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

Happy International Women’s Day  – A quiet ride to celebrate.

I have just returned back from celebrating International Women’s Day 2017 (IWD). It is late now, just past midnight in fact, so technically it is the day after IWD. I’m late as I had spent the afternoon and evening going for a wonderful IWD ride. So before my IWD night officially ends, I thought I would put up a quick considerations to mark the occasion.

International Women’s Day Background

For those who don’t know, International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

International Women’s Day has a long history in the West dating back to 1909. In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly made the holiday globally recognized by inviting member states to declare March 8 a day for women’s rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment. Since then, the UN creates an annual theme for International Women’s Day. Today also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity and the theme for this year is Be Bold For Change.

This day is important for many reasons, but  with the World Economic Forum prediction that the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186, the struggles of many women in disadvantaged situations is more acute than ever.

Therefore, International Women’s Day (IWD) is an opportunity to raise positively contribute to

  • celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women because visibility and awareness help drive positive change for women
  • declare bold actions you’ll take as an individual or organization to help progress the gender agenda because purposeful action can accelerate gender parity across the world.

International Women's Day

Two Awesome Historical Stories of Heroic Cycling Women

I got a real kick out of reading Peter Zheutlin’s article about his amazing great great-aunt Annie Cohen Kopchovsky’s ride way back in 1895 and the legacy that this event has had since in helping women to break boundaries – inspirational!

Another historical piece by fellow bike Blogger Nicola from Women Who Cycle offered some insightful comments when considering the impact and connections between bicycles and specifically American women (based on a Wisconsin stimulus).

 

International Women's Day

Source: Bike Penticton

IWD 2017 – Who, what and how?

IWD is not all about women – it is equally important that our brothers and the gorgeous men in our lives are also recognised! In fact some of the most staunch feminists I know are men.

There are many places to find out what is on this IWD. Some people offer ideas such as hosting your own events, for others who might want time alone or to be with friends, there are numerous suggestions on ways you can celebrate and share the day.

International Women's Day

How are riders around the world celebrating International Women’s Day 2017?

For the cycling community, regardless of what gender you are  – IWD guarantees a plethora of events, celebrations, awards and all kinds of reasons to get together for a ride – for example:

  • There were celebrations and rides all over the world, although coverage of these reports varied in detail and depth for example Malaysia, India and  the UK.  There was also a massive march in New York City, which some friends of mine attended and said they saw a large cycling cohort represented – hooray!
  • More locally, the Bushrangers MTB Club celebrated more women registering in the club than ever before.
International Women's Day 2017

Source: Total Women’s Cycling

 

Quiet time to reflect and give thanks

Personally, I celebrated International Women’s Day 2017 in low-key style. This year I wanted to mark the day with simplicity, gratitude and in a way that acknowledged the ordinary and everyday.

Instead of going to a big event, I opted instead to take a solo ride along the coastline and have time to reflect. For me, this was a more honest and personal way to ruminate and commemorate on the processes of womens’ struggles.

As I rode, I thought about my life and the lives of others.

I thought about the current situation of fellow sisters throughout the world, the amazing progress the world has made and areas that still need improving. I thought about how I impact the world, and how I felt I was making a difference and where I though we needed more change.

I took time to stop and gave thanks.

I watched the bay and listened to the lapping of the waves. It was a stunning afternoon. The ocean breeze was cool and reassuring, the sunset spectacular and full of promise for the next day and I was very grateful to be alive and riding my bike.

What did you do to commemorate this day?

What ever it was – Happy International Women’s Day!

Well, after two weeks in Melbourne, it’s back to Brisbane and back on the bike. This weekend was Round 1 of the 2017 Shimano Enduro Series. It was at Garapine and although tired and not ride fit, I wanted to make the effort to support the event, my team and get back on the big bike.

Round 1: Garapine – 2017 Shimano Enduro Series

Despite a heavy commitment to uni for teaching and researching, I’ve committed to riding this series. I like the regularity of rounds and I look forward to them, even though I find the riding tough and I am not competitive as a racer, I derive great personal satisfaction as a rider and from challenging myself. Suffice to say, I can now more fully appreciate why there are not may academics my age riding Enduro!

See some more pictures from the day @bicycles_create_change or at the Instagram icon at the end of the post.

