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.
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———–
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.
I had to do a film in defense of our right to walk dogs on our beach at Avoca.
Down on Dogswill 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.
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.
They were Suellyn Everett and Jimmy Stephenson who seem to share a business calledMorgan Cycles.
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 trendyTreadliemagazine stall. Treadlie comes from Melbourne.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We’re hoping hundreds of you will come to ride the hour and a half hour circuit, ending up at Town hall again, and taking in some of the new separated bike ways.
We want to extend a special invitation to visitors to Sydney, cyclists from other countries
My Friend, Patrick Jeffery, is working his way around the the backpacker packer hostels this week to explain what we have in mind
The idea is that what you know about cycling in your home country, can be useful here.
If you come from some city were bikes are big, public bike schemes thriving, please come along to tell us about it.
No doubt you’ve wondered why you don’t see many people using bikes as transport here.
No doubt you’ve wondered where our public bikes are.
You have no bike to ride in our rally most probably, but come anyway to the start of ride, noon at the Town Hall on George street, and tell our cameras what it’s like where you live.
We expect the mainstream press to come.
Tell them Clover Moore is on the right track, that from your experience in Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Paris, wherever, that separated bike paths do work, that they increase cycling, making it safer, more pleasant.
Whether the press pays attention or not, I’ll be there with my camera, and a movie, featuring your comments, will be up on Youtube very soon after the event.
For those who can ride, there will be two prizes given. One for the best video of the actual ride.
The second for the most business-like rider, in appearance, that is.
The The Daily Telegraph has recently claimed that business men and women don’t ride bikes in this city. We want to show them that’s wrong.
In both cases, the prize will be Bike Art worth $250 which I’m donating.
It could be these solar prints.
Or a lino cut.
or a rubbing.
There will also be a prize for the visitor who tells the best story about cycling elsewhere, who turns up either with or without a bike.
Sitting in a Sydney cafe this week planning the rally, a hip young architect stroked his phone screen and called up London’s public bike scheme, the famous Boris bikes.
His fingers, by turns squeezing and spreading across the small screen, conjured up for me the hundreds of docking stations across London and then, where the 5000 blue bikes actually were….
…..at that very moment.
If we’d been in London, we could have walked round the corner, knowing that 5 bikes out of 25 , were waiting for us to hop on and ride.
It was a gob smacking demonstration of, the beyond-modern meets classic technology.
For bikes are classic stuff, you know, essentially unchanged in the long stretch of 130 years
Ah, what a shame that there’s no such public bike scheme as yet in Sydney, one that this architect could call up on his phone.
No bikes outside on Albion st. that we could ride to the next event in our busy day.
Before I forget, here’s another good post from Alan Davies who’s now moved his Urbanist blog to Crikey.
The piece looks at why Sydneysiders cycle half as much as Melbournians when it comes to using bikes as transport. Well worth a read!
I hope you can access the story here. I’ve actually subscribed to Crikey in order to continue reading Alan’s pieces
The urgent news is that Architect/cyclist, Steven Fleming is organizing an Earth Hour bike ride in Newcastle for tomorrow night ( Tues 20th) The idea is that this might become an annual bike awareness event.
Steven approached me suggesting that he’d challenge riders to make videos about their bike hour events, and that I’d donate bike art as the prize for the best video.
Since, the ride is tomorrow, I’ve been working hard to create some new art to add the the art pool for the prize. Here are some new rubbings which might become prizes.
This one uses the stepping posture I love and have used many times, but never as a rubbing.
This also uses some favorite characters.
What do they see at the same moment?
What are they talking about?
Where go these green riders all in a line?
I’ve also being making another version (this will be the third ) of Reaching for her Purse.
I’m doing this version as a commission for M….. who’s nurse in Salt lake city .
On April First and Second there will be a ride in Sydney to answer the State Govt. campaign against our new Bike-ways here in Sydney. It’s being organized by Jane Salmon. Find out more from her site, Rolling With Clover
For the full story on the attacks, see my last blog post, just below this one.
This Editorial in the Daily Telegraph, which has been leading the campaign, is part of a general attack on the Mayor which can’t go unaswered.
One last thing. I’ve produced a Bike Art Poster which I’m hoping bike shops will choose to display.
If they do so and a sale results from a viewing in a shop, then I’ll give a share of the sale to that shop.
If you know a bike shop where you could place one, get in touch and I’ll send it to you.
Or if you have some other interesting use for it, let me know that too.
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.”
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.
I had a letter from Steve Brown about a bike tour he’s just done with his partner, Zoe Xue, an urban designer from China.
And Here’s Zoe.
I first met Steve some years ago when he was working with Scott Dickason at EVs, developing electric bicycles for the postal service.
We made a film together about the excellent hill climbing qualities of the EVs E bikes, choosing a famous climb in the Dandenongs for demonstration purposes.
I was tricked into being part of that demo!
Hmm, the film’s had 19,000 views. Not bad!
Then, Steve went off on his own and formed Niubike.
