Melburn Roobaix 2017

This in-depth, insightful interview and event guest post comes coutesy of the every effervescent and thoughtful @BettyLillowaltzen. Betty is an Artist, Educator, Keynote Speaker and all round amazing soul. This is a wonderfully comprehensive and enlightening discussion of one of Melbourne’s most loved (sub)cycle-cultural ‘bumpy’ urban rides – the Melburn Roobaix. Thanks to Betty Lillowaltzen for her time and effort in painstakingly interviewing all the key stakeholders, event organisers, riders and participants that went into producing this post – the extra details make this piece an extra rich and wonderful read! Mwah BL!


A quick survey of the Melburn Roobaix crowd and there is something immediately obvious: women!

Why does this adventure around Melbourne’s laneways enjoy the most gender diversity of all bike events in Australia?

“I’m in!”: my response to Zane Alford’s invite to join him and Wookie in the 2017 Melburn Roobaix. I hadn’t needed to hesitate as I knew that my complete lack of bike fitness was in no way a barrier to fun in the famously costumed ride, nor was my 1980s chevvy heavy stainless steel Malvern Star. Roobaix skills are seemingly more centered around an ability to decorate oneself and bike, eat and drink and look really silly; I’d be a natural.

That Melburn Roobaix was not going to be (in Andy’s words) “a sausagefest” as so many other bike events are, but instead a celebration and a great day out void of competitive elitist vibes I was certain of, but what I wasn’t so sure of was why? Inspired by the rise of women’s sport and, better yet, the rise of women within sport, I wanted to know how the Roobaix has evolved to be the most gender inclusive cycling event in the country (according to a recent survey by Cycling Australia).

Two questions burned: were the organisers conscious about involving women? and if so, how did they go about getting women involved?

Melburn Roobaix

Melburn Roobaix is a creation of Fyxo, the family company run by Melodie and Andy White. I knew Andy from back in the ol’ days when I worked for messenger bag company, Crumpler. I met him 15 years ago after an Ally Cat at The Public Bar: two years after the lock on the womens’ toilet door broke and at least nine years before it would get fixed; in the days of $1 pots of Geelong Bitter on a Monday, Punk bands and bestickered fixies piled along O’Connell Street. Andy was fancy dressed but still sporting his ‘Ask me about the weather’ badge, and talking with some couriers and female riders – even back in 2003 he was recruiting women to ride. He suggested that I ride in the next Ally Cat and I felt momentarily convinced that this would be a good idea but didn’t think I was up to splitting traffic on a fixie to keep up with Melbourne’s maddest riders.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

 

Melburn Roobaix 2017

Encouraging people to get on a bike has always been a talent of Andy’s, as is having a yarn, so I felt comfortable picking up the phone, not having seen each other in 8 years, to ask him some pretty pointed questions about women in cycling, race, LGBTIQ+ inclusion, men’s clubs and elitism in sport. He answered all my questions with grace, humour, references to anti-establishment, mutual outrage and added some radical plans.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

I was not surprised at all that encouraging the participation of women in the Roobaix was intentional, or that this year’s event also took place during World Pride – though this was underplayed, Andy reflected on being really quite chuffed that there was a turnout of transgender people this year and that as the ride becomes more community oriented it increasingly represents our whole community (though the lack of racial diversity is still quite apparent at all bike events and a challenge for the future).

So how did they do it? Andy reflected on the first year of the Roobaix, explaining how “a guy showed up with all the gear, he had a Garmin and had worked out the fastest route which was mainly on roads and which was pretty unsafe.” He and Melodie wanted to make it less of a race and move away from the tricked out, almost exclusively male lycra crew, so they just eliminated a first place prize. “We are more excited about the costumes and the turnout and having someone show up dressed as a banana”, he explained.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