Changing from Masters to Elite – why?

It was a great day and I love riding the Garapine trails. This season is a little different from last year as I am registered in Elite and not Masters. As I am riding as an ambassador, I pose threat to the lead female riders and prefer to ride where there is more company – hence the change over from Masters. It is such a pity there are not enough older women Enduro riding to fill out all the divisions like Masters Female – where are you all, my fellow elder sisters?  I am more than happy to participate and make up extra numbers. In my view, there can be no genuine winners unless riders like me make up the rest of field – so I am providing a very valuable race day community service by filling out this division.

 

How was the day?

Registration was at 8, briefing at 9 and racing commencing at 10 am.  I presume the logic of the late race start is because Garapine is just under 2 hours from Brisbane and starting later will allow for as many riders to attend as to travel up and attend as possible. But equally, it also meant that we had 3.5 hours to complete 6 tracks within the time limit –  2 x Black Snake, 2 x King Brown, 1 x Blue and 1 x Dumb it Down.

Ordinarily, this was not a major issue, but on this particular day,  it meant riding in the heat of a very hot day. This was definitely a contributing factor for me as I’m still adjusting to Brisbane’s humidity and scorching summer heat, let alone riding bikes up and down in a full-face helmet and pads. But that is part of the beauty of race days – and the challenge – everyone else had to deal with the same conditions.

 

What was my approach?

Taking into account the heat, my physical tiredness and that this was the first time I had been back on my big bike ‘Trucka-sore-arse’, in nearly two months I decided that my approach for this round was to:

  1. Enjoy myself
  2. Ride at my own pace
  3. Use this as an opportunity to assess my hydration/food/exertion formula for effectiveness
  4. Focus on honing my psychological approach to riding this race and not pushing my physical skills to the max (ie. keep positive, monitor negative self-talk, maintain humour and sociability in the face of heat/tiredness, check to see what limiting thoughts come up and address them).

Track selection

It was a self- seeding, self-selecting round, meaning that as soon as a rider had started on their first track they then could choose in what order and when they wanted to complete the course.  I didn’t go crazy on the timed downhill stages, in fact, I was very reserved, just testing the waters. I rode two Black Snakes first. It is such a great track and I super enjoyed it, so my confidence was up. By the end of the third track I could feel my lack of fitness and the heat starting to take it toll – but I was mindful to keep any debilitating thoughts in check. I keep drinking water and eating and made an effort to keep moving. By my last trail I was thoroughly pooped. I left Dumb it Down til last, but the track was so blown out and chopped up that it was difficult to navigate and make any real headway, so I picked my way through, just happy to finish in time.

Also, I was conscious that I didn’t want to hold up the elite field who were ‘racing’ – it was an EWS qualifying round after all. I was happy to pull over on track and let others pass where, even though it slowed me down and in some cases, I stopped and got right off track for a few guys who were really careering on course. It was the right thing to do and getting my momentum back up was secondary to being safe, having fun and not over cooking myself. After all, it was a long, hot day and I still had to drive 2 hours home after the race.

How did other riders go?

The Defcon crew were amazingly supportive as usual. We had some good laughs, caught up on post-new year developments and generally had a blast. I had a few good chats with some other riders as we liaised back up the hills and I was happy that I looked after myself and was not suffering like other riders were. Taking the approach of focusing on my mental state paid dividends. I was able to genuinely remain positive and friendly throughout the day. I was in a much better frame of mind than quite a few other riders I saw suffering and complaining – and a few were really quite sick from heatstroke/dehydration. It stopped to help where I could offering water and food.

I have always been fascinated by how different people face the inherent difficulties of a physical challenge. I often wonder, given the immense and immediate benefits, why some athletes don’t train their minds and much as they do their bodies. It certainly helped me get through the day better.

Overall

I was very happy with my effort on the day. It was a great set up and I got to ride some of my favourite tracks. It had a great turn out with 300 riders. Some of the elite riders were really going for it on the day – as you can see from the results. I was able to catch up with a few mates I haven’t seen in ages – and it was great to see some other familiar faces as well. As an Australia EWS qualifier, I was half expecting to see Jared Graves and Richie Rude, but alas my plans to catch up with them were not to be. I can’t believe it has been nearly 2 years since I last chatted with them during the 2015 EWS season – boy how time flies!

