Happy International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia!!!

 

Officially today is the actual day of celebration (17th May), however there have been a wide range of events happening worldwide for the whole week.

Of particular interest to lovers of life on two-wheels is the Tirana Gay (P)ride March in Albania.

 

Tirana Gay (P)ride MarchSource: Watermark Online

Tirana Gay (P)ride March

The Tirana Gay (P)ride March was first initiated in 2006 has been gaining significant participation and coverage over the last couple of years and is fast becoming one of the most colourful, cultural community-driven events in the Albanian calendar.

This story is great for a number of reasons. Aside from being an awesome international event addition for this weeks general celebrations, it is also great as Albania doesn’t usually make headlines (at least not enough for positive reasons). Also, most people do not usually associate progressive, fun, international bicycle-inspired community demonstrations for gay rights to come out of small Southeastern former Eastern Bloc European nation. But there you go!

So kudos to the Albanians for being such a wonderful and supportive international example.

(Queensland take note!!)

A dual protest for 2017

This year was an extra special event. To mark the international festival, participants in Tirana’s Gay (P)ride Parade rode bikes for one cause, whilst elsewhere in the city two hours earlier (yet overlapping), another protest was being held in response to the country’s political opposition.  The city was inundated with bikers strewn in multi-colored costumes with balloons, flags and pennants flapping the wind as they rode past a protest tent erected in front of Prime Minister Edi Rama’s office to raise awareness and support to pressure the current Albanian government to extend their 2009  anti-discriminatory laws to legalise same-sex marriage and also to recognise trans-gender citizens.

People taking to the streets to protest is not new, but the inclusion of highly decorated bicycles adds an extra element of personality, intimacy, community and creativity which is hard to beat and difficult to ignore.

Best of luck Tirana …our bicycles are with you!!

We hope you have a fun and successful ride to celebrate your 2017 IDAHOT!

Tirana Gay (P)ride MarchSource: Fox News

Below is a 7 minute video of the 2017 Tirana IDAHOT (P)ride March.

More details:

Official International website.

IDAHOT Facebook Page 

Twitter: @may17IDAHOT

Official hashtag #IDAHOT2017

So here is an unusual biking story ….. a mystery if you will.

A cautionary and very sad tale from Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, Florida (US), about the May 6th police shooting of a young hooded cyclist – and the strangeness of how this whole event occurred.

I will preface this post by stating: I live in Brisbane, Australia, so am not privy to the context or have adequate knowledge or access to the full story, people, or news channels. The phenomenon of US shootings (ie carrying guns and public/police shooting in general) is something that we Aussies have absolutely no experience with, so this story is even more difficult for Aussies to understand. Regardless, I am sure there are many Americans (and others) thinking the same thing – how exactly did this happen?

For this post, I’ll just present what info I have collected thus far –  so that you, dear reader, can sort it out, find out more if you are willing, and make up your own mind.

What is the mystery?

On May 6th, 2017, a young man was shot dead by an off-duty police officer at a car show. It was alleged he had a knife. Details of what actually happened are still super sketchy. One of the most provocative and unsettling themes to this story, is that the young artist, Nick Provenza (25), who had a history of mental health issues, was riding his bike and wearing a hoody at the time he was shot in public.

 Police Shooting – young hooded cyclist killed

There are a few gaps in this story that make it unusually suspicious.

From what I can gather, this story is inherently odd given the patchy way information that has been released.

There are too few details or no details at all.  The little details that have come out paint a very vague, dubious scenario.

There is yet to be confirmed evidence of there ever having being a knife.

Why the authorities’ focus on Nick wearing a hoody AND riding a bike (subversive/criminal profiling?).

How did the whole event disintegrate from Nick giving a false name/s to the officer, to Nick getting shot at a public event?

And how does a person ‘ride a bike suspiciously’ anyway? (- and how is that defined clearly enough to justify using deadly force? Is practising urban MTB trial tricks ‘suspicious’? Is it related to property, others, or yourself?).

The unfolding sequence of this story.

Here is the series of events I have been able to piece together.

This post is a step-by-step guide to the unveiling of this story as I discovered it.

If you are on Instagram, you can follow along and read the associated IG comments that add quite a bit of extra context.  If you are not on IG, then I have included the main images so you can get the main gist for each step.

Here we go ….. May 6th was when Nick was shot.

  1. On Instagram, I saw this post from one of my IG buddies (if you are on IG, check out the comments). I was intrigued given that an ‘unnamed artist was killed for riding his bike suspiciously with a hoody on‘. I was also concerned that my fellow IGer was mistaken for being the victim. That took the story from being concerning and upsetting – and added a layer of personal. So, I decided to find out more.
US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

Source: @flowerbikeman

 

2. I went online to find out what the news said.

At the time, there was only one news report I could find. It was a news article from the Tampa Bay Times. Later on, I found another from Fox 13 news posted on the same day. Both of them had pretty much the same very sketchy details. The main difference was that the Fox report was the first time I saw Nick’s name publicly released.

