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.

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 @ 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


Scarlett Hagen

Source: Bowen House

Scarlett Hagen

Source: Descent

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: <> 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!



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.



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.

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 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


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.


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


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

The Bicycles Create Change 8-week Summer Program for 2016 is complete!!


Hooray!! After a very intense and rewarding 8 weeks, the Bicycles Create Change Summer Program has concluded! Congratulations to Sachie, Gabriel, Juliet and Mauricio for all their hard work, dedication and collaboration. So this completes the official structured course of our innovative 8-week Pilot Internship Program – which means we all get our Saturdays back!!

This Program was unique from other internships in many ways, primarily because the core program principles and design features were tailored to specifically meet the individual needs of each of the participants who have no prior Australian workplace experience. Fundamental to this program was developing more effective intercultural communication skills and competencies through collaboratively working with an array of professionals and locals so that students have a more authentic and meaningful experience of living and working in Australia. As we wrap up and reflect on the experience, the team has come up with eight key insights that they have identified as the main skill areas that they best connected with and improved throughout the program.


We learned a lot about ourselves, vocation skills and working in teams, with each member co-creating their own experience and unveiling differing outcomes, acuity and competencies. Today we discussed the valuable learnings and provided feedback for consideration regarding the impacts and challenges personally and those that are experienced by international students navigating connection and interaction in Australian workplaces. We came up with a number of suggestions to be more responsive to the helpful and hindering factors which international students encounter during their work – either at university or in the workplace.


It was very interesting hearing what the team had to say, saw how the internship was designed to highlight the importance and necessity of connections and working with experts/mentors. We discussed the usefulness and magnitude that working alone, in pairs and/or as a team of four had for the interns. With this understanding, they had a collective realization that collaboratively working with others was more than just a skill, but was also a powerful learning process and required co-creation. This was a revelation and (a now) imperative for a number of the students.

Weekly Tasks

Each week different tasks were set for the interns, which to complete successfully, relied on them to discern, practise and then reflect on the significance of effective team organisation, ability to spontaneously interactions with strangers, relating to clients, building rapport, running meetings, networking and partnerships.

Art Bikes

We still have some outstanding tasks like our public ART BIKE PRESENTATION held on Sunday 13th March at 10.30am at the Bethania Community Garden, Lota, Brisbane. Please come on down and join us if you are in the area! At this informal event, the team will each present their Art Bikes and discuss the social issue that it represents. We are looking forward to seeing some of the lovely people who donated the bike for this project there and it will be a great way to practice all the skills we have been working throughout the program.

Team Member Guest Blog Posts

As part of the Summer Program, each team member has also been researching 5 blog posts to be published on this blog. The content for each of these posts need to be sourced in their first-language – which means we can access information about bicycles project in other countries that we might not otherwise have access if they are not in English. These posts will be published later this year so keep an eye out for them!


For today – it is with relief and happiness that we conclude our official contact hours for this program. I am very proud of all the team members, mentors, supporters of this program and, of course the community who have helped and contributed as we progressed – Well done to all!!

Today is the end of the first week of the Bicycles Create Change Summer Program. This inaugural internship is an 8 week collaborative skills development program, which is specifically tailor designed for – and with – four progressive international students from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds and study majors. The program has three main areas, namely, business project skills, general professional skills and an individual project (self-directed). It was a very busy first week and there are some very interesting outcomes, exchanges and reflections already.


Focus: This is an explorative and cooperative participant-focused program, with an emphasis on extending academic skills, developing professional business skills and fostering greater confidence and experience in each participant’s individual specific industry.


Rationale: Many students complete their academic bridging studies in December, waiting for 2 months until the end of February for Semester 1 to start. In most cases, this 8 week period is dead time – some go back home to visit family, but most others pass the summer waiting for Uni to go back – in both instances, English proficiency often declines significantly after such an extended break from set study routines. It is very difficult for international students to secure summer break paid work or internships. For the lucky few who do, the work is often menial, fastidiously supervised and devoid of the interns being afforded any genuine ownership and responsibility for the tasks undertaken. Inspired also by Sir Kenneth Robinson’s argument that education kills creativity, this program applies an almost action research element of reflection feedback into praxis loop.


The aim is that the participants have direct authority to generate their individual, pair and groups requirements to achieve each of the academic, professional and creative details. This is crucial so that students can have be able to demonstrate that they have experience with the top ten intern employability skills of reliability, willingness to develop new skills, consistency, dealing with constructive criticism, efficacious time management, ethical conduct, prioritising tasks effectively, displaying initiative/self-motivation, commitment to producing superior work and demonstrating professional behaviour (Gault, Leach & Duey, 2010).


