On Friday I went to the Bike Futures Conference 2017 in Melbourne St Kilda. Here’s quick review of the highlights.

Who attended?
This was my first Bike Futures Conference and I wanted to make the most of it after travelling down from Brisbane. There were over 150 local council representatives, engineers urban planners, school staff, public servants, bike advocates, academics, local residents and many more. Essentially this one-day conference was an opportunity to share current projects and discuss some of the main challenges, success and practical tools that various divisions around Melbourne have been working on. The main aim is to increase, make safer and improve urban cycling conditions. This was a great opportunity to connect and learn from industry experts and peers.

Conference Format
As well as the guided ride to the venue, the conference format was broken into three main sections. You can see the full program of topics and a full list of presenters which shows the range of issues and areas the conference covered.

Guided ride
My conference day started at 8 AM at Federation Square for the guided ride to the venue. There were 18 delegates on the ride, and it was a stunning morning.  Our route took us from Federation Square to St Kilda Town Hall showcasing some of the best of Melbourne’s bicycle-friendly infrastructure. We had three stops at key locations along the way where we heard representatives from Vicroads, City of Melbourne and City of Port Phillip speak about specific bicycle infrastructure, current projects and considered future developments.

Not only was it great as a social ride (I made a point of chatting to others when safe to do so), the presentations themselves were very informative.  I was also relishing being back on two wheels on Melbourne roads – I was flooded with memories and emotions as I relived endless glory days of pedalling in and around Melbourne on some of my favourite adventures with some of my favourite people.

An added highlight was riding along the Formula One Grand Prix track at Albert Park – something I just can’t do in Brisbane, and it added an extra festive zing to my day.

Riding the F1 Grand Prix track
1. Key guest speakers
1.    Claire Ferres Miles (General Manager, Place Strategy and Development, City of Port Phillip). This was a solid start to the conference good overview of projects and update of current and future plans for active transportation.

2.    Professor Chris Pettit  (Inaugural Chair of Urban Science at the University of New South City Futures Research Centre). Chris’s presentation was very interesting. It was research and a little nerdy. His work focuses on spatial planning and use of GIS and mapping technologies to investigate land-use change scenarios. He showed an impressive simulation based on Melbourne riders using the Logmyride app (I’ll do a follow-up post on this as it was very cool!!).

3.    Toby Kent (Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Melbourne). Far out – what a presenter. Not only an unexpected addition to the conference given the seemingly loose connection Melbourne City’s Resilience status has –  but Toby managed to connect with the audience, be squarely on topic, appropriate and clearly linked what his Office does to the audience’s experience – and a super charismatic orator.  Quite spokes, calm and very well prepared, I can see why he is in the top leadership role.

4.    Luke Donnellan (Minister for Roads and Road Safety). As would be expected, Luke coped quite a lot of flak – and deservedly so. Not only was he in full politician style of not directly answering questions, he missed the mark on a number of key issues, put his foot in his mouth by disrespecting a Western Council representative (of which she challenged him on very appropriately!) and was a terrible speaker by reading off his notes in a monotone and completely disinterested and unengaged way and made no attempt to looking at the audience at all. And then promptly ran away. Oh dear!

Sean Yates - Vicroads

2. Pecha Kucha Sessions
This format is quick and interesting, with each presentation having 20 slides (for 20 sec each) being about 6.5 min in total.
1. Evaluation of Bike Ed in School – Che Sutherland (Team Leader – Darebin Council)
2. St Kilda Road Safety Improvement – Sean Yates (Project Development Engineer -Vicroads)
3. Low-stress cycling in Whitehorse – Amy Child, Arup & Lean McGuiness (City of Whitehorse)
4. Greening the Pipeline Project – Emma Pryse (Project Coordinator – City of Wyndham).
5. Bike Safety and trucks Jamie Ross (Safety Officer – Metro Tunnel Project)

Bike Futures 2017

3. Afternoon Break-out Workshop sessions
After lunch, we split up across different rooms to attend our registered session themes.

Session 1: Jump starting Active School Travel
Investigating a very successful case study of Park Orchards Primary School. This workshop explained the process and strategies used to link parents, teachers and community member together to provide a ‘perfect storm’ for a community active transportation initiative spanning a school term in 2012. With a review three years later, the positive behaviour changes in kids and families using more active transportation to go to school was impressive. This workshop was generous in providing details, suggestions and insights of how the project was designed and what elements conspired to make it such as success. It is now considered the Gold Standard of what other schools could achieve. A great session that stimulated lots of conversation and was very through-provoking and inspiring.

