World first announced this week: Hydrogen-powered Bikes

This guest blog post is by Greg Beach, who earlier this week reported on the official announcement of the World’s First Hydrogen-Powered Bicycle. Two months ago, DesignBoom reported on this design, however, it was not officially announced until this week that Pragma’s ALPHA hydrogen-powered bicycles have been manufactured and are set to become commercially available in the near future. It will be very interesting to see what impacts and reaction this new announcement will have on cycling communities and city bike share initiatives. NG.


World first announced this week: Hydrogen-powered Bikes

Pragma Industries just became the first company to launch a hydrogen-powered bicycle for commercial and municipal purposes. Based in Biarritz, France, the company has already secured 60 orders for the hydrogen bikes from French municipalities such as Saint Lo, Cherbourg, Chambery and Bayonne.

While the bikes are currently too expensive for the commercial market, costs are expected to eventually drop from 7,500 euros to 5,000 euros, and charging stations cost about 30,000 euros.

World first announced this week: Hydrogen-powered Bikes - Bicycles Create Change.com 22nd Jan 2018

While Pragma is not the only company interested in hydrogen-powered bicycles, they have taken production of such vehicles the farthest — so far.

“Many others have made hydrogen bike prototypes, but we are the first to move to series production,” Pragma founder and chief executive Pierre Forte told Reuters.

Pragma’s Alpha bike is able to travel a distance of 100 kilometers (62 miles) on a two-liter (0.5 gallon) tank of hydrogen.

Although the range is similar to that of a typical electric bike, the recharge time is significantly reduced from hours for a traditional e-bike to merely minutes for the Alpha hydrogen-powered bike.

World first announced this week: Hydrogen-powered Bikes - Bicycles Create Change.com 22nd Jan 2018

Pragma offers two types of recharging stations: one that uses hydrolysis of water to generate hydrogen fuel on-site, and another, more affordable station that relies on tanks of already prepared hydrogen fuel.

Due to the high cost, Pragma is currently marketing its bikes to larger commercial and municipal operations such as bike-rental operators, delivery companies, and municipal or corporate bicycle fleets.

After producing 100 such bikes last year, Pragma hopes to sell 150 this year to organizations in places such as Norway, the United States, Spain, Italy and Germany.

In addition to developing a bike that is capable of turning water into fuel without the need of a charging station, the company plans to massively expand into the retail market within the next few years.

World first announced this week: Hydrogen-powered Bikes - Bicycles Create Change.com 22nd Jan 2018

 


This news was reported world-wide through the major news outlets, so unsurprisingly, most of the reporting on this innovation appears to be based on the same publicity brief with articles repeating pretty much the same info. However, there were a few articles that supplied a little more detail about the bike, how it looks and it’s specifications (like this Reuters article).  

Images and original article published in Inhabitat 17/1/2018.

Vycle – Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower

Vycle - Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower. Bicycles Create Change.com 7th

 

There are some super creative professionals out there producing innovative solutions to urban issues using bicycles as the foundation for inspiration and design.

One example I have previously posted, is the incredible and now readily available Invisible Bike Helmet which is the brainchild of two Swedish Industrial Designers, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin.

Another is the Vycle, which was first designed by Elena Larriba.

Vycle is touted as being a human-powered vertical transport solution to address increasing urbanisation.

What is Vycle– Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower?

Elena Larriba is a qualified architect (MArch) and an Imperial College and the Royal College of Art (MSc & MA) alumni.

Her work is concerned with responding to increasing urbanisation and migration.

Most densely populated urban environments and cities utilise vertical spaces. Therefore innovate methods for vertical transportation are being investigated – and harnessing the functionality of cycling is Elena’s answer!

Vycle - Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower. Bicycles Create Change.com 7th Dec, 2018

 

Elena’s website explains that her design is inspired by bicycles, in that “Vycle is a system powered by continuous cyclical movement. Its benefits are twofold: firstly, it will give stakeholders a more efficient and sustainable option to ascend, and secondly, variable energy selection will be able to cater to people of varied ages and abilities, whilst creating a personalised experience”.

The two choices of moving about between building levels: elevators or stairs – and both have some serious drawbacks. Elevators require a lot of energy and encourage laziness, whereas stairs encourage physical activity, but that for some, this can be onerous or too strenuous.

