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!

Riding for Rescues

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

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

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

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

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

What is Riding for Rescues?

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

To date, they have rescued over 40 animals.

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

Bicycles Create Change - Ride for Rescues

What is the money for?

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

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

How to use my cycling to help?

Bicycles Create Change - Ride for Rescues

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

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

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

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

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

Bicycles Create Change - Ride for Rescues

I applaud those who give this a try.

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

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

Here is their offical website.

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

For more info contact: jodi@runningforrescues.com

Cyclists Magnetic Yellow Card

Hi Bike Nuts!

Thanks for checking in with Bicycles Create Change.

There are so many wonderful cycling events, news and projects going on right now – what a great time to be a bike rider and cycling enthusiast!!

Among it all, a small and quirky initiative caught my eye.

Many of us who road ride have no doubt had some experience with cars that has been ‘challenging’ and possibly unsafe. But how to handle such a situation?

How about a sporting metaphor? Maybe a reference to the Yellow penalty card used in many sports (like football/soccer) as a means of cautioning, reprimanding or penalising a person for ‘bad conduct’?

Cyclists Magnetic Yellow Card

In 2004 Film maker Peter Miller created the cyclists magnetic yellow card. At the time, it was described as being an open-source ‘subversive intervention via business card-sized magnets, personal edition of 200′. In 2010, it had a resurgence in popularity among cyclists and the media. More recently, a group of LA bikers have been distributing this little magnetic yellow card as a way to help ‘get the message across’ in such situations.

I wonder how effective it is? What reaction would it illicit if you were a cyclist – or a car driver?

Certainly a novel approach to trying to ‘(re)educate’ the automotive general public!

Source: Gizmodo.com

US Police Shooting – young hooded cyclist killed

So here is an unusual biking story ….. a mystery if you will.

A cautionary and very sad tale from Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, Florida (US), about the May 6th police shooting of a young hooded cyclist – and the strangeness of how this whole event occurred.

I will preface this post by stating: I live in Brisbane, Australia, so am not privy to the context or have adequate knowledge or access to the full story, people, or news channels. The phenomenon of US shootings (ie carrying guns and public/police shooting in general) is something that we Aussies have absolutely no experience with, so this story is even more difficult for Aussies to understand. Regardless, I am sure there are many Americans (and others) thinking the same thing – how exactly did this happen?

For this post, I’ll just present what info I have collected thus far –  so that you, dear reader, can sort it out, find out more if you are willing, and make up your own mind.

What is the mystery?

On May 6th, 2017, a young man was shot dead by an off-duty police officer at a car show. It was alleged he had a knife. Details of what actually happened are still super sketchy. One of the most provocative and unsettling themes to this story, is that the young artist, Nick Provenza (25), who had a history of mental health issues, was riding his bike and wearing a hoody at the time he was shot in public.

 Police Shooting – young hooded cyclist killed

There are a few gaps in this story that make it unusually suspicious.

From what I can gather, this story is inherently odd given the patchy way information that has been released.

There are too few details or no details at all.  The little details that have come out paint a very vague, dubious scenario.

There is yet to be confirmed evidence of there ever having being a knife.

Why the authorities’ focus on Nick wearing a hoody AND riding a bike (subversive/criminal profiling?).

How did the whole event disintegrate from Nick giving a false name/s to the officer, to Nick getting shot at a public event?

And how does a person ‘ride a bike suspiciously’ anyway? (- and how is that defined clearly enough to justify using deadly force? Is practising urban MTB trial tricks ‘suspicious’? Is it related to property, others, or yourself?).

The unfolding sequence of this story.

Here is the series of events I have been able to piece together.

This post is a step-by-step guide to the unveiling of this story as I discovered it.

If you are on Instagram, you can follow along and read the associated IG comments that add quite a bit of extra context.  If you are not on IG, then I have included the main images so you can get the main gist for each step.

Here we go ….. May 6th was when Nick was shot.

  1. On Instagram, I saw this post from one of my IG buddies (if you are on IG, check out the comments). I was intrigued given that an ‘unnamed artist was killed for riding his bike suspiciously with a hoody on‘. I was also concerned that my fellow IGer was mistaken for being the victim. That took the story from being concerning and upsetting – and added a layer of personal. So, I decided to find out more.
US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @flowerbikeman

 

2. I went online to find out what the news said.

At the time, there was only one news report I could find. It was a news article from the Tampa Bay Times. Later on, I found another from Fox 13 news posted on the same day. Both of them had pretty much the same very sketchy details. The main difference was that the Fox report was the first time I saw Nick’s name publicly released.

