ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit

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


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

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

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

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

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

Super interesting!!

So what was the ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit?

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

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

My Presentation

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

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

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

Our presentation was awesome.

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

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

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

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

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

ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

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

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

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

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

ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

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

Prof. Michael Apple

ReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

ReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

More info please!

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

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

Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress

This time last week, the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress (APCC) was being held in Christchurch, NZ from Tuesday 17th Oct – Friday 20th Oct.

I wasn’t able to go as I had my PhD Confirmation paper and seminar due smack in the middle – doh! Otherwise, I would have been there for sure and I had a session to present. It will just have to wait until next year!

What was on at the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress?

The program for this year looked jammed packed full of interesting sessions. Check out the program link below and see what session takes your fancy.

Get the APCC Program and daily schedule here.Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

The link above also gives the daily schedule and a number of the speakers provided their presentations for public distribution.

All sessions were divided into these key themes:

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

I like that there was also a bit of personality coming through – as evidence,  I was delighted to see Jo Clendon’s poster abstract had a footnote for the term ‘bike user’ as being:

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

The APCC event is a great forum to share ideas and get inspired. I would have like to have seen more Asia-Pacific-ness in the mix (very Oceania focused). As far as I could see there were no sessions from East Asia, South Asia or Southeast Asia – and there are some amazing projects going on there!

I hope to see more recognition for countries that are not usually considered to be ‘cycling’ countries to be better represented, included and instrumental in biking discourse and practice. I’d like to see more initiatives from India, Indonesia, Philippines, Timor, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the like. I know it is far to travel to NZ from these countries, but I’d really dig seeing some more diversity and range of contexts and ‘life world’ experiences in this conference’s program (in fact in all ALL conference programs!).

Who was presenting?

As you would expect, there were HEAPS of NZ presenters covering a massive array of planning, economic, behavioural, community, research and other projects – impressive!

As I have said before, NZ is by far whooping AUS arse on so many fronts (least of all NBN, Politics, Supporting Outdoor Industries to name a few). However, NZ’s progressive, strategic and forward-thinking development and integration of cycling an biking nationwide are envious. I go to Rotorua every year to ride and have posted before on a number of fun and admirable aspects of how riding and bike feature prominently in NZ.

I’ve also said before how easy, convent, and enjoyable it is being a cycling tourist in NZ. I’ve posted on how easy it is to get around in Rotorua, and some of their great community projects like the Dad’s n Lads bike events, as well as the formidable urban strategic plans within the major cities ( like Rotorua) that make biking a normalised way of getting around town – as well as being part of the larger picture to connect the whole country from top to bottom by bike paths – awesome! So NZ is by far a cycling leader on many fronts – and AUS would do well to learn from their NZ counterparts.

 

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

I was happy to see Brisbane represented:

  • Mark Pattemore’s (Brisbane City Council) Better bikeways for Brisbane.
  • Sarah Wilkinson (QLD Government) Cost-Benefit analysis of recent major cycling investments across QLD.
  • Narelle Haworth (QLD), Kristin Heesch (QLD) & Ashim Kumar Debath (VIC) Individual & Environmental Correlates of motorists passing distance of bicycle riders

As well as other Aussie presenters:

  • Cameron Munro (CDM Research, Melb) Designing for Bike Riders on local road roundabouts
  • Peter Metcalf (Wagners, Aust) Cycling the Hawkes Bay NZ region in safety with the aid of a clip on cycleway

And some OS delegates:

  • Tom Ransom (Isle of Wight, UK) School travel behaviour change
  • Thomas Stokell (USA) Bike Data Analysis – a comparison between 21,000 NZ riders and 180,000 riders from around the world
  • Jurgen Gerlach (Germany) with Axel Wilke (NZ) & Alistair Woodward (NZ) Safe…. but only if it’s efficient
  • Tyler Golly  (Canada) & Ryan Martinson (Canada) How to achieve rapid change for cycling outcomes

There were so many great NZ sessions that it would be too much to include here – suffice to say, it is well worth checking out the program link above in bold to see which session is most interesting for you.

