Reflection on 3DS

Last week I returned from the 3 Day Start-Up intensive.

This event ran 40 Griffith PhD candidates through an entrepreneurial practical intensive on how to develop a start-up business.

I needed a little time between the 3DS event and posting about it to decompress, recharge and digest all that went on – and I am glad I did.

It certainly ‘intensive’. The actual content and structure was well thought out and very useful, the challenge was in the level of input and quality of work you wanted to achieve. This plus an added pressure of going market research, having a round-robin of mentors consult with you as you are preparing a pitch and the overall organising, synthesising and production of a real-time sales pitch with a team that you have never met before – (*phew*).

3DS – 5 Reflections

Rather than giving you everything that happened, here are the top 5 things I got out of the whole experience:

1. Working with a new team on developing my Campus Bike Start-up idea.

After a few warm-up activities, the room was invited to come up and pitch an idea for a possible business. There were about 25-30 ideas. In the spirit of participation, I contributed an idea called Campus Bike. We then had an anonymous vote for the best 6 to carry on developing for the rest of the course through to final investor pitch. There were some great ideas. So imagine my surprise when Campus Bike was voted as a finalist. Campus Bike ended up with a team of 5, of which I was the (un)official manager.

Managing this team (and myself) for the duration of the intensive was challenging, interesting, rewarding and surprising for a number of reasons. I got a lot out of working with my team, and learn a lot about working with new people (what worked and what didn’t) as well as reaffirming some home truths about dynamics, management, goal setting, leadership and individual/group effectiveness.

Bicycles Create Change 3DS

Bicycles Create Change 3DS

 

2. Useful frameworks
The Lean Canvas was a preparation framework that was presented to us on the first night as a way of starting to distill and tease out our start-up idea into more detail. As a structure fanatic and a big fan of using visual organisers to clarify complex ideas and document progress, I liked this model. It is easy to use, comprehensive, helped focus our team and meant that we had a clear out line of considerations. It was a very effective tool and once completed, we received feedback we could the incorporate and develop in next stage ideation.

3DS

Source: Running Lean by Ash Maurya (p18)

3. Environs
I was surprised at how affected I was by the environs. It was held at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus in a large room of 40 people (most I did not know), run by American Facilitators, had long hours (9 am – 10 pm, food was provided, but you work while you eat) and was a very energy/concentration intensive process (including added daily peaks in extra stress for pitch prep and presentation). I was also staying at a colleague’s house, (which was so lovely, but not my normal home and bed), so I did not sleep well at all.

I was away from my usual productive morning routine and was grumpy for not being able to have my bike to go for a ride and release some tension and get some fresh air for three days. Combined with being run down, overtired to start with, having some serious IT issues and complications with PhD and one of my classes back in Brisbane, meant that I was most certainly not in prime form. In recognising this, I made some significant changes to my approach to make sure I minimised stressors and was able to monitor myself physically, emotionally and mentally. But it was a big ask and pretty draining – so I learnt quite a bit about managing myself in challenging and new environs and what was okay and what was not. It was a great reminder and I welcomed the challenge to my character – good to know I can keep it together when I am not 100%!

4. Working the pitches

I gained a lot of insights and ideas watching my group and the others work on – and develop – their start-up ideas as a progression over time. At the end of each day, we pitched. This  meant that you could see the development of the idea and what decisions, changes, embellishments and omissions were made. I found this fascinating to watch.

As a teacher, I am curious about the learning process and seeing how each pitch morphed and changed – sometimes positively, sometimes not. I found these changes to be super revealing. It showed not just about what worked, or how to apply the process/business concepts we were being exposed to, but more interestingly, it divulged more about the team members themselves and how they interpreted and integrated new content.