It made me very interested and I went looking for more info to shed some light on what had actually happened.

 

3. @flowerbikeman uploaded another post which was:

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @flowerbikeman

 

4. Finally, on May 9th, the Tarpon Springs Patch provided a few more critical details.

The name of the officer who shot Nicholas, Officer Scott MacIsaac, was finally provided.

Interestingly, this is the first news report that explicitly says that ‘people have been spreading false information about the case and speculating about its details’ – yet the ‘false’ details discussed relate to another officer being identified as the shooter – but no mention of inaccurate facts pertaining to Nicholas’s actual death.

Still a mystery as to how it went from Nicholas giving a false name to him being shot.

 

5. On Thursday 11th May, @flowerbikeman had reposted this on IG – and I was very interested in the comments that this post provoked.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @flowerbikeman

 

6. Later that day, I found this news report online.

I had to do some extra scouting for it – but there is this news report about the incident (from ABC Action News).

Still very light on details. These pictures that were included in the report were new – and pretty powerful.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: ABCAction News

 

7. By this time the local word was well and truly out on IG.

The local and wider community rallied and here are some of the responses:

A sober reminder from @flowrbikeman on IG.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @flowerbikeman

 

From @peenutbu on IG

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

 

A protest T-shirt from @orton_ndau to #handsupdontshoot

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: IG @orton_ndau

 

From @cassnectao on IG

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @cassnectar

@cassnectar’s above IG message reads: “cassnectar_ My [pained] face is blurred for a multiplicity of reasons – majorly because there is no single face behind this cause. It is NOT about me and this is NOT to score my own brownie points. Please; like & share to spread awareness.
Devastatingly, we live in a world where our loved ones are being killed for naught, by those meant to protect us. For riding a bike in public alone. For wearing a hoodie. For looking “suspicious.” WE ARE THE SUSPICIOUS IN THEIR EYES. We are the targets. We need to and we will fight for what is just, we need to stand up to those targeting innocent men. We need to question authority. We need to question EVERYTHING.
TSPD murdered Nick for riding his bike alone in a hoodie. After committing no crime. For being there, when they didn’t want him there. That’s why we’re here and that’s why we’ll fight as hard and long as we all possibly can. Nick should not be dead. We are his voice now.”

 

And back to where it all started with @flowerbikeman on IG.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

 

So the mystery still remains as to what actually happened and why Nicholas was shot. I don’t think it would just be us Aussies who find this whole story particularly difficult to fathom. It is such a sad story. It is a sobering and disturbing reminder that our current society is still very resistant of, and reluctant to, accept people who are outside the mainstream hegemonic norm.

A tragic reminder that people who have psychological, sexual, cultural, interest, language or personal differences – those that I refer to as ‘divergent thinkers’ – are still sorely misunderstood and often (socially or otherwise) punished for their unique ways.

As someone who identifies with the group, I find this story all the more disturbing.

And you do not have to be ‘different’ to be moved by this story.

Ever owned or worn a hoodie?

Ever been in a situation where the police have come on strong and wanted to give ’em lip?

Been out in public recently?

Ride a bike?

No matter what the lead-up was, I’m sure we can all agree that the death of a young bike rider in such circumstances is shockingly tragic.

I’ll end this post with a memorial IG post from Rachel Reed.  Ride safe my hooded biking brothers and sisters.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
IG Source: @rachelreed_

 

Postscript: Queensland is known within Australia as being ‘the Police state’. It was certainly a cultural shock for me to move from Melbourne to Brisbane and experience daily the differences in limited social rights, expression and creativity – and dealing with imposing, and often draconian authority – of which I have previously posted. This story also resonated with me because where I live in Brisbane (Wynnum-Manly), there was a 2011 one-month trial to ‘ban’ hoodies in shops, followed by a six-month follow-up trial in 2013. It was a voluntary ban and the details, duration and process of the ban are still unclear. Police reported that armed robberies were reduced, but no report or update outside of the new reports linked into here have released to the public that I could find. There is still talk locally of making it a permanent ban and implementing it for the whole of Brisbane city.

Nathan Berry’s Project Bike Love Photo Series

Meet Nathan Berry, a Memphis-based photographer who has a panache for bicycles.

 Project Bike Love.

Bicycles have featured predominately in Nathan’s work for some years, but my favourite series of his is the 2011Project Bike Love.