It made me very interested and I went looking for more info to shed some light on what had actually happened.

 

3. @flowerbikeman uploaded another post which was:

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

Source: @flowerbikeman

 

4. Finally, on May 9th, the Tarpon Springs Patch provided a few more critical details.

The name of the officer who shot Nicholas, Officer Scott MacIsaac, was finally provided.

Interestingly, this is the first news report that explicitly says that ‘people have been spreading false information about the case and speculating about its details’ – yet the ‘false’ details discussed relate to another officer being identified as the shooter – but no mention of inaccurate facts pertaining to Nicholas’s actual death.

Still a mystery as to how it went from Nicholas giving a false name to him being shot.

 

5. On Thursday 11th May, @flowerbikeman had reposted this on IG – and I was very interested in the comments that this post provoked.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

Source: @flowerbikeman

 

6. Later that day, I found this news report online.

I had to do some extra scouting for it – but there is this news report about the incident (from ABC Action News).

Still very light on details. These pictures that were included in the report were new – and pretty powerful.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

Source: ABCAction News

 

7. By this time the local word was well and truly out on IG.

The local and wider community rallied and here are some of the responses:

A sober reminder from @flowrbikeman on IG.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

Source: @flowerbikeman

 

From @peenutbu on IG

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

 

A protest T-shirt from @orton_ndau to #handsupdontshoot

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

Source: IG @orton_ndau

 

From @cassnectao on IG

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

Source: @cassnectar

@cassnectar’s above IG message reads: “cassnectar_ My [pained] face is blurred for a multiplicity of reasons – majorly because there is no single face behind this cause. It is NOT about me and this is NOT to score my own brownie points. Please; like & share to spread awareness.
Devastatingly, we live in a world where our loved ones are being killed for naught, by those meant to protect us. For riding a bike in public alone. For wearing a hoodie. For looking “suspicious.” WE ARE THE SUSPICIOUS IN THEIR EYES. We are the targets. We need to and we will fight for what is just, we need to stand up to those targeting innocent men. We need to question authority. We need to question EVERYTHING.
TSPD murdered Nick for riding his bike alone in a hoodie. After committing no crime. For being there, when they didn’t want him there. That’s why we’re here and that’s why we’ll fight as hard and long as we all possibly can. Nick should not be dead. We are his voice now.”

 

And back to where it all started with @flowerbikeman on IG.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

 

So the mystery still remains as to what actually happened and why Nicholas was shot. I don’t think it would just be us Aussies who find this whole story particularly difficult to fathom. It is such a sad story. It is a sobering and disturbing reminder that our current society is still very resistant of, and reluctant to, accept people who are outside the mainstream hegemonic norm.

A tragic reminder that people who have psychological, sexual, cultural, interest, language or personal differences – those that I refer to as ‘divergent thinkers’ – are still sorely misunderstood and often (socially or otherwise) punished for their unique ways.

As someone who identifies with the group, I find this story all the more disturbing.

And you do not have to be ‘different’ to be moved by this story.

Ever owned or worn a hoodie?

Ever been in a situation where the police have come on strong and wanted to give ’em lip?

Been out in public recently?

Ride a bike?

No matter what the lead-up was, I’m sure we can all agree that the death of a young bike rider in such circumstances is shockingly tragic.

I’ll end this post with a memorial IG post from Rachel Reed.  Ride safe my hooded biking brothers and sisters.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

IG Source: @rachelreed_

 

Postscript: Queensland is known within Australia as being ‘the Police state’. It was certainly a cultural shock for me to move from Melbourne to Brisbane and experience daily the differences in limited social rights, expression and creativity – and dealing with imposing, and often draconian authority – of which I have previously posted. This story also resonated with me because where I live in Brisbane (Wynnum-Manly), there was a 2011 one-month trial to ‘ban’ hoodies in shops, followed by a six-month follow-up trial in 2013. It was a voluntary ban and the details, duration and process of the ban are still unclear. Police reported that armed robberies were reduced, but no report or update outside of the new reports linked into here have released to the public that I could find. There is still talk locally of making it a permanent ban and implementing it for the whole of Brisbane city.

Tonight my household is part of the international celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Earth Hour 2017. Horray!

Along with millions of other homes in 179 countries and in over 7,000 cities, from 8.30pm – 9.30pm tonight, those homes who have registered are turning off all the power for at least one hour in recognition of worldwide climate, resource and environmental issues.

