre/theme.

There are add-on bonuses you can apply as well, like host a preceding community event to theme decorate the bikes.

As a case in point – I was delighted to see a variation of this suggestion already being enacted during the last fortnight as it was  …

Australian Children’s Book Week 2017.

The last week in August was Australian Children’s Book Week 2017.

One of the winning books this year is called The Patchwork Bike by Van T. Rudd.

Bikes in Libraries - Bicycles Create Change.com
Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Winners 2017

That means more bikes were in libraries! Woopee!

I was delighted to see a full bike related promotion featuring this event and The Patchwork Bike at my local library. This is what you saw as soon as you entered the main front door:

Bikes in Libraries - Bicycles Create Change.com
Wynnym Library, QLD.

I love the bike and books – it is such a great combo.

It was a total coincidence that the children’s book Granny, Wait for Me! was featured on this blog in a recent post.

I saw some posters used by various Queensland schools promoting Children’s Book Week 2017 that also featured  bicycles – this one is my special favourite as it also had a spunky redheaded rider (more redheaded bike riders, please!! See Ginger Rally here):

Bikes in Libraries - Bicycles Create Change.com
Saint Andrews Anglican College QLD

Some super progressive libraries have gone one step further.

At some rare University libraries, you can find reading bikes (below) where you can study and cycle. To date I have not seen these in any Australian libraries – if you have, please let me know!

These bike instalments have scientifically proven to significant positive impacts in learning/academic results, health outcomes and future livelihoods. A brilliant foray into this is the first chapter of John Matey’s  book SPARK. It is an incredible read about how bicycles and exercise is having a significant impact on turning around the lives for hundreds of US students – especially those from low-socioeconomic schools. Awesome stuff!

Grab a copy of Spark from your local library – and ask them when they are installing a bike reading station while you are there!!

Bikes in Libraries - Bicycles Create Change.com
Troy Uni Library, USA.

There are so many ways that bicycles can contribute and add value to readers, students and the general public.

Whether it is Children’s Book Week or not, it has been great to see bikes having a greater presence in libraries. It would be great to see bikes become a regular fixture within libraries, not just for special events.

I hope that there will be more creative and progressive integration of bicycles in more local, university and state libraries.

Until then – I have enjoyed seeing more bicycles being happily displayed in libraries to celebrate Children’s Book Week 2017.

Congrats to The Patchwork Bike for being one of this year’s winners!

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

Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure

This guest post is by Dr Mike Lloyd, a NZ academic who contacted me after I featured his article on the recent MTB bike rage incident that was caught on video and went viral. This post remains the one of the most popular BCC posts. His follow-up article examined ‘the spatial, temporal and interactional order of a rare case of cycle rage’ and looked at the same incident from a videography analysis to uncover the details of a MTB track run ‘gone wrong’. Both are well worth the read! It an absolute pleasure to present Mike’s first guest post – we hope to be hearing more from him – Enjoy! NG.


The Road Ahead: Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure

(A summary of research by Dr Mike Lloyd, Max Baddeley, and Dr Ben Snyder, School of Social & Cultural Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand; the full paper is currently under submission with an academic journal)

‘Sharrows’ first appeared in California in the early 2000s and have now been officially mandated for use on roads in many countries including Australia and New Zealand.   Our research looked at new cycling infrastructure in Wellington, New Zealand, specifically a 450 metre stretch of road where the designers stopped Copenhagen-style cycle lanes and reverted to more standard road space marked with sharrows (short for shared lane arrow).  Here is what a sharrow looks like in this space.

Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure
The sharrow is the white cycle with double arrow sign painted in the middle of the red area (indicating a 30kph zone).  For the SUV driver, in this context the sign can mean, ‘be alert for cyclists ahead, and share the road if you come across them’.  This is consistent with aspects of sharrow use in Australia where they are referred to as a ‘Bicycle Awareness Zone’.  This also conforms to the New Zealand ‘best practice’ guidelines which say the sharrow ‘helps reinforce that the carriageway is a valid place for cyclists to travel (reinforcing to other road users to act accordingly’).  The interesting question is ‘where exactly should the cyclist ride?’  Looking at the bottom panel, we can see that there seems to be some guidance in this regard: the widening green bars seem to direct the cyclist to move into the middle of the road, exactly where the sharrows signs are positioned.