This particular series of 28 photos reflects my interest to record and celebrate community members and their bicycles.  My #Bikes_CISTA (or Cycling Inter-Species Team of Awesomeness) features at a minimum one bike, one rider and one dog and they need to be spontaneous meetings in my local area. My series is on the grassroots and immediate end of the photo series spectrum.

What I like about Nathan’s series is that it has a similar approach in that it features locals with their bikes within the Memphis locale. However, Nathan’s shots are distinctly professional and beautifully reflect the polished and expert end of the curated bike/community photo spectrum.

Style, Simplicity & Authenticity

I like the simplicity and authenticity of this series. Simplicity in that the setting is visually additive without being distracting, and authentic as a few key props or clothing really helps frame the personal narrative of each subject without being overly manufactured.

I also appreciate the variety of people selected and the personality that comes through in each portrait. With only 28 participants, the subjects have been judiciously selected for their occupational, recreational or unique valuable perspectives, each of which is highlighted by a short description detail about rider, bike and context. The concise and precise blurbs are tantalising and engaging – just enough basic description to set the person, place and bike – but after that, the rest if up to the viewer to fill in the details for each story.

Bikespiration

The diversity portrayed reflects life choices, lifestyles and just enough identity to glimpse contrasts and associations. It is an interesting choice to provide the job or current activity for each subject as a primary determinate – the juxtaposition between setting, owner and bike – very bikespirational.

The delicious smattering of occupational divisions (community work, hospitality, medicos, commerce, adventurers, even the Mayor, and others ) are a great way to showcase the people, vibrancy, multiplicity and possibilities of living in Memphis.

It gives a unique insight into the Memphis community that I would not otherwise have had. As an outsider, it also makes me curious about Memphis if this is the calibre and characters that live there.

I also love seeing the full range of bike genres represented and seeing what kind of person rides what kind of bike. Stylistically, I like that some of these shots are taken inside and that many of the shots are site-specific and purposefully mirror the individual and bike featured.

See more of Nathan’s work on bikes

So if your mood needs a little lift and you are up for some quality Memphis-based bicycle-inspired art, check out Nathan’s zenfolio, which includes other bicycle photo series such as The Memphis Bike Co.

Here is a small sample of what Project Bike Love entails – see the whole 28 photos here.

Nathan Berry's Project Bike Love
Source: Nathan W Berry. Thomas Elliot and his All City Big Block. TJ is a veteran combat medic in the United States Army, on active reserve after serving in Afghanistan.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series
Photo by Nathan W Berry. John Payne and his racing cycle. John Payne is a senior financial analyst for Autozone in Memphis. As a member of the Memphis Runner’s Track Club, John competes in all distances including marathon.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series
Photo by Nathan W Berry. Gabe and his Trek 520 touring bike during his stop in Memphis. Having started in Dallas, TX, Gabe is riding cross-country.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series
Photo by Nathan W Berry. Bikesploitation at Sears Crosstown, Memphis, Tn.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series
Photo by Nathan W Berry. Kerry and her Schwinn Collegiate. Kerry is the author of the I Love Memphis blog.

Homewood Witches Ride

Halloween

I do not celebrate Halloween for a number of reasons (least of all we are in Australia!) and that’s why there was no ‘Halloween’ post for 30-31st October.  However, I appreciate that it can be a big deal for other people and that it is most certainly an American tradition. So, I found an American Halloween event, called the Homewood Witches Ride, that was squarely bike and community inspired, and that had the kind of positive community slant on the standard Halloween celebrations to warrant a second look. So, although there was no post on Halloween, here is an authentic, fun, bicycle-inspired Halloween celebration event (as a postscript).

 

Homewood Witches Ride

There are similar versions of this event in various forms elsewhere (most notably on motorbikes), but this particular ride was established by Janie Ford Meyer in memory of her mum, Paula, who in 2013 died of lung cancer. Essentially, instead of brooms, the ‘witches’ decorate their bikes and dress up each year as a way of celebrating Halloween, to support a national charity and imbued the community with some colour, fun and mobile festivities.

Now in its fourth year, hundreds of Homewood local women (and women from the surrounding towns and wider afield) got together in the town of Homewood (Alabama) for this year’s annual Homewood Witches Ride held on 30th October.

 

The Main Ride

The main event runs from about 4-6pm with the official ride starting at 4.30 pm and lasting about an hour to do a full loop of town. It is well timed not to be a late night for families and small kids as many who come to support the event are also dressed up, and so much excitement can make for a long afternoon!