It’s important that everyone is safe. A sad reality of bike events around the globe is the inherent risk of traffic and obstacles, though organisers are always looking for ways to make cycling safer for everybody: as Andy says, “every event where no one dies is a good event”. The dangers of riding are all too familiar to the White family, as in 2007 Andy suffered a broken neck. Though he was lucky to be able to be back on the bike within a week of removing the halo, they had developed a new appreciation of the risks of riding. Andy was emphatic that making an event less competitive did help to attract a broader demographic, but that he in no way considered female riders to be non-competitive. While for many people the Roobaix is the first organised ride that they participate in, there are plenty of female riders who go on to compete in timed events and women who are already riding competitively.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

Bike racer, writer and blogger Verita Stewart is one such rider. Verita had been a regular bike commuter, but it wasn’t until moving to Melbourne from country Victoria a few years ago that she joined other riders and started to compete. Verita was able to identify other reasons that the participation in the Roobaix was so high and diverse: “You can ride on any bike. This weekend is the Grand Fondo and you can’t just rock up on a mountain bike or a cruiser or BMX or tandem or recumbent or folding or narrow bar fixie or adult trike or city bike or hybrid. Each event requires a really specific bike and kit and for many people that’s a barrier. Wearing lycra is also enough for some people to say ‘that’s not for me’, and I know that some of my friends have not participated in other events because of that”. Melburn Roobaix was one of the first events that Verita rode in and each year she met more people in the cycling community and brought more friends along, many of whom wouldn’t identify as bike riders. “I know that tennis isn’t for me. I can’t hit a ball to save my life. Cycling as a sport isn’t for everybody either. The Roobaix is more of a community event than a race though, it’s more about being in a big community and maybe putting on a cossie and exploring places you haven’t been before, and that’s why so many people say ‘I could do that’.“

The types of costumes that people wear are usually naive and silly and we don’t see the kinds of sexualised costumes that people wear to other fancy dress events. I asked Verita how she thinks the Melbourne Roobaix has developed its particular style? “Well, it’s a really family and community event so I think that if you showed up dressed in a French maid’s costume you’d just feel like a bit of a twat”. Not many of the other bike scenes have been as progressive, and we spoke for some time on what we thought caused some of the costs, perceptions and gender inequality that are still so prevalent at other events and which form real barriers for people entering cycling as a sport in all its various forms.

Personally, now in my mid-thirties, I’m more active than ever: not the most fit that I’ve ever been necessarily, but I find myself enjoying a greater variety of sports than I ever have before and participating with less and less trepidation. I regularly surf with other women and it’s been exciting to paddle out each weekend and see sisters lined up along a break. It’s more than just exciting, it’s inspiring and exhilarating. We often joke about approaching middle age and just starting to have the childhood we wished we’d had if we hadn’t felt so discouraged from having a go. Imbued with the excitement of events like the Roobaix, WAFL, surfing and the power of staunch advocates and idols such as Serena Williams, I am excited for a new generation of women.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

We still have such a long way to go but already the surge of excitement around women in sport has had a distinct effect upon me.

Where I may once have said “I’ll get back to you”, I now say “I’m in”.

 

Melburn Roobaix 2017

Melburn Roobaix 2017

For a great collection of event pictures see FYXo’s Melburn Roobaix Flickr Album.

Or see up to 342 great images from event photographers Michael Christofas / Peter Tsipas 2017 Melburn Roobaix Flickr.

Thanks for the invite @ZaneAlford. See you all at #MelburnRoobaix2018 !!

*All images coutesy of photographers as per watermarks. All pictures included with Fyxo permission.

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

A few days ago, Melbourne’s beloved community bicycle engagement project The Squeaky Wheel announced it is closing after 6 glorious years in operation.

The Squeaky Wheel was a much loved proponent in progressing Melbourne’s bicycle community.

For those who do not know about this organization, it is well worth the effort to check out the creative and popular events, rides, initiatives and programs that were organized by The Squeaky Wheel –  a very impressive and influential range!

Leaving behind a wonderful legacy and example for others

So this post is a homage to the amazing work that Pip Caroll and the whole Squeaky Wheel team (and their partners) have achieved over the years.

