Kurilpa Derby

Last weekend was the 10th anniversary of the Kurilpa Derby in Brisbane.

It is a fantastic annual community celebration of life on wheels.

The Kurilpa Derby is a major social and community event where the main street of the West End (Brisbane) is  blocked off for the afternoon and taken over by all things colourful, fun, family and related to bikes…and other environmentally-friendly people-powered mobility, such as skateboards, scooters, roller-skates, trolleys, prams and everything in between!

The Derby is hosted by West End Community Association and is open to the general public and showcases the best that the West End has to offer in terms of business, community and lifestyle.

I have not previously been to the Derby before and this year it came highly recommended. Boy and I glad I went.

I had a brilliant time.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

 

What happened at Kurilpa Derby?

The event is a much loved, anticipated and popular event.

It was a stunning, sunny day – and there was a great turn out.

Leki was at her floral best and I went as a jokey to pay homage to the ‘derby’ theme and also for the upcoming Melbourne Cup.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

The day started with the Kurilpa Derby Street Parade.

Leki and I joined in the street parade along with all the other participants floats, families and locals.

The Parade was colourful and noisy and a lot of fun. We were surrounded by colour and energy and lots of locals, families and community groups participated.

The effort and thought that people had put into decorating whatever parade mode they had and their costuming was impressive.

There was so much to see in the parade, like the Brazilian dancing girls, a ‘public pool’ (float), beautifully decorated rickshaws, couches on wheels, unicycles, a tall bike, lots of environmentally-themed mobile displays and a number of killer drumming troupes who keep the parade bopping along.

An amazing oversized water rat ended up winning the float first prized prize.

My personal parade favourite was the beekeeping team-theme float. This was an understand, but well executed exhibit that had  a spunky lady dressed as a bee inside a box decorated as the ‘hive’ as their float. This hive float was pulled by two fully equipped bee keepers (in full bee keeping suits including smoke cans). This crew handed out ices-poles anyone who wanted them the whole time – brilliant!

After the Parade,  the road remained closed and there were a  range of activities,  demos, novelty races and entertainment, such as a Pet Parade, a cocktail race, skateboard demonstration and heaps of other novelty races.

It was brilliant to see so many visitors and families out and about. Kids were roaring up and down the street in between races enjoying the freedom, safety and fun of having an allocated street to roam free and go wild.

It was such a delight to see the community – all locals and visitors alike – come together in such a celebratory and inclusive way.

As the sun went down the festivities continued. The bars, shops, cafes and restaurants did a roaring business and were keep buys all day and night.

Many people stayed on after to attend the Kurilpa Beggars’ Banquet, which is a brilliant community potluck dinner extravaganza.

If you have never been to the Kurilpa Derby before, be sure to put it on the calendar for next year. It is well worth it!

Below are a few pics from the day. See more photos at local Greta Pavlova’s Album.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.comKurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com


Images my own, from Kurilpa Derby FB, @imogenbunting & @brisvagueness. Montage from The West End Magazine.

Bike Palooza

If I didn’t have to heave my head in the books for my PhD Confirmation paper – I’d be in Bendigo, VIC celebrating Bike Palooza Bendigo! You lucky buggers! NG.


Bike Palooza Bendigo - Bicycles Create Change

In July earlier this year, I met Jac from Bike Bendigo at the National Cycling and Walking Conference (Adelaide).

On meeting, we immediately hit it off.  We had a shared passion for promoting more bikes in our communities. We were both keen to attend each others’ sessions, but we had to present at the same time! Eck!

We swapped contacts and have stayed in touch since. I was delighted to see that Jac, Bike Bendigo, their local partners and what looks like their whole community  – have been super busy because  October is Bike Bendigo’s Bike Palozza month-long festival!

Bike Palooza Bendigo - Bicycles Create ChangeWhat is Bike Palooza Bendigo?

Essentially, Bike Palooza Bendigo is a month long bike festival hosted by Bike Bendigo to celebrate and promote biking, cycling and riding in and around the community of Bendigo, VIC.

Bike Bendigo is a community based organisation committed to getting more people on bikes in Bendigo. They partner with local council to promote the local area as a principal bicycle destination for all types of riders – and they are doing a damn fine job of it too!

