World Naked Bike Ride Day

There have been many culture shocks for me moving from Melbourne to Brisbane, but none more so than daily being confronted by the restrictive, narrow-minded, risk-adverse and controlling authority that Queensland has over its residents. In every other major city around the world, today is the World Naked Bike Ride Day 2016. This is a peaceful political demonstration to protest against the burning of fossil fuels and climate change, as well as promoting naturism, biketivism and environmentalism (all the best -isms!).

Only In Brisbane

I laughed myself into a stitch, when I inquired about the event last week about the WNBR Brisbane chapter. I read that in Queensland, ONLY women can ride completely nude. For reasons of ‘indecency’, men had to wear a G-string – WTF!!!

No other city I know of has this rule – and I mean nowhere around the WORLD that I can find!

(Having said that, if I was a man who wanted to participate in the Brisbane ride – personally, I would wear the G-string on my head, around my wrist or my ankle).

Talk about ridiculous laws!!

World Naked Bike Ride Day
World Naked Bike Ride Day 2016

Authority control = no Brisbane WNBR

Not only that, but the route that the WNBR Brisbane was to take, was deemed to have too much ‘exposure’ (teehee) to the general public as it tool in taking in parts of the M1. So the police knocked back the proposal. This sparked a series of run arounds for the organisers by police, local officials and council  – so much so, that the process and permit got bound up so tightly (and effectively) that the event in Brisbane had to be cancelled.

What a crock!

That meant that the closest WNBR event for Brisbanites was in Byron Bay – 2 hours away!

Brisbane is notorious for previously having a pitiful turnout for this event because the participants get such a hard time when it does go ahead.

This year it was a definitive and flat out red-ribbon stitch-up for good. Problem sorted.

Queensland is old-fashioned, risk-adverse and draconian – and quietly but effectively, authorities are pairing back on civil liberties one small step at a time. Not enough that people get concerned, but just enough to ever so convincingly restrict locals’ choices in lifestyle, activities and access.

Whether you agree or not with the World Naked Bike Ride, in Australia we supposedly have ‘the right’ to hold and/or participate in this event.

I think if people want to cycle nude to highlight what they feel is an important social issue, all the more power to them!

But the way Queensland authorities handled this event – flat out sucks!

What a good job of cutting Brisbane out of one of the most fun, colourful and popular international peaceful bike protests.

Well, kudos to every other cosmopolitan, contemporary, inclusive,  progressive and intelligent city in the world who enjoyed a gorgeous day of free speech, community participation and environmental awareness. I hope you had a massive blast, got your message out there and bless you brave souls and awesome supporters who attended!!

I hope all those beautiful riders had a massive blast, got thier message out there.less you brave souls and awesome supporters who attended!!

Bless those brave souls and awesome supporters who attended!!

It is days like this that I sorely miss living in Melbourne.

I was genuinely sorry to have missed out on supporting one of my favourite lively, refreshing and community-driven annual biking events.

If Cape Town in South Africa (see video below) can still manage do it in the midst of all their economic, political and social issues – then shame on you Brisbane. You are miles behind the times!!!

International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! There is much going on internationally to celebrate this day. I was very impressed with the diverse and comprehensive coverage that the ABC had on offer for the whole week, in fact, to draw attention to all manner of issues relating to gender, women and equality.

Filipino and Timorese experiences

Given my specific interest in gender education, this day provides a great platform to access and interact with the political and social milieu surrounding women’s issues. It is troubling that so much of the discourse surrounding gender issues is interrelated with other sociocultural problems such as poverty and violence. I caught an interesting item from RN Breakfast, where a former Filipino politician Liza Maza was being interviewed about the state of women in her country, which has seen an increase by 200% of violence against women and children in the last 5 years.

In many places around the world, many of these issues are systemic, ingrained and normalised. When I was working in Timor-Leste, I remember hearing a Development Facilitator tell his story of introducing and running a Gender Mainstreaming Program there. It was very well received and involved a lot of topics related to gender sensitivity. The workshop had great attendance and interest by community leaders and locals – both men and women. At the end of this intensive course, during the debriefing session when they were reflecting about the most significant changes and outcomes, one male participant said that it had all been very interesting, but that the biggest change for him was that he had to ‘beat his wife more now than before’ because the workshop had given her ‘ideas’.