A quick googling of ‘sharrow’ would confirm this, as phrases like occupy- claim- or take-the lane will crop up.  However, this is not a hard-and-fast guideline for how a sharrowed area should be ridden.  Traffic experts emphasise that the sharrow is there to help the cyclist occupy the traffic lane when it is safe and appropriate to do so.  So, key questions are: ‘when’ should a cyclist claim the lane, and in doing so ‘where’ exactly should they position themselves in the lane?  Further, any cyclist will also know that it is not only the road ahead they need to be concerned with, but the road behind.  If a cyclist occupes the lane with cars behind, how will those drivers react?  A first way into this issue is to look at the process of attempting to claim the lane in the transition from the Copenhagen-style cycle lanes to the sharrow area.  This is where the widening green bars come into play, but as we see they are no guarantee of success:

 

Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure

Panels 1 to 3 show a cyclist attempting to claim the lane, but in response the driver of the white car speeds up not allowing the cyclist ahead.  In contrast, panels 4 to 6 show success: as the cyclist moves out the driver of the green car backs off, allowing the cyclist to ride ahead claiming the lane.

We do not have a breakdown of the ratio of success to failure in claiming the lane as this was not our goal, however, it is worth noting that our research involved one of the researchers riding to claim the lane; in reality, it is rare to see other cyclists doing so.  Mostly, cyclists revert to a default line to the left of centre.  This is a pity, because as we rode we discovered that sharrows can work to make cycling safer in traffic spaces where cycle lanes are not present.   Here the effect of raised pedestrian crossings and four speed bumps within the sharrow area was signficant. The entrance of both ends of the sharrow area features raised pedestrian crossings, and whereas a cyclist can ride over these with little decrease in pace, vehicles slow to a greater degree, thus giving the cyclist a chance to maintain a lead ahead of vehicles.  When the vehicles get over the raised crossing and increase their speed, catching up with a cyclist, the speed bumps repeatedly give the cyclist a ‘breathing space’.  Of course, this all depends on the speed being travelled: this ‘breathing space’ effect works for a car obeying the 30 kph limit, but not for one travelling significantly over this speed.  Needless to say, not everyone obeys speed limits.

Also, once claiming the lane, there can be a reduction in the temptation to ‘filter’. When there are parked cars to the left, but the central line of traffic is slow or stopped, it is very common for cyclists to ‘filter’ between the cars –  a dangerous area to be cycling in.  Our cyclist’s impression was that once riding to ‘claim the lane’, when the traffic slows, filtering to the left is not so ‘automatic’, rather the cyclist may just slow their pace to match the vehicles ahead, thus reducing the risk of riding in the dangerous space between cars.

This good news has to be tempered though by one of the main findings of the research.  This has to do with how difficult it is to predict in the design of cycling infrastructure how drivers and cyclists will actually interact on the built road.  Small details can be remarkably important, yet hard to plan for.  We were able to realise this because of our dual camera research method, that is, our cyclist had a GoPro camera pointing forward on his bike handlebars, and a rearwards facing camera mounted on his helmet.  The folllowing three visuals capture a near-dooring incident.

Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure

In panel 1 the cyclist is riding past three parked cars and a motorbike, and just as he is adjacent to the motorbike, the door on the silver car starts to open.  The video record does not allow us to be definitive, nevertheless, in our view two things can be noted.  First, the opening of the door is a continuous movement (see panels 3 and 4), and second, from a careful scrutiny of panel 4, the car driver is looking forward, not behind or to the right where the cyclist is approaching.  It does not seem either that the driver is looking into a rear-view mirror to check for any vehicle or cyclist behind, nevertheless, we certainly accept that this could be the case.

Interestingly, the inability to be definitive on this point is not of crucial importance, because the more pressing question to ask is, why was the cyclist not aware of the door opening?  This is sensible to ask because, as shown in panel 3 of figure 6, it has opened sufficiently enough for it be visible.  Experienced cyclists develop a strong sense of where they are cycling in relation to parked cars and the potential at any moment for a door to be opened on them, meaning that even a door opening to 10 centimetres is probably detectable. But there is no evidence that the cyclist sees the door opening, as he certainly does not change his line in response to the opening, even though by the time he is directly adjacent to the door it may well have opened even further than seen in panel 4.

In an ‘aha’ moment the answer was provided by consulting the rearwards-facing video record, filmed simultaneously.

Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure

In panel 1, the cyclist has entered the sharrow area, claiming the lane with the consequence that the silver MPV behind him slows.  Just after panel 1, the vehicle comes closer but then backs off, continuing to follow at a reasonable distance (panel 2).  Just before panel 1, the cyclist has looked behind and seen the silver MPV, so he is aware of its presence while he rides centrally ahead of it.  Panel 3 provides the answer to the question of why the cyclist was unaware of the car door opening.    At precisely the moment when the car door begins and proceeds to open, the cyclist is looking behind (hence, the tilted screenshot) to see where the silver MPV is in relation to him.  This fully explains the ignorance of the door opening, but, as captured in panels 4 and 5, we now have a much more extensive idea of what happened.  We see that the door was fully opened with the driver emerging onto the road, and we also see how dangerous this situation was.  As indicated by the yellow arrow, the cyclist’s line was directly in the path of the fully opened door.  It was probably only by a matter of micro-seconds that he escaped being doored.