This venture was truely a community-driven organisation that had community and positive cycling for all as its core.

Although it is sad to see The Squeaky Wheel  close and I will miss supporting their events (as will thousands of others), The Squeaky Wheel leaves behind a wonderful legacy and example for others to follow.

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

A massive range of community participation and bike-inspired projects!

Over the last 6 years, The Squeaky Wheel has managed and produced an impressive array of bicycle participation, projects and advocacy campaigns. Their volume, scope and range speaks to the passion and commitment of those who made it all happen – events like …

Even though the main umbrella is retiring, a number of their popular projects will still be operational – hooray! I am delighted to see that a number of their projects will still continue such as Roll Up (who have also taken over Bike ‘n Blend) and the sensational Pushy Women annual event is also set to continue. Pushy Women is a great event where a panel of well-known women tell their stories about bikes, bike riding and cycling. This show is always peppered with moments of empowerment, hilarity, poignancy, nostalgia and thought-provoking experiences – always a top event. I’m happy to hear that this event will continue.

But others will not continue. So in memorandum, here is reminder of the plethora of The Squeaky Wheel events, rides and tours that have been put on over the years – incredibly prolific community engagement!!  I’ve listed the events below (you can find out more about each event at their website), to get a visual gauge  of how productive this collective was – and to showcase the range, dedication and scope that The Squeaky Wheel is revered and loved for. Their events list is humbling.. check these beauties out….

Farewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Adios The Squeaky Wheel!!

As a final adios to The Squeaky Wheel – below is a 4′ 39″ video of their 2012 (3 week) Melbourne BikeFest- which was just one of many of their amazing events over the years – but one of my personal favourites!

For all those involved with The Squeaky Wheel will miss you, thank you for all your amazing work over the years. We wish you luck for your next riding adventures!

See more videos of The Squeaky Wheel events here.

 

Riding some of Melbourne’s Best Bike Trails

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

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

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

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

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

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

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

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

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

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

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

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

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Cruising around Melbourne.

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

It felt great to be back on a bike.

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

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

Not sure what trail to try?

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

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

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

Preventing car dooring in NSW

This morning I am heading interstate to NSW for a week.

After registering for the upcoming Bike Future 2017 Conference in Melbourne, I find myself wanting checking up on the some of the latest urban bike programs and initiatives being undertaken south of Queensland’s border. So I started looking into some key current cycling issues, changes and policy directions happening in NSW and Victoria.

 

Think of the Impact – Car Dooring Awareness Program  – New South Wales (NSW).

In investigating all sorts of programs, one Sydney program that caught my eye. It focuses on the issue of car dooring and the program is called Think of the Impact. It turns out that the major hot spots for car dooring in Sydney are Kings Cross, Newtown and Surry Hills. After recognising the obvious increase in people cycling, having seventy-four car-dooring incidents reported and under pressure from local cycling advocate groups, the Think of the Impact initiative was created.

This project was undertaken as a Sydney Cycles Ways project in collaboration with City of Sydney and NRMA Insurance. It was in response to the increasing levels and problems of cycling in Sydney. I’m not going to rehash the background of this program because if your keen to read more  about this NSW project and its origins – you can find it here.

 

Car dooring of cyclists is an issue in major cities

I had not seen this particular program before. It rally struck an immediate cord with me as car dooring was an ongoing and critical issue when I was commuting every day to work by bike when I was in Melbourne. I had a few near misses myself and I saw many others car dooring situations as well, with various outcomes. It was a very challenging – and was a very real clear and present danger.  It was something that many Melbourne cyclists talk about as well. It was interesting to hear that the issue of car dooring and urban cyclist safety is a similar and prevalent concern in Sydney (NSW) as it was in Melbourne (VIC).

In NSW, car drivers can be fined $319 and lose 2 demerit points if they pass too close to cyclists.

As of 2012, Victoria increased penalties so that car dooring fines now incur a maximum of ten demerit points, and fines have since increased from $423 to $1,408.