In a nutshell, Elena believes “that stairs require a lot of effort for a person to go up whereas lifts are 100% powered and that this carves out an area of opportunity that sits between the two.”

Comparatively, using Vylce appears to alleviate these concerns by being compact and space efficient, easy to physically propel, as well as removing any reliance or use of precious energy and thus is incredibly environmentally sound – go bicycles!

Concept Development

Vycle - Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower. Bicycles Create Change.com 7th Dec, 2018

 

The Vylce is currently only a working prototype. Further testing is required to take this product to market and comply with regulation level safety measures for implementation.

How does it work?

The Vycle team explain that this device operates by allowing “people to cycle up in an effortless and enjoyable way. The system is balanced with counterweights leaving the user body as the only weight to overcome. Using a gearing system similar to how bikes work, the user can decide how much effort they want to put to ascend or descent”.

You can see how Vcyle works in action in the video below.

Here is a possible future that Elena hopes to provide – pretty inspiring stuff!

Vycle - Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower. Bicycles Create Change.com 7th Dec, 2018

 

I love the visionary and inventive ways bicycles are being utilised, modified and adapted to help provide productive and resourceful solutions to growing social, environmental and technological issues.

I can’t wait to see more ways where bicycles are being used to create a more positive future for all.

Images and video courtesy of ycle.co.uk

Counterview and Critique of Bicycle Network’s Helmet Survey Results

On Nov 21st, I posted the results of the Bicycle Network’s Helmet Law Survey. I was delighted this week to see some topical debate about the results taking place amongst the wider Australian cycling community.  I was most impressed by the active, critical engagement and points raised by the Freestyle Cyclist Editor, who yesterday posted a very interesting commentary about the Bicycle Network itself and it’s handling of the Helmet Law Survey. If you haven’t see it yet, here it is. Always good to hear differing points of view and advocates pushing for more thoughtful approaches of key issues for further positive action! You can add your voice to the Helmet Law Reform here. Enjoy, NG.


Bicycles Create Change.com Dec 6th, 2017- Counterview of Bicycle Network's Helmet Survey Results

Will Australia’s largest bike riding organisation be influenced by the majority of submitted participation/injury evidence and surveyed public opinion when it decides over the next few months whether to continue supporting Australia’s mandatory bicycle helmet laws?

The Bicycle Network has published the results of its open survey during August and September on public and membership opinion of the helmet laws.
  • The survey was completed by 19,327 respondents
  • Respondents were mostly Bicycle Network members and people who ride bikes with varying regularity.
  • 2.6% of respondents were from overseas, and 1.9% of respondents said they never ride a bike.
  • 58.3% of respondents said there should be a change to helmet laws, while the remaining 41.7% said helmets should be mandatory all the time
  • 40.7% believe helmets should only be mandatory when the risk is high, for example, when racing, on road or for young people
  • 30.4% would ride more if helmets weren’t mandatory
  • If laws changed, almost all people who currently wear a helmet when they ride would continue to do so and the number of people who never wear a helmet when riding would only increase by 3.7%
  • As expressed by the Bicycle Network’s media releaseA survey of almost 20,000 people has found that nearly two-thirds don’t believe you should have to wear a helmet every time you ride a bike in Australia.
Which sounds similar to what Freestyle Cyclists has been saying for the past decade.
 
Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richard says the network will use the membership and public responses when evaluating its position on helmets, along with literature and expert opinions, with a decision expected in April 2018. “It’s great to get such a large amount of public opinion about bike helmets. It’s something people are clearly passionate about and it’s helpful to see how Australia’s helmet laws may impact people’s decision to ride,” said Mr Richards. “The opinion of our members and people who ride bikes is important and will help inform our policy on Australia’s mandatory helmet law. Along with academic research and information from experts, we will be able to make a fully informed decision.”
 
The Bicycle Network has about 50,000 members. Its influence could force media and political consideration of the helmet law issue if its policy review objectively considers the mountain of evidence proving Australia’s helmet law failure and if it does the right thing in April by recommending repeal.
 
A majority of Bicycle Network members are lycra cyclists who always wear helmets and it is interesting that 38.9% wanted some form of repeal in their survey responses. Among the network members, 70.4% would continue to wear a helmet every time they ride.
 
