14 Jun 2013
This is a film about cycling to make you feel good and if your not a cyclist yet on a comfy sit up bike, to think that maybe you could be .
Made by Vancouver Cycle Chic
Sitting up straight; The key to growing urban cycling
14 Jun 2013
This is a film about cycling to make you feel good and if your not a cyclist yet on a comfy sit up bike, to think that maybe you could be .
Made by Vancouver Cycle Chic
13 Jun 2013
Hers is a great film made by those prolific producers, Streetfilms. This one celebrates the launch of Bike share in NYC.
But if you watch it on YouTube, you’ll see I have questions to ask
The bikes they use are from Quebec the same bike in use in Montreal, Melbourne and London. Big feather in Quebec’s cap to be able to design, build, and globally market these sturdy bikes.
Australia could so the same if we got off our bums and subsidized some transport mode other than the car industry
9 Jun 2013
It’s so long since I posted on this blog. That’s because I’ve been dragged away from my bike activism to work on saving our beautiful single screen cinema at Avoca Beach from over development.
They want to turn it into five screens, the silly buggers, and for a town of our size which loves the theatre the way it is, ( one more screen perhaps) that is being SO opposed
So my geri- activism has meant making several movies to not only to tell the Avoca picture theatre story, but also that of Mount Vic Flicks another single screen in strife .
Thank God for this wonderful movie platform, Youtube.
When I began making documentaries 50 years ago, the idea that one would be able to release films to the wide wide world for no cost , and asking no one’s permission, well, that was a dream we never dared indulge.
Now, out go our activist films, made on a shoe string, making a difference we hope
I’m calling this way of working; Tube for Change . Here are some of the recent movies.
First, one about the Heritage value of our theatre. The last of the Last
Now, here’s the story of Mount Vic Flicks, fighting to stay open after july 7th. 2013
This drama in part prompted me to come up with the name, Tube For Change. and the idea of being a geriactivist. As you’ll see, the camera does become an agent for change in this story.
What happened in that little theatre brought back memories of when I worked at the National Film Board of Canada.
In the 70s there, we had a program called; Challenge for Change which used very early video equipment to empower people without power. Now, my far better technology does somewhat the same thing.
So, all of that’s taken me away from bikes to some extent.
Not completely. I’ve become very interested in Lord Howe island as a place to ride bikes. It seems that kids actually go to school there on bikes whereas in the rest of our silly nation they are bussed, fussed and SUV’d.
It looks like a great place to ride. It looks like I need to do a movie there.
Bikes are transport for adults too on the island.
So, I’m asking them, being a very laid back place with little traffic, whether they might consider a helmet exemption like in the Northern Territory.
You’ d think this would be the last place you’d need or want a lid.
Lord Howe already have a seat belt exemption, apparently, and so why not helmet choice for bikes?
I need to speak to the local doctor to see what he thinks. I’m told that they’s had some nasty bike accidents and he’s apt to think I’m crazy. But who knows!
Helmet choice could put the Island on the map since many mainlanders and European tourists crave to ride with the wind in their hair, and the island depends on tourism to survive
Another good bike thing I’ve done is to lend my spare Electric bike to Collette. This is a good move because her ride to work is about the right distance, she does face some hills, and she’s the sort of activist who is going to make sure everyone around her hears how great E bikes are.
The bike I’ve lent her has, as you can see, the Lithium Polymer battery behind the seat. The motor is in the rear hub and is 200 watts. Now, it’s legal to have slightly bigger motors, 250 watts.
The downside of the law changes is that new bikes no longer come with throttles like this bike has . The throttle is by far the best way to control the power I feel.. The new bikes add power automatically as you pedal.
9 Dec 2012
24 Nov 2012
Here is the promised film on Bike shoppping. Hopefully it will spark discussion about this sort of bike use which is actually much more do-able for non riders, and thinking about it riders, that commuting.
I suggest in the film that we can form new alliances with Chambers of commerce which will not only help cycling to the shops, but bring business to small endangered shopkeepers who can be the beneficiaries of such traffic
I meet the president of the Five Dock Chamber of Commerce, Joe Di Giacomo, at the end of the movie. he sounds quite hopeful.
I brag about carrying 30 kilos of shopping in the film but the discussion on Sydney Cyclist reveals that’s nothing.
Phil Byrne writes on Sydney cyclist.
I‘m going to brag. I’ve carried everything imaginable in my Christiania: Wine barrels, bladder based rainwater tanks, inflatable kayaks, 26 inch electric bike, kids bikes, folding bikes, small trees, potting mix, 6 metre length of storm drain pipe, bookshelves, chickens,dogs, old pallets, 4 metre roll of lino, structural timber, poly roof sheeting, power tools and a lawn mower.
Then there are photos from Colin like this laden beauty from above.
In another photo of the same bike we glimpse A Bionx battery. He has some well deserved help does this rider and do I on my bike.
I’ve just got myself a Bionx, which comes very highly regarded, but can’t say I like yet. Teething problems I hope———–
11 Nov 2012
2 Nov 2012
Pirrama is a new park at the northern end of Harris st. in Sydney. Yesterday Oct.21st 2012 with was the end of the shorter ride of the Annual Spring cycle ride organized by Bicycle NSW.
We plunked down $120 to rent a tent for the day, thinking that those who came on their bikes, thousands of riders, might like some bike art of the superior kind. An Xmas present perhaps.
Indeed, we called the stall modestly, Better Bike art
Better than what , we hoped someone would ask but no one did. More art for Xmas can be discovered on our web site, http://situp-bike-art.com.
I like these tents . They are sort of hasty houses and you feel like an instant property owner, standing on your domain..