Session 2: Getting Girls and Women Riding
This session was run by Bicycle Network and was reporting back on two initiatives – getting more teenage girls (high school) on bikes via a specific program designed just for teenage girls, and getting more women on road bikes via the Ascent event. This session was particularly interesting for me given the unique (and negative) experiences that the Ascent team had in organising and putting on the original 700+ women’s only road cycling event – and the subsequent difficulties they encountered trying to do it again the year after.

Bike Futures 2017
Wrap up
The notion of sharing new ideas about a range of new ways in which bicycles create positive community change was a fitting way to conclude the 2017 Bike Futures Conference. The conference closed with Bicycle Network’s Chief Executive Officer, Craig Richards call to action to “dream bigger make it happen”. After the official close, we then mingled and finalised any contact, got our bikes and those who were up for it headed to the pub across the road for social drinks and to continue informed and passionate discussions.

Final thoughts
For me, the best part of the conference was able to meet such a range of diverse people. From teachers, academics, health professionals, industry experts (lots of E-bikers) BUGers, engineers, transport technicians and lots of local council representatives.

The enjoyed being able to sit and listen to the presentations and take what I needed. I met a wide range of very interesting people and practised talking about my research and this blog. In fact, at one stage I went up to some Bicycle Network delegates to thank them for putting on the conference and I mentioned my work, the instantly connected me with another Bicycle Networker called Alex who is working in India with a Bike Aid program and we ended up finding a quite nook to have a good chat – awesome!

I had a great time at the conference, got some great new ideas and felt re-inspired. It made me miss not being in Melbourne amidst this charge of new bicycle development, but also provided some valuable food for thought and some wonderful new contacts. I was very happy I made an effort to go down to Melbourne to attend this conference.

Bike Futures 2017

This morning I am heading interstate to NSW for a week.

After registering for the upcoming Bike Future 2017 Conference in Melbourne, I find myself wanting checking up on the some of the latest urban bike programs and initiatives being undertaken south of Queensland’s border. So I started looking into some key current cycling issues, changes and policy directions happening in NSW and Victoria.

 

Think of the Impact – Car Dooring Awareness Program  – New South Wales (NSW).

In investigating all sorts of programs, one Sydney program that caught my eye. It focuses on the issue of car dooring and the program is called Think of the Impact. It turns out that the major hot spots for car dooring in Sydney are Kings Cross, Newtown and Surry Hills. After recognising the obvious increase in people cycling, having seventy-four car-dooring incidents reported and under pressure from local cycling advocate groups, the Think of the Impact initiative was created.

This project was undertaken as a Sydney Cycles Ways project in collaboration with City of Sydney and NRMA Insurance. It was in response to the increasing levels and problems of cycling in Sydney. I’m not going to rehash the background of this program because if your keen to read more  about this NSW project and its origins – you can find it here.

 

Car dooring of cyclists is an issue in major cities

I had not seen this particular program before. It rally struck an immediate cord with me as car dooring was an ongoing and critical issue when I was commuting every day to work by bike when I was in Melbourne. I had a few near misses myself and I saw many others car dooring situations as well, with various outcomes. It was a very challenging – and was a very real clear and present danger.  It was something that many Melbourne cyclists talk about as well. It was interesting to hear that the issue of car dooring and urban cyclist safety is a similar and prevalent concern in Sydney (NSW) as it was in Melbourne (VIC).

In NSW, car drivers can be fined $319 and lose 2 demerit points if they pass too close to cyclists.

As of 2012, Victoria increased penalties so that car dooring fines now incur a maximum of ten demerit points, and fines have since increased from $423 to $1,408.

I’ve noticed that in Brisbane (and Queensland in general), there is a clear media reticence about reporting car dooring and cyclist safety in general. It is certainly not a key media or community issue or nowhere near mentioned as often in the media as it is down south. Car dooring is definitely a bike safety issue in Brisbane, but local media reports of cycling in Brisbane do not highlight car dooring as a major traffic or cycling issue. In fact, most Queensland media reports on road/urban cycling in Brisbane detail fatalities. Fatalities are the most reported cycling safety issue in Brisbane given the lack of bike lanes or shoulders, heavy reliance (and love) of large motor vehicles such as 4WDs, trucks and utes with boat trailers, minimal bike infrastructure and heavily congested road traffic.

 

Why this particular program?