Bicycles Create Change.com Dec 6th, 2017- Counterview of Bicycle Network's Helmet Survey Results
 
Among all respondents to the Bicycle Network survey, 17.6% believed that bicycle helmets should never be mandatory, in line with the Freestyle Cyclists opinion that they should be voluntary among all ages. Only 1.9% of survey respondents said they never ride a bike and 30.4% of all respondents said they would cycle more if helmets weren’t mandatory.
 
Of course, the survey wasn’t measuring the hundreds of thousands of people who would actually ride a bike in the first place if not threatened with police punishment for cycling without a helmet.
 
The public health and traffic safety benefits would be enormous with both more cyclists and a 30% increase in current cycling duration. All the newly participating riders would otherwise probably be driving a car and the hospital data suggests fewer cyclists will be crashing and injuring some part of their body. 
 
The Bicycle Network is under pressure from many within its own membership, from Australia’s pro-law academia and from the media to make no change to its long-standing position of support for mandatory bike helmet laws. Most mainstream media such as in Western Australia continue to ignore any reference to the Bicycle Network’s helmet policy review, let alone the survey results. 
 
The few media outlets that have published stories online or in press about the survey results have highlighted the medical community’s opposition and/or quoted one of the many helmeted cyclists who so frequently crash and are convinced it has saved their life.
 

It’s likely that well over 99% of Australians are unaware of the review or survey, adding weight to the 19,327 who did know and let their majority helmet law opposition be known in the Bicycle Network survey.

Freestyle Cyclists urges the Bicycle Network to objectively evaluate the real world evidence of Australia’s mandatory helmet law failure and accept that its own pro-repeal survey results support the mountain of submitted evidence that the laws discourage a huge number of people from riding a bike, and with highly questionable injury results.

Readers are urged to read the expert opinions linked at the bottom of the Bicycle Network’s policy review page.

All 32 opinions are worth reading but we recommend those submitted by Freestyle Cyclists, Professor Chris Rissel,  and researcher Chris Gillham.

Bicycles Create Change.com Dec 6th, 2017- Counterview of Bicycle Network's Helmet Survey Results

 This post was originally posted on Freestyle Cyclist (5th Dec, 2017) and the full text has been reprinted here as per the original. Text emphasis is my own. Images my own sources.

Bike-sharing fiascoes

This post come courtesy of Senior Lecturer in Transport at the University of Huddersfield.  This article is an extension to a previous bike sharing article he wrote last year. A lot has changed since then! Thanks for giving permission to share this article Alexandros!


Bike sharing fiascos - Bicycles Create Change.com

Bike-sharing fiascoes

Bike-sharing schemes are a fast-growing transport trend, with almost 1,500 operating around the world today. To governments, they’re a novel tool to help ease the burden on public transport systems and reduce congestion in cities. To people, they’re an affordable and green way to get from A to B, without having to actually buy a bike.

Inspired by the principles of the “sharing economy”, bike-sharing schemes aim to make efficient use of resources by providing affordable, short-term access to bikes on an “as-needed” basis.

These schemes have been one of the most distinctive and user-friendly means of inspiring people to change their mode of travel, largely because they blend the sustainability of cycling with the speed and convenience of public transport.

But as striking photographs from China reveal, these bold principles don’t always play out in practice. To prevent thousands of bikes literally piling up in need of repair or retirement, cities and bike-sharing businesses need to swerve around a few obvious potholes.

Bike sharing fiascos - Bicycles Create Change.com

An uphill effort

Certain features can make cities hostile places for bike-sharing schemes; for example, overcomplicated planning procedures, strict cycling laws (such as compulsory helmet use) and political friction over giving up parking spaces to bike docks.

Inadequate infrastructure – such as limited bike lanes and unprotected cycle paths – together with traffic safety concerns, bad weather and hilly streets can also put off would-be cyclists. And if schemes suffer from poor promotion or sluggish expansion, the bikes can languish for lack of use.

Traditional bike-sharing schemes enable users to rent and return bikes at special hire stations, but they don’t provide a door-to-door service. So, for them to work, convenience is crucial. Schemes such as Seattle’s Pronto paid the price for having sparse and poorly placed docking stations, ceasing operations in 2017.