There is more that can be learned from this data, for another pressing question needs answering: if the cyclist was claiming the lane in the sharrow area, why, at this particular point, is he riding a line within the dooring zone?

Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure

The answer is available in the subtle change of line prior to the place where the near-dooring occurred.  In panel 1, the cyclist approaches the raised pedestrian crossing riding in the centre of the road, and in panel 2 is seen riding straight over the sharrow sign.  Panels 3 and 4 show though, that just before he gets to the speed bump, there is a subtle alteration in line, taking him leftwards and closer to the line of parked cars. This alteration in line is first due to riding around a manhole cover in the road, which takes the line towards a second cover in the road (at the head of the top arrow), which is also ridden by moving to the left.  These slight alterations in line are continued by riding to the left of the speed bump, the line then maintained towards the circled area ahead (panel 5) where the near-dooring occurs. The cyclist is clearly picking the line of ‘least resistance’ in relationship to the bumpiness of the road, which results in moving him further and further to the left, away from the sharrow line and into the dooring zone.

The subtlety of such alterations in line would be difficult for road designers to predict.  Moreover, other things can happen in the same space that lead the cyclist to a different line.

Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure

This second door opening occurs well before the cylist, but is also at a time when the cyclist is riding to the right of the sharrow line, so that he is well clear of the opened door.  This is because the transition from the raised pedestrian crossing to this location has no material objects that encourage alteration in line.   In panel 2 we again see the alteration in line around the cover, but this time when the cyclist gets to the speed bump (panel 3), he rides through the middle.  The reason for this is visible in panel 4: he looks ahead and sees a parked bus taking up significant space in the road, so he anticipates the need to go wider and adjusts his line out more centrally in the road, coincidentally taking him well away from the dooring zone.

So, the exact lines ridden are clearly not solely determined by the material features of the road, rather there is a complex entanglement of the social and material in any particular riding through the sharrow area.  There are patterns in how a sharrow area is ridden, but at the same time these are not sufficient to predict the course of any moment’s riding through this new cycling infrastructure.  The particular line taken in any particular moment is part of a ‘wild phenomena’. To decide on the degree of success of any new cycling infrastructure requires close attention to the detail of how cyclists and drivers actually interact. Thankfully, the availability of cheap and easy-to-use action cameras makes data-gathering relatively simple, leaving the researcher with the difficult task of unpacking the fine detail.  It is an important task that may lead to improved cycling infrastructure design.

AWCC Abstract Accepted

Great news!

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

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

AWCC Abstract Accepted

Hooray!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

So aside from riding…..

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

AWCC Abstract Accepted


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

Conference Presentation: creating memorable community bike projects

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017

So many good bike conferences in 2017….

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

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

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

Asia Pacific Cycle Congress

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

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

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

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017

Student engineer experiments with bicycles

As a teacher, I have many different experiences in the classroom, some challenging, some unusual, but most are very rewarding.

I am currently working on my favourite program at Griffith University, 5903LHS Language and Communication for Sciences. This course is only for international students but combines all the Science disciplines into one class to improve language, knowledge and communication skills required for science-based study and practice in their discipline.

That means my class has students from IT, Engineers, Biomedical, Environment, Planning and Architecture and Natural Sciences, Aviation and all the hard sciences as well (Marine, Biology, Chemistry, Forensic Science, Mathematics etc) which I relish!

Even though I know there are engineers in my class, I was still happily surprised when during a class discussion, one female engineering student, Win, casually mentioned that she had previously worked on a project looking how the weight of wheels affected the performance of a bicycle. I was stoked!

Student Engineer experiments with bicycles for Science/English report

Win told me about her report (which you can read below). Essentially, it focuses on testing the impact of wheel weight for a bicycle travelling uphill. This report was an assessment to demonstrate her understanding of scientific principles to a practical situation as well as practising her English.

I won’t reveal Win’s final results or her key findings, suffice to say she covers aspects such as:

  • gravitational potential energy
  • rotational inertia
  • analysis of wheels with weight vs wheels without weight
  • velocity vs time
  • momentum and acceleration forces
  • the influence of Newton’s first and second law
  • inter-observer variability

We got chatting about her bicycle report after class. I was intrigued. She told me she had selected this project for a college assignment, but that the real focus was to practice her English. She had a great time researching, testing and writing the experiment up – and have gotten a lot out of it in the process.