Once I knew what sort of tent Bicycle NSW was providing, intense thought went into how to display the works. You might find our discovery useful one day and so here’s how we did it.
It was not a tent into which people could walk like we had in Newcastle, (see previous post) and so the art would have to be on the outside.
Also, as I’d found in Newcastle, where three of the heavy display screens blew over nearly braining us, wind is a threat.
So, moving air had to be able to get though without spinning the art away like frisbies. Can you see how we did it?
From wooden rods, I suspended thin black webbing.
At first I thought that velcro dots on the webbing and also on the backs of pics would do the trick, but they worked loose, and so we clipped the art onto the webbing directly with these distinctive black clips .Aligator clips, are they?
This system worked extreme well. I offer it freely.
As well, our strange Socialble, the side by side tandem, again worked well as a draw-card though getting it to the venue on the back of our tiny car, wasn’t easy.
People always find it curious and amusing and cant resist stopping to look (I”m glad I didn’t sell it) at which point we’d cry…..
“There’s bike art here as well!”
One of the highlights for me, apart from making a few bucks, was seeing a superb new Electric bike.
What made this bike special was firstly it had the excellent Bionx system, made in Canada, which I’d read about. While Bionx ‘s expensive, it has a great reputation.
But more than that, the Bike it’d been mounted on called, Change, is a full size folding bike.
As you know most folding bikes have small wheels and have never interested me since I don’t like the ride. But a full 26 inch wheel and folding, that, folks, is very appealing.
The frame swivels at the point of that black band just under the seat.
I wish I’d taken the name of it’s proud owner. But I do know the name of the shop where be bought the components and had it made up, and intend to look into it further. It’s from Sydney Electric Bikes
This bike would solve the problem of taking bikes on trains, esp. Interstate.
I love going to Melbourne by overnight train.But its a real drag when they insist bike be taken apart and shoved into a bike crate.
You feel so stupid disassembling everything at the station, even taking off pedals and handlebars because the crate they provided was for a smaller bike.
Doing all that on the platform prior to departure, I felt so stupid, that I’ve vowed not to do it again
Apart from that great discovery, sales were pretty good , and I actually managed to take photos of two customers. Here’s the first.
The second customer was memorable for the way he strapped his purchase on his back. Katya is here admiring it
Speaking of my dear one, she went off to buy a smoothie and found she had to pedal for it .
She found it not so smooth as the guy kept saying, “more, pedal more!”
Anyway, thanks to Bicycle NSW. It was a fun day.
This post has taken so long to do because I’ve been dragged away onto several other projects which I’ll mention here in case you interests are wider than cycling.
Down on Dogs will give you and idea of the bucholic surroundings in which we are lucky to live. ( I’m making the links to these movies hot because the embedding is not working for some reason .)
So if you want to take a peek, click and you’ll be on Youtube. Though the movie might suddenly appear below as it should
Then there’s the “thing” I’ve invented.
I call it, Spin me Stories, and rather than try and describe it to you, take a look at least at the first 30 secs, and you understand immediately.
What you see here is my prototype, my one working example. Hopefully from one, I can come to some arrangement to make many. I’ll probably try and crowd fund the next stage of Spin Me Stories through Kickstarter.
Lastly , in case you are in need of changing your lifestyle, and have enough loot to indulge in some really good care, here’s the place, The Golden Door, to go. Katya dragged me there, kicking and screaming , tow months ago
I was reluctant because it’s not cheap, but the visit has proved life changing, and during the week we spent there, I came to love Tai Chi, and now do that every day, along with lots of great stretching.
I made the Golden Door movie because the place was so goof.
So you see, it’s been a busy few weeks.
8 Oct 2012
Newcastle held its first weekend Bike festival last weekend, Oct. 6th and 7th 2012. The city is coming on fast as a bike friendly place and this was a way to anchor that fact in the public mind.
I was invited to show my bike art. At first, it was planned that we’d show in the historic museum buildings but then we got moved to a marquee on the Boardwalk which was much better in terms of passing foot traffic.
The organizers had supplied us with heavy carpet covered screens to which my light art works were easily affixed with the help of Velcro dots.
Those dots are the way to go, one can play around with the arrangement so easily. But what to do, I wonder without those screens which are way too heavy for us to lug around in our tiny Getz?
Katya was with me for the whole weekend and was a superb seller. Here’s me in front of our stall and…
….my darling helper, the exotic Russian.
A huge asset in terms of getting people to stop and look was our Sociable, a strange side by side bike which we think is the only example in Australia. Parked out front, it was a great draw-card.
See the two seats side by side? If you don’t believe this works, take a look at these two who’ve taken it for a spin, managing to master its peculiarities.
It is not an easy beast to ride, though.
And it’s been in danger of being sold to some sucker for some time now, ever since I bought it from the Canberra Bike Museum 3 years ago. (Museum since Closed)
But now, the old sociable has proved it’s drawing power as a two wheel freak, and so I’ve decided not to sell it
Nearby, were interesting stalls . Our immediate neighbors had beautiful bikes of the sit-up sort on show.
We could not stop looking at the superbly crafted machines from Belgium and Denmark.
Suellyn admitted the color of the one we liked best, was not her favorite, a Belgian machine I believe.
I’m always on the lookout for bikes and riders to draw. I’m not interested in bikes alone, no matter how elegant. They have to have a rider , and a graceful rider moreover.
When I saw this woman browsing opposite, caught her easy graceful stance, I knew I had to see her on one of those bikes
Photograph her and and transform her, eventually, into a bit of my art.
Doesn’t that bike look like it’s just begging to be ridden ?
Well, we both got our way.