Over the last two years, Chinese bike-sharing start-ups such as Mobike and Ofo – funded by internet giants Alibaba and Tencent – have rushed to address this problem, by providing stationless smart bikes, which users can lock and unlock using a mobile app.

With lightning speed, hundreds of door-to-door bike-sharing schemes have spread across China, throughout other Asian countries and finally into Europe – the homeland of conventional public bicycle programmes. This new model has in theory the capacity to transform the world of cycle hire, just as Uber and Lyft have done for cabs.

Fatally flawed?

But amid the rush to embrace this new technology, there have already been a fair few fiascoes. China’s third-biggest bike-sharing company, Bluegogo, has run into financial trouble, despite having 20m users and £226m in deposits at its zenith. With so much competition in the market, there are too many bikes available at very low prices, with insufficient demand from consumers.

Bike sharing fiascos - Bicycles Create Change.com

Of course, some of these mistakes are easily avoidable. Wukong Bicycle, a minor Chinese start-up which placed 1,200 bikes in the notoriously hilly Chinese city of Chongqing, went out of business after only six months in operation, with 90% of its bikes presumed missing or stolen. They made the fatal error of not installing GPS devices in their fleet.

Beijing-based bike-sharing firm 3Vbike also went bankrupt in June 2017, after losing more than 1,000 of its bikes in just four months. The scheme relied on location data from WeChat, rather than building its own app, making its tracking functions ineffective. Worse still, the owner had to purchase the bikes himself, for lack of other investors.

Manchester’s Mobike scheme – the first of its kind in the UK – is still going strong, despite facing teething issues during its first three months. Bikes were vandalised, dumped in canals and bins and stolen outright, leading the company’s spokesperson to suggest that the system has been “misundertood”. Bikes have since been taken in for repair, and will be redistributedacross a smaller area in the city centre. The oBike scheme in Australian cities faced similar problems.

Bike sharing fiascos - Bicycles Create Change.com

Survival guide

So, even with the right technology, dockless schemes are prone to misuse. If this new model of bike-sharing scheme is going to survive, operators will need to take note of these pitfalls, and adapt to the specific needs of their cities. Here are a few measures which can help to ensure the success of a bike-sharing scheme:

  • Stationless bikes might work where traditional bike-sharing schemes have failed, provided there is enough demand for these services. But free-floating bikes must have GPS systems attached – not doing so is a recipe for failure.
  • Fair fares, flexible membership options and ease of access all help to make schemes more user-friendly. And each scheme should have its own purpose-built app – no substitute is good enough.
  • Protection mechanisms and penalties for vandalism and theft should be in place from day one, to help minimise misuse. Market and education campaigns can be used to promote bike-sharing culture, and encourage people to take a positive attitude towards these bikes.
  • Too much competition within a city is a problem – an oversaturated bike-sharing market can be a fatal trap, especially for smaller schemes. Once they’ve assessed the market, operators need to make a city-specific plan for methodical and incremental growth. Rushing things through will lead to disaster.
  • City authorities should enthusiastically support bike-sharing and invest in cycling infrastructure to help schemes succeed; having a champion for the scheme, such as London’s former mayor Boris Johnson, guarantees long-term viability.
  • Very aggressive expansion can doom even the strongest dockless bike-sharing initiatives. Bike-sharing might not be an extremely profitable investment, so it’s important to manage investors’ expectations.

Bike-sharing is still, in many ways, a revelation and a positive addition for many cities which are battling the ill effects of car use. But at the same time it should be realised that not every city is destined to become a paradise for cyclists.


This is most recent article on bike sharing. He has written two previous articles for The Conversation about the (then) burgeoning global bike sharing expansion phenomena (Feb 2016) as well as how cars are killing us and what we can do to wean ourselves off them (from Sept 215). This article and all  images was originally published earlier this week on The Conversation website and then on subsequently on SBS

Urban Cycling World Champs

2017 UCI Urban Cycling World Champs - Bicycles Create Change.com

Urban Cycling World Champs

The Urban Cycling World Championship is a relatively new format that blends a selection of biking and cycling events into one ‘festival of urban biking’ showcase.  The  UCWC is in held in major cities around the world so more people can get to see, and experience, the new and unique skills and thrills of urban biking.

The 2017 Urban Cycling World Championship was held this week in Chengdu, China.