How bicycles are part of Earth Hour 2017

I am very proud to see this Australian event take off internationally and to see how bicycles have been incorporated more and more into the event – here are just a few ways cycling is featuring this year around the world for Earth Hour 2017.

There are heaps of bicycle-themed events going on this year for Earth Hour. Here are some innovative examples:

Earth Hour 2017

Source: Press Reader. Click here for original article.

 

I was interested to find that in 2014 there was a spin-off version of Earth Hour called ‘Bike Hour’ – a very bicycle-inspired initiative.

Earth Hour 2017

Source: Cycle Space Click here to original

 

If you are interested – the short video below shows some of the highlights and impacts from Earth Hour 2016. If you are not already involved – and even if you are – perhaps you can host your own Earth Hour bicycle event! Good luck and have fun!!

Ride2School 2017

 

Today is Australia’s National day for Ride2School 2017.

This is a national active school transportation initiative (celebrated elsewhere overseas as well), whereby schools register that their parents, student and teachers will use active school transportation on the day. Active transportation can be by bike, walk, scooter, skateboard or other unmotorised means. The aim is to get more new people involved in active school transport, while equally recognizing the few who do it regularly.

In the 1970s, 8 out of 10 kids rode or walked to school, but today the average is 2 out 10.

Seeing as though it is St Patricks’ Day as well, there were many ‘Green Themed’ school bikes getting around.

Ride2School 2017

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

A Ride2School success

Bourke Street Public School is a wonderful exemplar case study for this annual event. This Sydney school already has one of the highest rates of student active transportation with 80% of its students using active transportation to get to and from school. It is an excellent role model for other schools for how to promoting and maintain safe and healthy walking, cycling, skateboarding and scootering school travel. Today they had a massive festival and parade to show off their decorated bikes – awesome! Great to see school administration really getting behind the event.

Ride2School 2017

Source: Sydney Cycleways

QLD – Parents fined for allowing their kids ride/walk to school

As those of you who are old friends of the blog will know, it was a massive (cycling) culture shock for me going from progressive bicycle-loving Melbourne to archaic police-state Queensland. Queensland authority’s aversion to implementing, supporting and engaging with a range of enterprising cycling initiatives, such a being the National Super Sunday bike track users count or the International Naked Bike Ride to name just two is indicative of the pervasive negative mindset towards cycling and biking.

A case in point.

Today is national Bike2School and many schools in Queensland joined in. I am sure the Queensland parents, teacher and students involved had a lovely day, as did thousands of other schools nationwide.

However, I can’t help but think that Queensland is hypocritical considering it previously fined a single mum for encouraging her kids to use active transportation to school – as well as publicly threatening other parents through a school newsletter no less with similar or more severe punitive measures – including jail.

How quickly we forget!

The story of how this mum was fined made serious headlines just over six months ago – and is quite interesting in light of today’s national celebration.

Essentially, this mum (from Miles, QLD) was charged under section 364A of the Queensland Criminal Code, which says: “A person who, having the lawful care or charge of a child under 12 years, leaves the child for an unreasonable time without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child during that time commits a misdemeanour. Maximum Penalty — 3 years’ imprisonment.”

This was done under the guise of keeping ‘kids safe’.

So what is an ‘unreasonable time’ to travel to school? Sounds very subjective and arbitrary to me, something that a police officer would be able to ‘interpret’ depending on the given situation.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE NEWS REPORT OF THIS INCIDENT (sorry, cannot embed it).

Bike2School 2017

Source: The Courier Mail – August 5, 2016 9:14 am.

Queensland……penalising parents for allowing their kids to travel independently to school.

Based on past evidence of Queensland’s stringent autocratic surveillance and control of community (and specifically biking) practices and behaviours and my own experiences of how Queensland authorities’ moderate community regulations and behaviour, I am not surprised that such a contradiction occurred.

There could well have been other mitigating circumstances, but the dismissive lack of regard for justifying and explaining the situation is as equally disturbing as the original fine.

I think it is disgraceful to fearmonger and penalise parents who chose to raise active, healthy, socially-adjusted, independent, responsible kids.

So what is the issue here?

What a pity Queensland police cannot see the bigger picture that parent like the poor Miles mum and Ride@School Day contribute, considering increasing community concerns about the health of today’s youths, or the fact that they are overly “cosseted and chauffeured”, or that the ABC reports alarming children obesity rates, or that there are valid and serious questions being debated about the individual and community impacts of having fewer children riding to school.

I don’t have kids myself, but I am not the only person who found this situation very odd.

An interesting case for Bike2School Day 2017

Today certainly provides some useful material for reflection and discussions friends, locals and school community members.