These Filipino and Timorese realities are so far outside my own daily experience, yet it is paramount to be mindful that such situations occur daily for other women – and to do what little we can in our own way to effect positive change for all. I heard a call to action during Liza Mazza’s interview for people to do one thing each day that moves us towards some kind of positive change.

Salute the strong men!

My one activity to bring about change in light of insurmountable and devastating statistics about gender-based violence elsewhere in the world is to recognize and move towards the positive – and to thank the beautiful, brave and progressive men around the world who support and champion women’s issues, in little and big ways. On days such as this one, when the focus is squarely on women, I’d like to give my sincere gratitude to the amazing men around the world – many of whose names we will never know, but who, in their own small ways have done some action to support the women in their lives and communities.

To these strong and honorable men – I salute and thank you!


Source: Dining for Women

African Bicycle Ambulances

The research I looked at today was how African bicycle ambulances are being used to provide a more effective maternal health services.


This is an area of health services that has a high priority within the UN Millennium Development Goals and in Africa, this is an area of significant concern and where much aid effort is concentrated. One older Transaid project from Zambia, which implemented a number of bicycle ambulance projects in various regions in Africa, stood out for me in particular, so I thought I would share the project highlights with you.


Background to African Bicycle Ambulances

Transaid is a charity organisation established by the Charted Institutes of Logistics and Transport in association with Save the Children Fund. Its primary objective is to address major transportation issues faced by poor rural African health services. This project focuses on maternal health, as these indicators provide a solid representation of the efficiency of the overall health care system in a given area. Rural Africa faces severe patient mobility issues, even for short distances, with access and cost being the most critical factors, especially in emergencies and fistula cases. Additionally, the further demand and requirement for Immediate Modes of Transport (IMT) ‘is significant among maternity cases’ and this is most significant given that ‘one of the biggest reasons for the large number of maternal mortalities in developing countries is the time and distance pregnant women have to travel to the nearest clinic to receive proper care’ (Forster, Simfukwe, & Barber, 2010, pg 13). One example of the seriousness  of this situation comes from an Ethiopian Fistula Hospital, which reports that it takes women in labour an average of 11 hours to reach a health facility that can provide for their needs – and this is in the urban capital city of Addis Ababa!



To increase access to urgent health care services, 40 bicycle ambulances were provided to rural communities in Zambia in 2008, which provided a free bicycle ambulance service for community members. This project was better thought out than a number of others I have read, mainly as the bicycle ambulances were allocated to community-based home carers (personal) and not assigned to be stored and/or work out of a health clinic (location). This is much more appropriate, as location issues such as access to a bike (if they are in a room or shed on location which is locked), or only having one particular staff member who has a key, limited clinic opening hours or collecting oxen to be hitched to a cart from surrounding areas, – have all often hampered response times in similar projects. Additionally, ten local field mechanics were trained to construct and service the ambulances, which was found to be a major success factor.

Bicycle Ambulance Design considerations: Three different bicycle ambulance designs were trialled and assessed. A design with a stretcher, full canopy and a non-flexible hitch was the considered the most comfortable and popular by riders and patients. Other interesting feedback considerations were:
• The bicycle should be permanently attached to the ambulance to extend the life of hitch apparatus.
• Rear wheel post frame hitching made turning more difficult than seat post hitching.
• Provision for a pump, basic maintenance tools and a first aid kit is needed.
• Lights were required for night-time call-outs.
• Bicycles needed to be lighter or adequate gears used for uphill trips.
• Clothing should be provided such as a high visibility vest and a rain jacket.
• The size of local door frames was an issue as the original prototype ambulance was too wide to fit through a standard Namibian door frame – which impacted on patient transference.