Here’s the pic . I’ll probably work with. I think she was working for the Bikefest, and so she’ll hopefully get to see all this and follow the fortunes of her image. .
Or maybe I’ll use this one. What do you think?
She’s not completely comfortable, holding her head a little tensely. I may change that, or make it the point of the drawing.
Soon after that, I tried a cargo bike for the first time. It was surprisingly easy to to steer and rider friendly, though I still felt a bit decrepit compared with she on the blue bike
That is, until I got momentum. Then, I saw myself a compelling image, suitable for a nation-wide cargo bike ad campaign.
Picture credit goes to Katya who applauded helpfully.
The Sunday was our big selling day, the weather being better, the crowds thicker, and our message more resonant
As people came in past the Sociable, into the tent…
…I explained how I saw buying bike art as a political act. Sort of like GetUp in the art world
I claimed that when people put good bike art on their walls, it becomes a statement about the value of the activity. Art brings status and cachet to the beautiful business of biking.
People seemed to like the idea and began buying, especially rubbings, no doubt pedaling home fast to politicize their walls before the visitors arrived.
As the numbers grew, we felt that Bike art was on a roll at last!.
What sold? Well, the digital prints of the rubbings sold best, being the cheapest, I guess. They went for $40. They’re certainly a way to have a nice image, but there’s nothing handmade about them.
The rider reflecting on the banks of the Seine, is always snapped up.
Being a rubbing, means that I coat the paper with glue, apply color all over, and then rub it off the make shapes and highlights. No brush work involved.
This one, two riders in Prague, is loved for the colors and often sells well.
The third digital print sold on the weekend, is one of my most popular rubbings. The original left Australia in early 2012, bound for for the US, fetching a nice price.
Again, the digital copy was $40. It’s called, Reaching for her Purse.
We sold old one drawing which surprised me. I thought the simple lines, the economy of the drawn images, would appeal more.
Of course they cost more. We’ were asking $150 but settled for less because the buyer was so helpful in helping us with the setting up
Actually, it’s not true Late Sunday, we sold this drawing too, done with heavy Indian ink.
It shows workers leaving a factory in the 40′s, their handlebars turned up . It was bought by a guy who’d worked in a factory like that here in Newcastle, and remembered the rides to work.
My picture framer thinks this is one of my best, and urges me to do more such dribbly ink work. Anyone agree?
Lino cuts are always a goer, being so bold. I was happy that this Tapestry of bikes sold, since it’s usually passed over. No more.
I’ll probably start a numbered addition of this one, now that it’s proved itself popular.
I was equally delighted that we sold two artist proofs of Riding through the Bois de Boulonge
It’s a strange and subtle image, full of story as art often is.
Who’s the faceless man she just passed? Did they look at each other briefly as she headed deeper into the Bois?
Lastly, the image of a Velib, one of the public bikes of Paris, see here lost in traffic.
As well as pitching and selling furiously, we had a few snatched moments to drop by other stalls and greet colleagues also committed to a stately sort of riding.
There was Tom and partner at the trendy Treadlie magazine stall. Treadlie comes from Melbourne.
And I saw Paul from Gazelle Cycles. He distributes an amazing E bike. Paul also led a study tour to Holland two years ago which is still talked about.
Maurice Wells I somehow missed getting into a photograph.
Maurice runs Glow worm bikes in Sydney, selling new high quality E bikes, and second hand regular sit-up bikes he imports from Holland.
I can’t help ending with some juicy images from the stall right in front of us, Morgan Cycles.
Or should I end more menacingly with this Knuckle duster bike?
Or end with a really nice pair of baskets?
This is certainly the way to end, and yet not end, because I haven’t mentioned the great talk I heard on Smart Moves by Anne Lusk, Research Scientist at Harvard School of Public health.
Anne talked about the health and economic benefits cycling delivers to a city, saying Newcastle had great potential to become an Australian leader . (Bikefest Newcastle bought her out, I gather.)
Anne also touched on matters germaine to those baskets and my current interest, namely how to get more Australians shopping on bikes
It seems to me there’s a natural alliance just waiting to be created between Chambers of Commerce which work to promote small businesses on the high streets of the land, and the bike shopper.
If Chambers of Commerce were to get their members to promote shopping by bike, installing bike racks out front, and perhaps offering discounts to those who come on a bike, we could get a win win situation going quite easily.
We mostly live quite close to our local shops as opposed to supermarkets, often more distant. We can thus shop easily and frequently, using basket rigged bikes. That’s for us both heath and money-wise, and will also help keep the friendly world of high street shopping, going strong.
Mike Rubbo. Oct 9, 2012
24 Aug 2012
As some of you know, I used to live in Montreal, was there for 25 years, ending in 1996,
In those days, Montreal was not a bike town. I knew hardly anyone who ride a bike.
But since the Bixis arrived a few years ago, ( they’re the public bikes, and there’s 5000 0f them on Montreal streets.) the city by the St Lawrence river, has become one of the great bike cities of the world.
Bixis made bikes cool in Montreal
My friend and helper, Violeta Brana-Lafourcade is there right now. Here she is, enjoying a perfect Montreal summer.
She’s loading her facebook page with bike photos which I want to share with you.
Actually she’s been on assignment for me in Holland, filming bikes which I’ll use for movies and bike art, and now she giving me a Montreal bonus.
Here’s couple of her offerings.
She explained that she was in a market area which is why everyone was pushing their bikes.
Several things stand out for me. There are only two Bixis in the twenty or so photos. The rest are private bikes of various sorts.
When Bixis primed the pump as it were, non riders realized how much they liked being on a bike, and went out and bought their own.
The second thing is that quite innocently, she’s not making propaganda to suite my prejudices, not one of the riders Violeta finds, is wearing a helmet.