Perspective: I wanted to look at what it would look like if interns were more directly responsible for the planning and management of their work experience program, so that there could be a move away from the ‘student/learning’ mindset, to better harness and capitalise on each participant’s professional skill and expertise. With this in mind, I designed a program matrix of tasks, processes and resources that gives prominence to enhancing “a greater awareness particularly of their leadership, project management, organisational and team working capabilities” (Jones & Warnock, 2015, p 212).


Participants: There are four participants for this program; Sachie – Liberal Arts undergraduate (Japan), Gabriel – Masters in Social Work (Cameroon), Mauricio – IT Masters (Colombia) and Juliet (India) who is undertaking a Masters in Special Education (Autism). I will post intermittent highlights as we progress and you can expect to see guest posts from the participants as they report on bicycle initiatives from their respective corners of the world.


This program is being modified and adapted as the each task is undertaken, completed, discussed and reflected on – with the focus being more on the critical reflection of the process. There is much still to plan, deliberate and connect for this program and it will continue to be a work in progress. It has been fascinating to see the solo and team progress, achievements and decisions made thus far already. Although time consuming and slightly stressful at times, it has already proven to be a very productive and gratifying enterprise and I am delighted with the participants’ enthusiasm, commitment and energy so far.


Bicycles Create Change: Summer Program

Source: Vehr Communications


Gault, J., Leach, E., & Duey, M. (2010). Effects of business internships on job marketability: The employers’ perspective. Education + Training, 52(1), 76-88. doi:10.1108/00400911011017690

Jones, H. M., & Warnock, L. J. (2015). When a PhD is not enough: A case study of a UK internship programme to enhance the employability of doctoral researchers. Higher Education, Skills and Work – Based Learning, 5(3), 212-227. doi:10.1108/HESWBL-05-2014-0013

Many people do not Know what Makes Them Happy.

This is not just a personal problem; this is an ecological and social issue. Many cyclists love riding and they know it makes them happy – but few make the connection between their experience on a single ride and the idea that by undertaking any ride, they are also actively participating in a wider ‘Biking Community’ – and I wonder if this has any influence on what makes them happy when they ride.

It is easy to say that riding your bike makes you happy. However, cycling is not an isolated experience and most people ride their bikes outside – and thus participate either consciously or not in any number of social groups at any one time. What kind of participation do you contribute to your local bicycle culture? I was thinking of this as I read the book 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Sustainability (2006, pg 29). I was particularly interested in Tip Number 44 which was Align Values with Actions, which I have modified below.

It got me thinking that many cyclists love and value their bikes, but few act on that value beyond the personal experience. Some do, but not many. As a community of cyclists, I was struck by the thought of asking cyclists to complete this statement:

‘I would be a happier member of the cycling community if ….’

‘I would be happier riding my bike in the city if ..’

As a cyclist, what areas do not contribute to your own, or your community, or to the earth’s happiness – and how can you improve those areas? What action will you take?

Copenhagenize Design Company

Copenhagenize Design Company

I am interested in building ideas for how cyclists can better spend their time and resources to develop a more sustainable cycling culture which moves beyond the immediate personal ‘ride’ experience and how that value can be translated into tangible, positive social changes.


Timpson, W. M. (2006). 147 practical tips for teaching sustainability: Connecting the environment, the economy, and society. Madison, Wisc: Atwood Pub.

Why women in developing countries should have Bicycles.

Mobility, especially to workplaces and markets, for the women and girls who make-up 70% of the world’s poor, is often hampered by distance, cost, carrying capacity, time and availability. Many of these women are limited to walking and in many cases headloading an average of 20kgs to transport goods. Rural African and Asian women will walk on average 6 kilometres each day for water, food and fuel collection, which prevents them from working or going to school and puts them at direct risk of sexual assault, whereas a bicycle is three times faster than walking (World Bank, 1996) and can carry up to seven times more than one woman headloading.


Women are often culturally restricted from operating or using motorised transportation. They are further constrained by often having children or other dependents with them, therefore less likely to get a ride. Bicycles significantly relieve these physical and transportation impediemnts, as well as being non-polluting, lower in cost, easier to customise for specific purposes and are generally easier to repair and maintain than other motorised forms of transport.

If indeed “one of the best ways to help the poor is to improve non-motorized transport” (World Bank, 1996 pg 73), then a bicycle is an obvious and logical strategy to help minimize the impacts of poverty. Investment in women has massive knock-on effects considering that for each woman who is able to break out of the poverty cycle, four other people are taken with her as a result. Such an outcome has an immediate positive impact on families and communities.

However, as Mozer (2015) identifies, ‘to the limited extent that bicycles have been introduced into the structure of transportation in Africa, women generally have been excluded from access to the benefits’ . This is an area  of particular interest for me and an element which I will  be investigating in some detail in subsequent posts.


All facts attributed to Walk in her Shoes (2015) website unless otherwise specified. As accessed at

World Bank Policy Review Paper (1996) Sustainable Transport. Viewed on Wed 4th Nov, 2015 as accessed at