International Cycling Conference 2017

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

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

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

International Cycling Conference 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to access:

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

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

International Cycling Conference 2017 - Bicycles Create Change.com

Helmet Survey – Last Chance!

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!

Do you agree with compulsory helmet laws?

Helmet use for cyclists is an ongoing and contentious issue.

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

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

TAKE THE HELMET SURVEY HERE

The survey closes Friday 22nd September.

Anyone, anywhere can fill out the survey.

It will take about 5 minutes.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!

More females needed to complete the Helmet Survey, please!

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

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

What to do?

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

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

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

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

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!

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

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

Bicycles Create Change.com Helmet Survey - Last Chance!

Get-A-Grip (Pedal Pushers BC)

Are you a bike lover and in Brisbane tomorrow (Sat 16th September)?

Want to see some kool bikes?

Like Low-riders? Kustoms? Vintage? Rusty Rats? Something a  lil’ different?

If so, grab ya bike and a mate and head down to this event!

Below are a few details to get you started.

Leki and I’ll be attending.

The next post will let you know how it all went.

Find out more at Pedal Pushers BC  Facebook.

See you there – crazy kids!

Other details from the Pedal Pushers BC are:

Schedule

10am         Registrations start
10:30am  Quick speech on details ect
11:30am   Registrations close
1-1:30pm  Peoples choice closes
2pm           Trophy presentations

These are approx. times as its our first show and we’re still getting into the swing of things.

Between these times we can mingle and meet others and talk bikes for the day.

Few key points to keep in mind are:
*when you arrive just come over to the rego marquee and fill out paperwork and we’ll give you all the info you need
*if you arrive after rego closes you are still welcome to display bikes, but they wont be eligible for trophys
*all trophy winners must be present to win,  if not it will go to next in line!!
*please use your peoples choice to vote for a bike you like and not your own as if everyone votes for there own bike then no one wins.
* judges bikes will not be up for any awards as its a conflict of interest.
* any questions on the day, just come up to one of us wearing a pedal pushers shirt and we’ll help out as best we can.
*its a public park so we can’t be held responsible for any damages to property but if we all show some respect for others property and keep a look out then there won’t be any problems.
*please use bins provided
*most of all….enjoy the day and meet some like-minded people!!

See you there!

Images: Pedal Pushers BC Facebook.

Riding ‘The Big Push’

This time last week, I headed in the afternoon with Leki into Brisbane city to participate riding ‘The Big Push for Road Safety’ event hosted by Space for Cycling (BNE).

It was an awesome event!

All the riders gathered in town where there were some speeches and time to socialise. It was great to see so many different types of bikes, and there were lots of kids, dogs in baskets, colours and smiles abound.

Then we had a lovely slow roll around town.

What happened while riding ‘The Big Push’?

There were constantly bells ringing happily, often punctuated by laughter and the constant ripple of riders chatting. I made sure to have a chat to the people I found myself riding alongside.

As we rode, I saw riders introducing themselves, passing compliments and sharing a few jokes. I saw pedestrians stop to wave and cheer encouragement. I saw riders trying to coax people out of cars with a laugh as we waited for red lights to change.

When we stopped, you could see the bike column snaking away ahead and behind – it looked amazing!

There were many active souls there that had upcoming bike related events- it was a wonderful opportunity to hear what was going on and link to the Brisbane bike scene.

I rode most of the way home next to an awesome couple on a tandem. It just so happened I was wearing my ‘I love tandem’ t-shirt! They were great company and had rigged up a massive speaker on their back wheel and were cranking out some funky riding tunes to keep us all bopping happily along! GOLD!

What a relaxed, fun and a social way to advocate for better urban cycling!

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

 

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

During our ride stopped off for a quick photo out the front of Parliment House, Brisbane.

The pubs were filled with Mayweather vs McGregor fight fans, so it was an added bonus passing open windows and hearing the cheering emanating from inside. Once the fight concluded, the pubs we passed were still packed, so we have a very jovial and supportive audience as we rode past.

I had to ring all my bells extra hard to match their happy cheering!

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

One of the highlights of the day for me was sticking around after the ride.