Now, I know many of you will find that a boring observation. You may love your helmet and can’t imagine rolling even a meter without it
But as some of us muster the arguments for helmet choice in Australia, we do need to grab evidence like this, that riders in cities elsewhere feel perfectly comfortable and safe riding without lids.
Do these riders look nervous, stressed? Are they wearing those alarmist iridescent vests, and another sign of the fear culture here.
Note too that none of the riders are on separated cycle ways, though there are now many in Montreal.
So far it’s all women, another big change over there.. Here, of course, male cyclists still outnumber women two to one. That’s because riding a bike is perceived as dangerous here, and maybe the helmet hair question plays a part as well, keeping women off bikes.
But the guys In Montreal are equally head bare. (not thread bare)
Now, notice something else. These riders are all in a street of….
….small shops. They are browsing and probably buying.
I think I’ve just hit on a useful truth. I’ll preface my revelation with telling you that our local Coles is expanding and driving other shops out of the Kincumber shopping centre.
Coles used to share the center with an independent green grocer, PJ’s , a pastry shop, etc. Now they are all gone and in days, we’ll have a very big Coles.
With the expansion and the renovation of the car park, have gone the few bike racks there used to be. Now there are none.
I’ve just realized that Coles must know that few bikes come to supermarkets. Nor do they go to corner stores in Australia, not yet at least, one must add.
But in Montreal and Europe, I bet small store love cyclists since with their small carrying capacity, they surely tend to shop in small stores .
I’ve asked Violeta to find out if this is true. Because is it is, then we have a great new weapon with which to fight for bikes as transport.
There must, for example, be small business associations who could be brought to see that a campaign for bikes, could be mutually beneficial.
Perhaps a 10% discount for whoever rides up with a basket on the handlebars, offered at participating small shops.
I don’t have the evidence as yet to prove the point. but these photos are a good start. Almost every bike she photographed is set up to carry stuff, often with baskets front and back
This is surely an angle to pursue. Because if small business came to see cyclists of this sort, not the sports cyclists but the shoppers, as their friend, they might join us to lobby for helmet choice, if, taking them a step further, we can show this will get a lot more women, shoppers all, onto bikes.
You might not believe it, but right now if you were to go to any suburban main street, with it’s cluster of shops, some probably doing it tough, you would be lucky to see a single bike shopper.
They just don’t exist, except for me that is.
For the rest of Violeta’s photos, here’s her page.
I await my info from her on this link between small shops and bikes
15 Jul 2012
I have a Google search on both bicycle art and bike art . Why wouldn’t I since that’s my life these days?
Each day Google finds me bike art around the world .
Writing about the show, the Snap Gallery says that the appeal of this iconic bike art, mixed media, three dimensional and installation pieces, derives from cycling having become the new religion for many men over forty.
Not for me. Not sort that of cycling.
I’m not attracted by the frenzy, the speed, the pumping, head-down riding. For me, it has lots of excitement, but very little beauty.
I’m interested in the beauty of the body on the bike coming, not through speed, but grace of posture and of movement a sort of bike Tai Chi.
I suspect this show in Florida is more to my liking.
Here’s a review of a new Florida bike art show in a place I’ve never heard of, Palm Coast.
They have a local rag there called; the Flagler live.com.
Nice name, that . I guess it’s linked to flagging things of interest.
Here’s the review of the show at the Hollingsworth Gallery which caught my eye.
It’s by Christine Sullivan who, herself, has a nice painting in the show. Here it is.
The show is called; The Art of the bicycle, and is the Gargiulo Art Foundation’s first Annual Juried Bicycle Art show. As well as exhibits, there are lots of bike related activities linked to the show.
Palm coast, Christine’s review reports, has over 50 miles of manicured bike trails. That might not sound amazing but if Palm Coast is small, then it is indeed impressive.
The trails do look fun to ride.
Not sure if this one is bikes only.
How many Kms. of bike trails does Avoca beach, have? (That’s where I live ) you might ask?
Tom Gagiulo, the president of the Hollingsworth art galley in Palm Coast , explains why he thinks that bike art will be a winner in the town.
His inspiration came from and article he saw in the Smithsonian Magazine.
He says; “The article was about a small town of something like 700 people.
Well, on the weekend that town’s population would swell to something like 10 times that, even though they only had something like one art gallery and theater, recreationally speaking.
What brought all these people in was that the town had a lot of bike paths and parks for riders.
“We have more than that,” Tom says. “We have more riding trails. We have the Intracoastal, and we have a burgeoning artistic community with Hollingsworth Gallery, the Flagler County Art League, and the Gallery of Local Art (GOLA) at Flagler Beach.
I expect we’ll have a lot of tourist development next year because there’s a lot here for art and cultural people.”
Like the small town in the article, Palm Coast is a veritable biking haven, says Gargiulo, who’s originally from Connecticut.
“There are a lot of people who will buy a painting strictly based on its subject matter,” he says. “For instance, if someone has been to Venice, they’re more inclined to buy a painting of Venice, even if they’re not normally people who buy art. I think this show could have that type of response with many people who ride bikes.”
Sounds logical to me.
I’ve left a comment on Christine’s blog, offering news of bike art here
I have some theories about such art too. I like to make the prediction that it won’t be long before it will be a rare thing to find people who are active and playful, who don’t have bike art on their walls.
It will become, I believe, almost a household necessity, the done thing.
Good luck with the show, Tom and the Hollingsworth gallery.
17 Jun 2012
Martin in Canberra wrote asking if I knew the bike art of Frank Hider done of the bike scene in Canberra after the 2nd World War.
I knew this lithograph.