He was writing to me now about the exceptional lightness of one of the E bikes he’s offering, the eCoda which is only 17 Kilos, very light for an E bike though laughable for a racer of course.
Here’s the eCoda.
What looks like the water bottle is apparently the Lithium battery. He rode this E coda on the tour I’m going to tell you about whilst Zoe rode the heavier more conventional, ETU (pron. E two) you see here.
Note the voluminous panniers and the battery behind the seat post on her bike
The ride was in Victoria, from Wangaratta to Bright via Beechworth.
and like Pooh bear, stocked up with a jar or two .
Approaching Bright, it was another story
The alpine town, famous for its stately avenues
was where they struck trailer trouble. The solar panels came loose.
But at Crispy hardware and Timber, with the help of Zack, they managed to fix the loosened panels just before Crispy closed.
To wrap the story up, Zoe reports that the food was great and reasonably priced at the Alpine Gate Cafe in Myrtleford.
And the fish and chips were excellent at the Ageing Frog in Beechworth.
As was the coffee at the Beechworth Bakery where some of the staff waved them on their way.
I would have loved to have ridden with them though if I did. I would have practiced CCD.
That stands for creative civil disobedience meaning there’s no way I would have worn a helmet out there in the fresh air, traffic non existent.
No way with the chance of a head injury being about about one in 2 million or the same as getting a meteorite up your nose.
Indeed, if this was the Northern Territory, you could ride legally without a helmet on such a trail, as I recently discovered and showed in the film, Darwin Shows the Way
That’s as it should be, helmet choice, that is.
One can only hope, as more and more visitors from overseas discover this great trail, that they’ll point out how stupid is our compulsory helmet law, how out of step with the rest of the world it is, and that change will come.
And then one will ride with the breeze in one’s hair as nature intended.
But from my point of view, equally interesting as any train, is what’s against the wall of this abandoned house.
Yes, that right , a jumble of rusty bike frames.
Sadly , as we’ve come to expect, the bike always seems to be left in the shadows when it comes to transport history.
Far more interesting apparently is the steam tram which ran the three Kms. between Leonora and Gwalia when Gwalia was the mine site, and Leonore, the place you lived.
Gradually Gwalia became a town too.
Here’s the double decked steam tram enjoying pride of place on the historic site..An interesting beast, I must admit
But when it came to getting around the early goldfields, the humble bike was probably equally or even more important.
It cost almost nothing to run once purchased. It did not have to be fed or watered, and in that scorching place, water could cost a fortune.
Water was up to a shilling a gallon on the goldfield in WA in the 1890′s, Jim’s book tells me. That would make it more expensive than Scotch whiskey today.
Julius Price running camels at the time, reports; “my kindly feeling went down to a very low ebb as I stood there, watching gallon after gallon of water (then at four pence a gallon) disappear down the apparently insatiable throat of the animals. ” (P. 94)
Some indication of the abstemious bike’s importance can be discovered here, as we view a complete bike hanging on a Gwalia fence.
Can you spot what I’m getting at in terms of clues as to this bike’s importance, something we don’t have today?
This bike sports a registration plate! They were officially kept kept track of apparently, a fee to use one, perhaps.
And bikes were not just personal transportation around the gold fields.
They also carried the mail as I showed in my last post, and were used for doing deliveries.
Perhaps it’s in the window of this shop…..
…..that this delivery bike now sleeps today, careless of passing time?
How tough was it on a bike in those days? (all info. from Jim’s book)
In 1904, there were 16,000, kms. of roads in Western Australia of which 62% were cleared only, and 25% formed only.
Most of the time you were riding not on roads at all, but on sand, in mud, over stone, on railroad tracks, even along the telegraph line.
And, if you were really lucky, you pedaled your fixie on the pads, the narrow and very smooth paths trodden down by camels.
What roads their were, were often cut into deep ruts by wagon teams so that you were; “looking at harder work (trying to stay upright on a bike) than ever befell a human being” as one rider exhaustedly reports.
Riding on corrugations, often thanks to early cars and the way they ribbed the tracks. “would shake your eyeballs out.”
Sand was the worst surface and it was all over the country. “Sand, sand was everywhere . It rose in a fine impalpable dust which made the nostrils and throat feel as if on fire.” Tom Coleman 1898. (p.104)
(photo, Bicycle and the bush)
“sand caused more walking, pushing sweating and swearing than any other factor in rural Australia. “ (p.104) Yet sandy areas were frequently crossed, and at impressive speeds .
For instance, those bike post messengers, crossed the sand plain between Southern Cross and Coolgardie in WA (177 kms.) in 12 hours.
Boy, were they tough, or were they just tough, those early riders? What would they make of our cushy rides today?
Caked mud was also a nightmare . “Until a path was worn through after the rains.. a jolting ride was the result, which according to Murif, (a famous distance rider) was like cycling up and down a stairway with the stairs of unequal heights and width, blindfolded….. Destructive to both machine and rider“
And so what happened to those heroic bikes?
They’ve ended up in Gwalia as part of fences.
Thus still, they lend some strength to the human agenda , fencing this abandoned town which you can now visit .