As others filtered away, it was an opportunity for me to chat with the custom low-rider crew (see photos below).

The range and style of their fleet is impressive and their owners happy to chat bikes. Each bike is personalised to suit the owner and it was great to see the multicultural, multi-age mix of low riders.

I accepted an invitation to ride one and was immediately smitten!

These low rider bikes are so comfortable and very cool to ride.

We chatted for a while, and they told me about an upcoming bike event they are hosting next month, which I am very keen to attend.

We exchanged contact details and am looking forward to spending some more time with these Kool Katz! Meeting them was an even better bonus on the day.

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

The event made the TV news on various channels, which was great for spreading the word. An unfortunate, but timely reminder given that  five cyclists were involved in a road accident just two days prior.

The day was a success and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Congrats to all who made an effort to go and big kudos to the organisers!

Images: Taken on the day are either my own or from Space for Cycling BNE Facebook page.

Chicks in the Sticks 2017

Yesterday was a very busy biking day! Early morning saw me visiting the Chicks in the Sticks 2017 (all-female MTB event) at Mt Cotton, followed by The Big Push for Road Safety social ride in Brisbane city in the afternoon. This post is a brief run down of the Chicks in the Sticks event – Big Push post will be next!


Chicks in the Sticks 2017.

This event is Australia’s largest “Women’s Only” 3hr Mountain Bike Endurance race. It is hosted by the Rats Cycling Club and was held at Karingal Scout Camp (Mt Cotton, QLD). Last year I rode in this event and had an awesome time, this year I went as support. This event is one of my favourite in the riding calendar, and I always make an effort to go.

Why? Because it is ALWAYS a good day!

It was a beautiful morning and there was a great turn out. When I arrived at the race village, it was full of colour and bustling with the movement of families, kids and riders milling about, people catching up, preparations being made and checking bikes over.

The race village has a few extra additions this year, like a designated kids pop-up nature play area that was filled with games and activities for the families and kids that had come along for the day.

It was a great opportunity to catch up with mates, take some photos and wish the riders well.

Chicks in the Sticks 2017 - Bicycles Create Change

Chicks in the Sticks 2017 - Bicycles Create Change

It was great to see so many riders. I was particularly excited to see the range of ages. When I used to ride Enduro, one aspect that was most lacking for me what the low female participation rates in general, but particularly for women over 35. So I was thrilled to be in an environment where, for one MTB event at least, that this category was well above the norm! Hooray!

There were also lots of random giveaways and some great podium prizes. I  appreciate that this event encourages participants to dress up if they want to  – which adds an extra flair, colour and enjoyment to the ride.

Here were a couple of my favourites:

Chicks in the Sticks 2017 - Bicycles Create Change

Chicks in the Sticks 2017 - Bicycles Create Change

Chicks in the Sticks 2017 - Bicycles Create Change

Chicks in the Sticks 2017 - Bicycles Create Change

Chicks in the Sticks 2017 - Bicycles Create Change

The first event of the day was the Little Chicks in the Sticks ages 5-11 and 12-16 who had their own race before the main field took off at 9 am. As I was not riding this year, it was an opportunity to take some photos and videos, which was a new experience as I am usually in the ride, not watching from the sidelines! See my race start video at the end of this post.

Although I didn’t stay til the end, I had an awesome morning soaking up the colourful, happy vibe. I cheered on the riders, chatted to families who had ‘come to support mum’, checked out some of the new stock at the team tents and had a thoroughly lovely time.

A good day was had by all!

I was really inspired by the riders who participated ‘up the back’ of the pack – those who were being brave and gave MTB a go – some of them for the very first time. It was great to hear how many people had come after being ‘invited by a mate’ to come and try – people who would normally not have tried riding off-road being encouraged my a female rider-friend to give it a go. They were my favourite stories to hear. It takes a lot of guts!

This event is a wonderful example that it is possible to run a competitive MTB that caters for serious racers, as well as for those who are just starting out, want more off-road experience or who are there just to have fun. 

If you are keen to give it a go for next year, or know of someone you think might be interested, there are many different categories to participate in..

Chicks in the Sticks 2017

I tip my hat to the organisers who worked incredibly hard to make this day such a success.