October is the month for it!

The APCC is run in conjunction with Biketober, Christchurch’s month long celebration of all things bikes. Seems like October is the month for such events if Bike Palooza (Bendigo, VIC) and Biketober (Christchurch, NZ) is anything to go by!

Here is some of what is on for Christchurch’s Biketober.

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

Bike Picnic – Casino Plaza Protest

I’ve been working on my PhD Confirmation submission, officially due yesterday.  A PhD is self-directed research, so I self-directed and gave myself permission to hand in on Monday. It is so close. Rushing it will not cut it – and not handing it now will be subpar. It needs to be done right, but I won’t compromise my work, health, sleep or sanity to meet an arbitrary date. It is really shaping up and will be ready to go in no time! Hang in there!

For the last big editing push, I went to the Queensland State Library to work on my manuscript. I decided to take a break for lunch and pop across the river to see what bikey events were going on. What do you know – a bike picnic protest was underway! The perfect brain break! NG.


Bike Picnic - Casino Plaza Protest. Bicycles Create

Bike Picnic – Casino Plaza Protest

Space For Cycling (Brisbane) was holding a picnic on the site of the future public plaza and events space at the bottom of Queens Wharf Road in protest of the new Casino development.

It is right in the middle of the concrete jungle, between the North Quay Ferry terminal and Queens Wharf Road.

Part of  the protest was, that unlike the final plaza, they weren’t blocking the Bicentennial Bikeway, so riders and people still had a clear thoroughfare. Their event was to the side of the bikeway and utilising the paved areas for family and bike event such as speed out ballets, playing games and

It was all very civilised!!

A quick raw edit 

I threw together a quick hack raw edit (1’30”) while I was there (see below). My brain is struggling with all the fresh air and sunshine after working so much – but it is good to capture a little of the event.

 

Bicycles Create Change: Brisbane Bike Picnic Protest of Queens Wharf Road Casino Plaza Redevelopment from Bicycles Create Change on Vimeo.

So how was the event?

There was music going and it was nice to see people milling about and socialising. Some cyclists stopped to chat, while others passed through.  A few kids and families hung out and drew in chalk on the road, music was playing the BBQ keep everyone happy.

It was a good place for a protest picnic because it was underneath the Riverside Expressway, so the ‘ambiance’ was not your usual outdoor, park-style picnic feel, more the ‘urban, motorway, fumes and congestion’ kind of picnic feel  – which was also kind of the point as the new development it a touting the new soon-to-be plaza as being a social space for people to mingle and hang out….right under the noisy, busy motorway – hilarious!

Click here to get more info about the redevelopment or want to lodge an objection.

Bike Picnic - Casino Plaza Protest. Bicycles Create

 

As the Space for Cycling BNE Facebook  page detailed: The Queens Wharf Casino and Resort Development will put a plaza and events space in the middle of the Bicentennial Bikeway. It’s a recipe for conflict and confusion. It’s simply poor planning! We held a picnic on the plaza to protest.

Old fashioned picnic games

As part of the fun, there were some old-fashioned party games on offer. Aside from being fun, the games were suggestive of the difficulties riders will be contenting with after the development is finished….like:
* Turtle races where the slowest rider won – to indicate how cumbersome the future trip along this stretch will be for riders trying to navigate the sea of pedestrians
* Obstacle courses – simulating having to make your way between stationary and moving obstacles without hitting anything or upsetting anyone
* Bicycle bell ringing championships – very much needed for safety (I was sorry I didn’t get to see this one! its one of my fav bike events!)

Bike Picnic - Casino Plaza Protest. Bicycles Create

Reasoning for the protest

The Spaces for Cycling (BNE) website explains that: According to the group’s spokesperson, Belinda Ward, “The Bicentennial Bikeway is a very busy route for bicycle riders, and this decision will put all of those people on bicycles in a shared zone with pedestrians.”