3DS

Source: Running Lean by Ash Maurya (p18)

5. Motivated to initiate a start up
I was super impressed with the logistic and coordination for this event. Each day we had teams of local business people, entrepreneurs, advisors and mentors streaming in and out – all with super interesting ideas, suggestions, insights and advice. The mentor consultations were invaluable. The quality of guidance and depth of knowledge was excellent. Our discussions were constructive, and the mentor’s input pushed us to consider ideas that we had not previously accounted for.

It reminded me of my time working in business in Sydney and what a buzz it can be working with like-minded passionate entrepreneurial – it was very energising to get a taste of that again. The event also served its purpose of encouraging the PhD cohort present to see start-up business as a very viable opportunity.

I consider this event to be a success. It was hard work but was also a very useful experience. I was impressed with my team and the other teams as well. The organisers did a terrific job of managing the time, content and mentors – kudos and thanks!

As a clincher, I found out after we had finished that 3 out of the 6 teams have decided to go ahead with their business idea that they had been working on and will be actually taking their idea to market. Awesome!!

 

Bicycles Create Change 3DS

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.

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

Reflections on bicycles from a ‘non-rider’

How can bicycles impact the lives of Non-riders?

Reflections from a Colombian ‘non-rider’.

 

This guest post is by Diana Vallejo. Diana works at Griffith University as a Client Services Officer. She is originally from Colombia, but she and her husband have been in Australia for a number of years now. I met Diana through work and adore her Latino spunkiness, honesty and vibrant approach to life. I asked Diana to write a blog post about her experience with bicycles after she had described herself very resolutely as ‘NOT a bike rider at all’. I was intrigued. In what way are bicycles represented in the life of a non-rider? Are there ‘invisible’ bicycle connections that non-riders are just not as conscious of, and how far/deep do you have to go before these links are excavated and made ‘visible’. I am always keen to explore a variety of voices and experiences regarding how different people relate to bicycles –and not just bike riders. So I asked her to contribute her thoughts considering her identity ‘as a non-rider’ and challenged her to see how, if at all, bicycles had impacted her life. Following is an excerpt of what she found. – Nina.


Bicycles? I haven’t really thought about them that much…

For me, bicycles are so mundane, so common and simple.

I was not able to see what the great deal is about a mundane bicycle. Until one day I was talking to Nina about how much she loves bicycles and then I found myself very excited just talking about it from some different perspectives.  I would not necessarily have recognised my own connections to bikes (out of sight, out of mind), but during our conversation I was presented with questions like: ‘Well, even though you don’t ride a bike now, you must have some experience with bikes in the past or growing up – what is/was it and how do you feel about them now? How do you remember bikes featuring in your life? How are they being used in your home country?’ I was surprised to be excited about how much I actually had in common with bicycles, despite the fact that I am not at all a ‘cyclist’.

So, to my surprise, I was able to very quickly make three very immediate and reaffirming associations with how bicycles have been linked to me personally, or through my identity – a revelation which surprised me.

  1. My first bike.

Even though I am not crazy about bikes, I can tell you everything about my first bicycle. Funny that! Was it a present from Santa Claus…(or in my case, because of where I come from – a staunchly Catholic community) – was it a Baby Jesus present? Don’t even try to make me explain to you how new born babies bring all the Christmas presents to all those homes! But nonetheless, there was my present – and I remember it vividly.

It is unbelievable how I can still remember every detail of that first bike. I can remember it better that my first doll or my first kiss! It had a green frame and white wheels. It was so beautiful – and fast! I spent some many afternoons on it. I made many friends riding it, and that bike holds for me some of my best memories from my childhood. My first, personal and immediate connection with bicycles.

  1. One bike, one dream, more than one life changed.

But for some other people, this may only be a wish, or even a dream. The second association I can make is through my national identity. I am from Colombia and we have one of the best cyclists in the world, Nairo Quintana. He was raised in a family with economic difficulties where a bicycle was a luxury.  He lived in a small village 16 kilometres from the nearest school. His father saved $30 USD to buy him a used mountain bike. He said once “I treasured it and every time I rode it, I pictured myself racing and winning” – and he did! His best career results are winning the 2014 Giro d’Italia, 2016 Vuelta a España, and 2nd place overall in the Tour de France of 2013 and in 2015. Nairo changed his world thanks to a bicycle. His story and fame gives hope to Colombians and some any others. As an individual he is a national hero, and internationally, he is known and respected. We are proud that cyclists and non-cyclists alike know of his achievements on the humble bicycle.