It is a wonderful opportunity to uncover the wider implications and more nuanced quandaries of the jovial national celebrations underway regarding active school transportation, kids and community participation and mobility – especially within the Queensland context.

Ride2School 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

Prescript – I am teaching a Summer Semester course at Griffith Univerity called ‘Community Internship’. There are 33 students in my workshops. This course provides an opportunity for students to develop a range of professional and personal skills while making a difference in their community through combining volunteering with academic learning through a community internship in which they undertake a 50-hour minimum volunteering. This week the students are doing their Peer Discussion assessments, where they discuss and analyse key aspects, events and learnings from their placements.

Imagine my surprise when during one of these sessions, Sienna Harris, who is working with the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management, mentioned that her organisation was hosting a bicycle treasure hunt! After the assessment, I got the details – and here they are. I’m very grateful to Sienna for sharing this event here. Best of luck to the CoastEd crew for this event and to Sienna for completing her internship!

 

Free for the next two days?

Got your bike and not sure where to ride while visiting the Gold Coast tomorrow (19th Jan) and Friday (20th Jan)?

Well!!

What better way to enjoy the stunning Summer sunshine at the Gold Coast, than to grab your bike and some mates and participate in an explorative treasure hunt to learn more about the gorgeous local coast environment there?  Let’s go!

 

The CoastEd Bike Challenge – Gold Coast, Australia.

This activity is a fantastic community engagement initiative as it: raises community awareness about current coastal management projects, helps increase local knowledge, encourages direct social/educational engagement with the surrounding coastal environment, is a fun family friendly event, and best of all …. all done on bicycles!!

The focus of this event is a 1.5-hour treasure hunt bike ride around the local Gold Coast Spit region. On this bike ride you explore the north region on Thursday (19th Jan) and the south beaches on Friday (20th Jan) – so you can go for one session or both. The main idea is to enjoy a beautiful morning out riding on bikes while learning a little more about the diverse and unique coastal wildlife, plants and natural features of the Gold Coast beach area and how they are being managed.

I think this initiative is an innovative and memorable way to encourage more people to get out on two wheels as well as exploring the beautiful spit coastal area while getting updated on current coastal management challenges, responses and successes.

Not only a great day out on the bike – but a great way to wow your friends at dinner parties with your new found knowledge of Gold Coast coastal protection practices!

You can bring you own bike for free or hire a bike on the day.

 

North Spit Area (Thursday 19th, January 2017 ) and South Spit Area (Friday 20th, January 2017).

City of Gold Coast

Source: City of Gold Coast

 

It looks like the CoastEd team has been working very hard to put together a thoughtful, fun, informative and appealing series of community events. I hope we see more community events like this that are focused on getting locals (and visitors) out on bikes in an active, social and educational way. It is also great to see a summer program that is not pushy, exclusive, condescending or over-priced in content, audience or marketing.

So, if you are in the Gold Coast area over the next couple of days – book in, grab your bike and head down for some awesome bike-riding treasure-hunting coast-protecting fun in the sun!

 

CoastEd

Source: CoastEd

 

CoastEd Organisation Background

Prepared and written by Sienna Harris.

The CoastEd program is an educational component of the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management (GCCM) that began in 2001 to create a bridge between policy makers and the community. For the past 15 years, the program has worked in partnership with the City of Gold Coast City Council, who have assisted with funding the delivery of this outreach program to the local community and school-based groups. The program was implemented and developed in response to enquiries directly from the Gold Coast community about information, complaints and questions on coastal management. It started small at ten sessions per year and now caters for over 5500 participants at sixty sessions a year, providing an opportunity for Gold Coast community members and youth to learn about our local coastline. The CoastEd program seeks to increase the capacity of the local community to participate in coastal decision making through raising awareness of South-East Queensland’s current coastal and environmental issues. These include management issues, engineering structures, wildlife and its habitats.

Primary and secondary schools, kindergartens and community groups centred on the Gold Coast are offered free and subsidised education sessions based on a wide variety of topics that relate back to the region’s coastal zones. The interactive, hands-on sessions that run for either 30 or 60 minutes have been tailored around the Australian Schools Curriculum and the three main learning styles; visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Schools are also offered optional curriculum-based worksheets tailored to the level of the participants. Although it was initiated on the Gold Coast, the sessions have also been run in schools from Brisbane to Northern NSW and can be delivered at the school, community hall, on campus at Griffith or on field trips that are undertaken on local beaches. The sessions are run by researchers in the fields of coastal management, marine science and environmental education, and involve surveys, flora and fauna identification techniques and primary data collection.