Sydney Cycles Ways is responsible for this program and decide to run the program based on compelling data of local cyclists’ car dooring experiences. As a quick check in with the cycling community Sydney Cycles Ways, mid last year did a quick online survey via Twitter to get some feedback re car dooring occurrences, and this is what they found:

Source: Think about the Impact

Free stickers to promote awareness of urban cyclists

Another reason why this NSW program is particularly interesting and proactive – is that it offers free stickers for cars to remind and promote other road users (car drivers specifically) about car dooring – hence the name of the program.

The idea is to get more car users actively checking for cyclists before opening doors.

Here are what the smaller stickers and larger (car) stickers look like:

Source: Think about the Impact

 

Source: Think about the Impact

 

I have not seen these stickers before, but then again, I don’t live in Sydney. I wasn’t aware that this program had been launched in NSW and so I missed out on knowing that the public could order sets of 4 small rear mirror stickers and/or larger car door sized stickers in two colour choices – for free. Apparently making merchandise available for free to the general public as part of an awareness-raising campaign is a pretty effective strategy to get more people participating and publicly sharing the message.

This was especially the case for this program, where the response to these free stickers was very encouraging. By halfway through 2016, there had been a great community response to the program and 20,000 stickers had been requested.

I went online yesterday and ordered 4 sets of the small stickers and one large car sticker. I’m keen to see what they look like.

I can immediately see the attraction of the smaller stickers, but I’m not sure about the car door stickers – realistically how many people would put the large sticker on their car door – would you?

If you would like to order a free set of stickers that will be posted to you – click here.

 

Source: City of Sydney

 

For more information about this program, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Bridget Ahern, phone 0423 505 854 or email bahern@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

One of my goals for this year is to support and attend more bicycle infrastructure, policy and research events.  After all, 2017 is the ‘Year of the Bicycle‘ and my research is entering a stage where it really has social viability, so looks like I’ll have to dust off my dancing shoes for a few shindigs!

So to kick off the year right, I am heading down to Melbourne in a few weeks to attend my first event of the year –  Bicycle Network’s Bike Futures Conference 2017. Tasmania and Sydney have already held their state conferences and there appears to be no state conference set for Queensland – at least not in 2016 or 2017 that I have found. (Oh  dear Queensland! Not again!! Such a pity you are always so far behind the world and rest of Australia when it comes to supporting any kind of progressive cycling or biking – tsk, tsk – perhaps this is the year to turn it all around!!).

So it’s off to Victoria!  It is also a great excuse to revisit to my old hometown and see some family and friends after being away for what seems like an age!

Bicycle Network Bike Futures Conference 2017

This is a one-day forum aimed at bringing together researchers, policy-makers, bike advocates, businesses, government agencies and others to share the latest developments in cycling provision. The overall aim is to improve biking conditions and encourage more people to ride bikes. The program details a good range of speakers confirmed from various educational, business, political, health and social spheres.

On the day there will be plenary discussions, presentations and workshops on a range of topics (see tentative program below) such as safety, planning, behaviour change and various urban uses and infrastructure approaches.

I’m very excited to hear what cycling development Victoria has implemented over the last 2.5 years since I have been away and to hear what has – and has not worked. It will be a great opportunity to make some contacts and network as well. The program looks diverse and engaging and I am keen to attend pretty much every session!

I am going as I want to make some industry contacts and hope to hear about a range of interesting, challenging and/or informative sessions. I’m looking to get inspired – and hopefully, the event will also help stimulate and distill some new ideas. If I am really lucky, maybe it might even open up some new directions on how I can apply some key learnings from Melbourne’s experience to my own PhD research project.

 

Opportunity to scout some new BCC blog talent and features!

I’m going to make the most of this trip to Melbourne. To do so, I am also organising some introductions, meetings and site visitations while there. I’m keen to catch up with some old friends and see what has changed, and to follow up on a few leads featured previously on this blog – and to make some new contacts to feature as well!

I’m also looking forward to riding around Melbourne and rediscovering her biking treasures and secrets.

It is a great opportunity also to investigate what cycling events are going on in and around Melbourne.

So if you know of any biking research or events happening in Melbourne from Feb 7th – Feb 21st, 2017 that you think is worthy of a look-see, or want to recommend a person, group or event I should contact for this blog, please let me know via the comments box below. Thanks in advance! I would really appreciate your suggestions!