Nairo Quintana
Source: BBC Onesport
  1. Rough tracks and new beginnings with bicycles for Colombia students

 Postobon partnership Bike Program

On a national level, bicycles are well known in Colombia as being an instrument of social transformation. Another beautiful way Colombians utilise bicycles is through a very well-known bicycle donation program that gets more rural poor children to go to school. This program is via a partnership with Postobon (#1 Soft drink company in Columbia) and World Bicycle Relief – called Mi Bici. I have heard the CEO of Postobon saying that “bicycles are an engine for social transformation, impacting in a positive way”.

This program gives kids bicycles designed especially for the rough Colombian terrain. In some parts of rural Colombia, kids can spend between 45 minutes and two hours travelling to and from school. Sometimes the students cannot afford buses, and the walk can be dangerous and exhausting. Bicycles can reduce most of these trips to about 20 to 30 minutes. But for many of these kids, it is more than just time that is improved by having these bicycles.

More about WBR’s Mi Bici Bike

Why do I believe this is a great program? This is a great program because it is a sustainable program and it allows the kids to have time to rest, exercise, study. This will increase their possibility for a better future. But most importantly for me, this program allows recipients to have more free time to be kids and play!

The Mi Bici Project was WBR’s first foray into Latin America. Just like WBR’s African Buffalo Bicycles, the Latin American bicycles also have a high resistance to environmental forces and tough terrain and a capacity to carry 100 kgs. Also, the seats are ergonomic, frames are reinforced, the wheels are protected, and the breaks are resistant to the weather. This makes the bikes very durable and they are easy to change.

The program also generated jobs for local small businesses and mechanics who are trained to service the bicycles. This has opened up a new employment stream in areas where bikes are distributed, where there is a need for maintenance services and repairs. All this has also been possible thanks to World Bicycle Relief (WBR). WBR were invited to be part of this program because of their experience with similar programs in Africa through their Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Programs (BEEP).

So yes there is no doubt in my mind that bicycles can change the world! Or at least they are for these kids that are receiving them!

This video introduces a girls who has received a Mi Bici Project bike.

NZ Downhill Mountain Bike Subculture

For my first post for 2017, I am keen to revisit one of the main reasons why I started this blog – which was as an adjunct to my PhD bicycle research and to help disseminate interesting academic research on bikes and cycling. So I am super excited about the research presented in this post, as this paper couldn’t be more perfect in paying homage to this blog’s humble research beginnings and considering  my fantastic 11-day mountain bike trip to Rotorua NZ is now coming to and end. I love the ideas of the first post for 2017 being research based on riding in New Zealand (and written by a top chick too!).

Although this blog has presented two other academic articles (by the same NZ academic) focused on a specific NZ bike rage incident (one from a sociological/biker perspective, the other from a videography analysis/micro-sociological point of view) – this is the first thesis and the first relating to downhill in NZ.

Such particular research is VERY hard to find in academic publications- so finding this paper made me very happy!!

I have been very keen to share this post for quite a while and now is the perfect time!

(I’m also excited as I have now found out how to attach the PDF document so that you can download a copy directly if wanted (see end of post).

 

Background on Scarlett Hagen and the NZ Downhill research

This research is Scarlett Hagen’s 2013 Masters of Physical Education thesis which investigates the Downhill MTB subculture in NZ. What a great topic to choose! I was stoked when I found this thesis last year as there is so few mountain bike specific research circulating.