The information provided during sessions is based on the latest and most up-to-date coastal research because of the ongoing research conducted at the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management and via current data that is provided through their partnership with the City of Gold Coast. Maggie Muurmans coordinates the CoastEd program, but the team also includes Peta Leahy, Daniel Ware, Sally Obst, Chantal Hujbers, Tom Murray, Tegan Croft, and James Gullison. The team’s knowledge and expertise in a wide range of fields have allowed them to produce Coastal Plant Pocket Guides for both the Gold Coast region and Western Australia, and a Rocky Shore Pocket Guide for the Gold Coast. As well, Teacher Packs ranging from Prep to Year 12, which cover the topics of Coastal Management and Engineering, Coastal Ecology, and Coastal Tourism and Recreation.

The CoastEd program also works closely in conjunction with other coastal management programs and initiatives that run through the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management; these include BeachCare, Dune Watch and Ocean Connect. On top of these other sessions and activities, Maggie Muurmans also runs School Holiday programs, (twice weekly) which are aimed at children, young people and families. These sessions and activities are interactive and hands-on, with a focus on connecting the community with their ocean environment for educative purposes, but also in the hope of building community stewardship and responsibility.

Imagine my surprise when arriving in New Zealand, I saw another bicycle-inspired ‘Christmas’ Tree! After having just left Brisbane a week ago and seeing Brisbane’s bicycle-powered Christmas Tree at South Bank, I found that New Zealand have their own spin on the bicycle-themed (Christmas) Tree.

 

NZ’s Tree of Bikes

Just like my PhD topic, NZ’s Tree of Bikes was specifically designed to raise awareness of the vital role that bicycles play in getting children who live in extreme poverty to school – awesome!

The NZ Tree of Bikes is the brain child of ChildFund and was created in collaboration with Enterprize Steel and Beca Engineers. It was originally erected in Queens Street Wharf, Auckland for Christmas last year (2014/5). Aside from raising awareness about bicycle-for-education needs in developing nations, the tree was also a focus point to promote ChildFund’s Gifts that Grow program during Christmas. Although the Gifts that Grow program doesn’t have a specific bicycle-for-education option, it does provide aside range of immediate, sustainable, community-orientated and positive present-giving replacement options in a similar theme to Bicycle Create Change’s previous post of bicycle-inspried alternative ethical gift alternatives to help support other less fortunate and those living in extreme poverty.

 

The Tree of Bikes Origin

There are two versions of the NZ Tree of Bikes. Bother trees have the same structure, features and function.

For example, the first Auckland Tree of Bikes was a 7-meter high Bicycle ‘Christmas’ Tree that had a central steel structure that was adored by 120 up-cycled bicycles and an array of bike parts. The 120 bicycles that make up this tree were all donated by local Aucklanders and after the tree was exhibited over Christmas, the tree was dismantled and the all the bicycles were donated to local community groups like the Refugee Centre.

The Auckland Tree of Bikes was so popular and successful, that a similar, second tree was organised and installed in March 2016 by the Rotorua Lakes Council to coincide with Crankworx Rotorua. It was great to see local council getting behind the intiative and fully supporting the project by providing with a donation drop-off point, publicity and clearing the red tape to ensure that such a great project is endorsed, encouraged and prioritised. As with the Auckland Tree of Bikes, the local residents of Rotorua donated 150 bicycles and parts to create the 2016 Bike Tree public art instillation that featured prominently at the Crankworx Village Green.

 

Rotorua Bike Tree

Source: Radio NZ:Andrew McRae

Why can’t all local councils be as forward thinking as Rotorua?

Although a seemingly small project, the Rotorua Tree of Bikes is yet again another example of how NZ finds innovative, community-based initiatives that are interesting, promote cycling and increase positive community participation.

Last year when we came to Rotorua for a similar mountain bike trip, I posted on the impressive infrastructure plans and that the local, regional and national NZ Municipalities had in relation to the Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018. Previously and currently, the local Rotorua Council continue to invest and support development that ensures and cements Rotorua as the premier mountain biking Mecca for the Southern Hemisphere. With such committed political and community investment, the benefits are paying off as word spreads in the mountain bike and enduro scene that Rotorua is the one of the best places to ride.

Why is it so hard for the rest of the world (and Brisbane in particular) not to see that investing in road and trail cycling is profitable, positive and socially beneficial? Rotorua is a fantastic example of this can be mutually advantageous for  tourism and local businesses, as well as for bikers of all ages and stages.

So when you get here, I’ll either see you on the trails or under the Tree of Bikes!

Christmas is nearly upon us.

In our house we have a strict no present policy. This is primarily for environmental and ethical considerations, but also because we are consciously and actively reducing our impact on the environment and our reliance of material possessions to more towards a more sustainable, thoughtful and minimal existence.