They are very activate on social media and have some great little videos uploaded onto Facebook.

Bike Palooza Bendigo has been in the media and it is great to see local businesses getting behind Bike Bendigo and the event and supporting it.

A well thought out event.

Kudos to the organisers as the event has been extremely well thought out, in relation to timing, types of events and locations.

Also, the consistency and originality of the event marketing theme (website, colours, animations etc) is original and distinctive – and there is a limited line of event pennants and T-shirsts and badges available.

This is a wonderful month-long event with over 120+ events to check out- it is very family friendly and definitely something for everyone!

There is the Ride2Work day, the inaugural Bendigo Cycle Classic, the Filmed by Bike International Bike Film Festival, Free Wheeling Fun open shed, Open Streets and heaps of community rides to name a few.

Bike Palooza Bendigo - Bicycles Create Change

Filmed by Bike– Friday 20th Oct @ Bike Palooza 2017

My hot tip event not to be missed is the Filmed by Bike screening.

This free event will be a screening of two of shows from the world renowned international bike film festival from Portland, Oregon: Bike Love and Adventure Shorts. To see these films – head down to: Hargreaves Mall this Friday (20th Oct). 6.30pm for 7pm start of films. Click here for more details. There will be a pop-up bar, plenty of comfy seating provided on the night, so BYO picnic, dinner and ride on it to see the screening.

Mind you – I’m keen to go on any of the community rides as well!!

Bike Palooza Bendigo - Bicycles Create Change

I have been immensely impressed with the amount of work that Jac and the Bike Bendigo crew have put into the Bike Palozoo extravaganza. Amazing!

Congrats on such a brilliant showcase of your region, your town and for creating such a positive dialogue about, and promotion for, bike-friendly communities…and for extending the invitation for more cyclists to come a enjoy your very welcoming and bike-friendly town!

I can’t wait to head down and come for a ride!

Have fun to all those heading to Bendigo to support this awesome event, I hope you have a bikey-blast!

For those who have not yet gone – get on ya bike and get down there!

All images: Bike Palooza Bendigo.

Bike Picnic – Casino Plaza Protest

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

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


Bike Picnic - Casino Plaza Protest. Bicycles Create

Bike Picnic – Casino Plaza Protest

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

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

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

It was all very civilised!!

A quick raw edit 

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

 

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

So how was the event?

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

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

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

Bike Picnic - Casino Plaza Protest. Bicycles Create

 

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

Old fashioned picnic games

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

Bike Picnic - Casino Plaza Protest. Bicycles Create

Reasoning for the protest

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

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

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

Bike Picnic - Casino Plaza Protest. Bicycles Create

 

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

Bike Picnic - Casino Plaza Protest. Bicycles Create

Bike Picnic - Casino Plaza Protest. Bicycles Create

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.

PhD in Transport Opportunity

Here’s an opportunity for a bike-rider who wants a research challenge.

Earlier this week I met with Assoc. Prof. Matt Bourke after he contacted me to discuss a few projects he is working on and exchange some ideas.  Matt is the Principal Research Fellow for the Cities Research Institute (CRI – Griffith Uni).  I was delighted to find out he is a bike rider and to see cycling

I am always happy to met a fellow bike rider making positive change. It was great to see cycling paraphernalia dotted around his office. We need more prominent two-wheeling academics!

Matt and I have a number of research and interest overlap in non-motorised travel, physical activity and health and urban travel. However, my interests are squarely on bicycles, community engagement and contested spaces, whereas he is more transport planning, policy, design and implementation.

Which meant there was lots to talk about!

One interesting thing we discussed is that Matt is currently looking for a candidate to undertake a PhD in transport and equity with his team.

Anyone up for the challenge?

PhD in Transport Opportunity - Bicycles Create Change.com
Source: Griffith News Website

What is the focus area of this PhD?

The CRI forecasts requiring double the amount of post-graduate degree candidates within its first six months – this is part of that expansion.

Currently, CRI  is focused on investigating ‘place based social policy in Australian cities’ and has over  100 students working on:

  • Urban planning and water: Towards a new institutional paradigm
  • Environmental management tools
  • Working with marginalised groups via cultural development practices
  • Improving state governance of Australian urban regions

What exactly is this PhD in Transport Opportunity?