I was drawn to this study for a number of reasons. Primarily because Scarlett is a former Junior Downhill Mountain Bike World Champion (2004). I much prefer academic research being undertaken by those who are embedded and who are participant researchers as opposed to external academics coming in and studying a demographic with little lived experience of the phenomenon being explored. The discussion is far more rich in detail and insights. Secondly, it is expanding an area that is sorely overlooked and misunderstood (DH), both in academia and the public spheres. It is written by an athlete-turned-researcher, features 3 top female athletes among the participants,  it is incredibly well written and engaging to read, is supported by sound and thorough methodology and academic analysis, and is a truly valuable addition to extending understanding about the DH culture and lifestyle. In so many ways this research is setting precedence and breaking stereotypes – as well as being a cracking good read!

Last year the Southland Times ran an article on Scarlett which reported that her Master thesis “was the first time the sport was the subject of a master’s thesis and earned her the highest grade possible (A+) and an almost $100,000 scholarship over three years to complete at PhD – work that is now underway. She is studying the sociology and psychology behind mountain biking and she hopes will contribute to understanding of the motivations and requirements of  mountain biking tourists and contribute to understanding of the trails for performance athletes.” It also gave some more details on Scarlett’s background and her business BikeSchool.

At this stage of my own PhD (coming up to my Early Candidature Milestone), it is very inspiring and motivating to read such a well written and reasoned study where bicycles create change.

Scarlett Hagen
Source: Eye of Glass.com @ pinkbike
Scarlett Hagen
Source: MTB news

Research Participants

The five NZ downhill research participants for this study were:  Amy Laird, Cameron Cole, Gabby Moolloy, Lauren Campbell and Wyn Masters.

Thesis Overview

Taken from the first paragraph in the Abstract, here is the overview in the author’s own words:

The Downhill Mountain Bike Subculture in New Zealand
Source: The Downhill Mountain Bike Subculture in New Zealand by Scarlett Hagen (2013) MPhEd.

 

Some key takeaways

The paper begins with a discussion about subculture and the different views and definitions of what a subculture is. It applies post-modernist subcultural theory to the NZ downhill experience. The reasoning for downhill being an ‘extreme sport subculture’ is supported convincingly with demographic links and evidence based on age, ethnicity, location, gender and environment. It also outlines four main extreme sport experiences and builds a detailed case about the impact and identitifcation of subcultural experiences, quality of life and life stages.

I highly recommend having a read over the Introduction as there are some really convincing parallels drawn that all riders will be able to identify with. There will certainly be some recognisable commonalities regarding aspects of style and aesthetics like clothing, technology, music and language choices.

This whole document is well worth a read.

One of my favourite sections is the 30-page discussion section titled ‘Downhill Devotion’. It covers some very pertinent and interesting features of Downhill culture which brought back many happy memories working with Downhill teams. Some aspects that particularly made me smile were:

  • competition vs leisure aspects (pg 107)
  • the role of ‘flow’ when riding (pg 110)
  • initiation and inclusion  (pg 104)
  • authenticity within the downhill subculture (pg 83 & 108)
  • personality traits of downhillers (down to how they walk  pg 109)
  • the role of reputation (pg 117)
  • some insights into the link between gender and drinking in DH (pg 119)
  • the element of addiction and the psychological impacts of DH (p121)

The whole paper is very deserving of the A+ mark it received. If you are a mountain bike rider of any sort, you can pretty much start reading anywhere and find something of value and interest.

I am still going back a rereading sections.  I found the whole project incredibly well structured and engaging to read –  have a look and find out what part resonates with you!

 

Final notes and comments

Having worked at World Cup events and being married to a top mechanic for elite UCI Downhill & Crankworx riders, I was very happy to see a mention and acknowledgement by the author to the input that mechanics (among others) had during her formative riding years. Such support crews are very often forgotten and under-appreciated.

It is also great to see women being so prominently featured in this downhill study.

Great also to see mountain bikers moving into various spaces to promote and encourage understanding about different styles and formats of mountain biking – an area I am keen to contribute to in some way this year as well.