This year the event included Mountain Bike Eliminator (XCE), Trials and BMX Free Style Park – each of which is sure to inspire even the most unimpressed general public be more interested in bikes!!

What are ‘Trials’?

Trials is the event where you see bikers hopping and jumping across, between and over boulders, planks and other obstacles.  Bikes are 20″ and 26″ and riders need mad balancing, agility, strength, timing and track standing skills to be competitive. Essentially it is a time-based routine where riders are allowed a maximum of five dabs allowed in any section.

Why is Trials so interesting this year?

Trial events have been a UCI World Champs event since 2001. However 2017 is the first year that Trials is being run as part of the Urban Cycling World Champs, whereas previously Trials has been run in conjunction with other mountain-biking disciplines as part of the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships.

Most importantly because J-Mean (Janine Jungfels), who is a local Brisbane rider and Australia’s Women’s Elite Trials entrant – is hoping to kick ass!

Go Janine, Go!

Janine was the 2015 UCI BIU World Champion and she is a great ambassador for the sport. If you don’t know much about J-Mean, check out her Facebook page.

No matter what the final results are for this event, I think Janine is already a champ, given her dedication to training and promoting the sport.

She is a great role model to encourage more women and girls to see and experience a wider range of biking styles outside of the ‘mainstream’ road riding and MTBing.

I was super pumped after I saw this interview (see below) with her earlier this month at the Trials Park at Underwood Park, Brisbane.

I wanted to post on Janine and Trials to acknowledge and promote the hard work and dedication of many unknown riders in less popular cycling disciplines.

There are a handful of cycling styles that when someone saying ‘cycling’ immediately spring to mind (like the Tour de France). As I have argued elsewhere, the hyperfocus on such events is parochial and highlights the inaccurate, limited and inadequate representation within society of what cycling is – and this kind of view that negates an appreciate and support for the diversity and range of other types of riders, styles, skills and bikes that make up our amazing cycling communities.

So regardless of who actually wins the event – Viva La Femme Trails!

I hope events like the Urban Champs will help more people who would otherwise not have seen events like trails have a greater appreciation of the unique skills needed – and hopefully get more people interested in bikes!

Best of luck to all the 2017 Urban Champ riders – it will be a great event!

2017 UCI Urban Cycling World Champs - Bicycles Create Change.com

Here is the event list for this year’s Urban Cycling World Champs.

2017 UCI Urban Cycling World Champs - Bicycles Create Change.com

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.

Mala Bruja Alleycat

For this blog post, we are heading to the U.S. -not for Halloween, but the night before – Witch’s Eve! I’ve been keeping my eyes open for one event in particular. I’ve been waiting in earnest to see what happened this year for Mala Bruja NYC Alleycat Race. This is an all-female charity Alleycat Bike Race.  But alas, it seems like it didn’t go ahead this year.  I’m still posting about this awesome race as I think it is important more people recognise, appreciate and celebrate the wonderful diversity of urban riding culture – and nothing does that more than Alleycats. I’m sad it didn’t go ahead this year, but these events can be challenging to organise, so maybe next year. Either way, kudos to those who did make an effort to make it happen for the last couple of years. We salute you! We definitely need more events like this one- and most critically in Aust!! Enjoy! NG.


This weekend most Americans are celebrating Holloween.

The night before Halloween is Witch’s Eve.

For the last two years, an ultra-cool crew headed up by Caro and Kenya have put on an all-female charity Alleycat bike race in NYC on Witch’s Eve.

I have been following this event. I think it is a great initiative and I wish there were more like it! Reminds me of the good olde days when I helped out at Melbourne Alleycat races – what a blast!

Earlier this year, BCC reported on the Melburn Roobaix, which is  an annual urban bike race through Melbourne’s cobbled laneways.  Melbourne Roobaix is always a smash hit with local riders – and they had an impressively high number of female riders this year.

So , I got super excited for this year’s ride after seeing KymNonStop’s video of the NYC ride from last year (see below).

KymNonStop also has a solid Mala Bruja Alleycat Recap blog post that is worth the look to see what happens at such events.

What is an Alleycat bike race?

Alleycat bike races are something to behold. They are informal race bike held in cities where riders need to navigate local streets and traffic to make check points and get back the fastest. It is also a massive social get together, have some fun and ride bikes with your mates.