Here are the details for SEEK. To apply and get the links click here.

PhD in Transport Opportunity - Bicycles Create Change.com

PhD in Transport Opportunity - Bicycles Create Change.com

PhD in Transport Opportunity - Bicycles Create Change.com

Why is this PhD role so special?

This role also is very prestigious within the transport sector as it is working with CRI and Griffith University, which are highly regarded as:

  • Griffith University is in the top 100 in the world for Transportation Science & Technology in the latest Shanghai Rankings Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2017.
  • The Griffith Transport Research (GTR) team was awarded the Griffith Sciences ‘Excellence in a research team’ award for 2015.
  • GTR has at least ten PhD scholars working in transport research at any one time across the group.
  • The GRT has won six prestigious Australian Research Council grants since 2009, and they have collaborations with leading international researchers from Europe, North America and increasingly in Asia.
  • GTR work with and cross various disciplines including travel behaviour, transport & land use, transport economics, transport engineering, transport planning, transport law, logistics, and transport & environment.
  • Their work covers all modes including walking, cycling, public transport, ferries, roads, freight, shipping and aviation.
  • The new CRI is designed to become the pre-eminent Australian centre for trans-disciplinary research on the integration of infrastructure, place-making and community and economic development in cities.
  • This role is based at Griffith Uni’s Brisbane campus at Nathan in the Sir Samuel Griffith Building, which is an innovative flagship research building and is an award -winning 6-star sustainable building produces zero emissions.

 

I would love to see more bike riders taking an active role in research, planning and policy – and this is one great way to do it. A PhD is a serious undertaking, but for those who are up for the challenge, the results would be not only personal gains but would have significant positive and enduring impacts for the future of city development and for all community members. What a brilliant way to progress the cycling and active transportation agenda!

If interested, contact:

Assoc. Prof Burke
Skype or WeChat (with the username/ID ‘drmattburke’)
Phone: +61 7 3735 7106
Email: m.burke@griffith.edu.au

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

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

Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure

This guest post is by Dr Mike Lloyd, a NZ academic who contacted me after I featured his article on the recent MTB bike rage incident that was caught on video and went viral. This post remains the one of the most popular BCC posts. His follow-up article examined ‘the spatial, temporal and interactional order of a rare case of cycle rage’ and looked at the same incident from a videography analysis to uncover the details of a MTB track run ‘gone wrong’. Both are well worth the read! It an absolute pleasure to present Mike’s first guest post – we hope to be hearing more from him – Enjoy! NG.


The Road Ahead: Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure

(A summary of research by Dr Mike Lloyd, Max Baddeley, and Dr Ben Snyder, School of Social & Cultural Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand; the full paper is currently under submission with an academic journal)

‘Sharrows’ first appeared in California in the early 2000s and have now been officially mandated for use on roads in many countries including Australia and New Zealand.   Our research looked at new cycling infrastructure in Wellington, New Zealand, specifically a 450 metre stretch of road where the designers stopped Copenhagen-style cycle lanes and reverted to more standard road space marked with sharrows (short for shared lane arrow).  Here is what a sharrow looks like in this space.

Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure
The sharrow is the white cycle with double arrow sign painted in the middle of the red area (indicating a 30kph zone).  For the SUV driver, in this context the sign can mean, ‘be alert for cyclists ahead, and share the road if you come across them’.  This is consistent with aspects of sharrow use in Australia where they are referred to as a ‘Bicycle Awareness Zone’.  This also conforms to the New Zealand ‘best practice’ guidelines which say the sharrow ‘helps reinforce that the carriageway is a valid place for cyclists to travel (reinforcing to other road users to act accordingly’).  The interesting question is ‘where exactly should the cyclist ride?’  Looking at the bottom panel, we can see that there seems to be some guidance in this regard: the widening green bars seem to direct the cyclist to move into the middle of the road, exactly where the sharrows signs are positioned.