“We are concerned that this will cause conflict between people who are moving through the area on bikes, and tourists and visitors attending events in the plaza”, she said. “Currently, the Bicentennial Bikeway is a way for people commuting by bicycle to avoid the congested promenade at South Bank, but it could soon end up even more crowded.”

“We decided to highlight the issue by occupying the space to have a picnic with some old-fashioned games for entertainment. But unlike the future casino development which will monopolise this public space, we’ll be ensuring the route is left open for people to travel through.”

Bike Picnic - Casino Plaza Protest. Bicycles Create

 

Bike Picnic - Casino Plaza Protest. Bicycles Create
Bike Picnic – Casino Plaza Protest. Source: Space for Cycling (BNE)

Bike Picnic - Casino Plaza Protest. Bicycles Create

Bike Picnic - Casino Plaza Protest. Bicycles Create

What happened at the International Cycling Conference 2017?

Earlier this year, I posted about two ‘local’ Australian cycling conferences that were held in the first half of the year –  Bicycle Network’s Bike Futures (February) and the Australian Walking and Cycling Conference (July).

Now we are in the second half of the year, it seems the next round of cycling conferences are all big ‘international’ events being held overseas.

The most recent of these events was the 2017 International Cycling Conference, which was held this week in Mannheim, Germany.

What happened at the International Cycling Conference 2017?

This is an annual 3-day event that brings together international researchers, planners, policy makers and practitioners working in cycling theory and practice.

This year, the Conference was focused on 10 central themes:

  1. Rethinking Infrastructure
  2. Attitudes, Behaviour and Choice
  3. Health and Active Mobility
  4. Designing Future Infrastructure
  5. Policy and Strategies
  6. Mobility Cultures and Education
  7. Economic Benefits of Cycling
  8. Digital and Data
  9. Safety
  10. Bike-Sharing, Electric Bikes and Intermodality

Although international in principle, the conference is predominately attended by European representatives. This is most likely due to their being in close geographic proximity to Germany – nip in, nip out.

Understandably, there were many Dutch speakers on the program, but also it was great to see as presenters coming from further a field like Taiwan,  Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Uganda and South Africa.

I was delighted to see 3 Australian presenters, Dr Jennifer Bohnam (Uni of Adelaide), Prof. Narelle Haworth (CARRS_Q Queensland) and Dr Marilyn Johnson (Monash Uni.) presenting a session entitled: Cyclist-related content in driver licensing processes.

I’m currently working on my PhD Confirmation paper which is due in 2 weeks. After confirmation, PhD researchers get a travel grant to attend an international event to present.

Seeing the ICC program (see below) is a great motivator for me to keep pushing on with my own cycling research. (Right now I am in the ‘zombie zone’ and really have to knuckle down and just grind, grind, grind).

The range, scope, depth and variety of the sessions this year was pretty impressive. It looked as if there really was something for everyone!

If you went to the ICC, what cycling issue or topic would you present?

Until such a time, it can’t hurt to keep the ICC Program, Speaker List and Brochure handy (below) as a tangible reminder of all the good work being done around the world where bicycles really are creating positive change!

Click here to access:

Here is an overview of the ICC  program and details. Click on the pages below to read the expanded image.

International Cycling Conference 2017 - Bicycles Create Change.com International Cycling Conference 2017 - Bicycles Create Change.com International Cycling Conference 2017 - Bicycles Create Change.com International Cycling Conference 2017 - Bicycles Create Change.comInternational Cycling Conference 2017 - Bicycles Create Change.com

International Cycling Conference 2017 - Bicycles Create Change.com

Helmet Survey – Last Chance!

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!

Do you agree with compulsory helmet laws?

Helmet use for cyclists is an ongoing and contentious issue.