A big congrats to all the riders who participated – you all did so well!

All the families and supporters who came as well made the day even better!

It was a brilliant event and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

See you there!

Granny, Wait for Me!

Granny, Wait for Me! is a beautifully illustrated children’s book.

I first saw this book while at an independent publishing/meet the author book event at  Little Gnome – my awesome local bookshop. This book is written by Sarah Owen and illustrated by Anil Tortop.

It immediately caught my eye because of the bicycle on the cover – and the delightful energy that the illustration exuded.

Granny, Wait for Me - Bicycles Create Change.com

I flipped through the book and instantly fell in love with it.

What makes Granny, Wait for Me! so good?

There are many children’s books about riding bikes. But this one is a little different.

The story follows a young boy and his grandma who take their bicycles on an outing. In this book, the usual stereotypes are reversed, and it is ‘Granny’ who is speeding around,  whizzing to-and-fro, racing and doing death defying tricks and the young boy who is struggling to keep up.

Granny, Wait for Me - Bicycles Create Change.com

Granny, Wait for Me - Bicycles Create Change.com

The pair have a day of grand adventures. It is lovely to see Granny in the position of being the strong, confident, fit, happy and able protagonist in this story. I see incredible value in children’s books presenting different ways of looking at life and in showing diversity in people, lifestyles and choices – and this book certainly sheds some new light on perceptions of what a Granny ‘should’ be, and do.

Books like these also help progress discussions about family, relationships, assumptions, social expectations and not judging a book by its cover (oh dad!).

The added bonus of the bike means discussions about positive impacts of riding,  how cycling is wonderful for all people, regardless of age or ability – and that you can never really tell a people’s ability or history with bikes just by looking at them. With such a predominance in current society of cycling being associated with young, fit, male road-riders, this book provides a wonderful alternative perspective.

I have lamented elsewhere on this blog, that I find the lack of inclusion,  appreciation or unconscious negative associations of older people and riding,  to be serious social issue – as evidence in previous posts such as  Cycling without Age and my meeting with the formidable Hubert and his tricycle.

But it is good to know that there are awesome parents (and others) out there who are actively engaging our next generation by reading these kind of stories.

This book comes with a warning!

In a review of this storybook for Reading Time, Heather Gallagher wrote: This beautifully illustrated picture book is told in rollicking verse. The story is a simple one, a boy and his granny go for a bike ride and picnic at the park. The Granny is no tea-sipping, knitting gran – she’s one who likes to swing on the monkey bars and speed off on her bicycle. In a reversal of roles, the boy is shown as the reticent one, while Granny craves adventure. This book could be used in a classroom setting to discuss different kinds of grandparents and what they like to do. It would be a good one to read on Grandparent’s Day. Just one word of caution, while the illustrations do depict a warm relationship between Granny and the boy, in practice she speeds off on her bicycle, leaving him in her wake – hence, the title. (Emphasis my own).

I really like that this book comes with a warning – that this seemingly harmless ‘whimsical and fun-filled story’ could be ‘misconstrued’ and need to be explained.

I understand how some children might find it challenging that Granny is so active that she could roar off on a bike (being abandoned).  Of course this would need to be explained to a little kid who need  reassurances of not ‘being left behind’ – but this is not made clear in Heather’s review. Although I am sure this is what she was implying, my mischievous brain also likes to think it is the notion of Granny ripping on a bike that is also challenging!

I like that this book is presenting Granny in a light other than being a stereotypical, gentle, frail and caring …… non-bike rider. The image of her enjoying a fast, fun and furious ride is a great equaliser for talking about any other rider gearing up for an MTB race, criterion and any other cycling event where the whole point is to ride hard, be adventurous and get ahead! What… older people don’t ride bikes? Like hell….Go, Granny Go!!

What a great conversation to have with children!

That in itself makes me love this book even more!

You don’t need to ride fast and furious to have my vote – you just need to be on a bike and going at whatever is your speed. Whatever age you are, whatever speed you go – just that you are riding a bike is what makes it awesome in my book!

More happy elders riding bikes, please!