 

Morning Bicycle Network

Bicycle Network

Source: Bicycle Network

 

Today’s post focuses on the recent UN: Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report by the UN Transportation department. The report is officially entitled Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling: policies a & realities from around the world and was released September 2016. This 70-page report is focuses on investigating issues of active urban transportation in middle and low-income countries. It outlines current major road accident risks, and describes some effective interventions that are being employed to save lives and increase mobility for improved future livelihoods.

 

UN: Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report

It identifies a few key concerns that are no surprises

  • active transport is safer
  • better for the environment
  • uptake is restricted due to a lack of infrastructure and investment
  • unsafe roads are a major social issue
  • increasing impact and amount of road deaths
  • transport is a key issue as it generates nearly ¼ of all carbon dioxide emission and is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases

Handy Acronyms for dinner parties
NMT– (Non-motorized transport) – such as walking, cycling animal carts, skateboarding, cycle rickshaw, hand-carts
IMT (Intermediate Modes of Transportation) is a broad term for low-cost transport that essentially fills the mobility gaps needs between walking and having a car. So push bikes are included as are low engine-capacity motorbikes and tricycles often with adaptions such as side cars, trailers and other load bearing modifications.
SDG – UN Sustainable Development Goals

Data collection
Stakeholders from government and civil society in 20 countries were surveyed three times over a 3-month period (March – May 2016). Stakeholders were invited to suggest other research participants as well to expand the research pool.

I thought it was interesting that in the data collection, only ‘stakeholders’ were invited to participate. So this means only people from ‘a range of independent or university institutes, global agencies, non-government organisations, consultants, individual activists or government officials’ participated in this study. The rationale given was that they these people were ‘more likely to have insight into and knowledge of NMT policy status and access to data in their region, country or city’ (p 10).

Summary of key findings

  • 1.3 million people died in road accidents last year = one every 30 seconds.
  • Need for nations/cities to have some level of (national) NMT commitment
  • Increase in global awareness to the intersection of poverty and transportation about the UN SDGs.

 

Key NMT policy themes

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

 

What are the current types of NMY commitment – Transport Policy, funding policies for facilities, National Policy, Infrastructure Acts, related-by-laws, Strategic Frameworks, etc.

Type of supporting policies that will support the overall NMT commitments: vehicle parking restrictions, public transportation and all kinds of policies such as traffic calming, enforcement, education, budgets, encouragement policies, end-of-trip and others.

Local MNT planning – putting people before transport, favouring NMT over motorised transport, network establishment, safe infrastructure, increase mode shares, regulations and enforcement, more equitable allocation of road space, encouraging greater NMT, options of financial assistance for increased NMT use.

The quality of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure– across the board, current bicycle infrastructure is “almost routinely to be of poor or haphazard quality, disconnected and insufficiently part of a network” with only a few exceptions in South Africa and Brazil (p 25).

Funding for NMT – Nairobi (Kenya) is the only place to “commit to ensuring 20% of its existing and future road construction budget is allocated to NMT and public transport infrastructure and services” (p 26).

Data quality and institutional capacity – data is a major substantive gap in NMT planning and for transportation planning

 

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

 

Other interesting discussion points were
-public transport transformation or improvement
-Focus on vulnerable groups in African NMT policies
-Impact and stats on road deaths

Quotables from the report

  • A key government official from one of Africa’s largest economies told us that ‘the use of cars … is based on a colonial legacy of associating motorised transportation with education, affluence and elevated status in society. Therefore, the attitude towards NMT tends towards negativity. Thus the use of bicycles, walking and wheeling are associated with the poor’ (p 35).
  • Nigerian transport officials have described to us how ‘acquiring a car is a goal for most citizens who believe riding a bicycle [or walking] is less safe, less convenient, and less attractive, making the forecast decline of NMT a self-fulling prophecy….’ (p 35).
  • When speaking about India – ‘The marginalisation [of NMT] is seen in the backdrop of an emerging automobile culture linked with rising incomes, post-liberalisation and skewed notions of modernity. The continued dominance of motorised modes seeks to claim a larger share of road space mirroring the social power structure’ (Joshi & Joseph 35).

Outcomes and recommendations
The report then concludes with a country NMT summary for each of the participating nations, that identifies:
1. National NMT commitments
2. Civic society and social enterprise
3. For some countries, there is a focus box with extra details on a pertinent issue, facts, project or factors – which are insightful and very pertinent.

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

 

The UN: Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report goes to the heart of my PhD research, and I was very excited when I found it. To date, it has been frustrating for me as a researcher investigating the intersection of poverty, gender, culture and location – as there has been such recognition gap in the academic and grey literature about the impact of transportation on rural and impoverished countries. With publications like this report, access and use of bicycles are now (finally) gaining attention. Such a pity it took until this year for such a report to be published- but better now than never!