But I had no clue about the other lovely stuff in the Hinder catalogue. Frank Hinder was born in Sydney 1906 and died in 1992.
Here, the image is reversed and in color.
My curiosity was aroused, especially when I found that Hinder was interested on what now fascinates me, the power of the simple line.
When I saw his exploratory drawings, I realized we were on a similar path, him way before me of course
Then, as I went though his catalogue, I realized that that I actually knew someone in one of the drawing, Ewart Collings, and what a great drawing of Ewart it was.
Who’s Ewart Collings nd how do I know him?
He was a friend of my family, and not long ago I found his widow, Betty, living in a Kurringai nursing home. She’s in her 90′s
Ewart was a camouflage artist during the war, helping design covers, drapes nets which would hide planes and guns from eyes in the sky.
Next, I discovered that Frank Hider was a very important camouflage artist too.
Indeed, he designed something called the Hinder spider, a portable covering for guns and aircraft.
I found a photo of the spider in action but so effective was it, that there’s nothing much to see. See what I mean?
More visible, is this dummy aircraft also by Hinder, meant to achieve the opposite, to convince spies in the skies that something is there when it actually isn’t.
Interesting how artist were taken into the war effort, isn’t it?
I know this is getting a long way from Hinder’s bikes. The artist was fascinated by what he called Dynamic Symmetry.
When in Canberra after the war, discovering lots of people on bikes, he went for the symmetry in the action.
I find I’m after exactly the same thing, and am amazed that others don’t see this rhythmic potential of the bike, artistically. I wish I could have talked to Frank.
Then, digging further into Frank’s story, I found perhaps the most important reason for making this discovery. In 1916, Frank was a student at Newington College , a famous Sydney secondary school.
Who was the art teacher there at the time? Antonio Dattilo Rubbo, my Grandfather.
Here’s grandfather in a self portrait.
More on him at Family art stories Rubbo family
But did he teach Frank Hinder?
Undoubtedly, because Frank went on to be his student at a later school grandfather Nonno (what the family called him) ran at the Royal Art Society.
And here’s his brilliant pupil, Frank Hinder.
So, now thanks to Martin in Canberra I’ve got to know Frank Hinder, found the family connection, and go back to my own bike art freshly inspired.
I’ve been experimenting with very simply drawings in Indian ink. This challenging rider is one result.
This, I transferred to this polymer plate, using the sun’s rays.
and then printed this on a nice textured paper.
And if you don’t care for her sullen look, how about this one called, shady departure. First. the plate.
and the solar print from this plate.
My present challenge is to simplify my drawings and make them more decisive.
I rather like this self portrait, a younger me with my electric bike.
But I’ll leave you with some Hinder masterpieces. Bike and non bike.
12 Jun 2012
For me, it all begins with the kids. Here’s Riley, pushing a bike which is way too big for him.
What happens if this bike art ends up on the walls of his house as it probably will since it’s promised?
What would have happened if this youthful me had been on my walls?
I’ve been working on a Bike Art manifesto, clarifying why I’m obsessively doing this bike art. To be honest , the crude reason…
might be that I find women and bikes an extremely alluring combination, especially if their hair is free, unhelmeted
Like many of my bicycle art drawings, this one is based on someone I’ve never met. I’ve tracked her down, though.
Her name is Elizabeth Morrow and she has a blog called, Delightfully Tacky.
Ive changed her face in case she’s not flattered. It was the pensive posture which intrigued me.
And this woman who I’ve given a…
She comes from the Cycle Chic world.
I equally like putting men on bikes as long as they’re posturally interesting and bare headed, helmet-less that is
Capped is OK. There’s line to many hats and they’re..
cheeky sometimes, expressive of character
This is who I am!
But bike art is important in unexpected ways.
I believe that if bike art ends up on walls, it brings bike images into people’s lives, esp. young lives, in a powerful way.
By hanging around in the edge of vision, it’s a constant reminder of a beautiful activity to be remembered, taken up again, or continued.
The cycle chic movement out of Denmark, Copenhagen cycle chic started promoting the beauty of transport cycling.
The many cycle chic blogs which that movement has spawned, now effectively proselytize the beauty of the body on the bike, and off the bike too. (from a cycle chic image)
But those cycle chic images are mostly eyed online and the eye time they get is short. This drawing was also inspired by a cycle chic photo.
Few such images get put on walls, I suspect - though they should.
The bike art I’m doing is also seen online, but maybe it has more chance to end up on walls, being wall destined in its conception.
Workers leave a factory in the 40′s
Arriving on walls, bike art brings status and attention to cycling beyond the buyer’s conscious intentions.
They’re images which have been favored. They’ve had money spent on them or given as gifts. They are thus precious.
If there is a story attached to them, even better, for art has much to do with story. Serge Huercio for example.
Serge Huercio, circus cyclist with a touch of Jacques Tati, has become a friend and an inspiration.
Arriving on walls in people’s privileged place, bike art images slowly sink into the unconcsious.
This happens with adults but esp. kids, even if the art is not consciously viewed much of the time.
I bet you remember what was on the walls of your home when you were a kid. Most people do.
Chances are those images are still important to you, often made story rich by your imagination and even now many years removed, have stayed in the mind.
Often there was a strangeness you pondered..
They’re images which helped to anchor you, images which made home, home.
Imagine bike art building that sort of impact on young minds.
So, that’s my manifesto and here’s more of the art,
By the way, the above image, the velodrome, is an exception.
I rarely do cycle racing. I feel that it gets most of the eye time devoted to bikes, and doesn’t need my help.
Of course it’s powerful. Its about speed and winning, all those compelling things, but there are no faces here to let the artist delve the soul, and that we crave.