I’ve noticed that in Brisbane (and Queensland in general), there is a clear media reticence about reporting car dooring and cyclist safety in general. It is certainly not a key media or community issue or nowhere near mentioned as often in the media as it is down south. Car dooring is definitely a bike safety issue in Brisbane, but local media reports of cycling in Brisbane do not highlight car dooring as a major traffic or cycling issue. In fact, most Queensland media reports on road/urban cycling in Brisbane detail fatalities. Fatalities are the most reported cycling safety issue in Brisbane given the lack of bike lanes or shoulders, heavy reliance (and love) of large motor vehicles such as 4WDs, trucks and utes with boat trailers, minimal bike infrastructure and heavily congested road traffic.

 

Why this particular program?

Sydney Cycles Ways is responsible for this program and decide to run the program based on compelling data of local cyclists’ car dooring experiences. As a quick check in with the cycling community Sydney Cycles Ways, mid last year did a quick online survey via Twitter to get some feedback re car dooring occurrences, and this is what they found:

Source: Think about the Impact

Free stickers to promote awareness of urban cyclists

Another reason why this NSW program is particularly interesting and proactive – is that it offers free stickers for cars to remind and promote other road users (car drivers specifically) about car dooring – hence the name of the program.

The idea is to get more car users actively checking for cyclists before opening doors.

Here are what the smaller stickers and larger (car) stickers look like:

Source: Think about the Impact

 

Source: Think about the Impact

 

I have not seen these stickers before, but then again, I don’t live in Sydney. I wasn’t aware that this program had been launched in NSW and so I missed out on knowing that the public could order sets of 4 small rear mirror stickers and/or larger car door sized stickers in two colour choices – for free. Apparently making merchandise available for free to the general public as part of an awareness-raising campaign is a pretty effective strategy to get more people participating and publicly sharing the message.

This was especially the case for this program, where the response to these free stickers was very encouraging. By halfway through 2016, there had been a great community response to the program and 20,000 stickers had been requested.

I went online yesterday and ordered 4 sets of the small stickers and one large car sticker. I’m keen to see what they look like.

I can immediately see the attraction of the smaller stickers, but I’m not sure about the car door stickers – realistically how many people would put the large sticker on their car door – would you?

If you would like to order a free set of stickers that will be posted to you – click here.

 

Source: City of Sydney

 

For more information about this program, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Bridget Ahern, phone 0423 505 854 or email bahern@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

Bike Futures Conference – Melbourne 2017

One of my goals for this year is to support and attend more bicycle infrastructure, policy and research events.  After all, 2017 is the ‘Year of the Bicycle‘ and my research is entering a stage where it really has social viability, so looks like I’ll have to dust off my dancing shoes for a few shindigs!

So to kick off the year right, I am heading down to Melbourne in a few weeks to attend my first event of the year –  Bicycle Network’s Bike Futures Conference 2017. Tasmania and Sydney have already held their state conferences and there appears to be no state conference set for Queensland – at least not in 2016 or 2017 that I have found. (Oh  dear Queensland! Not again!! Such a pity you are always so far behind the world and rest of Australia when it comes to supporting any kind of progressive cycling or biking – tsk, tsk – perhaps this is the year to turn it all around!!).

So it’s off to Victoria!  It is also a great excuse to revisit to my old hometown and see some family and friends after being away for what seems like an age!

Bicycle Network Bike Futures Conference 2017

This is a one-day forum aimed at bringing together researchers, policy-makers, bike advocates, businesses, government agencies and others to share the latest developments in cycling provision. The overall aim is to improve biking conditions and encourage more people to ride bikes. The program details a good range of speakers confirmed from various educational, business, political, health and social spheres.

On the day there will be plenary discussions, presentations and workshops on a range of topics (see tentative program below) such as safety, planning, behaviour change and various urban uses and infrastructure approaches.

I’m very excited to hear what cycling development Victoria has implemented over the last 2.5 years since I have been away and to hear what has – and has not worked. It will be a great opportunity to make some contacts and network as well. The program looks diverse and engaging and I am keen to attend pretty much every session!