So hats of to Scarlett for producing such rigorous, high-quality, impactful, trailblazing research. I hope her work helps increase support, interest and attention for DH, NZ and mountain biking.

 

Get the thesis here:

The Downhill Mountain Bike Subculture in New Zealand by Scarlett Hagen (2013) MPhEd

Scarlett Hagen
Source: stuff.co.nz
Scarlett Hagen
Source: Bowen House
Scarlett Hagen
Source: Descent World.co.uk

Invite to SSWC 2016 riders to be research participants

I am hoping to collate some ideas, reflections and experiences from SSWC 2016. Hence an invite to riders involved in the SSWC 2016 to participate in an academic research project.

At this stage, I am still formulating possible research directions as I have been very disheartened at the lack of interest and exposure that singlespeeding has had as a cycling community. Coming from a community development and academic research background, I am hoping to positively contribute to this oversight – and the SSWC event is a good place to start given the concentration of passionate enthusiasts.

If you would be interested in being involved (Australian or overseas), please send me an email so that if/when this project gets off the ground, I can contact you to invite you to participate in the project. I will email you more details as the project comes to hand and this shout out is just a preliminary Expression of Interest (EOI).

 

Contact for SSWC 2016 Research Participants

So, if you participated in the Singlespeed World Championships 2016 in Woodend and would be interested in being part of a research/community project about the event and other Singlespeed culture and lifestyle explorations, then please send me an email at: <sswc2016.bicyclescreatechange@gmail.com> with ‘Count me in‘ as the subject line.

At this stage, there is no guarantee that this project will eventuate, but I will most certainly be pushing for it to happen in some shape or form and will email you with details so you can make an informed choice moving forward. You email contact will not be given, sold or used for any other purpose – only for contact my me (NG) only for this research project. If you know of other riders who maybe interested in being involved, please pass this on to them. This invite will be active until 1st December 2016.

Thanks so much of your interest. Happy riding until then!

 

bicycles-create-change-com-1

More mountain bike rage – caught on video

This article, published only two weeks ago, is an adjunct to Lloyd’s previous 2015 paper – and previous blog post – detailing the 2011 mountain bike rage incident on the Flying Nun track (NZ) that was caught on GoPro, uploaded to the internet and then went viral. It is by the same author, on the same topic, but analysed from a slightly different paradigm. It uses some of the main elements of the previous paper as far as the actual event, but as this paper was published in the journal Visual Studies, the analysis takes a different approach as it specifically looks to ‘examine the spatial, temporal and interactional order of a rare case of cycle rage’ (Lloyd 2016 p 206).

 

Bike rage – caught on video

Source: Lloyd, M. (2016). ‘it’s on video, every second of it’: A micro-sociological analysis of cycle rage. Visual Studies, 31(3), 206. doi:10.1080/1472586X.2016.1209986

After the abstract (see below), the paper starts with an introduction to the event to establish the context and frame the video factors analysis. There is some overlap in content with the first article, which is understandable given that the contextual facts need to be provided, especially considering the audience and distribution for this publication will not be as familiar with the event as the previous paper.

 

Abstract

Source: Lloyd (2016)
Source: Lloyd (2016)

 

Some useful verbage

What this paper does do well, is develop the same event, but in a different direction and with different critical lenses, such as:

  •  Macbeth’s (2012) ‘circumstantial details’
  • Spinney’s (2006, 2011) ‘kinaesthetic enthnography’ of road riders
  • McIIvenny’s (2014, 2015) ‘velomobility’ as separate to ‘mobilities turn’ and ‘disputed mobile formations’ (who also builds on Goffman’s ‘mobile participation units’ notion)
  • Katz’s (1999) ‘tight phenomenological explanation of the grounds for road rage’ and Seductions of Crime (1988)
  • Chelfen’s (2014) ‘a camera-populated world’

In this article, the methodology applied to this micro-sociological event is still ethnomethodological and the fact that both riders did not know each other is still highlighted as a key distinction. In the literature review, it is good to see a lament about the lack of mountain biking specific research – as there is currently (previous to Lloyd’s two papers) only one other author specifically publishing in this field (McIlvenny).