So next time you see an elder out on their bike – be sure to give ’em hearty wave and a word of support.  Heavens knows we need more like them reminding us all that biking is a wonderful activity for everyone in our communities.

Granny, Wait for Me! – cover illustration / time-lapse from Anil Tortop on Vimeo.  Images in post courtesy of Anil’s Behance

The Big Push for Road Safety

Next Sunday (27th August), Space for Cycling Brisbane is hosting The Big Push for Road Safety ride. This is a well-timed event as it coincides with Queensland’s Road Safety Week.

From the information provided online, this event is a proactive, peaceful and family-friendly reminder from all manner of Brisbane cyclists to policy-makers for cycling to be featured  prominently in Brisbane policy and infrastructure development.

What is The Big Push for Road Safety ?

The Big Push for Road Safety Facebook page describes the event as: “Speaking up for road safety’ and riding for Queensland Road Safety Week. Join us as we once again take a ride through the CBD asking for safe streets for people on bikes. Meet at Kurilpa Point Park under the Kurilpa Bridge at 2.00pm for a 2.30pm roll, we will ride over Victoria Bridge and complete a loop around the city before returning to our start point.   Bring your family, bring your friends, bring your neighbours who haven’t taken their bike out of the garage for years….the more people who ride the stronger the message.”

Space for Cycling is an international organization with chapters in many major cities and is a non-for profit cycling advocacy group. This means that the organisation is where ‘Brisbane’s bicycle user groups and community cycling organisations have come together to create and work toward a vision for Brisbane where it is easy, convenient, and safe for people of all ages and abilities to ride a bicycle to their destination’.  Activities undertaken by the Brisbane chapter include campaigns such as writing to your local councillor, attending local council meetings, keeping the general public informed of developments and organising community bike events.

They have also been tracking key cycling measures and progress on locations such as the Sylvan Road trial, Ipswich motorway connection and the Boggo Road Station – all of which are high-volume, high-interest developments for Brisbane cyclists.

Space for Cycling Brisbane held a similar event (of the same name) earlier this year in April. This ride was held on a glorious sunny day and drew a good turn out as seen in the pictures below and more here.

The Big Push for Riding - Bicycles cCreate Change
Source: Space for Cycling (BNE). The Big Push for Riding (April, 2017).
The Big Push for Riding - Bicycles cCreate Change
Source: Space for Cycling (BNE). The Big Push for Riding (April, 2017).
The Big Push for Riding - Bicycles cCreate Change
Source: Space for Cycling (BNE). The Big Push for Riding (April, 2017).

It makes good sense for this event to happen now also to capitalize on the current media interest and publicity surrounding recent road planning, shared road infrastructure and access and the urban cycling agenda.

Queensland Police marketing the Queensland Road Safety Week

It is interesting to see the Queensland Police marketing for the Queensland Road Safety Week.  This week is posited on the offical Police website as begin a  ‘chance for all Queenslanders to get involved in making our roads safer’ and that the initiative is ‘encouraging active participation’ for the weeks central theme of “Speaking up for road safety”. To this end, the police state that they are ‘encouraging the whole community to have their say on road safety. Communities, schools and workplaces are encouraged to support the week by hosting local events or sharing road safety information among staff, students, colleagues, family and friends’.

There are lots of official police and government sanctioned modes to ‘have your say and get involved’ on the offical website, so it makes me wonder just how ‘encouraging of the WHOLE community’ outside of participating int he competitions this week really is-and  to what degree ‘alternative views’ of transportation and those of critics are ‘encouraged to participate’.

I say this as I am still embarrassed about how Queensland authorities/police have previously handled other progressive community cycling events – such as the WNBR, or the Super Sunday Count or even the Ride-to-school Day. In each of these three cases, the police ended up clamping down and responding with such putative measures (Ride-to School) or just flat out refused to even let the event  happen in the first place (WNBR – only city in the world that was scheduled to, but did not participate – shame!!.. or in the case of the Super Sunday Count no mainland Brisbane council has even bothered to be register (only Whitsundays of goodness sake!) that the message for other thriving community driven bike events is loud and clear ….you can have your bikes, but don’t get too vocal, creative, organised or public about it. I am sure nothing of the sort will happen for next weekend’s The Big Push for Road Safety. I mention this here merely to justify my suspicion when faced with the hyperbolic use of marketing catch-phrase expressions such as  the Police saying ‘we want EVERYONE to have their SAY’ and that they are ‘encouraging of the WHOLE community to GET INVOLVED’ …..I think……..mmmmm, REALLY??