Lately, there have been some very heated, passionate and convincing arguments being thrown around.

So it is very timely that Bicycle Network (BN) is undertaking an open invitation to participate in a Helmet Survey to gauge current community feelings about compulsory helmet laws. Have you put your two cents in yet? Better hurry!

TAKE THE HELMET SURVEY HERE

The survey closes Friday 22nd September.

Anyone, anywhere can fill out the survey.

It will take about 5 minutes.

 

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!
Source: Google

Bicycle Network is Australia’s largest bicycle advocacy group. It is the resultant amalgamation of Bicycle Victoria, Bicycle NSW and Bicycle Tasmania (QLD, SA and others opted not to join). This group has over 50,000 members and is proactive in responding to current issues and driving more positive change. Hence the survey!

I have been a member for a number of years. In Feburary this year, I went to Bicycle Network’s  Bike Futures 2017 Conference. I was impressed by the range of sessions, quality of work undertaken and  large number of attendees. The event was very well organised and it was exciting to be invovled with such a motivated community of cycling activists!

So it is no surprise that as of today, over 18 thousand people have already completed the Helmet Survey.

However, only 23% of respondents are female – which is a pitiful representative considering that women make up 1/3 of all cyclists.

Why the low representation of females in this survey? This is not good.

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!

More females needed to complete the Helmet Survey, please!

Anyone can fill out this survey. You don’t even need to be a cyclist.

Bicycle Network would like to hear what the WHOLE community feels about this issue –  including people who ride bikes – as well as those who don’t.

What to do?

  • Step 1: If you have not done so already,  fill out the survey.
  • Step 2: Ask at least two female cycling mates to do the same!

In my discussions with people about this issue, I’ve heard the full gamut of positions, like:

  • Some people have strong opinions about helmets (both for and against)
  • Some people are still deciding
  • Some think this issue doesn’t affect them
  • Some haven’t thought much about it
  • Others couldn’t care less

Patrick Williams published a good little article for ABC Brisbane that touches on a few of the key issues and well worth a quick look if you are interested to hear a little more. (Very interesting reading some of the comments below this article as well!)

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!

This is what Bicycle Network plans to do with the results of the survey…

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!
Source: Bicycle Network 

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!

World Refugee Day 2017

Today is World Refugee Day.

Currently, there are 65 million people forcible displaced globally and the number is growing every day.

The UN states that the World Refugee Day commemorates “the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. This year, World Refugee Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee.”

To highlight this issue, international organisations such as UNESCO and many others have been actively promoting the stories, issues, data and conversations then need to be talked about as the countries individually and collectively struggle to deal with critical refugee issues.

The refugee crisis is an issue that every country has to deal with.

So below I have 3 ideas for Aussie cyclists to mull over* in honour of today’s theme.

3 Considerations for World Refugee Day 2017 

1. Is Australia really helping the Refugee Crisis enough? 

YES! It is!

SBS reported Australia’s current refugee involvement in a positive light by publishing the following encouraging stats:

$33.9 million has been raised in the last year (2016-2017) by Australia for UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) official partner in Australia) to support the UN’s worldwide emergency and humanitarian programs.

Of the record $33.9 million that Australia for UNHCR has raised:

  • 75% are for UNHCR’s general emergency operations
  • 19% for emergencies in Syria, South Sudan, Iraq & Ecuador
  • 6% for specific projects providing targeted support for women, girls and children
  • $550,000 was raised by the community in NSW, QLD, WA and SA, to support Australia for UNHCR’s appeal for Syrian refugees.
  • There was also a significant contribution from Australia’s Vietnamese community, which has previously benefited from UNHCR support.

NO! Its not!

SBS’s report is a stark contrast to Tim Costello’s moving article entitled Even Poor Countries Are More Generous to Refugees than Rich Australia: Australia’s efforts would suggest we’re losing a sense of our shared humanity published in the Huffington Post.