The two-mile ride encompasses the main parts of the town, and families and locals line the streets to cheer the witches on. There are two designated ‘candy zones’ where the witches throw out lollies to the crowd. This aspect has been strategically designed so that it is easier to clean up afterwards and is it also makes it safer for the riders, but more importantly, it means onlookers can choose which positions best suit what they want to get out of the event – so that families with young kids can go to designated candy areas, whilst others can spread themselves out elsewhere – great idea!

After the ride is complete, all are invited to join the witches and locals at a central hub where there are food vans and other social festivities, such as a silent auction. Prizes are awarded for the ‘best witch costume’ and ‘the best broom bike’.

At the cost of US$25 for entry, all proceeds go to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The ride is now very popular, with hundreds of witches taking a slow ride around town entertaining, joking, laughing, and a generally having a cracking good time.

 

Community colour and vibrancy

I can see how this event would be a lot of fun. There seems to be a rise in community-supported, artbike, dress-up, ride events that are widely popular (most recently, The ArtBike Grand Prix and the SSWC 2016 (although this one is not for a charity).

It is inspiring and reaffirming to be part of an active community that supports such greater events. Such occasions are so important in re/defining, co-creating and maintaining a positive community identity, demonstrating inclusiveness and helping to build a dynamic local cultural tradition. It is wonderful to see such enthusiasm, acceptance and exuberance being shared on two-wheels by so many. Keep up the good work all!

1

6 5 3 2

Source: Unless identified as per Instagram all other pictures from The Homewood Star.

 

Here is a video from last year’s event:

 

OTEC E-bike research

This rise of the e-bike is a polarising phenomenon. Some people love them, some people hate them, many don’t care either way. Currently in a number of places in the USA, there is a  concerted interest and investigation into the potentiality of the  e-bike market. One such study was undertaken by OTEC and is particularly interesting as it provided 120 bike set up with GPS tracking as well as engaging the participants in a very interesting survey – the results of which are below.

I have had very little contact with e-bikes. A few years ago, my brother was using an e-bike to get around Melbourne, which, after getting over my initial amazement that my brother had been on a bike (ever – at all), let alone had bought one (even if it was an e-bike) was my first direct contact. I tried his e-bike on a track and was surprised at how comfortable the ride was. I had to admit that, although I am one of those people who has an immediate staunch mountain-biker aversion to e-bikes, I could see how and where there was a place for their use.

Recently I was in a mountain-bike event where one of the competitors was on an e-bike. In my opinion, that was not the time, nor the place for and e-bike. Based on the responses of other competitors, I was not the only one. However, I did find myself recommending to my 74 year-old father, that utilising an e-bike conversion (for uphills) on a tricycle (for stability) was a sound alternative for him to get around and stay active – an idea of which he loved. In the cases where age, mobility restriction, or those who are severely overweight but want to get out and start exercising, I can see the cost-effectiveness, comfort, mobility and access arguments for using e-bikes.

So it was no surprise that the infographic below caught my eye. It is a quick and easy report of the results of an online survey about e-bike usage in Portland, Oregon (one of the most progressive and up-and-coming bike friendly cities in the world). This infographic details in a succinct, balanced and visually appealing way, the responses, concerns and reasons for e-bike use. This is understandable, as it was produced by the Portland State Transportation Research and Education Center, which I applaud for undertaking as an online initiative and in the effectiveness of community awareness raising/promotion of e-bike use. I think this image goes a long way in helping to better explain to those who maybe totally resistant to e-bikes some of the more practical or uncommon dimensions of bike use.

I know many mountain-bikers who completely dismiss e-bikes for a variety of reasons (most often cited are accusations of laziness and ‘cheating’). However, this perspective is a knee-jerk reaction to something new based, and is based on their own personal fitness and lifestyle situation – which is certainly not the experience for millions of other people who may want to get out and about on a bike, but for whatever reason, may not be able to on a conventional bicycle.

To this end, I think this infographic is quite successful in being able to collate and communicate some of the more interesting aspects of e-bikes, so that people can have a better appreciation for such factors.

Source: OTREC
Source: OTREC

Moving People – Bekka Wright

This post looks at Bekka Wright’s speech given at an independently organised community TEDx Event in Somerville 2015. She is the artist behind Bikeyface. In this talk, Bekka Wright recounts how her personal journey on two wheels was the literal vehicle for her changing her goals, her career and her overall life outcomes for the better.