Given the industry ‘visual’ focus of this particular publication, the data used is divided into three key aspects: Third part video, camera position, Google Maps, Mountain biking experience and Screensnaps and transcription. For the data analysis, the below table is included and key aspects and themes are extrapolated on in more detail to draw out more nuanced understandings of the event as it ‘unfolds’ through the video analysis.

Source: Lloyd (2016)
Source: Lloyd (2016)

The final discussion section draws correlations to road rage incidents and reflection as transferable framework to ‘cycle rage’ situations such as this. In the conclusion, an aspect which was of great interest and stood out for me when I read the comments below the video, was fact that Dalton (older rider) was a former mountain bike champion. This to me, triggered implications of hyper masculinities and competitive ego at play (more psychological aspects as opposed to sociological) – an element that was not fully explored in the first paper. One of the closing statements calls for possible more work on this aspect – a suggestion of which struck me on my first reading as well.

Especially given my own particular interest in gender and cycling – I am thrilled to see these (and a very small handful) brave and adventurous researchers broadening the scope of leisure/sport exmainations into some new and unchartered territories such as these.

AARE Theory Workshop 2016

As support to my continuing PhD bike research, this time last weekend I attended the Australian Association of Research in (AARE) Education Theory Workshop 2016. It was the first time I have participated in this event and I went because my supervisors recommended it Griffith HDR candidates who registered got free admission. I was not sure what to expect, but I went out of general interest – to get inspired, make some contacts and perhaps even get some ideas for my research.

It was a pretty impressive event for a number of reasons. It was a very challenging and stimulating environment, with lots of academic theories, conceptual frameworks and readings being thrown around. It was at times engaging and confusing – but I let it all wash over me. I took lots of notes, contributed to extending my own understanding and I got some worthwhile advice and follow ups from the sessions I attended and the conversations I had.

I got what I wanted out of the experience and would go again. Some session were more helpful than others and I am glad that I went with a clear sense of personal purpose – I felt comfortable and productive.

 

Lots of big words – AARE Theory Workshop 2016

There were a number of academics from all over Australia and quite a few HDRs at different stages of their research. At first, I found the theorising quite dense and overwhelming. I had to readjust my brain to the intensity and level of analysis. I made a conscious effort to relax and glean what I could. Of course, this meant that the connections and meaningfulness of some of the ideas presented became more accessible and easier to understand – hooray for relaxing and not being intimidated by big words!

It was pretty tiring making sense and engaging with such a high level of interpretive and rigorous dialogue about abstract debates, developments and applications.  In many ways it was also quite refreshing as well. I found myself exploring connections and following up lines of questioning that, although not related to my topic, were good fun to explore just for the sake of applying critical thinking to derive some new understanding, reframing or link I could make to a previously unrelated idea.

 

A few gems

Without going into detail – here are a few gems that I’m still mulling over….

• ‘Glocalization’
I have not heard this term before – the next evolution in the globalisation discourse which highlights the is a combination of “globalisation” and “localization” to describe the relationship of local/global service/products development and distribution – as taken from Glocalization: Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity” sociologist Roland Robertson

• The ideas that academics ‘read themselves away from their friends.’

• The Critique Theory perspectives of Normadology/Hautology and Critique as ‘Exile/Contrapunctal’ (Edward Said).

• The idea that research is meant to upset your conceptual framework because this is where ‘learning’ occurs.

• That research is studying ‘spaces’ in between – What ‘space’ are you studying? What part of reality are you trying to study? What is the ‘space’ you are looking at in between?

• That there are stages and phases of (raw) data in research and that you need to develop that into a cohesive ‘story’ to write up

Luis Moll’s notion of Funds of Knowledge that create ‘unsettling deficit views’ and how that relates to my teaching practice (working with students)

• Research is not about working towards equality in the future, but verifying our equality NOW in the present.