A quick googling of ‘sharrow’ would confirm this, as phrases like occupy- claim- or take-the lane will crop up.  However, this is not a hard-and-fast guideline for how a sharrowed area should be ridden.  Traffic experts emphasise that the sharrow is there to help the cyclist occupy the traffic lane when it is safe and appropriate to do so.  So, key questions are: ‘when’ should a cyclist claim the lane, and in doing so ‘where’ exactly should they position themselves in the lane?  Further, any cyclist will also know that it is not only the road ahead they need to be concerned with, but the road behind.  If a cyclist occupes the lane with cars behind, how will those drivers react?  A first way into this issue is to look at the process of attempting to claim the lane in the transition from the Copenhagen-style cycle lanes to the sharrow area.  This is where the widening green bars come into play, but as we see they are no guarantee of success:

 

Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure

Panels 1 to 3 show a cyclist attempting to claim the lane, but in response the driver of the white car speeds up not allowing the cyclist ahead.  In contrast, panels 4 to 6 show success: as the cyclist moves out the driver of the green car backs off, allowing the cyclist to ride ahead claiming the lane.

We do not have a breakdown of the ratio of success to failure in claiming the lane as this was not our goal, however, it is worth noting that our research involved one of the researchers riding to claim the lane; in reality, it is rare to see other cyclists doing so.  Mostly, cyclists revert to a default line to the left of centre.  This is a pity, because as we rode we discovered that sharrows can work to make cycling safer in traffic spaces where cycle lanes are not present.   Here the effect of raised pedestrian crossings and four speed bumps within the sharrow area was signficant. The entrance of both ends of the sharrow area features raised pedestrian crossings, and whereas a cyclist can ride over these with little decrease in pace, vehicles slow to a greater degree, thus giving the cyclist a chance to maintain a lead ahead of vehicles.  When the vehicles get over the raised crossing and increase their speed, catching up with a cyclist, the speed bumps repeatedly give the cyclist a ‘breathing space’.  Of course, this all depends on the speed being travelled: this ‘breathing space’ effect works for a car obeying the 30 kph limit, but not for one travelling significantly over this speed.  Needless to say, not everyone obeys speed limits.

Also, once claiming the lane, there can be a reduction in the temptation to ‘filter’. When there are parked cars to the left, but the central line of traffic is slow or stopped, it is very common for cyclists to ‘filter’ between the cars –  a dangerous area to be cycling in.  Our cyclist’s impression was that once riding to ‘claim the lane’, when the traffic slows, filtering to the left is not so ‘automatic’, rather the cyclist may just slow their pace to match the vehicles ahead, thus reducing the risk of riding in the dangerous space between cars.

This good news has to be tempered though by one of the main findings of the research.  This has to do with how difficult it is to predict in the design of cycling infrastructure how drivers and cyclists will actually interact on the built road.  Small details can be remarkably important, yet hard to plan for.  We were able to realise this because of our dual camera research method, that is, our cyclist had a GoPro camera pointing forward on his bike handlebars, and a rearwards facing camera mounted on his helmet.  The folllowing three visuals capture a near-dooring incident.

Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure

In panel 1 the cyclist is riding past three parked cars and a motorbike, and just as he is adjacent to the motorbike, the door on the silver car starts to open.  The video record does not allow us to be definitive, nevertheless, in our view two things can be noted.  First, the opening of the door is a continuous movement (see panels 3 and 4), and second, from a careful scrutiny of panel 4, the car driver is looking forward, not behind or to the right where the cyclist is approaching.  It does not seem either that the driver is looking into a rear-view mirror to check for any vehicle or cyclist behind, nevertheless, we certainly accept that this could be the case.

Interestingly, the inability to be definitive on this point is not of crucial importance, because the more pressing question to ask is, why was the cyclist not aware of the door opening?  This is sensible to ask because, as shown in panel 3 of figure 6, it has opened sufficiently enough for it be visible.  Experienced cyclists develop a strong sense of where they are cycling in relation to parked cars and the potential at any moment for a door to be opened on them, meaning that even a door opening to 10 centimetres is probably detectable. But there is no evidence that the cyclist sees the door opening, as he certainly does not change his line in response to the opening, even though by the time he is directly adjacent to the door it may well have opened even further than seen in panel 4.