Overall, I found the day to be quite physically draining, but that made it all the more satisfying. I’ll be buggered if I’m going to waste the opportunity to ride my bike with mates and have fun.

I’m looking forward to the next round!!

A massive thanks to Lachlan Ryan (and Co.) from Element for providing some great photos and this video on the day. It was awesome to see such a great variety of rider, divisions, ages, genders and skill levels being represented – kudos!

Yep- that’s yours truly yahooing in the video at 1’18”!

Defcon Team

Source: Element. The Defcon Team – me (4th from left) with my awesome teammates

For 5 days, I am in the Goldfields district of country Victoria. I visiting family and friends and recharging before heading back for the start of Trimester One on Monday. While here, I have been marking the final assessments for my Summer Course, as my class just submitted their end-of-course final written assessment. It is worth 45% of their total mark. It is a pretty serious deal – for them writing it, and me marking it.

While visiting my amazing young cousin who lives outside of Castlemaine, I found one of his joke book sitting next to the toilet (where many good books are found). I was delighted to see a sports section with a few bike jokes in it.

It was perfect timing to lighten my mood after a long day’s marking – especially seeing as though it was one of those endless beautiful sunny days when I would otherwise have grabbed my bike to either put out some nice long kilometers along the Pyrenees Hwy and beyond, out to the Macedon Ranges, or to go exploring the magnificent 210kms MTB trails around the local Goldfields mountains and volcanoes (*sigh*).

Goldfields - no jokes!

But as marking currently takes precedence (for a couple of days longer only) – these bike jokes were a light reprieve, so I  thought I’d share some of the better, but daggy cycling jokes I found. Although I cannot account for the quality, as my cousin is very young!

Set the scene

A truck leaves Sydney City at 10:32 am on a Tuesday morning, carrying 8 tons of freight, and traveling an average of 117 kph heading toward Melbourne. Another truck departs Melbourne at 8:47am on the next day, Wednesday, carrying 4 tons of freight and traveling an average of 98 kph toward Sydney. Where do they meet? On the one-lane bridge where the cyclist is.

A motorway and a freeway are enjoying a drink in the pub. A piece of green tarmac walks in.  The motorway whispers: “Come on let’s drink up and go before the trouble starts. He’s a bit of a cyclepath!”

Geez dad! Not in front of my new friends!!

What is the cheapest type of bicycle you can buy? A penny-farthing!

What do you call a bicycle built by a chemist? Bike-carbonate of soda!

Why was Cinderella so uncompetitive at cycling? She had a pumpkin for a coach!

When is a bicycle not a bicycle? When it turns into a driveway.

Why can’t a bicycle stand up on its own? Because it’s too tired! (two tyre-d).

What is a ghost-proof bicycle? One with no spooks in it.

How did the barber win the bike race? He took a short cut.

I went on a long bicycle ride yesterday. It seemed farcical.

Did you hear about the vampire bicycle that went round biting people’s arms off? It was a vicious cycle.

 I bought a new wheel from the local bike shop, but it was missing something in the middle. When I complained, they sent me straight through to their spokes-person.

Bike puns

One for 100 climbs – don’t ride upgrades, ride up grades.

Descending Pardknott pass at 80kph, the cyclist tested positive for speed.

My cousin loves e-bikes because he’s really indecisive. He likes that it takes charge.

My mate is really good on a unicycle but very socially awkward around alcohol. She can’t handle-bars.

The mechanic who makes my wheels suffers from narcolepsy. He just gets wheelie, wheelie tyred.

A maniac cut someone in half while I was on my bike today. I missed it, but my chainsaw.

Drop bars not bombs.

I rode my bike 10 miles to safely dispose of some paper, cans and bottles earlier. iIwas tired on the way back, so I had to recycle.

I like cyclists, who torque the talk.

Did you know Alfred Hitchcock used to be into downhill mountain biking? He was ‘The master of suspens-ion’.

Goldfield Track- no joke

Goldfields Tracks- no joke!

Oh, will this marking never end!

All jokes aside, it is difficult to be inside working while in such a beautiful part of the cycling world – and so close to the Goldfields Track, yet be relegated to the sidelines.  Aaarggghh! But not long now!