Alleycats are well known for having a strong participation and fun focus. Some ride to compete, others just to be part of the fun.

Race formats for Alleycats can vary – but usually, there is not official race course that riders must take, but there are check points that need to be met. Riders get a map of the check points just before heading off and are free to make their own way there and back.

The fastest rider to meet all check points and get over the finish line is the winner.

Mala Bruja Alleycat- Bicycles Create ChangeImage: KymNonStop

Alleycats races are unsanctioned and can be run during the day or night. Riders race through city streets and have to navigate normal traffic and vehicles while the race is going on. This is why Alleycat races are often perceived by many to be quite dangerous.

Meeting check points must be authenticated in some way. This varies depending on the race, but is often something like a stamp, badge, signature, or some other object that must be gathered at each check point as evidence.

Mala Bruja Alleycat- Bicycles Create Change
Source: Bike your City

Often there are activities and/or obstacles at each checkpoint. These can fun, entertaining, challenging and range from easy to hard. Activities could be beer-drinking, eating dry Weed-Bix, doing exercise (like 20 star jumps) or some bike skill –  like track stands, monos or jumps. They are designed to add a little more variety and fun to the race – as you can see in Dave Gustafa’s video below, which was posted on the Alleycat Facebook page.

The map of race checkpoints is usually provided right before the race starts, so riders who know the city well have a hometown advantage – hence the attraction for bike couriers. Participants can pretty much ride anywhere they need to to make the checkpoints – on or off-road, through buildings,  parks, uni campuses, between houses – where ever and however is needed.

Alleycat races can be ‘sticky’ (official vs. unregulated), dangerous and controversial. They are not for everyone, and it can be hard getting one organised.

Mala Bruja Alleycat- Bicycles Create Change
Source: Meg Watcher

What is the Mala Bruja Alleycat Bike Race?

It is an all-female dress-up charity bike race around New York City. The event has been running the last two years and has had a great turn out. It is well supported by entrants as well as spectators and support crews and family, friends and fans.

It costs $10 to enter the race, with the money going to charity.

All bikes are accepted (not just fixes) and costumes are highly encouraged.

Two years ago was the inaugural Mala Bruja ‘Hellcat’ race. With short notice and planning, the event still managed to pull over 70 female riders on the night. If you want to find out more details of this event, of which there were over 70+ women- lots of ace photos too!

See more pics from the 2015 Male Bruja Alleycat thanks to Bike Your City Photo Essay of the event.

Last year the event was held again and was also a spectacular success. It was called the Mala Bruja Alleycat Revenge.

Australia does not have a massive bike courier culture like NYC or San Franciso. However we do have a dedicated and cool crew in all major capital cities.  Personally, I’d love to see some more events like this happening in Australia.

Mala Bruja Alleycat- Bicycles Create Change
Source: Bike your City

Races like this show the awesome diversity and variety in bikes, riders and lifestyles – and is a great way to bring people together.

Even if you are not up for riding in an Alleycat, helping out at one of the races (or checkpoints), or going to spectate is a brilliant way to support the event.

As the world heads more for mainstream and conservative conformity – events like the Mala Bruja Alleycat are so important.

Although these events are often secretive when unregulated (so you need to know the organisers, riders or bike messages who are part of it to know of the race) yet they still contribute much mystique, diversity and spice to our current urban cycling milieu.

Love them or hate them, Alleycat events like the Mala Bruja ticks many boxes: they are social, healthy, recognise bike skills , promote inclusion, have strong participation females urban rides, raise money for charity, bring community together and nurture our valuable, unique and much-needed sub-cultures.

 

General Public – Think outside the bike!!

Personally, I think there is incredible value in recognising and celebrating the uniqueness and variety in the biking community. It disturbs me that the vast majority of the general public view ‘cycling’ as being the lycra-clad road riders and that essentially this is the pervasive stereotype of what a rider or cyclist is.

Such views negate the massive diversity in styles and types of riding – both urban and track like: MTB, fixi, singlespeed, trials, Enduro, fat bikes, Tall bikes, Unicycles, tricycles, e-bikes, Cyclocross, Crits, bike packing, BMX, DH, Cruisers, Communters, cargos….and the list goes on and on. Each of these styles has their own rich and vibrant communities.