In an ‘aha’ moment the answer was provided by consulting the rearwards-facing video record, filmed simultaneously.

Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure

In panel 1, the cyclist has entered the sharrow area, claiming the lane with the consequence that the silver MPV behind him slows.  Just after panel 1, the vehicle comes closer but then backs off, continuing to follow at a reasonable distance (panel 2).  Just before panel 1, the cyclist has looked behind and seen the silver MPV, so he is aware of its presence while he rides centrally ahead of it.  Panel 3 provides the answer to the question of why the cyclist was unaware of the car door opening.    At precisely the moment when the car door begins and proceeds to open, the cyclist is looking behind (hence, the tilted screenshot) to see where the silver MPV is in relation to him.  This fully explains the ignorance of the door opening, but, as captured in panels 4 and 5, we now have a much more extensive idea of what happened.  We see that the door was fully opened with the driver emerging onto the road, and we also see how dangerous this situation was.  As indicated by the yellow arrow, the cyclist’s line was directly in the path of the fully opened door.  It was probably only by a matter of micro-seconds that he escaped being doored.

There is more that can be learned from this data, for another pressing question needs answering: if the cyclist was claiming the lane in the sharrow area, why, at this particular point, is he riding a line within the dooring zone?

Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure

The answer is available in the subtle change of line prior to the place where the near-dooring occurred.  In panel 1, the cyclist approaches the raised pedestrian crossing riding in the centre of the road, and in panel 2 is seen riding straight over the sharrow sign.  Panels 3 and 4 show though, that just before he gets to the speed bump, there is a subtle alteration in line, taking him leftwards and closer to the line of parked cars. This alteration in line is first due to riding around a manhole cover in the road, which takes the line towards a second cover in the road (at the head of the top arrow), which is also ridden by moving to the left.  These slight alterations in line are continued by riding to the left of the speed bump, the line then maintained towards the circled area ahead (panel 5) where the near-dooring occurs. The cyclist is clearly picking the line of ‘least resistance’ in relationship to the bumpiness of the road, which results in moving him further and further to the left, away from the sharrow line and into the dooring zone.

The subtlety of such alterations in line would be difficult for road designers to predict.  Moreover, other things can happen in the same space that lead the cyclist to a different line.

Research on the ‘sharrow’ in cycling infrastructure

This second door opening occurs well before the cylist, but is also at a time when the cyclist is riding to the right of the sharrow line, so that he is well clear of the opened door.  This is because the transition from the raised pedestrian crossing to this location has no material objects that encourage alteration in line.   In panel 2 we again see the alteration in line around the cover, but this time when the cyclist gets to the speed bump (panel 3), he rides through the middle.  The reason for this is visible in panel 4: he looks ahead and sees a parked bus taking up significant space in the road, so he anticipates the need to go wider and adjusts his line out more centrally in the road, coincidentally taking him well away from the dooring zone.

So, the exact lines ridden are clearly not solely determined by the material features of the road, rather there is a complex entanglement of the social and material in any particular riding through the sharrow area.  There are patterns in how a sharrow area is ridden, but at the same time these are not sufficient to predict the course of any moment’s riding through this new cycling infrastructure.  The particular line taken in any particular moment is part of a ‘wild phenomena’. To decide on the degree of success of any new cycling infrastructure requires close attention to the detail of how cyclists and drivers actually interact. Thankfully, the availability of cheap and easy-to-use action cameras makes data-gathering relatively simple, leaving the researcher with the difficult task of unpacking the fine detail.  It is an important task that may lead to improved cycling infrastructure design.

Bike Week Queensland 2017

This week is Bike Week Queensland 2017.

Bike Week is an annual cycling festival that hosts a range of events in and around Brisbane from Sat 6th May -to Sunday 14th  May.

There were many events, meets, rides, conferences and seminars (as you can see below) that were registered events for this bike festival. You can get more info about the program here.

It is the largest cycling festival in Queensland and caters for a range of cycling disciplines, styles, levels and interest groups.

This event is organised by Bicycle Queensland and has been running since the 1990’s.

Bike Week Queensland 2017

Bike Week Queensland 2017

Bike Week Queensland 2017

Bike Week Queensland 2017
Source: Bike Week Queensland 2017

Bike Week Queensland 2017 – Ride2Work Breakfast.