Within the confines of our house, this is easy to enforce and has been the rule for many years. My immediate family and friends know, appreciate and support our no gift position and reasoning. However, in cases when outside our immediate circle (like work) or when have to interact with other families (or other people’s kids), it can still be a little tricky. As much as I detest the mainstream practice of over packaged, wasteful, plastic commodification of expected entitlement that goes along with normative practices of Christmas gift giving, this idea can be quite hard for a four-year old to grasp.

I am fortunate to have years of practice in explaining my gifting approach in a way that can be heard – but not always understood or accepted. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that some people just won’t understand – or will think I’m crazy (..or lazy, forgot, a miser or whatever else). So be it.

I’m at the stage where I don’t care what other people think. But for others who are moving in a similar direction, it can still be difficult if your placed in situations where it might still be necessary/expected to give a present  (work Chris Cringles). So  for those who are in this kind of situation – and for any other bike crazy people who also want to support a more ethical and sustainable Christmas – here are my suggestions for alternative bikivism gift giving techniques.

 

10 Ethical, community-supportive, green, fair-trade, sustainable, bike-inspired gifting alternatives (phew!)

  1. Adopt a ‘make, bake, sew or grow’ gift that is bicycle relate – for example: make a bicycle helmet bag, bake a bicycle theme cake (as featured two posts ago) sew a bike courier patch onto a bag, or plant some flowers to grow into an old upturned bike helmet
  2. World Bicycle Relief – Support bikes, education and developing nations by buying from WBR shop where there are prints, cards, t-shirts and bikes-for-education sponsorship options
  3. Literacy on two wheels – (Room to Read/Global Girlfriend): $50 can provide a bicycle for a girl. School can often be a 2 to 3 hour walk from home along remote roads, making school an impossibility for millions. A bicycle can cut that time down dramatically
  4. Sponsor a Bike – For our UK friends – this organisation has programs starting from £10 a month to support a refugee to start cycling safely. Thi minimal cost includes: a bike, brand new lights, a lock and a helmet, unlimited repairs (if necessary), a road safety session – and you as the donor will receive one free bike service a year. There are also other upgrade options.
  5. Bike Gifts is a South African organisation that aims to add to the South African economy, to support local entrepreneurs and produce new and exciting products. they source quality, local bespoke products
  6. Create your own bicycle gift voucher or gift someone a card that you made with bicycle on the cover, or ethically source it from somewhere else like recycled artists on Etsy, and write: Happy Christmas! This card can be redeemed for an afternoon picnic ride with me. Call me to arrange the date. I can’t wait to share some quality time with you and build more happy memories together!! Happy Christmas!
  7. Check out Shared Earth for a range of fair trade, recycled gifts and home wares made from recycled bike chains. This organisation aims “to improve the livelihoods of disadvantaged people in developing countries, benefiting local community projects and keeping alive traditional skills that would otherwise be lost”.
  8. The Intrepid Foundation $25 Bicycle Helmet – The Green Gecko Project cares for former street children and their families by providing them with education, security, love and opportunity. This gift will provide four young people with a bicycle helmet for safe riding on the streets of Siem Reap, Cambodia. The best thing about this gift is that for every dollar you spend on this project – The Intrepid Foundation will match with all proceeds going to Green Gecko. Green Gecko also has some other fantastic projects.
  9. Gift a bicycle for 5 children to ride to school in Vietnam through Caritas’ Gift of Education Card program to help support “overcoming poverty, promoting justice, upholding dignity”.
  10. Support women artisans from the slums of Chennai, working with Baladarshan SPEED Foundation that promote local women’s employment opportunities by buying fair-trade recycled Indian Billboard Panniers  (see below)…. you can also select which deities you want to ride with!

Best of luck and I applaud your sustainable and environmentally/socially aware choices in gift giving this Christmas.

I wish you a minimalist and very happy time!

Baladarshan

Source: The New Internationalist – Baladarshan

This is Bob.

I met Bob when he was out for his regular afternoon Bayside ride. I was returning from my afternoon ride, and when I first saw him, Bob and his friends were coming towards me in the opposite direction. He caught my eye, mostly because his riding group was a little unusual – they had a tandem out front followed by a couple of homemade recumbents,  of which Bob was on one. As a group they made quite and unusual sight!

Bob is a ex-serviceman who rides his homemade bike everyday with mates. In many ways his ride is just like any other group routine rides, but in others his story is special. For me it raises the critical issue of healthy social transition of returned veterans back into society – and the role that bicycles can play as means of facilitating increased social connections and rehabilitation for returned war veterans..

Returned Veterans making headway on two wheels

Bob and his recumbent

As is my style, I hailed him down and asked him about his bike. He was very happy to have a chat, and we ended up talking for a while.

Bob is a local to the bayside area and rides the foreshore every afternoon. He’s a war veteran and after an operation six years ago he was not able to ride upright, so he started riding recumbents.