Why will this event be great to go to?

I also like that this is a repeat event. It is a great way to piggy-back on the last event and get some of the same people returning- as well as inviting some new people to get involved as well.

With this in mind, I think next week’s event is a wonderful forum to get the pro-cycling agenda out and into the wider public experience..  It is so obviously non-threatening given the normalcy, fun, family, and overall localised and relaxed vibe for the ride. It will also be a great snapshot of Brisbane’s range of riders and a great showcase for the diversity in bikes, ages, skills, confidence, abilities,  purposes and approaches to riding in and around Brisbane.

I’ve always been a big proponent for community ‘protests’ that include colour, fun, kids, dogs, bikes and music. It is hard to get angry, argumentative and putative with little kids in rainbow jumpers sitting happily in bike trolleys, listening to ‘Dancing in the Street’ while holding fluffy white puppies! (Aww bless. Viva la revolution!!)

For these reasons and more, I am very much looking forward to attending this ride with Leki.

If you happen to be in Brisbane – see you there!!

The Big Push for Riding - Bicycles cCreate Change

Riding for Rescues

Regular Bicycles Create Change readers know I am a ‘dog-person’ – as many of us are.

I have a trail dog, Zoe (who is the best MTB partner EVER!)  and my Instagram #Bikes_CISTA initiative involves celebrating local riders with their pooches and bikes.

A while ago, I posted the adventures of little Xiaosa, the tiny stray dog that joined a team of riders on a 20 day, 1,833km graduation ride across China from Sichuan province to Tibet  and became an internet sensation – it is such a sweet little story!

…so, I am delighted to see the US-based Riding for Rescues, inviting other riders to put their cycling kms towards supporting animals in need.

It is also great to see an alternative cycling fundraiser that is not the large-scale, long-distance  charity,  road-riding fundraiser – that model has been totally (over)done!

What is Riding for Rescues?

Riding for Rescues in affiliated with Running for Rescues – both of which raise money to help, rescue and sponsor animals to get them out of a high-kill shelter and be re-homed instead of being put down.

To date, they have rescued over 40 animals.

See some of the lucky ones below or click for more here.

Bicycles Create Change - Ride for Rescues

What is the money for?

Riding for Rescues donates all funds received to small, grassroots frontline NGOs that are dealing firsthand with pulling animals out of shelters before they are put to sleep.

The cost associated with these interventions can be very high – and not many people stop to think about this aspect of animal welfare – things such as getting shots, healthcare costs, getting an animal neutered, transportation, boarding and/or food while the animal is being fostered.

How to use my cycling to help?

Bicycles Create Change - Ride for Rescues

The Riding for Rescue approach is super easy as you can pick whatever cycling event , where ever you want and fundraise independently – so you can do it when and where it suits you.

It is a terrific model of practice and very easy to use.

Step 1.  Go to www.firstgiving.com and set up your page.

Step 2. Tell all your friends and family know that YOU are going to put yourself out there and make a difference – all to benefit an animal who would otherwise be euthanized.

The  you raise more than US$500, RfR will give you one of their cycling jerseys (see below)

Bicycles Create Change - Ride for Rescues

I applaud those who give this a try.

I think there is great merit in utilising  riding to support animals in need – and where the animals are rehoused into households where they will make a super positive difference – personally, emotionally, health, fitness and happiness wise. Why not lend your legs for this oft-forgotten good cause?

Congratulations to the Riding for Rescue team for having  the enthusiasm, dedication and passion to keep this humble, yet highly important service going. I salute you!

Here is their offical website.

They are also on FB, Twitter, G+ and IG.