Bicycle Experiment Report

Here is a copy of Win’s Engineering report on the bicycle experiment she investigated: Win’s Report -Lighter wheels vs heavier wheels experiment

Bicycles being used in tertiary education

I told her I was really impressed, as not many people would think of bicycles as the basis for their assignments. I have previously posted on how zero-gyroscopic bicycles were used to teach Systems Dynamics in the late 1980s and that there are still a few tertiary programs integrating bicycles into the curriculum to more practically explain all manner of complex concepts. We agreed that bicycles are a brilliant way to learn and they should be utilized more in classrooms.

Will bicycles be more prevalent as an educational tool?

I was impressed that Win chose to focus on bicycles for her research paper, for many reasons. Not many engineering students would choose bicycles as their object of study, even less of those I presume would be female and from overseas. From my experience, purely based having to use English, most international students will select a topic that is easier to work with and write about.

I was even more impressed when she brought the paper to class the next week. Although she was a little embarrassed about her English level at the time, she gave me a copy of her paper and permission to upload it here.

The reason I wanted to share Win’s story is that I found her, her paper and the organic way that her bicycle research had come up very encouraging. It made me feel happy that bicycles were the focus of productive education (engineering and English) in ways and places that I didn’t expect. I am sure this goes on all the time (at least I hope it does!), but it was very reaffirming for it to confirmed to me in a totally unexpected way – and in a totally unrelated situation and with a student that I usually would not have been my first pick as being a bike-centered education candidate. It hoped that there were many more of these situation occurring in classrooms around the world.

The irony that she is now in my academic English class and that were bonded over her bicycle-inspired assignment was not lost on me. I love that as a young, female, international Engineering student with no cycling background (she doesn’t even ride a bike) did this topic. I also admire her bravery in giving me a copy and allowing me to share in on this blog.

If you are studying, or have a child or friend who is – perhaps plant the seed by chatting to them about the opportunities and merits of incorporating bicycles into educational settings for greater student engagement and educational/social outcomes.

Student Engineer experiments with bicycles

PhD ECMR submitted

Celebrating my first PhD Milestone!

It has been a year since I started my PhD. This week I am celebrating submitting my first  (of three) PhD Milestones – my Early Candidature Milestone Report (ECMR) – Hooray!

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know that there have been a few ups and downs over the last year. This is totally expected in any PhD process and there will be many more to come!

My PhD research investigates NGOs that donate bicycles to rural African girls for greater access to education. Part of the challenge over the last 12 months has been the process of narrowing down and organising my research scope, problem and approach.

To keep up motivation, interest and momentum, required submission dates provide clear structure and help to have a goal (or a few) to work towards.

So to help keep things in perspective and to stay positive while undertaking my PhD, I’m making sure that I take time to adequately recognise and mark objectives achieved and progress made thus far – like today!

Early Candidature Milestone Report – PhD ECMR Submitted

The purpose of Griffith University ECMRs is to:

  • assess whether the candidate has a viable research project and is appropriate for the degree in which the candidate is enrolled.
  • identify whether any further education and training is required to ensure timely completion.
  • identify any resources needed by the candidate to undertake the research.
  • Identify any problems/difficulties that have caused or are likely to cause an impediment to progress.

For my University, there are three major PhD milestones requirements.

  • PhD Commencement
  1. Early Candidature Milestone (12 months part-time)
  2. Confirmation  (18 months part-time – mine is in August, 2017)
  3. Mid-Candidature Milestone (24 months part-time)
  • PhD Submission

What’s in the EMCR?

The outline ECMR  below is for a Masters program – the PhD is the same structure and content, but is more developed – but this gives the general ECMR sections required:

ECMR

Additional celebration – new Principal Supervisor confirmed!

In December, my original Principal Supervisor retired.

This created a bit of a problem for me. It was just before the Christmas break and the Uni was closed for holidays and New Year. Feeling a little nervous about my upcoming ECMR submission, I had to speed dated some academics when Uni reopened to find a new supervisor.

While I was doing this, one of the Professors took me on as my ‘temporary supervisor’ just until I submitted my ECMR. This Prof. was recommended by others for me to approach to be my Principal Supervisor, so having the ‘temporary’ time to work together was a great way to test the waters.

A couple of weeks ago, I told the Prof. that I wanted our current situation to continue and be formalised and that I wanted her to be my Principal Supervisor for the duration of my candidature.

The project scope and research questions are far more refined since we started working together since January. I like the way the Prof. operates with clear and timely communication, actionable advice and logical development.

To my delight, this week Prof agreed to take me on – and will be my Principal Supervisor! Shazam!

ECMR Submitted
Source: PhD Comics