I am going as I want to make some industry contacts and hope to hear about a range of interesting, challenging and/or informative sessions. I’m looking to get inspired – and hopefully, the event will also help stimulate and distill some new ideas. If I am really lucky, maybe it might even open up some new directions on how I can apply some key learnings from Melbourne’s experience to my own PhD research project.

 

Opportunity to scout some new BCC blog talent and features!

I’m going to make the most of this trip to Melbourne. To do so, I am also organising some introductions, meetings and site visitations while there. I’m keen to catch up with some old friends and see what has changed, and to follow up on a few leads featured previously on this blog – and to make some new contacts to feature as well!

I’m also looking forward to riding around Melbourne and rediscovering her biking treasures and secrets.

It is a great opportunity also to investigate what cycling events are going on in and around Melbourne.

So if you know of any biking research or events happening in Melbourne from Feb 7th – Feb 21st, 2017 that you think is worthy of a look-see, or want to recommend a person, group or event I should contact for this blog, please let me know via the comments box below. Thanks in advance! I would really appreciate your suggestions!

 

Morning Bicycle Network

Bicycle Network
Source: Bicycle Network

 

Melbourne Artbike Grand Prix

 Prescript: I was so excited about the cruelty-free Melbourne Artbike Grand Prix when I posted this, but have just found out (6.40pm on 1st Nov) that this event got postponed because of rain!!  What a bummer! It has been (tentatively TBC ) moved to 10th Dec –  but the awesomeness still rates, so here it is!! NG.

Today is the Melbourne Cup.

I was impressed to see that the Coburg Velodrome is holding a animal-free alternative to Melbourne Cup, by offering the inaugural Melbourne Artbike Grand Prix. If only I was still living in Melbourne!!!

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Community event

This event is most certainly a community activity. First conceived by Bradley Ogden (Tower of Babel Burning Seed 2015 and Synesthesia), this is a wonderfully designed event encouraging active participation. It is a very well thought out and promoted event. From the gorgeous graphic design by Lauren Massy of @masseydesign (as seen above in social and media and online promotions) to the clear and informative website content, this is an exemplar bicycle inspired community event.

I hope they have a massive turn out, have far too much fun and the event is an outrageous success and is held for many years to come!!

For me it ticks all the boxes; supporting respectful and ethical lifestyle choices that do not harm animals, supports a charity in a productive and meaningful way, advocates for increased positive bike use, uses local cycling facilities in an innovative way that draws people to the location, has teamwork and creativity as a participatory prerequisite, is a celebration of ideas and expressions that are unusual, personal and innovative, supports a bicycle charity, creates a space for the community to come together to interact, share, have fun and be creative with unique bicycles as the central focus, and a whole host of other benefits – what more could you want?

 

Melbourne Artbike Grand Prix

All are welcome to come on the day to spectate and be part of the event. To enter, you need a team of 4 people to register ($25 per person, $100 per team), you fill out a survey and then create your art bike. As long as you follow the race rules and your bike passes the race check – you are good to compete in a relay style knock-out competition! Riders need to interchange after each lap and the first team over the line advances to the next round. There is also a solo category.  Any profits made on the day go directly to  Bicycles for Humanity.

 

Artbikes

By definition, an artbike can be cosmetically altered or purpose built – it is only limited by the owner/creators imagination. As a lover and producer of artbikes, I am particularly excited about this event. For this event, the focus is on producing creative, fun and inspirational bikes that met the criteria to enter and complete the event.

 

More info on the event:

All details are on their website where you can check the About page, Get Involved (Race, Create, Donate), Registration, Partners and the Event.  There is also a blog page.