For the last four days, I’ve been riding a bike around Melbourne.

Each day I’ve started out early and taken a different direction to scout out some of the iconic and most beloved bike routes in and around Melbourne. It was not only a great way to get around town but I also wanted to see some of the changes that had been discussed at the

Each day I’ve started out early and taken a different direction to scout out some of the iconic and most beloved bike routes in and around Melbourne. It was not only a great way to get around town but I also wanted to see some of the changes that had been discussed at the Bike Futures Conference last Friday – and relive some of the old glory days spent whizzing around town.

If you are keen for some similar riding – here’s a full list of Melbourne city and regional bike trail systems or conversely, use some of these helpful Map My Route resources and plans to get from A to B or go for an explore like I did.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Yarra Trail
The first day’s ride took me along the banks of the Yarra on a beautiful sunny early morning. I used the Captial City, Main Yarra Trail and Kew Boulevard trails. I headed out to Kew one way and did a big loop to head back into town over the other side. It started out quiet, but as I headed back into town, it got very busy with commuters from the Easters suburbs riding in. Some of the pathways still need some work, some areas have stairs, but overall the shadiness of the trees and the sheer delight of riding alongside the area river was a really glorious thing to do in the morning. It was great to see all the rowers, joggers, mums-and-bubs groups and all manner of people out and about on the Yarra Trail. It was a stunning day and the city looked beautiful (below). What a great way to spend a day on two wheels.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Maribyrnong
On my second day’s ride, I headed out West – from Melbourne city along South Wharf to Footscray. I’ve done this ride inbound ride once before, but I wasn’t 100% sure of where to turn off to get to the heart of the city. But this time – it was much easier going from the city and heading out west. It is super direct, quick and easy. I took advantage of the peak hour bicycle commuters riding out from the city, and just follow their tails. It ended up being about 20-25 minutes from Flinders Street station safely all the way into Footscray on wide fast and smooth paths. It was also very well signed and used. When I got to Footscray, I ended up jumping on the trails going along the Maribyrnong River Trail (below) heading towards Victoria Uni and Flemington Racecourse. I passed under and over many bridges, past the Buddhist temple and rode out as far as I dared. Then I had a coffee and rode back to Footscray. From Footscray, I followed the trail out towards Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail to see where the entry and exit points were along the way as the main track led under the Westgate Bridge. From there it is easy to do a full loop of Williamstown for a solid return trip– what a beautiful ride.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Darebin
On my third next day, I went out to explore the Darebin bike trails. I started by joining the commuters from Footscray (where I was staying the night before) into the city. From the City to Brunswick Street for a coffee and then I headed out St Georges Road bike path out to Reservoir. It was interesting to see some of the infrastructure changes and remodelling that had been undertaken to the path in the centre of St George’s bikeway. I was impressed with the signage and how easy it was to get around on this bike path.  I spent the afternoon exploring various Merri Creek trails. I rode out to Reservoir and ended up at Broadway at the Olympic Park Village and the outdoor velodrome there (below).  I got chatting to a few cyclists who were passing and thoroughly enjoyed my ride on the beautiful warm sunny day. After that, I spent the afternoon exploring various Merri Creek trails exploring where they entered and exited and marvelling at the extensive network out this way.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Hampton & Beach Road
My fourth day saw me doing a long, but very satisfying bike ride from Reservoir to Hampton. This time I went from Reservoir (where I stay the night before) back into the city via St George’s bike path, then out St Kilda Road to Albert Park – making sure to take in a ride along with the FI Grand Prix track (I had to do it again after last week, I just couldn’t help myself. Woohoo!). When I got to St Kilda, I scouted out the ‘inland’ route up Inkerman Road to Hotham Road and then scooted across to Hampton. This route was great to get a feeling of what it’s like to ride on the road and to see the difference in bike infrastructure in certain areas and roads. When in Hampton, I visited some old mates Rumbo and Damo at Hampton Cycles and it was good to have a catch-up and a gasbag. For the way home, I headed out on the Bay Trail. For this ride, you can either take Beach Road or ride the parallel Boulevard bike trail from Hampton all the way back into the city. Either way, it is a stunning ride! I took a few photos on the way and enjoyed checking out the Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes, Elwood and St Kilda beach.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Cruising around Melbourne.