More Bicycle Art at http://www.situp-bike-art.com
8 Jun 2012
I finally got around to putting some drawings on Video. I don’t know why it took me so long. I guess thinking that they would not look good.
But they look fine. Simple lines are powerful since they create a space and make it mean something. Less is surely more.
It’s like you wrapped a single string around yourself and then the string hardened, you stepped away and the string became a representation of you, thin fragile but recognizably you.
The Indian ink drawings are messier. It’s harder to control the ink line than the pencil, but their roughness makes them more meaningful I reckon.
The still for the film is Indian ink, factory workers in the 1940′s or 50,’s riding home.
See what you think
18 May 2012
Rani is a sikh. She moved to Sydney when she married an Australia, coming from Amsterdam where she went everywhere by bike.
She’d love to be able to ride here as freely as she did in Holland. But she has the problem of her Dumalla. That’s her Sikh turban.
Sikhs never cut their hair, rather they wind it round in clothe under the Dumalla.
This makes it impossible for Rani to wear a helmet. So every day she has to run the gauntlet of cops who’d like to ticket her for breaking our laws.
Rani thinks she should be able to ride with her turban and so she is campaigning to be allowed to do so. She tell me that some states already have an exemption for Turban wearers, but not NSW. I hope she succeeds.
It will make it easier to get an exemption for all riders of public bikes which we sikh..
My wife, Katya, is just back from visiting her mother in Moscow. On Victory day, May 9th. the usually clogged streets of that city were empty and she snapped this joyous image of two riders in heaven.
What a great photo. All the joy of free and easy riding is on their faces.
I think the one on the right is a boy.
The bike’s no give away since both sexes fee comfortable on step throughs.
I’m sort of hoping they might find themselves here and tell us their story
Victory day, which was discontinued for many years, commemorates victory in the Second World War in which 20 million Russians died, defeating the Germans.
In a park, they set up an army kitchen of the era, serving what soldiers would have eaten in that war.
Katya would have liked to get some of the buckwheat and tea they were serving, but the line was too long.
There were a few other bikes around, but not the sort which interest me that much.
10 May 2012
It seems like WA might be the first southern state to bring in a bike helmet exemption for certain situations.
This article in the West Australian explains the push.
Under the trial, helmets would be optional for adults cycling on separated cycleways, dual-use paths and roads where the maximum speed is 50km/h or less.
This blog takes great pride in being the first to bring the news that the Mayor of Fremantle, Brad Pettitt supported an exemption .
Here you see Brad going public with his controversial plan. At that point it was targeted at enabling a bike share to work. This should still be a key goal and a reason for urgency.
It’s both essential and inevitable that Australia embraces public bikes since they are proven turbo charger of utility cycling.
It’s the public bikes of London, of Paris, of New York ( very soon) which entice non riders to discover what superb transportation is the humble situp bike for many short trips.
Naysayers predicted that London’ s public bikes would be a failure . But so successful have they been, that they helped re elect Tory Mayor of London. Boris Johnson.
He’s the guy who brought them in, and who’s just now been re elected in large part because the public loves Boris Bikes, bucking a trend to labor one might add.
I hope that our Premier in NSW, Barry O’Farrell, takes note that he’s on the wrong side of history when he disparages bikes as transport, when he talks about ripping out Clover Moore’s new separated bikeways.
She’s Sydney’s Mayor and one of the few visionaries in the country when it comes to bikes as transport
Mr O’Farrell would do well to take a leaf from Boris’s book, encouraging not only separated paths, but a bike share scheme for Sydney as well.
Clover Moore would love to bring public bikes to Sydney but she knows that our comp. helmet laws would doom it to limp along, as they have Melbourne’s scheme.
This brings us back full circle to the West and the hope that they succeed and show the rest of Australia the way.
In the meantime, for the fearful pollie, it’s comforting to know that the Northern Territories has had a partial helmet exemption for many yea rs with no ill effects.
I went up to have a look. here’s my report.
For Much much more, visit Chris Gillham’s blog
23 Apr 2012
27 Mar 2012
18 Mar 2012
11 Mar 2012
I found it hard to believe the venom of the attack in the Daily Telegraph this week on our Mayor, Clover Moore, and all for trying to make Sydney a bike friendly city by building safe separated paths for cyclists .
The Murdoch press, which seems to dislike anything visionary, is having nasty fun as it joins forces with our Conservative State Premier, Barry O’Farrell who apparently has no interest in bikes as transport.
On TV, Barry reputedly said that people could walk to work on pogo sticks, for all he cared. (Heard by my wife, Katya)
I guess he thinks that cycling to work is equally strange
The Tele much approves of the Premier’s plans to take away the mayor’s planning powers, even as Mr. O”Farrell threatens to dismantle the bike ways she’s already built.
That would be quite popular judging by comments left on the Telegraph story.
“Bless, you Barry, than goodness.”
“Thank you so much, Barry. This mad woman is killing the city”..
“The cycle lanes are a complete failure. You can watch them for five minutes and not a single rider goes by”
“Onya bike Clover. Sydney has had it with you”
People do love their cars here. Some do hate to see cars losing space to bikes.
But readers might react differently if things were put in context. If they knew that what Clover is doing is normal good practice world wide, for example
They’re not told of the extensive separated Bike-ways New York is building,
or those that London…
…or about the separated paths which Paris has on the go where 25,000 public bikes a much loved.
Not told either about Montreal cutting its car traffic by 14% through bike use, and vying to build more bike-ways than any city in North America.
We seem to be in a swirl of cross currents here. At the same time at the Daily Telegraph mounts it campaign against bikes as transport, the Sunday Telegraph runs a story about bikes being, the new black
Many curious things in this story.