For more info contact: jodi@runningforrescues.com

Victoria Bridge – bike ‘die-in’ protest

This time last week, I was in Adelaide at the national Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017. After one of the sessions, we had a discussion about whether shared bike lanes were the way forward, debated contested urban spaces, and some of the major implications for cities when they don’t adequately plan for future active transportation (cycling) growth. So imagine my surprise when I got home to Brisbane to find my local two-wheeled brothers and sisters taking innovative action on just these issues! NG.


On the weekend, Brisbane cyclists staged a ‘die-in’ protest on Victoria Bridge.

The Brisbane cycling community has been having an on-going battle with Brisbane City Council, which has slowly been restricting bicycle access to the city via this bridge.

Although there have been some good moves towards improving Brisbane cycling infrastructure of late, for some local cyclists, this news is considered  particularly serious setback as it involves major bike commuter access and safety for riders getting in and out of Brisbane, as Victoria Bridge is one of the main city throughfares.

So the latest plan to remove the current bike lane completely, proved too much for some Brisbane cyclists.

This latest proposed restriction, will be a major issue for thousands of bike commuters who use it to get into the city as part of their daily travel.

Victoria Bridge currently has a designated bike lane each way installed, which the Brisbane City Council is planning to remove as part of the new Metro improvements. The Metro project is a $944 million push to remove general traffic from the bridge and double pubic transport capacity – which sounds like a great idea. The planned Metro improvement will remove ALL private cars from Victoria Bridge, leaving only buses to use the road. But to do so, BCC Active Transportation chairman and representative Adrian Schrinner claimed this week that:

Independent expert civil engineers have assessed the Victoria Bridge, and due to weight restrictions, it cannot be widened without undermining its structural integrity. It is simply not safe for cyclists to be in the same lane as Metro vehicles and buses and there is no space to provide an on-road barrier to allow on-road cycling to continue.”

So, the BCC says that the Metro proposal will have cyclists sharing the side footpath with pedestrians.

This is unacceptable to a number of vocal pedestrians and cyclists alike, most citing safety issues as one of the many, but major concerns.

This is a very real and convincing concern, given that Brisbane is still reeling after the recent death of number of cyclists, including a 16-year old cyclist and  an older road-rider earlier this month at Mt Nebo as just two examples.

Many locals feel there have been far too many cyclists dying on unsafe commuter main roads when riding into the city.

So this mass protest was staged and the concerned cyclists took over the bridge to stage a ‘die-in’ protest.

Leading the charge in this protest is the Greens Cr Jonathan Sri (Councillor for The Gabba),  who has been outspoken about the cycling safety issues and claims that BCC is probably ignoring alternative options to the proposed plan for restructuring Victoria Bridge. He is also concerned about this change causing detrimental conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists – and he is not the only one. An interesting point raised by Cr Sri is that:

“the council has made the mistake of focusing too heavily on current cyclist numbers, rather than recognising that cyclist numbers will continue to grow in the future. All we are suggesting is that council converts that widened pedestrian-only lane, which will be almost four metres wide, to be shared by bikes and pedestrians and that will address a lot of our concerns”.

Is this ‘suggestion’ possible?

Outside of the actual protest, one of my favourite comments came from Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk who said “The reality is that this administration has done more to advance cycling in this city than any other time in the city’s history”.

Point taken. But, given that Brisbane is still so far behind the times, this is not saying much. Applying this pollie-speak logic, if Brisbane City Council did nothing for cycling in the last 200 years, then painted a white line on the road, that would also constitute more to advance cycling in this city than any other time in the city’s history – but that still doesn’t mean it is adequate or safe or enough. Nor are these issues a tit-for-tat-points-scoring game where if the council does one thing to support cycling (which to be fair they have done quite bit more recently), then you should be happy with what has been given to you and there is no need to keep developing improvements as it has already ‘advanced cycling more’ than previously.

I am just presenting this event as an interesting case – you make you own mind up about whether it is productive or not. I am still deciding how I feel about it.