I like this report as it is clear, informative and easy to digest. It condenses critical content well and is also unique in having what I think, is quite a positive view for future transportation improvements.This report will go a long way in promoting and communicating the complexities, restrictions and issues involved in people being able/not to access transport, as this is such a critical development issue – there is no point building more health clinics and hospitals if people cannot physically get there to benefit from such services!

Well done UN Transport department on your thoughtful and informative report – it is wonderful to see bicycles (and walking) being placed firmly on the international development policy agenda.

 

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

In a couple of days, on Sunday 13th November, Australia’s Bicycle Network is undertaking its  annual bike path user audits. These counts are done each year to collect bicycle use data that help local councils accurately monitor and plan for current and future bicycle path use and infrastructure. This week will be the Super Sunday Recreational Bike Count.

Each year nationally, there is a Super Tuesday Commuter Bike Count (usually held in March) and a Super Sunday Recreational Count. These counts contribute to informing and guiding bike riding investment and initiatives across Australia and local councils self-nominate to participate. It is always interesting to which are the progressive councils that opt in and see the value and necessity of investigating urban bike path use (ideas to consider when you are looking at buying your next property?). It is great to see a rise in the number of local councils participating in this initiative, but yet again, not bloody enough interest or effort from QLD authorities to support ANY type of bike use!

As a research and activist working at the intersection of bicycles and community development – these kinds of initiatives are right up my alley. Although they may seem lame to some, the political and policy making power that this kind of data can leverage would be surprising to the average joe.

If you have ever found yourself muttering about the condition or lack of bike paths, or about the absence of council support and understanding for your particular bike riding needs – this is a small, but proactive and immediate action you can take to effect sustainable and positive change in your local area.

 

Specifics about the 2016 Super Sunday Recreational Bike Count.

This particular audit is being held in various locations in Australia this Sunday 13th Nov from 9 am – 1 pm (7-11am in NT & QLD) to ascertain:

  1. numbers of uses on trails and paths
  2. Which trails and paths are being used
  3. When trails are being used and by/with whom

To collect this qualitative data, a visual count of recreational bike riders and other users of the bike paths is required. To this end, the Bicycle Network has sent out an invitation for volunteers to help count and monitor selected sites to count rider (and other user) movements through particular sites. All equipment is provided.

 

What do I get out of it?

Although you do not get paid as an official ‘volunteer’, each data site is allocated $120 to go towards a charity or NGO that you can nominate. as well as contributing to supporting and informing productive bicycle use in your local area.  It is not a particularly taxing activity, on the contrary, it is a great day out. As a data collector, you get to see and meet lots of like-minded people in your area, brag to your mates that you were out making a difference to make their daily rides better – and there is also the bonus that you are actively contributing to generating data and outcomes that are integral to the maintenance and sustainability of future bicycle use for everyone Australia wide.

 

Get involved!

I STRONGLY urge you to get involved.

If you have not already registered to count, please consider doing so – take a mate or the family and make a morning of it.

Or conversely, make and extra point this Sunday to get out on your bike and ride paths in the locales listed below to get counted as many times as possible to add your “voice’ to increase investment in urban bicycle facilities.

The paths most focused on for these counts are key recreational paths, particularly along waterways, beaches and parks – so get out there on your two wheels!

 

Register here

For more info, check out the Super Counts – see the Bicycle Network.

Source: Bicycle Network

Source: Bicycle Network

Areas involved for the 2016 Sunday Super count

NSW

  • Canterbury- Bankstown
  • Inner West
  • Lake Macquarie
  • Northern Beaches
  • Parramatta
  • Randwick
  • Southerland Shire

NT

  • Darwin

QLD

  • Whitsunday

SA

  • Mitcham
  • Norwood Payneham St Peters

VIC

  • Ballarat
  • Boroondara
  • Frankston
  • Greater Bendigo
  • Greater Dandenong
  • Greater Geelong
  • Hobson’s Bay
  • Maribyrnong
  • Melbourne
  • Monash
  • Moonee Valley
  • Nillumbik
  • Stonnington
  • Whitehorse
  • Wyndham
  • Yarra
  • Yarra Ranges

WA

  • Perth
  • Cockburn
  • Cottlesloe
  • Fremantle
  • Mandurah

 

Source: Bicycle Network

Source: Bicycle Network

While reading though some research for my Lit Review, I came across this article: Ghatak, M., Kumar, C., & Mitra, S. (2013). Cash versus kind: Understanding the preferences of the bicycle-programme beneficiaries in Bihar. London, UK: International Growth Centre.