I attended a few official (and unofficial events). Today I rode in early to meet with the rest of the Griffith University BUGS to participate in the Ride2Work Breakfast Event. I have ridden once before with the GU BUGS from Brisbane city to Uni, but today was extra special. We met at the Law Courts in town and Bicycle Queensland had pavilions set up, the QLD Minister for Main Roads, the Hon. Tim Bailey,  spoke (and it was great to see he had ridden in on his bike as well) and there were stalls, prizes, coffee on arrival, a basic breakfast and lots of cyclists to meet. The police were there offering a service to photograph and log your bike to your license as a theft-protection service, which many cyclists took advantage of.

Bike week – Bike Summit (Friday 12th May).

I would have loved to have attended tomorrow’s Bike Summit, but alas it is my busiest day teaching at Uni. After such a positive experience discussing bicycle policy, programs and advocacy in Melbourne at the Bike Futures Conference earlier this year in Feb, I was keen to hear what the changes, trends and differences are in Queensland.

Although I was a little disappointed with the lack of detail in the program that was distributed – to me it did not give quite enough detail to really explain what each session would entail. I know there were many BUGs groups going in for the afternoon session, but the program scarcely recognised if/how the advocacy and Q & A sessions might be run – didn’t really instil much confidence.

So I stuck to attending the practical and active events this year and had a great time! See Instagram @bicycles_create_change for some additional photos from the day.

Bike Week Queensland 2017
Source: Bike Week Queensland 2017

 

All in all

I had a great day today. I appreciate all the planning and hard work that went into organising the events that were held.

For those events I went to, I made an effort to mingle and make the most of the social and community participation aspects.

It was lovely to be around people who were happy to talk bikes and it was very reaffirming to see so many cyclists in one place.

If only this dynamic could be the mainstay and not only a once a year week-long event!

But, I ‘spose you gotta start somewhere!!

Best of Bike Futures Conference 2017

On Friday I went to the Bike Futures Conference 2017 in Melbourne St Kilda. Here’s quick review of the highlights.

Who attended?
This was my first Bike Futures Conference and I wanted to make the most of it after travelling down from Brisbane. There were over 150 local council representatives, engineers urban planners, school staff, public servants, bike advocates, academics, local residents and many more. Essentially this one-day conference was an opportunity to share current projects and discuss some of the main challenges, success and practical tools that various divisions around Melbourne have been working on. The main aim is to increase, make safer and improve urban cycling conditions. This was a great opportunity to connect and learn from industry experts and peers.

Conference Format
As well as the guided ride to the venue, the conference format was broken into three main sections. You can see the full program of topics and a full list of presenters which shows the range of issues and areas the conference covered.

Guided ride
My conference day started at 8 AM at Federation Square for the guided ride to the venue. There were 18 delegates on the ride, and it was a stunning morning.  Our route took us from Federation Square to St Kilda Town Hall showcasing some of the best of Melbourne’s bicycle-friendly infrastructure. We had three stops at key locations along the way where we heard representatives from Vicroads, City of Melbourne and City of Port Phillip speak about specific bicycle infrastructure, current projects and considered future developments.

Not only was it great as a social ride (I made a point of chatting to others when safe to do so), the presentations themselves were very informative.  I was also relishing being back on two wheels on Melbourne roads – I was flooded with memories and emotions as I relived endless glory days of pedalling in and around Melbourne on some of my favourite adventures with some of my favourite people.

An added highlight was riding along the Formula One Grand Prix track at Albert Park – something I just can’t do in Brisbane, and it added an extra festive zing to my day.

Riding the F1 Grand Prix track
1. Key guest speakers
1.    Claire Ferres Miles (General Manager, Place Strategy and Development, City of Port Phillip). This was a solid start to the conference good overview of projects and update of current and future plans for active transportation.

2.    Professor Chris Pettit  (Inaugural Chair of Urban Science at the University of New South City Futures Research Centre). Chris’s presentation was very interesting. It was research and a little nerdy. His work focuses on spatial planning and use of GIS and mapping technologies to investigate land-use change scenarios. He showed an impressive simulation based on Melbourne riders using the Logmyride app (I’ll do a follow-up post on this as it was very cool!!).