Moving People – Bekka Wright

Bekka’s talk gives a human element and background to the immensely popular comic series she created called Bikeyface which perpetually showcases Bekka’s poetic drawings, keen observations and eternal love of life on a bicycle. I like how her talk is peppered with her comics, which add warmth and hour and always adding a little something extra to her narrative.

I find myself returning to Bikeyface, just to explore what musings are on offer. I find myself often smiling with the comic’s characters and thinking to myself, “Wow, how many time has that happened to me too”!

I appreciate Bekka’s eternal wrestle with her city, the street, the cars, the personalities and the weird and wonderful things that happen to us all when riding a bike in the city.

I find Bikeyface funny, affirming and altogether lovely – and it is delightful to see Bekka telling her story of how it all originated. Enjoy!

Source: Bikeyface
Source: Bikeyface

 

Source: Bikeyface
Source: Bikeyface

Using Bicycles to teach Systems Dynamics

I recently found an older academic paper that was published from the Uni of Illinois from 1989 reporting on an ‘innovative approach’ to teaching mechanical engineering undergrad students System Dynamics. It involved the students investigating open-ended engineering design questions in relation to bicycles for a full semester.  I love how in the introduction section pointedly justifies that ‘the bicycle is not a trivial topic, as one might suppose at first glance, but it is a rather formidable subject of study’ (Klein, 1989, p 4).

Bicycles challenging engineering ‘truths’

The paper goes into detail about the learning, philosophical and pedagogical principles for using bicycles as the instruction tool and how the program, class and resources were managed and major beneficial outcomes from the program.

The students applied a number of the theoretical concepts they were learning in class to the bicycles, thus modifying bicycles to take into account engineering qualities such as ‘zero-gyroscopic’ bicycles, which are ridable and therefore refute a common held scientific misconception that it is the gyroscopic effect of a bicycles rotating wheels that keep the bicycle upright -mythbusted!

Engineering modifications

The students put the bicycles through a number of different hardware modifications (such as flyball governors, raw egg dynamics, hydraulic servomechanisms and Passive R-L-C circuits) and apply various calculations and manoeuvrer to the bikes to test an array of laws, theories and modelling dynamics.  One of the most successful modifications the students applied was a rear-seated bicycles. Overall, many of the augmentations to the hardware that the students applied were evaluating outcomes of how power, stability, dynamics and functionality to see how they were effected.

So can they now answer..

Also, the engineering students were required throughout the semester to write their findings up in essays, of which included topics like:

Source: Klein (1989).
Source: Klein (1989).

Worst (Valentine’s) Day of the Year Ride 2016

No, this post is not a crash story.

It is the annual Portland Worst Day of the Year Ride.

This is the 15th year that the Worst Day of the Year Ride has been running. It is touted as Oregon’s only costumed ride and attracts around 2,500 people on the day, all of whom are out to have fun, get dressed-up and ride their bikes.  It is called the Worst Day of the Year Ride because it is held on the ‘worst weather of the year day’ as a show that the local cyclists will not be deterred from enjoying their cycling, no matter what the challenges – including severe inclement weather! I also find this intriguing as it is the peak of Summer in Australia – and in Brisbane today, it was a draining 32C (89.6F) with 88% humidity and bugger all wind – so the idea that our US cycling brothers and sisters are braving Winter’s worst weather is amusing to us Aussies – especially today.

 

The primary reason I wanted to post this event is that not only is it a super fun cycling event, it brings the community together for a great cause. I particularly love the fact that the title of this event coincides this year with the event being held on Valentine’s Day. I have always found it difficult to stomach that the day for/of supposed ‘lovers’ is now overrun by advertising and consumerism. I for one will be bugged if anyone else tells me on what day I should tell those precious to me that I love them. I love them equally everyday regardless….and I tell them so everyday!! So the cold chill the Oregon riders will have to contend with matches the same feeling I get when looking at florists and newsagents shops on the 14th Feb.  I was ticked pink by title and the sentiment!

 

I also like the idea that if we were in Portland, my Beloved and I would show the depth of our love by getting on our bikes and taking to the (frigid *teehee*) street with a couple of thousand other strangers, most in fancy dress,  to go for a spin around town. Now that’s what I call a ‘lovely’ day!!

 

The 1 minute video below gives a general snapshot of the event from 2015:

Events like this one and the Australian Ride the Night (which was last week) are such a great way to bring a large group of cyclists together to do something unique, meaningful and memorable. There should be more fun, inventive and adventurous cycling events like these.

Will be good to check out the Worst Day of the Year Ride Facebook page to see what the costumes were like this year. Have fun Portland!