I think all these bike ‘sub-cultures’ need to be valued and recognised as being part of the awesome variety and character that form our current biking community.  I can only hope people look beyond the the lycra to see how amazing, distinctive and fertile our biking and cycling communities are. Viva la Alleycats!

Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress

This time last week, the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress (APCC) was being held in Christchurch, NZ from Tuesday 17th Oct – Friday 20th Oct.

I wasn’t able to go as I had my PhD Confirmation paper and seminar due smack in the middle – doh! Otherwise, I would have been there for sure and I had a session to present. It will just have to wait until next year!

What was on at the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress?

The program for this year looked jammed packed full of interesting sessions. Check out the program link below and see what session takes your fancy.

Get the APCC Program and daily schedule here.Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

The link above also gives the daily schedule and a number of the speakers provided their presentations for public distribution.

All sessions were divided into these key themes:

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

I like that there was also a bit of personality coming through – as evidence,  I was delighted to see Jo Clendon’s poster abstract had a footnote for the term ‘bike user’ as being:

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

The APCC event is a great forum to share ideas and get inspired. I would have like to have seen more Asia-Pacific-ness in the mix (very Oceania focused). As far as I could see there were no sessions from East Asia, South Asia or Southeast Asia – and there are some amazing projects going on there!

I hope to see more recognition for countries that are not usually considered to be ‘cycling’ countries to be better represented, included and instrumental in biking discourse and practice. I’d like to see more initiatives from India, Indonesia, Philippines, Timor, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the like. I know it is far to travel to NZ from these countries, but I’d really dig seeing some more diversity and range of contexts and ‘life world’ experiences in this conference’s program (in fact in all ALL conference programs!).

Who was presenting?

As you would expect, there were HEAPS of NZ presenters covering a massive array of planning, economic, behavioural, community, research and other projects – impressive!

As I have said before, NZ is by far whooping AUS arse on so many fronts (least of all NBN, Politics, Supporting Outdoor Industries to name a few). However, NZ’s progressive, strategic and forward-thinking development and integration of cycling an biking nationwide are envious. I go to Rotorua every year to ride and have posted before on a number of fun and admirable aspects of how riding and bike feature prominently in NZ.

I’ve also said before how easy, convent, and enjoyable it is being a cycling tourist in NZ. I’ve posted on how easy it is to get around in Rotorua, and some of their great community projects like the Dad’s n Lads bike events, as well as the formidable urban strategic plans within the major cities ( like Rotorua) that make biking a normalised way of getting around town – as well as being part of the larger picture to connect the whole country from top to bottom by bike paths – awesome! So NZ is by far a cycling leader on many fronts – and AUS would do well to learn from their NZ counterparts.

 

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

I was happy to see Brisbane represented:

  • Mark Pattemore’s (Brisbane City Council) Better bikeways for Brisbane.
  • Sarah Wilkinson (QLD Government) Cost-Benefit analysis of recent major cycling investments across QLD.
  • Narelle Haworth (QLD), Kristin Heesch (QLD) & Ashim Kumar Debath (VIC) Individual & Environmental Correlates of motorists passing distance of bicycle riders

As well as other Aussie presenters:

  • Cameron Munro (CDM Research, Melb) Designing for Bike Riders on local road roundabouts
  • Peter Metcalf (Wagners, Aust) Cycling the Hawkes Bay NZ region in safety with the aid of a clip on cycleway

And some OS delegates:

  • Tom Ransom (Isle of Wight, UK) School travel behaviour change
  • Thomas Stokell (USA) Bike Data Analysis – a comparison between 21,000 NZ riders and 180,000 riders from around the world
  • Jurgen Gerlach (Germany) with Axel Wilke (NZ) & Alistair Woodward (NZ) Safe…. but only if it’s efficient
  • Tyler Golly  (Canada) & Ryan Martinson (Canada) How to achieve rapid change for cycling outcomes

There were so many great NZ sessions that it would be too much to include here – suffice to say, it is well worth checking out the program link above in bold to see which session is most interesting for you.

October is the month for it!

The APCC is run in conjunction with Biketober, Christchurch’s month long celebration of all things bikes. Seems like October is the month for such events if Bike Palooza (Bendigo, VIC) and Biketober (Christchurch, NZ) is anything to go by!

Here is some of what is on for Christchurch’s Biketober.

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

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.