3.    Toby Kent (Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Melbourne). Far out – what a presenter. Not only an unexpected addition to the conference given the seemingly loose connection Melbourne City’s Resilience status has –  but Toby managed to connect with the audience, be squarely on topic, appropriate and clearly linked what his Office does to the audience’s experience – and a super charismatic orator.  Quite spokes, calm and very well prepared, I can see why he is in the top leadership role.

4.    Luke Donnellan (Minister for Roads and Road Safety). As would be expected, Luke coped quite a lot of flak – and deservedly so. Not only was he in full politician style of not directly answering questions, he missed the mark on a number of key issues, put his foot in his mouth by disrespecting a Western Council representative (of which she challenged him on very appropriately!) and was a terrible speaker by reading off his notes in a monotone and completely disinterested and unengaged way and made no attempt to looking at the audience at all. And then promptly ran away. Oh dear!

Sean Yates - Vicroads

2. Pecha Kucha Sessions
This format is quick and interesting, with each presentation having 20 slides (for 20 sec each) being about 6.5 min in total.
1. Evaluation of Bike Ed in School – Che Sutherland (Team Leader – Darebin Council)
2. St Kilda Road Safety Improvement – Sean Yates (Project Development Engineer -Vicroads)
3. Low-stress cycling in Whitehorse – Amy Child, Arup & Lean McGuiness (City of Whitehorse)
4. Greening the Pipeline Project – Emma Pryse (Project Coordinator – City of Wyndham).
5. Bike Safety and trucks Jamie Ross (Safety Officer – Metro Tunnel Project)

Bike Futures 2017

3. Afternoon Break-out Workshop sessions
After lunch, we split up across different rooms to attend our registered session themes.

Session 1: Jump starting Active School Travel
Investigating a very successful case study of Park Orchards Primary School. This workshop explained the process and strategies used to link parents, teachers and community member together to provide a ‘perfect storm’ for a community active transportation initiative spanning a school term in 2012. With a review three years later, the positive behaviour changes in kids and families using more active transportation to go to school was impressive. This workshop was generous in providing details, suggestions and insights of how the project was designed and what elements conspired to make it such as success. It is now considered the Gold Standard of what other schools could achieve. A great session that stimulated lots of conversation and was very through-provoking and inspiring.

Session 2: Getting Girls and Women Riding
This session was run by Bicycle Network and was reporting back on two initiatives – getting more teenage girls (high school) on bikes via a specific program designed just for teenage girls, and getting more women on road bikes via the Ascent event. This session was particularly interesting for me given the unique (and negative) experiences that the Ascent team had in organising and putting on the original 700+ women’s only road cycling event – and the subsequent difficulties they encountered trying to do it again the year after.

Bike Futures 2017
Wrap up
The notion of sharing new ideas about a range of new ways in which bicycles create positive community change was a fitting way to conclude the 2017 Bike Futures Conference. The conference closed with Bicycle Network’s Chief Executive Officer, Craig Richards call to action to “dream bigger make it happen”. After the official close, we then mingled and finalised any contact, got our bikes and those who were up for it headed to the pub across the road for social drinks and to continue informed and passionate discussions.

Final thoughts
For me, the best part of the conference was able to meet such a range of diverse people. From teachers, academics, health professionals, industry experts (lots of E-bikers) BUGers, engineers, transport technicians and lots of local council representatives.

The enjoyed being able to sit and listen to the presentations and take what I needed. I met a wide range of very interesting people and practised talking about my research and this blog. In fact, at one stage I went up to some Bicycle Network delegates to thank them for putting on the conference and I mentioned my work, the instantly connected me with another Bicycle Networker called Alex who is working in India with a Bike Aid program and we ended up finding a quite nook to have a good chat – awesome!

I had a great time at the conference, got some great new ideas and felt re-inspired. It made me miss not being in Melbourne amidst this charge of new bicycle development, but also provided some valuable food for thought and some wonderful new contacts. I was very happy I made an effort to go down to Melbourne to attend this conference.

Bike Futures 2017