Over the course of these four days, I’ve pretty much been in all the main four directions of the compass on my bike. I got a real taste for the different city council approaches to biking and how accessible and convenient biking now is in Melbourne. It was both exhilarating and very enjoyable exploring new parts of, and revisiting my favourite haunt and coffee shops in and around town. Where ever possible, I chatted with fellow bike commuters and asked them about their biking experiences.

It felt great to be back on a bike.

It was also great to be out and riding longer distances and exploring the trails – getting sweaty, seeing the sights and having the whole day to really explore and fully enjoy every moment.

It was a real pleasure having five days completely off to go riding on such beautiful Melbourne summer days – I highly recommend it!

Not sure what trail to try?

 Try Bike Paths.com maps of Melbourne trails – or check this article out for a list of a few of Melbourne’s most scenic bike rides – many of I tried in the last couple of days. I hope have as much fun as I did riding these trails!

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

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

George’s penny farthing

In the lead-up to my next trip down to Melbourne, I found myself cruising the bayside foreshore doing my best to soak up the afternoon dying rays and the tail-end of day’s two-wheeled community.

On this particular afternoon, there were are groups of teenagers whizzing by,  parents yelling at wayward and over-enthusiastic toddlers to looks up as they blindly pedalled away, and road cyclists trying to squeeze in just one more Strava PBs before sunset.

 

On days such as this, I love Brisbane bayside bike riding more than ever.
As I neared my exit, a curious object caught the corner of my eye. In that quick moment as I passed, I tried to reconcile if I had actually seen a giant oversized bicycle wheel sticking out from the back of a tiny car. For a moment it didn’t register, then I logic set in, and I realised it must have been a penny farthing. Well, you don’t see that every day.

George's penny farthing

George’s Rapide

With my curiosity piqued, I turned back to double-check. Sure enough there she was – a shiny, big, black beautiful, penny farthing – glorious.  As I approached, I saw the owner sitting nearby. So we struck up a conversation.

This is how I met George. He is not only the owner, but he hand-built this particular model. It took him six months to make all the parts – many of which he showed me. All the parts are measured specifically for him, the rims, spokes, wheels – the lot. He made it as in a penny farthing course that is offered only in Brisbane. There are official monthly penny farthing get-togethers around Brisbane, where all the owners, makers and enthusiasts catch up and go for a ride.

George's penny farthing

George's penny farthing

As a result of this course, apparently, there are 30 penny farthing course graduates getting around Brisbane.

George and I ended up chatting for quite a while, about bikes, riding, penny farthings and everything in between. George told me of a few daring exploits he’d had while riding his Rapide. He confirmed how difficult it is to navigate, balance and ride, but equally how much enjoyment he derived from taking her out for a spin. I t was inspiring to hear about the attention, effort and detail involved in hand turning all the parts to create this specific two-wheeled contraption – custom build by him, perfect fitted for him. Amazing.

 

George's penny farthing

 

Bespoke and custom-made – every part.

George showed me each of the individual pieces that he had made.

I marvelled at the commitment, time, dedication involved in making George’s Rapide. It certainly was a thing of simple style and beauty. I have always admired people who make their own bicycles – and even better, it was fantastic to see him out and about with it.

We were chatting at one end of a long stretch of bayside pathway, 6 km in total to the other end. George told me he was going to ride halfway up to meet a friend for lunch and then ride back. He said he liked to do it as often as he could. What a grand adventure! Although perilous when steering, he said as well as enjoying getting around on it, he liked showcasing her to the community.

It was lovely to meet George. It was just the creative and practical catalyst I was hoping for as I pack up to leave Brisbane for Melbourne for the Bicycle Futures Conference on Friday.

 

And on such a beautiful sunny day as well.
Bloody marvellous!

 

George's penny farthing

Two months ago the Bicycles Create Change blog started posting on Instagram. This happened as a result of a conversation I had with a friend. I went through the usual excited and overzealous initial period or exploring, locating and investing in producing and posting images and its truth be told I enjoyed the whole precess and have learnt a lot. This particular project I am currently undertaking specifically utilises and capitalises on all the best visual and sharing aspects that Instagram has to offer.