• Interesting to hear Naomi Barnes speak about the amount and type of reactions she received in relation to her article Why I’m choosing the local state school – even though it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles about the public school vs. private school debate that arose from here The Conversation Piece.er article

• I will read George Marcus – Ethnography Through Thick and Thin.

• In Faucault’s Discipline and Power he explores the idea of ‘the soul’ (presentation of subjectivity) and the internalised affect of power and how that impacts outcomes and intersects with matrices of knowledge and power.

• That research work should include an evolution of hybrid criticality as you and the content move through different paradigms (conceptual frameworks are not set but fluid).

• Exploring the difference between anthropology and ethnography

• From the anthropology session, I was moved when Liz (an Ethnomusicologist) said that the aboriginal group she worked with belived that ‘If you don’t have music on your tongue, you are not human’.

• Knowing (becoming) —-PARTICIPATION ———Learning (being)

 

…..all very interesting – but really, WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?? I’m not sure yet, but I’ll get back to you if I work it out.

I did find out that one of the head academics is a MTBer! He saw the biking t-shirt and came up for a chat about bikes on the second day – hooray for the community-creating bike t-shirts – I was not alone there and SOME senior academics are normal!!

Source: AARE Theory Workshop 2016

Source: AARE Theory Workshop 2016
Source: AARE Theory Workshop 2016

 

Japan: Medical Use of Bicycles – enjoyable rehabilitation

by Sachie Togashiki

 

I found an interesting article about the development of bicycles for rehabilitation for hemiplegic patients. Sufferers of apoplexy, a percentage of which is overrepresented in mortality rate in Japan, tend to have a secondary disease, which is hemiplegic, after surgery. In order to recover from hemiplegia, rehabilitation is needed, but it usually bores patients or needs someone’s help. To solve this problem, two authors, Hiroshi Shoji and Takeshi Aoki at Chiba Institute of Technology, are trying to develop bicycles for easier and more fun rehabilitation.

How does it work?

The attraction of using bicycles as a rehabilitation tool is its sustainability, non-boringness, and refreshing feeling which comes from outside exercise. Although there is the attraction which the authors can make use of, they also need to cover some anxieties such as safety and uneasiness when pedaling. In order to guarantee safety, a foot which is not paralysed is applied a load to, so that a rider cannot pedal too fast, which results in a stable and low pedaling speed. In addition, a load is applied also to reduce patients’ uneasiness caused by a feeling of unbalanced heaviness depending on feet. The authors used an electrically-powered tricycle made by YAMAHA for an experiment and succeeded in keeping a low pedaling speed by applying a load to a healthy foot. They are going to conduct an experiment to mitigate patients’ uneasiness and to develop a smoothness when pedaling.

Significance

The article is crucial because this is an academic article which was published as a documentation of JSME (The Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers) Conference on Robotics and Mechatronics and it shows a new significant way of using bicycles. Because riding on a bicycle is lots of fun and can be done without any permanent help, the authors suggested using bicycles for rehabilitation for the hemiplegic patient, which means bicycles can be used not only for town development and disarmament, which I will report on in two upcoming posts, but for medical uses. The use of bicycles as a rehabilitation tool might enhance patients’ motivation to recover from hemiplegia and contribute to a more positive future.

Additionally, in order to get the article, I paid for it, while most of the Australian articles are available for free. This made me think about freedom for students to research in Japan, which might be a little poorer than Australia.

 

Shoji, H., & Aoki, T. (2014). Development of rehabilitation bicycle for hemiplegic patients. Proceedings of the JSME Conference on Robotics and Mechatronics, 14(3P2-G03), 3P2-G03(1)-3P2-G03(2) Retrieved from http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/110009967356

 

Sachie Togashiki is our Guest Blogger, unveiling some of Japan’s bicycle culture, from 11th April to 24th April.