1.The riders are women who actually make up only a tiny percentage of our bike force.
2.The bikes shown are predominantly Dutch style sit-ups, not the bike of choice here at all.
3. The women wear fashionable clothes, not Lycra as is so common.
4. Almost none pose with helmets.
This package would have been unthinkable a year ago.
So, what gives the Daily Telegraph and its attack a toe hold in the public mind here, seeing that they are so far out of step with global thinking, as well as with local fashion trends?
Well, last Friday, March 9th 2012, I rode into town on my own bike to see for myself.
I crossed into Sydney on our magnificent Anzac bridge, a major way into town for cyclists.
I found a system of separated paths already in place, far more extensive than I realized , giving an almost unimpeded run into the city.
It’s a network that you have to try to believe. A new Sydney!
Here, the separated path, a bright green, runs down Union street…
…towards the Pyrmont bridge….
…which bikes cross, sharing the space with pedestrians.
It’s not ideal but O.K. because most riders do slow down to 10 Kph.
This leads to the Kent st. another key separated cycle way, running north-south.
I took the bright green path up towards out famous Harbour bridge.
This stretch was a revelation, a serious commitment of street space to bikes…
….becoming quite a steep hill as one approaches the bridge.
At the top, were even greater surprises, a beautiful sweep of separated bike-path coming in from the east…
…leading to this neat tunnel towards the city core..
.. that is if you don’t want to head north over the bridge in the cage.
Boy, I had no idea this bike-ways “problem” had spread so far. And apparently this is only 10 Kms with 190 Kms. yet to be built.
Of those kms. 55 will be separated paths like those I’m riding on today
You’ve already got a lot of bike track to pull out, Mr O’Farrell. Better get destructive real fast.
Take us backwards, please, just as gas goes up!
“Good on you Barry. Let’s rip up these bike lanes and return the streets to the car.”
“No more subsidies for this tiny proportion of passenger transport”
So, there was no clue for me in the bright new infrastructure I saw as to why comments to the tabloid press are so angry, why cyclists are so disliked.
The situation is so fertile with fury that visiting planner, John Pucher, from the US declared two years ago…
”Whether I was a pedestrian or cyclist, I found the level of the hostility of enough Sydney motorists worse than I had seen anywhere in the world.”
As for speed, I didn’t see dangerous riding. But our cyclists do look like they are going fast perhaps because they are dressed for speed
They look like bike couriers or…
Women too look like they are in training which they probably are.
Here lies a big part of the problem I suspect.
Drivers sense they are sharing the road with riders who have another agenda, and that is keeping fit for their weekend sports rides and for racing.
(Our cyclists do look superbly fit in contrast to the generally obese population)
But it’s like sharing the road with race car drivers.
A friend who uses her bike a lot agrees that the image of riders in training is a problem.
When drivers shout at her : “Get off the road,” she’s has the sense that behind the remark, is the idea that she’s like a kid playing cricket on the road and she should get into a park.
When in Lycra on a very fast machine, the temptation is naturally to go as fast as you can, not to stop for lights, to weave through traffic, to look like your in some sort of game.
Not all do this of course, but that’s the impression the look gives.
This look of our commuting culture, sets us apart from the rest of the world.
If you doubt we really bare so different, Google, urban cycling in Italy, France, Holland, etc. and see what images come up
When you compare our scene with Europe, the difference is indeed startling.
This woman rides in Copenhagen (photo, as with some others, from Copenhagen Cycle Chic)
Cyclists reply by saying the way they dress here, their fast machines, is because of greater distances they must ride compared with Europe, and other practical reasons.
But I’m not convinced that’s the whole story
In Europe, it turns out people often commute just as far as we do, and whilst they face less hills, their headwinds are fierce.
During the week in Europe ( Montreal in this case) the bike culture looks more like this
Or this. (Copenhagen)
Or this in Dublin. (A Dublin lawyer rides between chambers and court)
An Amsterdam businessman. In Europe, all social classes and all ages ride bikes. Here, it’s predominantly young males
On my morning shoot in Sydney, I saw only one rider sporting the European look. This woman looking very out of place.
Does it matter?
Well, considering the hostility towards cyclists here,
considering Barry is planning to rip out the bike paths,
considering that sporty riders prefer the roads to bike paths,
it matters a lot.
We have to find ways to grow this other culture, the new Black as the Sunday Tele called it, the new look.
If we do, we’ll dilute the sports/training culture and change the vibe. Old ways will remain but a new color, a new friendliness, is added
Wht will it look like? You just know this couple is not in training, not doing PB’s .
“Come ride with us” they seem to say on their Velibs in Paris.
Rather than, “Out of my way.” (photo altered)
Our cycling commuters are currently disguised as something else. As weekend sports riders, using their commutes to train.
Let’s join them with these folks, natural lovers of the separated paths who’ve even time to talk as they ride..
It’s no one’s fault we ended up with our mono cycle culture.
I suspect it all began with our compulsory helmet law, bought in Australia wide, in the early nineties.
It seemed like a great idea at the time, but there was a downside. Whilst many have pointed out that the new law drastically cut cycling numbers…..
so that this became a picture of the past, that is men riding to work….
(Not the only reason of course. Cheaper cars were a major factor)
But what has not been noticed, is that the new helmet law worked a bit like a selective herbicide.
This Helmet herbicide effectively killed off those who just rode to school..
A masked ride at Clovelly, ( State lib. of NSW Flicker stream)
Killed off too those got around with mates.
Or just rode to the shops.