Tim draws parallels between Australia’s efforts compared to Uganda (one of the top three refugee hosting countries in the world) and poignantly reflects that:

‘I was profoundly moved to witness how this relatively poor nation has welcomed hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese fleeing famine and war. How can it be that such a poor country does so much to shoulder the humanitarian load when we, rich and prosperous with a per capita income almost 25 times higher, do not?”

It is a sobering and honest point he makes that ‘we’re losing a sense of our shared humanity, which for a country built on migration is, at best, ironic’.

It is a very interesting article to read.

World Refugee Day 2017
Source: Huffington Post/Tim Costello Twitter

2. Ride for Refugees Event

Aside from wider political and economic furor – cycling and biking events are a great way to promote social issues and get people involved – so today is no exception!

There were many biking events and rides this year, but my cycling event for World Refugee Day 2017 goes to Nepal’s ‘Ride for Refugees’. This is the second year this event has run and 2017 saw a turnout of over 500 people. Spotlight reports that people riding included ‘government officials, diplomats, refugees of diverse nationalities and local residents of the Kathmandu Valley showed their solidarity with refugees — both in Nepal and globally — by participating in the second annual “Ride for Refugees” cycle rally south of Patan’.

Aside from riding  in the critical mass event with all the locals, celebrities, ex-pats, supports and the like, Kathmandu is hosting an array of ‘Refugee’ events throughout the city including a photo exhibition, site visits and discussion meetings.

 

World Refugee Day 2017
Source: Spotlightnepal.com. (From L to R) Swiss Ambassador to Nepal Jörg Frieden, UNHCR Representative in Nepal Kevin J Allen with Miss Nepal Asia Pacific, Sahara Basnet and Miss Nepal Earth, Rojina Shrestha at Patan Dubar Square for ‘Ride for Refugees’
World Refugee Day 2017
Source: UNHCR

3. The Nashville Food Project Celebration

To keep the fun and community in perspective I’d like to acknowledge a smaller grassroots honorable mention from last year (2015) – undertaken by The Nashville Food Project. You cannot go wrong with friends, family, food and farming!

As stated on their website, this lovely inclusive event was a collaboration and art project for World Refugee Day included such a meal. The Nashville Food Project joined friends from the First Center for the Visual Arts, the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee, Oasis Center and members of their International Teen Outreach Program, Bhutanese gardeners and neighborhood gardeners at the Wedgewood Urban Garden.   

“I just loved sharing a meal with all these people who came together around growing food, volunteerism, making art and celebrating World Refugee Day,” said TNFP Garden Manager Christina Bentrup. “There were people and foods from both around the world and from different neighborhoods around Nashville, It was a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-generational group of folks celebrating community and diversity. It doesn’t get much better than that.” 

The group also turned recycled bicycle parts into art for the garden (see below) and then had a big community pot luck lunch together!!

At the end of the event description on their website is a great squash recipe, which to me highlights the significant interconnection between community, food and garden.

What a wonderful way to celebrate the day!

World Refugee Day 2017

World Refugee Day 2017
Source for these 3 images: Nashville Food Project

 

How did you celebrate World Refugee Day 2017?

How about next year planning some grand celebratory biking plans that will bring together locals, refugees and community?

Infuse it with welcomeness, fun, inclusivity and of course… biking!!

Best of luck for next year’s bike-themed World Refugee Day event!


*Note the two  news articles used for point ‘1. Is Australia really helping the Refugee Crisis enough?’ should be taken as a stimulus to explore your own reflections (and reasons for your answer) to this question. The two articles included have been artbitrarily selected as two opposing points of view on this topic and are not to be taken as definitive or sole proof of (or any other variation of) this position. So please use your amazing brain. Research and make you own mind up based on the best quality and relevant information.

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.

Best of Bike Futures Conference 2017

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

Preventing car dooring in NSW

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

Bike Futures Conference – Melbourne 2017

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