The event blog page gives details about:

  • Some inspirational artbike pictures
  • What an art bike actually is
  • What to expect from the Grand Prix
  • Support for Bicycles for Humanity
  • Ticketing
  • Event location and timing

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Bicycles for Humanity

Aside from being a brilliant day out, promoting bicycles and providing an ethical alternative to ‘riding’ to the pervasive horse racing Spring Carnival Festival, this event is a collaboration also to support Bicycles for Humanity. Aside from the event supporting this charity, there are also options to the community to support Bicycles for Humanity either financially or by bringing bikes on the day to donate.

From their website, Bicycles For Humanity explain their volunteer-run, grassroots charity organisation as being focused on the alleviation of poverty through sustainable transport – in the form of a bike.

Source: Bicycles for Humanity
Source: Bicycles for Humanity

 

They do this essentially by collecting bicycles in develop countries and shipping them developing nations so that “each of the 40 ft shipping containers that Bicycles For Humanity sends becomes a bike workshop – providing employment, skills, training, business, opportunity and economic development for the community in which it’s placed. Each of these Bicycle Empowerment Centres (BEC) becomes a self-sustaining entity – fitting very cleanly into the model of micro-financed small business that is lately seen as one of the central ways for the developing world to move away from aid dependence”.

I wish them the best of luck, would be attending with bells on if I was in Melbourne. I cannot wait to see some pictures!

For any follow-ups email: melbourne@artbikegrandprix.

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Forever Bicycles 2015

Forever Bicycles 2015  is a massive outdoor installation specially designed by Ai Weiwei for the National Gallery of Victoria. It is constructed of over 1500 bicycles and stands over 9 meters tall and will feature outside the Gallery from December 11 to April 24. It is a visually spectacular installation and speaks to a number of significant social issues. If you have not seen this art piece before, I strongly recommend you to go and see it live. It is quite a special thing to behold in its entirety. Of [articular interest is the way in which the wheels rotate with each bicycle interlocked in a very strategic and clever way. Your perception of depth is manipulated somewhat and it evokes a number of very interesting thoughts as you wrestle with looking at the way it is constructed. It is quite extraordinary standing on a major city street looking through the sculpture.

 

As a bicycle enthusiast, I find it very exciting to see the grand scale and amount of popular attention this piece has been drawing.  Ai Weiwei is well-known for being a social activist and many of his pieces have strong social justice and political themes. It is in huge contrast to the scandalous bicycle laws proposed in NSW and an expression of the strong bicycle culture of Melbourne. The fact that this installation is in the NGV,  a major public place and a popular tourist location on St Kilda Road is highly significant. It is exciting to have such an obvious homage to the humble bicycle and to have it symbolised so resolutely and proudly in the CBD amongst all the city workers, tourists and locals.

 

Darebin Shared Paths Etiquette Initiative

A friend who lives in Darebin City Council area in Melbourne sent me through a link to the Darebin Shared Path EtiquetteThis is definitely my kind of community project – fun, positive, effective, low-cost and high-impact community participation, consultation and awareness-raising. I was delighted to see a city council being proactive and engaging the locals.  Appropriately sharing pathways for all users; be they cyclists, pedestrians, dog walkers,  or fitness groups, can be an issue. Such problems need to be recognised and discussed – bringing it to the streets makes this conversation a lot more personal, accessible and immediate – and the free ice-cream was also an added  bonus for some I am sure!

Initiative

This Council Community Engagement Initiative arises from ‘concerns about behaviour [are] raised by the community on a regular basis, which led us to embark on 4 community workshops in November – we are now inviting the community to develop a shared path etiquette that encourages safe, respectful and considerate riding and walking on our shared paths, so everyone can enjoy using them‘ (Darebin City Council Facebook page).

Outcomes

During these community workshops, participants were asked to contribute their ideas and the responses were posted on the council event facebook page (a sample of which I have re-posted below). The input from these consultations and workshops will help inform the Darebin City Council’s Shared Path Etiquette Strategy.

To contribute your own vote to this discussion click here – voting closes January 5th 2016.

Darebin City Council's Shared Path Etiquette Facebook Page
Darebin City Council (Melbourne) Shared Path Etiquette Facebook Page

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