But this discussion did  raise a few other issues for me. For example, it still pains me that such discussions (about Brisbane, or bicycle access in general) are still held as if they are in isolation and are removed or separate from so many of the other social and environmental issues we are facing as cities. I’m sure the Mayor and others, are very aware of the imminent disastrous health, environmental and economic statistics on current (let alone forecasted) petrol emissions, obesity and mental health issues in our community – and the plethora of research linking cycling and physical activity to mitigating such impending and costly issues …. but it appears that such issues still so often not included as part of the public debate on such issues (like the Victoria Bridge usability and access. These issues are critical for future mobility and sustainability planning of a cosmopolitan city and ensuring the wellbeing and productivity of its inhabitants….maybe these tenets are so ‘implicit’ in these discussions that I missed them…. now… back to more important things – ROADS for motor vehicles – I mean buses!

Brisbane is trying to move towards being  a ‘greener’ city

At this point I think it is important to also keep in mind a few things. Public Transport needs to be expanded to accomodate the ever growing number of commuters into the city. How  to retrofit a predominately car-based city is a dilemma for all concerned. Brisbane City Council has committed and has been working towards moving to a ‘greener’ city for a number of years – and has made some very good headway in this area to date. The bike ways that have been implemented in and around Brisbane are awesome. Although many see Victoria Bridge being closed to cyclists for the purpose of allowing more ‘gas guzzling buses’, keep in mind that 600 out of the 1200 buses in Brisbane’s fleet run on compressed natural gas with the aim to reduce the city’s emissions.

Some argue that buses are not the best public transport mode to transfer large about of people in and around the city. My view is that it is easy to identify and criticise the problem, it is much harder to come up with the solution.

Brisbane has taken some positive steps to improve cycling infrastructure in and around the city – like updating current bikeway and bike paths.

So is this protest beneficial to progressing the cycling agenda or not?

Not all Brisbane cyclists agree

This protest was quite polarising for Brisbane cyclists. It was very interesting to see the comments and various views expressed on the protest invite page – where a number of cyclists voiced opposition for this protest and gave some super solid reasons.

Here are a few examples of some of the alternate view from cyclists:

  • Be understanding or empathetic to the cause, they won’t even know what the underlying reason for it is. They’ll be all be thinking one thing; f***ing cyclists inconveniencing us again. This is a terrible idea given the hostile contempt many motorists already hold towards cyclists, which will in all likelihood only be only aggravated further as a result of this protest.Surely there is a better way than intently aggravating motorists. This won’t do cycling any favours in my opinion.
  • Yeah, blocking the car lane will REALLY endear cyclists to the motorists…Did anyone actually think this through???
  • We should of course always advocate for better and safer bike facilities; but possibly people don’t know that it is completely legal to ride a bike in a bus lane. They’re our lanes too!
  • I have stated clearly before that activist behaviour in this instance will only put up more barriers to what you wish to achieve at all levels. The cycling community has won many wonderful pieces of infrastructure and legislative changes but want more in a very crowded space where recreational cycling really is unnecessary and a bonus if and when it comes about. More pressing is the dangerous and intimidating cycling behaviour on the cycle and shared paths that is only increasing. This is our issue and needs rigorous education and behavioural change to make the oaths we already have safe for families and children.
  • Sorry Jono – I can’t support this one.
  • Since the Council has now stated that they are in fact providing room for bikes on the bridge as part of their planning. What is the purpose of this? Other than to upset other road users and further create division between them and cyclists.

What is a ‘die-in’ protest?

This involved a hundred or so cyclists and their bike strewing themselves on the ground to visually represent the danger and impact that maybe inflicted if this plan goes ahead – and also in homage of those who have already lost lives in bicycle road accidents.

After meeting at South Bank, and with the Bee Gees Staying Alive as their anthem, the group rode to the bridge, gathered for a minutes’ silence to remember those who have already died, then set up for the protest.

Some cyclists came very prepared, with a few splaying red sheets underneath them to simulate blood pools – it was visually very effective.

Victoria Bridge - bike 'die-in' protest

The whole event was well received and a massive foot crowd watched on and offered comments of appreciative support from the side-lines.

The ‘die-in’ was a very effective strategy and got well publicised in local and national media outlets as a result.

This publicity had to do with the effective and provoakative imagery of having so many ‘dead’ bodies laying all over the main city arterial – and literally stopping traffic (all traffic was diverted for the hour-ish long protest).