To keep busy, Bob made his own recumbent which he usually rides, but today he was on his mates’ homemade recumbent as his was being repaired. He was lamenting not having his own bike today, as his mates’ recumbent seat did not fit him as well as his own does – being handmade, the seat he was in was not adequately adjustable to fit his size difference. But, that wasn’t going to stop him.

Most afternoons Bob and his mates go for a ride. Bob said they often ride together and raise a few eyebrows, not only because of the recumbent, but also because they were homemade. We continued chatting for a while about bike-related experiences and the said good bye.

Again, after hearing his story, I was blown away by the unexpected and amazing stories that people have about their bicycles. It also highlighted the unique bond the riders share in their common interest and recognition for the importance of bicycles in so any people’s lives.

 

Bob’s legacy

Bob’s story stayed with me for a few reasons. Aside from having the nous make his own road-worthy recumbent (which is impressive in itself), I was particularly moved when hearing about Bob’s experience of being a war veteran and his operation. It reminded me that you can never guess a person’s motivation to ride a bike, or what need it fulfils.

But more importantly, as a community member I really benefited from meeting Bob – I wanted to hear his story and ideas about his bike, his social rides and whatever he felt comfortable to tell me. I think when there is a natural, genuine and organic meeting between people, it can vastly improve how relaxed and ‘normal’ the interaction is. We also had a common love of bikes to chat about -but if we didn’t I would never have stopped to talk to Bob and I would have missed making a very valuable connection.

I can’t speak for Bob, but I really enjoyed meeting him. It was relaxed and interesting.I felt connect to my community, that I was richer for it too. I’ll give him a wave next time I see him as we whiz by – because that’s what people do in healthy communities -they recognise each other. It was not so much that Bob was an ex-serviceman, but that meeting Bob reminded me of the diversity in life and experiences that are in every community – that some groups are less recognised than others. I wondered where or who the other ‘Bobs’ were in our communities. Who else is isolated from social interaction? So many.

I hope those who need or want some social connection gets on a bike. Whether its loneliness, disability, depression or you just need some fresh air and a break – seems like going for a ride is non-threatening, easy and quick way to make a contact if you want to. What I like to call a ‘wave-buddy’. I’m not mates with Bob and I don’t know him, but next time I see I’ll wave and say.

On this blog I’ve posted on projects where bicycles are used to help Dads n Lads build better relationships, the elderly get out and mobile, and help increase bike riding and skills for people with disabilities, aboriginal school kids and other marginalised community members worldwide. After talking to Bob, the invisible impact and pervasiveness of how returned war veterans integrate back into society is a very real issue for many that I had not fully considered as being linked to benefiting from bicycles before.

Bicycles are useful, accessible and practical for a vast array of applications to pretty meet pretty much any social need, but using them as a social service and integration measure for returned veterans was not the first idea that sprang to mind. So my meeting with Bob really gave me something to think about and made me stop and to ponder other hidden demographics in our community that be overlooked, under-represented or inconspicuous to most other community member.

 

Returned veterans

It seems to me that returned war vets are all but invisible in our communities. I know they exist and some people might even know one, but their experiences are often so unique and unfathomable by most that it is no wonder that many service men find it difficult to recovery and have a  normal social life. But it seems to me that many of the bridging programs supporting returned veterans’ reintegration into society are either intensely personal consultations – like therapy and debriefing – which are understandably only privy to, or strategic social interventions focused on building and maintain relationships with immediate family members, such as spouses and kids. From my initial research into returned vet services, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot helping vets as individuals create their connections with wider community members.

The Mates 4 Mates program is an exception and an exemplar model of bringing vets together to get out and do social activities together – especially as it is focused on physical activities in public spaces. So this is where bikes could be useful. I have no doubt the they would have already had some longer organised riders (like annual charity fundraisers types), but was more curious to see if they had any smaller, regular social riders around local communities.

 

Why not more local community rides?

Bike riding is not for everyone, but neither is sailing a yacht. At least cycling is more accessible and familiar to most people, so is less threatening and more convenient. Also, once experienced riding a bike can be done individually and part of a group. As in Bob’s case, riding a bike and getting returned veterans out to do something active with their mates in the community seems like a support service area that is underutilised. I appreciate not all vets would be into riding, nor want to participate in civic interactions – but at least for those like Bob who do – recreational biking is a productive, healthy, outdoor alternative that can lead to even greater well-being, social contact and improved livelihoods. Just as men’s sheds are bringing older men together, perhaps there is an opportunity for bikes to do the same for returned veterans.

So next time you are out for ride – be sure to wave to those going past. Include and recognise your fellow riders, who ever they are –  give them a nod and look in the eye – maybe even start up a conversation – you never know who you might meet! After all we are cyclists that make up our cycling community – so what kind of community do you want it to be?