I have previously posted about this program, as it looks like a great initiative, so I was interested to read more about it, but was shocked by a few of the program details and findings that (of course) were not included in this programs’  previous promotions.

Review of the report.

This article is looking at cash transfer schemes and specifically using one case study, the Bihar Mukhyamantri Cycle Yogina (Chief Minister’s Bicycle Programme) a Cash for Kind (Bicycle) program to discuss some of the preferences of the bicycle beneficiancies of this program. It is not analyzing the program as such, although some interesting program results are given which I will expand on, but this paper is looking at to the recipients prefer to get the cash or the bicycle – and why.

Cash for Kind program are where the government disperses cash to recipients, who then use the cash to access a certain ‘kind’ of goods (or service) – usually something that is predetermined and linked as a condition for receiving the cash – in this case the money was to purchase a bicycle for all 9th grade students enrolled in school.

This report is 22 pages, so I am not going to give you all the results and details, but here is a few of the more interesting aspects of the report.

Program Background

The Bihar bike program is a well-known Indian program which provided ALL the 14 year-old girls (9th grade) in the whole state with bicycles. Bihar is one of India’s Eastern States that boarders Nepal and is considered to be one of the most impoverished states in India. The Mukhyamantri Cycle Yogina originally started in 2006 and provided Rs 2,400 for purchasing bicycles but was only for the girls. In 2009-2010 the program was expanded to include all the boys in the state of the same age and for the academic year of 2011-2012 the cash was increased to Rs 2500 per student. In 2012 – 2013, a conditional change was made that only students who maintained a 75% attendance at school were eligible.

So this report is a follow up of this program and was undertaken Sept – Oct 2012 over 36 villages and involved surveying 840 households (as a representative sample of the whole district) of which 958 bike recipients lived (some households had more than one child in the program).

Some of the key results

  • Do the benefits reach the intended beneficiaries – overall, yes.
  • Overall 90% of the beneficiaries reported being happy with this program (no grievances)
  • Issues of corruption – corruption can occur by various actors at various stages, but for this program it was difficult to do and corruption was considered to be very low.

Corruption opportunities:

  •  Ghost beneficiaries
  •  Enrolled in multiple schools – double benefits
  •  Was the accurate amount of $$ received?
  •  Receiving other benefits/services (not a bike)
  • Program administrators skimming a commission by using their own voucher or coupon system
  • Even though there were areas where corruption could occur, not much did with 93.3% reporting having received the correct amount – meaning 56 households received less than they were entitled to.
  • Results show that 98% of those who received the cash/voucher used it as required to purchase a new bicycle – over the course of a whole state – that is a pretty amazing result.
  • 45% said they would prefer cash instead of a bicycle

Rest of the report – some scary details

The rest of the report discusses the determinates of why certain households choose a preference between cash and kind (bicycle) – for example the quality of the bike was mentioned as one of the determinants for choosing cash or bike.

In the discussion, the report indicates a few interesting and very disturbing features of this program.

  • For example, one of the supply side conditions, and the way the program was set up, was that the beneficiaries were provided with cash (provided by the state, but distributed by the teachers at school), then they went out and purchased a bicycle with that cash and brought back the receipt as evidence of a bike purchase. Interestingly, this was not how the full program was implemented. Some districts deviated from this system and 30% of the beneficiaries were required to submit a receipt BEFORE they received the cash for the bike.

This meant 3 things: 1. People had to either purchase the bike with their own money, or 2. Get a fake receipt and 3. This would put extra financial strain on the poorest of the poor, of which this program was trying to help, but forcing into a compromised situation.

  • There were huge delays of payment to the recipients of up to 6-months.
  • Most troubling is, that the program provided an inadequate amount of money to purchase a bike in the first place – 98% of beneficiaries had to add money a significant amount of money to the program cash to buy a bike – on average Rs 979.
  • The market price for the three CHEAPEST bike brands in the area Atals, Avon and Hero (of which about 80% of the beneficiaries selected) range in price of Rs 3100 – 3300, but the government supplied only Rs 2500 – meaning that pretty much all of the recipients had to make up the difference themselves. For the richer households this comes out of savings, for the poorer families – this puts them further into debt, with 25% of all the recipients having to BORROW money to buy a bike – thus indebting them into poverty even further.