Following the die-in (which didn’t last too long) the group collected their things and rode away dinging bells and waving to onlookers and media.

I’d be interested to see if this event gets the results is was aiming for.

Do you support this bike protest?

#VictoriaBridgeBikeBlockade

Conference Presentation: creating memorable community bike projects

Hi bike nuts!

Earlier this week I returned from Adelaide (SA) after presenting a roundtable session at the national Australian Walking and Cycling Conference (AWCC).

I put together a kick-ass abstract to present a workshop earlier this year and in May I was accepted to present.

It was awesome!

I had a great time and made the most of my time there networking and getting the low down on current issues, debates, research and trends in urban and rural cycling.

There were so many great sessions it would be difficult to cover them all, so  I’ll give some event highlights in the next post. I was super  impressed by the range and scope of the cycling (and some walking) presentations.

My session was entitled:  Bicycles Create Change: An innovative guide to creating memorable and meaningful engagement in community bike projects.

Basically, my roundtable session used some of my community bike projects as case studies to explore a number of key aspects I think are important to consider when planning, managing and running community bike events.

I undertook each of these ‘case study’ events as a private, individual community member, which means that I did not get paid for them, but I also didn’t get any money from the events either – it was purely for the love.

I had  4 classifications to present 6 case studies, some of which you can see more of on the PROJECT page.

The classifications (and case studies) were:

  • Individual (Leki, and Art Bikes)
  •  Pair collaboration (Leki & the Ova)
  • Group (Bicycles Create Change Summer Internship)
  • Wider community (Recycled Dreams Community Storybook and #Bikes_CISTA)

Here is my full PPT and notes of my presentation: Nina (Bicycles Create Change) Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017 presentation

Essentially, I was arguing for these key points:

  1. Create the community you want to live in
  2. Create opportunities to ‘talk to a stranger’
  3. Create community bike events where the focus is NOT on the actual ‘riding’ of bikes. This is because I think there will be better acceptance of bikes in general if the general public have more every day, positive and fun interactions with BIKES (in general) and not just see them in relation to RIDING – so create events that doesn’t rely on fitness’ access, confidence, age, or even having a bike, etc. This will mean that bikes are normalised into daily community life and are more readily accepted.
  4. Not to see cycling/biking only as a ‘sport’.
  5. Create ‘Bike events’ that cater to non-riders – create positive bike exposure
  6. If they don’t come to you – you need to go to them! Bike events need to go into the community- no more  events where the riders are (physically or otherwise) separated from the general public
  7. Debunk the ‘road-riding-is-the-only-type-of-cycling-I-see-in-my-community-and-that’s-not-me’ myth – create events where the focus is not on the type of riding, but that it is fun and anyone can use a bike for all kinds of things
  8. Seeing bikes as an object other than just for riding – better integration of bikes into our communities in ways that are not solely about riding
  9. creating events that invite participation, celebrate ‘local heroes’ and local surrounds
  10. Creating events that have a zero-waste policy. No more cycling events with plastic cups, copious amounts of advertising flyers in musettes or crappy McCrap-crap that goes along with far too many cycling events – better still, how about bike events that have a reverse-rubbish feature and turn any waste brought into the event into something more positive?
  11. ….and I’m sure you can’t think of your own ideas as well. I’d love to hear them!

I presented 3 x 10 minutes, each followed by 15-minute discussions.

To add a little interest, spark and creativity, I presented in a custom-made outfit made out of recycled bicycle tires and parts. I had the idea for this outfit as a prototype for a series, and as I was busy getting the presentation prepared, so my collaborating partner Claire Tracey made the outfit and hat based on my requirements and infused a little of her own magic. (Thx CT!) I made the accessories. This ensemble was the prefect compliment – and reflection – of precisely the points my presentation was making – Hazah!

 

 

I was very interested to hear what people thought of the ideas and projects I presented – and the questions and discussions that ensued gave me a lot to think about.

One of the best outcomes? Following the presentation I was approached by a group of young marketers who are working on a behaviour change project to get more local people aware of – and riding – bikes. They want me to bring the Bicycles Create Change perspective to their project and consult! A wonderful presentation result. Whoopee!