These riders had all felt safe, couldn’t see the point of helmets, and just stopped riding to avoid being hassled by the cops and paying fines
At the same time, the helmet herbicide helped grow the ranks of those who already thought helmets a good idea, who were already using them. They thrived greatly in numbers at the expense of the others
Looking like this guy on Union st. at 7.30 AM. (face altered)
And so we got this strange mono culture , a bike hero culture, revolving around the helmet which we still have today like nowhere else.
We thus came to to expect our cycle magazines to have covers like his…
And never feature riders like this.
And never, never, this.
But now the new Melbourne magazine, Treadlie, comes in as a fresh cross current to this mono culture.
Note this cover. No helmet, sit up bike. Basket
Is this a good move to question helmets? Surely we need them?
Well, high compliance of helmet use has not made us any safer. (On my ride, I saw almost 100%)
Indeed, we have more chance of being hurt on a bike in Aust. with a helmet than that Belgian father and child above.
Why is this, you might well ask.?
1. There’s safety in numbers and helmets cut the numbers.
2. Drivers tend to be more careless around helmeted riders and those not protected, a British study showed.
3. Because, in bringing in the helmet law, our Govts. virtually washed their hands of cycle safety, it was now the responsibility of the rider.
Thus authorities here, till Clover Moore and a few other progressive politicians got going, did nothing to build safe separated bike-ways.
Still, politicians understand that real cycle safety is under the wheels not on the head. (see the film at the end on how the Dutch got their system)
We might feel safer. Whenever the comp. helmet topic comes up, there’s a flood of testimony from riders who swear that their helmet saved their life.
These stories are often enough to stop helmet reform in it’s tracks, especially when backed up by the sober warnings of Trauma doctors who, for some reason, can’t see the big picture, public healthwise
Meet here Dr. Tarek Razek, Head of Trauma at McGill, Montreal.
Back in 2009, he was strongly urging the Montreal Bike share scheme, Bixi, to incorporate helmets.
It was an impossible demand actually, and would have effectively killed the Bixis bikes. Fortunately, his advice was ignored.
Now 6.8 million Bixi trips later, with helmet freedom, and less than 10 serious accidents, I wonder if the doctor now admits his alarmist tone was not helpful.
I wonder too whether his colleagues here might learn from that.
Surely our obesity epidemic should be front and centre when weighing cost benefits.
Would riding a bike to school have helped here? (photo altered)
What we need to do to swing our bike culture away from the mono, the sports leisure mode, towards the slower culture of Europe and that includes helmet choice.
Of course whoever want to wear a helmet will can always do so
Then, I predict, the aggro will diminish and more women will ride.
Bike shops will make just as much money I’m sure, though they wont be selling as many bikes called, “Badboy” or “Hooligan” names for urban bikes from the very popular, Cannondale stable
How do we do this? We have the means at hand, the veritable magic wand, the proven way to turn masses of non riders into riders of the European sort.
It’s called Bike share . These are the public bike systems which are transforming 140 cities around the world.
These are bikes in racks, usually every 300 meters in a participating city, usually free for the first 30 mins. once you join up. These are bikes you don’t have to own, don’t have to worry about storing or being stolen.
These are bikes for that moment you need to make a short city trip, and keep not a second more. They are always sit-up bikes.
Sturdy, hassle free bikes, unglamorous it’s true, but with everything you need except a helmet.
That’s in part because there’s just no way to dispense a sterilized , inspected, helmet automatically along with such a bike. Thus, wherever there’s bike share, there’s always helmet choice, meaning most of the planet.
Tel Aviv and Mexico city both got rid of compulsory helmets to enable public bikes. That’s how important authorities ranked them
Boris Bikes in London.
Here’s the mayor himself, Boris Johnson in London, saluting the success of his scheme over all the naysayers.
Bicings in Barcelona. There are 5000 on the streets of that lovely city, clocking up 350,000 trips a day.
Bixis in Montreal, also 5000 strong, public bikes which have transformed that city, justified all the new bike ways that they’re building .
My son, Nicolas who lives in Montreal, gave up his car a year ago, and now uses nothing but the Bixis and public transport to get around. He works for big bank
We do have two public bike schemes here, one in Melbourne and one in Brisbane, but they are just limping along because to ride these bikes, you either have to be carrying your helmet with you, or buy one for the ride.
And that’s not practical. Indeed, subverts the convenience, impulse nature, of public bikes
This is why I was so glad to see this week that the City of Sydney has adopted the idea of a special helmet exemption for public bikes, something this blog has been proposing for two years.
The Mayor suspects, I’m sure, that public bikes are the key to filling her bike-ways and quietening the opposition
She may also know that Public bikes have a history of calming city traffic and cutting the aggro, as Andrew Montague, Mayor of Dublin points out .
This is because such bikes come across as less threatening to drivers. Public bike cyclists may be annoying in other ways, not being such good riders, for example,, but they produce a smile because they are…
1. Just people going somewhere. Not in training,
2. They are not running lights, or much less.
3. And they love separated bike-ways
4. They are more track-able and accountable if anti social.
4. Riding on footpaths? Public bikes may still do that, and in the Northern Territory, few know that it’s legal, as is riding without a helmet on such paths.
Of course we’ll still have our sport/leisure commuters , the present mono culture, but their numbers will be diluted and a new cycling decorum may well emerge , as it has elsewhere. See, The Waltz of the Bikes to get a glimpse of what this looks like
So that’s the modest proposal for the way forward. A new, helmet choice bike culture to be trialled in Sydney, specifically targeted to enable Bike share to work.
It wont be easy. But then, it wasn’t easy for the Dutch either. They weren’t born on bike wheels as many imagine. They had to work hard for the bike solutions they now enjoy. You’ll be surprised how hard.
2 Feb 2012