 

 Cycling Interspecies Team of Awesomeness (Bikes_CISTA) Project

The Cycling Interspecies Team of Awesomeness or Bikes_CISTA Project is a collection of photos I have taken while riding Leki (my flower bike) around my neighbourhood and features the people I spontaneously stop, introduce myself to, have a chat and request to take their photo. All this is because they fit the inclusion criteria for the Bicycles Create Change Bikes_CISTA Team.

The eligibility for a photo invite requires:
– at least one person
– at least one dog
– at least one bike
– all are happy to stop and have a chat with me
– all give their verbal permission for me to take and post their photo (which I provide a link to).

 

Bicycles Create Change.com

Bicycles Create Change.com

As of today, I have posted 27 Bikes_CISTA teams on Instagram -with two ready to go.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this project. It gets me out and about, meeting new and different people, it requires me to brave in approaching new people and has helped me perfect my approach and explanation of the project. It is an easy way to start more conversations about bikes, community, enjoying the local area and life being better with dogs.

In addition to adding experiential value to my daily routine, it also provides a space for actively encouraging more personal social connection with my local neighbourhood and the locals.

It also has been pushing me to talk more openly about the blog and my research.

Bicycles Create Change.com

By doing this project, I not only derive incredible personal satisfaction from engaging with the personalities, stories and encounters I have with those I feature, but I also like the unpredictability and immediate nature of spontaneously interacting with people in my community.

Bicycles Create Change.com

In the very least, it is a good way to test my mettle and effectiveness in discussing my common bicycle/dog interests, promoting my blog and creating the opportunity to practice explaining in easy and clear ways what my PhD research is- this alone is an excellent skill to have!

Who have you met?

Most people I approach are great, a rare few say no, others settle in for a good chat – it has been such a range of unexpected encounters! I often walk away from my last interaction flush with new information and surprised with the generosity and friendliness of strangers-now-aquaintances. I’ve even seen a few since our initial meeting, and we have now progressed onto waving and first names basis.

Bicycles Create Change.com

Celebrate the best of you locality and positive lifestyle

Approaching people with a Bikes_CISTA invitation is my way to identify and recognise people who best represent some of what I consider to be some of the essential and most productive lifestyle choices and activities one can undertake – namely participating in a local, outdoor, social, healthy, active, dog-friendly biking community.

It been so enjoyable investing time, energy and focus into the Cycling Interspecies Team of Awesomeness – Bikes_CISTA Project. The whole precess has given me much food for thought and has proven to be a powerful technique of uncovering social and personal insights. I love getting out on Leki and keeping an eye out for potential teams to approach.

I can’t wait to see where this project goes.

On Instagram – check out more Bicycles Create Change Bikes_CISTA Teams at #bikes_CISTA or the@bicycles_create_change.

Bicycles Create Change.com

While travelling the Northern New South Wales coast this week, I had a chance to catch up with some indigenous mates. We got chatting about bike riding. Lots of the local kids on the missions use bikes to get around, meet up with friends, go fishing or hang out at the local skate parks. BMX is pretty popular and I also saw some mountain bikes getting around. After our chat, it got me thinking. I decided to find out if there were any programs specifically supporting local NSW indigenous cyclists. The most prominent program that popped up was the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project (IMTBP) and it also piqued my interest for other reasons, like program viability.

National Indigenous Centre for Excellence (NCIE)

This is a NSW specific biking program. This was one of the many LIFE (Lifestyle Innovations For Everyone) programs run by the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE). The actual centre is based in Redfern, Sydney, but the actual MTB program had services and trips spread out all over the state. The central NCIE focus is to provide services, training and opportunity to increase health, life skills and talent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. NCIE has an array of educational, arts and culture, a conference centre, sporting, recreation, social, health and wellness services that develop skills, enterprises, occupational and technical opportunities and the like – all aimed at improving the learning, development and positive lifestyles for its members.

The Indigenous Mountain Bike Project was one of the services the NCIE offered and it was created to get more indigenous people riding bikes. It was launched January 2012 and the main driving force, legs and faces of this project was Sean Appoo and Ben Bowen.