Theis story of Fancy Women On Bikes was sent through to me by a very dear friend MK, with whom I share a passion for positive action. MK sent this post after seeing it in the A Mighty Girl Facebook page and knew it that the floral, bicycle and social justice combination is right up my alley.  It is such a comprehensive post that I contacted A Mighty Girl and gained their permission to repost it here as a Guest Post in its entirety. Thanks to MK and A Mighty Girl for sharing such an important and colourful story with us all – NG.


 

Guest post by A Might Girl (3rd November 2016 ay 10.22). A Might Girl is a forum that provides a fantastic array of resources, stories and material to support families and communities to raise more intelligent, confident, and courageous girls.

 

Thousands of women — wearing flowers in their hair and riding elaborately decorated bicycles — took to the streets of cities across Turkey to proclaim women’s right to cycle free from harassment or bullying. The women, who call themselves “Fancy Women On Bikes” or Süslü Kadinlar Bisiklet Turu, were riding to raise awareness of the intimidation and harassment that many women are subjected to while cycling. Sema Gur, the founder of the movement, says learning to ride a bike at the age of 38 changed her life: “I can go to places that I wouldn’t walk or drive to,” she asserts. “I can stop, slow down, smell the things around me, talk to people, and be more mindful and healthy too… It’s a freedom like no other.” After Gur connected with other female cyclists who had grown frustrated by the status quo, the “Fancy Women on Bikes” movement was born to unite women in reclaiming their right to public spaces with the simple yet powerful message: “We should go wherever we want, dress however we like, be visible, yet not be disturbed.”

According to Banu Gokariksel, a feminist scholar of geography at the University of North Carolina, the changing political climate in Turkey has made the need for social movements like “Fancy Women on Bikes” even more important. “The rising social conservatism in Turkey in the recent years deteriorated women’s public status and freedom. With harassment and road bullying, women are denied their rights to the city,” explains Gokariksel. Gur, like many other female cyclists, frequently experiences catcalls, threats, and road rage, even in her liberal hometown of Izmir — and in more conservative areas, some women were being intimidated into stopping cycling altogether.

“Women’s visibility in urban spaces is key to reclaim that right to the city,” says Gokariksel. “Cycling is a particularly powerful way to do that – because it exposes a woman’s body in the traffic. It leaves them vulnerable in a way, but changes the way they interact with the city. Regardless of their backgrounds, transportation is a big issue for all women around the world. Women being able to peacefully ride bikes isn’t a trivial thing. This movement can trigger bigger changes, if it can overcome the differences such as class, religion, ideology and ethnicity.”

With “Fancy Women on Bikes” rides recently taking place in 26 provinces throughout the country, the group knows it’s making an impact both in encouraging individual women to feel more comfortable about riding on their own and in sending the message that women will not allow themselves to be intimidated off the roads. Gur knows that not all of the women who participated this time will become regular riders, but she believes that their movement will lead to lasting change. “You cannot bring patriarchy down overnight by simply cycling, of course,” she says. “But it’s a start and it’s what we can do. [When we were on the bikes] thousands of people saw us. Now perhaps they will be less surprised when they see a woman riding a bicycle and treat us better.”

To read more about Fancy Women On Bikes movement on The New York Times, visit http://nyti.ms/2e09ElZ – or check out their Facebook page at Süslü Kadınlar Bisiklet Turu

For a fascinating book about how bicycles became a tool of women’s liberation in the early women’s right movement in America, we highly recommend “Wheels of Change: How Women Rode The Bicycle To Freedom (With A Few Flat Tires Along The Way)” for ages 10 to 14 at http://www.amightygirl.com/wheels-of-change

For an excellent film about a young Saudi girl who dreams of greater freedom — in the form of having a bicycle of her own in a country where women are banned from freely riding bikes in public — we highly recommend “Wadjda”, for ages 9 and up at http://www.amightygirl.com/wadjda — or stream it online at http://amzn.to/2ef9h2p

Wadjda’s story has also been released as a book for ages 10 to 13, “The Green Bicycle,” at http://www.amightygirl.com/the-green-bicycle

For a fun picture book celebrating the joy and freedom that cycling brings, check out “Sally Jean the Bicycle Queen” for ages 4 to 8 at http://www.amightygirl.com/sally-jean-the-bicycle-queen

And, for our favorite t-shirt celebrating fierce Mighty Girls like the “Fancy Women”, check out the “Though She Be But Little She Is Fierce” t-shirt — available in a variety of styles and colors for all ages at http://www.amightygirl.com/fierce-t-shirt

Source: A Mighty Girl

Source: A Mighty Girl