And this report states that 90% of the recipients were happy with the program!!??

Don’t get me wrong, the program is ambitious on many levels and you cannot get everything right – and the premise of supplying a new bike to increase school access is something I am very supportive of. However, ethically I have a major problem with programs whose conditionality has a direct and immediate negative consequence for the recipients when program organisers tout the program a success.

Such an error is easily rectifiable with A) doing the right homework to find out how much money is actually needed to buy a bike before implementation and B) increasing the government’s allocation to all beneficiaries if the program is already in effect.

Loan sharks anyone?

The report acknowledges that there is a ‘trade-off between universality and corruption’ meaning that beneficiary needs need to be balanced with the level of leakage and corruption. But given the opening stats  on the low corruption level for this program (98% of recipients got the right amount of cash = no corruption), it is hardly justifiable to decrease the reimbursement amount so much that being involved in the program diminishes the possible benefits to such a point where the needs of the beneficiaries are negatively compounded now three fold from having borrowed money to be in the program. Loan sharks anyone?

As a community development practitioner, I find these kind of programs disturbing, as many of them look good in the NGO reports and social media, but by digging a little deeper there are some interesting lessons to be learnt for future review, modifications and application.

I appreciate that this program is on a massive scale and is one of the first of its kind in the world, but critical features such as supplying the correct amount are basic provisions that should have been addressed before implementation.

I would be very interested to hear the rational given for this cash transfer amount for this program.

Source: blogs.lse.ac.uk

Source: blogs.lse.ac.uk

By Mauricio Gonzalez – Guest Blogger

 

Planning cities for people – an international perspective by Enrique Penalosa

Big crowded cities, especially those in developing countries, have to deal with mobility. This issue is a determinant when it comes to measuring living standards. That said, Enrique Penalosa, the former Mayor of Bogota City in Colombia, argues that it is impossible to imagine a city without imagining the transport system first. Therefore, this post is about the change that can be created in a city that is designed for people rather than for cars. Which kind of city do you think would be more modern?

Many people would say that a city with more facilities for technological advances and one that is more futuristic and integrative of the 21st a city is better. However, to what extent do you think that model is sustainable and what kinds of people do you think could live in a city that is more focused on the devices than on themselves?

By comparing cities like Bogota, Stambul, London, New York, Amsterdam and others around the world, a contrast is revealed regarding the importance of people of living in cities. Humans are pedestrians, not machines. Cars were created to shorten distances, but cities have to be designed so they are enjoyable spaces. A beautiful city is, therefore, one that integrates the outdoors.

Source: Youtube - Bogota Bureau.com

The aim of cars and any transportation system is to take people from one place to another safely. Public transport is considered by Enrique Penalosa as an expression of democracy. Building cities for citizens is a good sign that shows that the government respects all kind of citizens, including those who cannot afford a car.

When you see modernised cities, you can find wide sidewalks where people can walk and enjoy with their children.

Source: Youtube – Bogota Bureau.com

In undeveloped countries, between 10% and 30% of people have cars. In Bogota, for instance, only 20% of people have a car. In such countries, the lack of development is evident when you see people without cars. In these places, people with no cars are considered to be third class citizens and people with them, are considered to be first class.

Furthermore, sidewalks should not be considered as being part of the streets, but as being part of plazas and parks where people can enjoy being with each other. To this end, Penalosa argues that a city that is designed for 20% of the population, is not a democracy and sidewalks are for enjoying the space, not just for passing by.

 

Source: Streetsblog.com

Source: Streetsblog.com

 

Source: blog.rmi.org

Source: blog.rmi.org

 

Overall, the use of bicycles is not enough. Bicycles have to be part of the political agenda when it comes to planning proper infrastructure that facilitates the benefits non-motor vehicles and public transport. It is recommended that people stop seeing buses and bicycles as means of transport for the poor. Instead, they are important cultural tools that are evidence of development and high living standards.

 

Enrique Peñalosa – “Planning Cities for People: An International Perspective”.

Mauricio Gonzalez is our Guest Blogger, unveiling some of South America’s bicycle culture for the next fortnight from 20th June to 2nd July.

 by Sachie Togashiki

In looking for evidence to show the social changes made by the use of bicycles, I found an interesting video. In the video, a Japanese man, Satoshi Hikita, who works for a television station, and who commutes by bicycle for 24 km, delivered a lecture about using bicycles for environment-friendly and healthy town development. The video contains the interview Mr. Hikita gave after his lecture. The lecture was delivered in Nichinan, Miyazaki prefecture, where he was born, on 8th July 2011. Mr. Hikita gave interesting arguments to explain how bicycles contribute to town development.