Indigenous Mountain Bike Project (IMTBP) – Background

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet states the program as being:

“The Indigenous Mountain Bike Project is run by the Lifestyle Innovations For Everyone (LIFE) team at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in New South Wales. The aim of the project is to promote bike riding as a form of physical activity to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages and health levels. The IMTBP has a fleet of 19 bikes for use by staff and program participants.  The program offers:

  • regular bike trips for groups of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people around Sydney
  • entry into local and regional mountain bike competitions
  • workshops on bike maintenance and safe cycling skills.”

Some key details about the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project.

  • This project ran From Jan 2012 until June 2015, whereupon it looks like the project was stopped. During those three years, the project held many social and skills rides, supported and attended events, had a good social media presence on Facebook and built up a community of active and enthusiastic cyclists.
  • Of the 19 bikes used, 3 are hybrid bikes and the other 16 are mountain bikes.
  • The fleet was not just used for training and maintained programs for new beginner riders, but were also used in local and regional MTB competitions, races and events.
  • The program was operational and participated in the Inaugural Koori MTB Cup in 2014.
  • The project had a team of representative riders who raced events such as the JETBLACK 24Hr, Koori MTB Cup and the Huski 100.
  • When the bikes are not being used for programs, events, trips or for local and regional MTB competitions, the NCIE staff use them to ride to and from meetings during work hours.
  • Other local inner city rides and meet ups were an adjunct feature of this program getting more people on bikes – local businesses, commuters and weekend rider forums popped up with riders sharing trip reports, ride details, invites for meet ups and technical knowledge.
  • The program received quite a bit of publicity and was feature in an SBS featurette in June 2015 (see below).

The IMTB Project Facebook site

Although no longer actively used since May 2015, the IMTBP Facebook site is still a testament to the range of biking services, popularity and community that this project built. There are numerous videos event posters and invites, people posting their trails via mapmyrides and sharing details for upcoming rides and active discussion forum for all levels of fitness, ages and cycling types.

There are a series of videos detailing the IMTBP team and adventures on MTB trials and during the JETBLACK 24 hr race at the LIFE TV YouTube channel, which show skills sessions, training, the IMTBP team riding in various events and it also has a few IMTBP rider profiles which are good to see. It also demonstrates the time and effort that many different people put into this project.

So what happened?

On the face value, it seems like the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project was a ‘success’. But what does that mean and how do you measure it? What were the outcomes of this project? It seems to have got a good following, achieved its goals of getting more indigenous people riding and created a thriving community that had a good presence – so what happened to this program? Did funding run out? Did attendance wane? Was there no one to hand over to?

The only indication given was this post on Facebook group on June 2015.

IMTB PRoject

Source: IMTBP Facebook page

But this post gives few details about the status of the IMTBP (but certainly showcases the massive effort and impact Sean and Ben had during their time there).  Even though Sean and Ben are ‘wrapping up’,  it is unclear if that means the IMTB project finished as well. If it did, then why?

I called the National Indigenous Centre for Excellence LIFE Team’s 1300 866 176 phone number as provided online. I wanted to find out what happened to this project. But the number was disconnected. I tried the NCIE landline (02) 9046 7802 and had to leave a voice mail message. So I still don’t know what happened. Seems strange…

Why do some of the best projects fail to continue?

It can be incredibly frustrating and unfortunate that community programs such as this one can be planned, funded and implemented, yet are not sustainable to endure and provide such a valuable service. These kinds of scenarios occur all the time in the community/international development sphere. Whether it is a community group or multilateral international aid organisation, sustainability and how/why projects finish is a massive industry issue.

In my field of International development – one organisation decided to meet this issue head on. I will never forget seeing the 2008 Engineers without Borders Failure Report and watching David Damberger talk about what happens when an NGO admits failure – and hearing of project insights that were learnt, yet rarely acknowledged or shared.

I am by no means suggesting that the IMTBP was a mistake or ‘failure’, merely making the observation sad that such a positive biking program that obviously had community popularity and traction was not able to continue operating – which begs the questions – why not?

I thought back to my chat about bikes with my indigenous mates earlier this week. I wondered if the program was still operating would there be even more Koori riders? With such a strong community following and uptake, why was this initiative not picked up by local/national councils? Are we short changing the next Indigenous Anna Meares or Cadel Evans? What a great biking and community initiative – and what a pity it has not prevailed!