• During the whole program, the bicycle ambulances took 251 life-saving journeys – the longest trip being 40 km.
• During the pilot program (first 4 months), the bicycle ambulances were used 82 times to transport patients to health care facilities.
• By having a personal bicycle ambulance, 96% of the recipient caregivers were able to be more effective in their work.
• Travel time was significantly reduced (from 2.5 hours by ox-cart down to 30 minutes) by using bicycle ambulance.
• Patient safety and comfort increased – they could lie down on the bicycle ambulance instead of sit (or ride) on a personal bike.
• The bicycle ambulance canopy provides shelter (rain, mud, sun, animals) and privacy for patients (especially important for women who are nearing birth – i.e. waters breaking etc).
• Having a stretcher attached meant that river crossings were much safer and easier and the bikes were able to take walking paths that oxcart transportation was unable to manage.



There has not been any further monitoring and evaluation data from this particular project – but as it stands, this project seems to be a step in the right direction. It is encouraging to see bicycles being utilised to help address some of the most pressing and urgent health issues that disadvantaged poor African women face. It is incredibly important that such initiatives are investigated, promoted and disseminated. It is also a very humbling reminder for people living elsewhere, (like Australia) who can often forget how significant and urgent basic (community) health services can be.


Source: Transaid

Forster, G., Simfukwe, V., & Barber, C. (2010). Bicycle ambulances have impact. Appropriate Technology, 37(3), 13.

The right to feel the wind in your hair – Cycling Without Age

Everyone has a right to ride a bike and feel the wind in their hair – so here is a community cycling initiative that is right up my alley!!

“Cycling Without Age” is a movement started in 2012 by Ole Kassow. Ole wanted to help the elderly get back on their bicycles, but he had to find a solution to their limited mobility. The answer was a rickshaw. He started offering free bike rides to the local nursing home residents. Cycling Without Age website. Now four years into operation, this project has made thousands of elderly people incredibly happy; has over 400 purpose built rickshaws, ridden by 3,000 volunteer ‘pilots’ and can be found all over Denmark, as well as Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, UK, Germany, Austria, Italy, Singapore, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, Slovakia, Netherlands, France and Chile. I can’t wait for it to come to Australian cities.



I think this project is highly progressive for a number of reasons:

It’s an amazing way for the elderly (or others?) to be reintegrated into everyday life, despite various mobility or health issues.

It provides an amazing opportunity for those who would not necessarily get outside often (if at all), including the invigorating and curative physiological and psychological effects that fresh air, excitement and social contact have on degenerative conditions.

To remind an ever busy, self-centred and technological world of the finer things in life, like taking the time to ride in a park with friends – and for it to be so meaningful.

The organisation has even taken ‘international’ cycling trips – from Denmark over the sea to Norway, for one – what an amazing trip of a lifetime at any age.

It serves as a reminder that our Elders still have dreams, hopes and life to live – just as we all do.

Basically, this is a community service. Not only does it genuinely promote cycling for all ages, it also actively integrates elders into society. As well it creates opportunities for unusual and significant social networks and relationships to form between disparate community members – like the riders and the passengers, who otherwise would probably not have ever met.

In many eyes, this is a fantastic example of how bicycles can have a truly positive effect on people and communities. What an inspiration!

For more background and details, see Ole presenting his project at a TED Copenhagen in the video below.


MTB Rotorua, New Zealand

Leaving today for a 10 day mountain bike trip to Rotorua NZ.

Bikes are loaded on plane and we are waiting to board.

I am very excited about riding new trails, making new friends and discovering what the NZ biking community has to offer.

I will be posting as usual and looking forward to including NZ related content for the duration of our trip here.


Arrived 6pm on Christmas Eve, so had a slow roll around town, checked out some thermal hot spots, views of the lake and settled in for an early night. Next day was great – rode up to first main shuttle junction and checked out some trails. The weather was beautiful, the giant fern and Douglas fir forests are stunning (a little confronting riding out of the shady forest bliss into the desolation of the logging trails, though!).  I am loving how accessible, well signed and quiet these trails are so far – what a great way to spend Christmas! – No fuss, maximum fun riding!!

Happy holidays and safe riding.