Main arguments presented

He claims that using bicycles has benefits for both individuals and society. Individual benefits are: promoting fitness, saving money, and furthering familiarity with local town environs. On the other hand, the social benefits are mitigation of traffic jams, reduction of traffic fatalities and medical expenses, and eco-friendly traffic. He also argues that these benefits cannot be achieved by using cars because they emit carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming; people don’t exercise when they drive a car, which is not healthy, and using a car might be more expensive in the longer term because oil prices will rise more and more.

Mr. Hikita argues that town development can benefit by promoting bicycles because the immediate appeal of the local environment can best be felt on foot or on a bicycle. This means the more people use bicycles in the town, the more they can personally and directly feel the attraction of the place. He cites the examples of Tokyo in Japan and cities in the United States; where young people prefer to go, enjoying the city on foot or a bicycle, not a car and have been developed through people’s interaction and communication. Mr. Hikita maintains that riding bicycles encourages us to interact with people and to fully appreciate our local environment, as well as being a convenient mode of transport.

Comment

After watching this video, I was intrigued by Mr. Hikita’s idea of how the planning of cities and towns was influenced by the use of bicycles. Even though I lived in Tokyo before coming to Australia, I didn’t notice that people best enjoy in the city on foot or a bicycle. I agree with Mr. Hikita when he says that cities can’t be enjoyed by cars because so many interesting places are missed, such as lots of interesting and mysterious shops or galleries on narrow streets where cars can’t go through. As he insists, a town’s attraction can be found not by cars, but by bicycles. If town planning includes promoting the use of bicycles, not only can people have an enjoyable town, they have healthy and eco-friendly lives today and tomorrow.


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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

What’s next? Compulsory ID for pedestrians?

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

These include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Having been back in Australia for a few days now, I was reminiscing about my recent NZ trip. I found myself revisiting the Rotorua Strategic Cycling Plan 2015-2018. Particularly, I have been reflecting on why it is that Australia has not yet implemented any similar clearly worthwhile initiatives. The backing of the local, regional and national governments has been instrumental in the success of NZ’s burgeoning cycling popularity.

For example, here are just some examples of how the NZ government is providing political ordinances and a proactive context for prioritising and promoting cycling in Rotorua and New Zealand:

National: Safer Journeys 2020Transport Demand Management StrategySafer Journeys for People who Cycle 2014NZ Transport Agency’s Cycling Safety Action Plan

Regional: Regional Land Management (RLM) 2011-2041

Local: Rotorua Integrated Network Strategy 2012-2014Rotorua Sport & recreation StrategyRotorua 2030 – Tatou Tatou – WE TOGETHERGrow Rotorua – Rotorua Biking Strategy 2014-2024

After my summer experience and seeing such forward thinking policy-making – it is obvious that Rotorua (and New Zealand in general) is light years ahead of Australia in relation to welcoming and harnessing the positive social and economic impacts that a well-managed and diverse cycling destination with purpose-built infrastructure has to offer. Melbourne has a number of colourful and energetic cycling communities, yet NSW is about to implement some of the toughest cycling fines Australia has seen, which has caused a national uproar. As the Rotorua Deputy Major identifies “These accomplishments don’t happen by chance. It takes amazing collaboration and community contribution to pull off such feats, and we certainly appreciate these continued efforts to boost Rotorua’s appeal as the world’s premier all- year-round mountain biking resort” (Rotorua Lakes Council, n.d.).

Some of the NZ Policies to promote cycling, like the Regional Land Management, are projecting for 2041!! Talk about managing sustainable cycling for future urban development! Where is Australia’s enduring forethought towards providing a safer, more active, more fit and sustainable society? How is it that in Australia, we don’t see our politicians and Prime Ministers riding bikes around our cities?

How is it possible that there are still such major inconsistencies and barriers in Australia for better cycling, when cities like Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Portland are celebrating and (socially and economically) benefiting from honouring and championing cycling as being a normal part of being a healthy, happy and productive citizen?

Simon Bridges, John Key and Todd McClay, on a ride around Government Gardens in Rotorua

Source: Waikato Times – Simon Bridges, John Key (NZ Prime Minister) and Todd McClay, on a ride around Government Gardens in Rotorua, 2015.