23 Nov 2010
Bikes around Perth. Glamour Push on Pushies
Do you remember that in the Northern Territory they sometimes call everyday bikes, Pushies? I discovered that on a recent research trip to the Top End.
Now, I’m just back from Perth where their everyday bikes are not called pushies but they do have a slightly related slogan.
We don’t hear much about Perth when it comes to cycling, do we?
That’s not very fair because, it turns out, they are doing lots of imaginative things to make riding safer and more fun.
Before this visit, If you’d said , Perth and Bikes to me, I’d immediately have thought of the Narrows Bridge and bike traffic flowing across it into the city.
Crucial counts of cyclists are done on that bridge, folks going in and out to work, and in the early nineties, those counts recorded a turning point in Australian bike history (photo Moondyne)
It was through the counts at the Narrows we discovered that our new helmet laws, (they became compulsory in 1992) were having an unintended effect, they were killing off cycling by between 30-40%.
For more on these stats, go to the web page, Mandatory Helmets in Western Australia
There has been so much anger in the comments about these figures, the idea that some slur is being cast upon WA, that I’ve added the figures from my source at the end of this post
The impact was the pretty much the same all over Australia, but it was the accurate counts before and after the change at the Narrows bridge, which got the most attention, not only in other states, but overseas as well.
As a result, many other countries which had been tempted to followed our lead, decided that helmet wearing should remain a choice for adults.
Anyway, back to my own Perth story. I received and email enquiry about my Darwin film from Jillian Woolmer who works for
Bikewest, in Perth. .
Jillian wanted to know more about the Darwin accident stats I was quoting in my movie; Darwin Shows the way.
Especially about my claims that the unusual helmet exemption they have up the Top End, has not resulted in any increase in serious injuries.
Sharing what I knew, I was soon getting some interesting info in return.
Jillian reported that her employer, Dept. of Transport’s Bikewest has been running a very successful initiative called Glamour Push.
Lead by Jana Zivadinovic a small group of the promotional staff of Bikewest have been working on the Glamour Push campaign for a couple of years now.
Glamour Push sounded rather like the Copenhagen Cycle Chic idea, meaning, they are both about getting people to ride in style, about looking good, about taking short trips on bikes, and foregoing the Lycra.
I gathered Bikewest, being government, can’t use the Cycle Chic name because Mikael Colville -Andersen its creator, does not wish the trademark to be associated in any way with helmets.
So Jana's group coined their own term, Glamour Push. The word, “push” picks up on the push bike, I guess, maybe on pushies, and on the idea of forging, pushing, ahead.
Cycle Instead is another catchy slogan from Bikewest, also to do with encouraging easy going cycling.
Now, here’s what really intrigued me, Jillian said Glamour Push is completely in synch with my own personal push, which is as you know, is about promoting Sit up Cycles.
I’m convinced that they are the bikes we need to adopt for everyday riding (I explained why in my film, Bike it or Not)
The Bikewest people insist that they are succeeding in getting many riders, especially but not only women, to ride in the classic, stately, way on sit-ups, on Cheetahs, Globes, Gazelles, Electras, etc.
I found this good news but hard to believe, so addicted are the Eastern riders I know to their Drops and Flatbar bikes.
You have to go on one of Saskia’s Sydney Cycle Chic rides to see more than two sit-ups together in Sydney.
I exaggerate, but I think I’m right in saying there is as yet no bike shop offering a really wide sit-up range in either Melbourne or Sydney!
Sorry, I forgot Papillionaire in Melb which I’ve yet to check out.
Anyway, Sam, the WA wholesaler for GPI Cheetah cycles, told Bikewest that he’s sold around 500 sit-ups since last months” Glamour Push expo.
When I heard that, I had to take the red eye flight to Perth and see if they weren’t, well, exaggerating. It seems there really is a trend to these inviting bikes
Those two Bike West women, Jillian and Jana, had it all laid out for me when I stumbled off Virgin Blue , one recent dawn into a gust of 34 degrees heat.
Here’s the two conspirators texting me some of what to expect in the weekend ahead
Over the next few days, they promised I’d see the Glamour push grafted onto the Santos Great Bike ride.
There’d be, they assured me, a mini expo of stylish urban bikes near the starting line that one could try and pose with.
I was somewhat cynical, even disbelieving. For months, in NSW, we’ve been trying, Ian Chalton, Gill and I, to get young women to try riding in style, but with no success.
We’ve wanted to replicate the Beauty and the Bike experiment done in Gt. Britain, and whilst we’ll have another go at it soon, so far no luck.
So, I couldn’t believe these superb young women around the Glamour Push tent were doing more than posing. It was very unsettling.
Was I still Australia or had I been spirited to Mikael’s Denmark in some pleasant nightmare?
Where was the Lycra? Woman/bike/Lycra, the combo’s inescapable surely in our sunny land?
In any case, there was no way these strangely dressed women would actually ride those stately beasts, or so I thought.
…. and yet some did seem to be riding if somewhat posingly.
Jana and Jillian said its was all intentional as they confided their secret .
They’ve discovered that when a woman poses with a stately sit-up in clothes she likes, (just the act of posing can do the trick) something clicks and the model, till then not thinking of herself as ever riding a bike, can suddenly see it happening, see herself wheeling along, beautiful and free.
I felt Jana and Jillian must be in league with a certain series on the ABC which wants to spread happiness across the land. But they denied any connection, unconvincingly.
Using the tiny red carpet to spread the disease, Jillian and Jana set up intentional opportunities for contagion . If infected, a rush of not unpleasant gorge-osity (gorge-jossity) overcomes the victim.
They heard by chance a year later from one woman who’d been on their red carpet and as a result, turned her life around. She’d not only purchased stately sit-up, she’d found love as well
Epiphanies on Perth’s small red carpet, it seems.
Here’s a Fremantle GP, Dr. Helen Sadler, looking pretty good as well. Helen is thinking about getting an E Bike sit-up.
To help this process along, they have helmets on hand which don’t look like the usual racing gear, like striped tigers crouching on one’s head. More like geodesic domes or…
…. hot air balloons, rising pleasantly in the morning air.
I was partially convinced Jillian and Jana had had a breakthrough. Maybe they were able to get young women to ride, (almost unheard of in this country)
Checking further, still the doubter, I asked a bunch of athletic looking girls to cross to the shared path at the river’s edge just a few steps away where I could put them through their paces. Or rather, my paces.
I’d soon find out if they were just decorative riders or not.
“That’s far enough,” I cried as they took off down the path.
Back they came those young women, out of the saddle, rocking along at speed.
They were traveling at such a clip and with such style, that there was no faking it, that’s for sure!
I reckon Bikewest has discovered a species thought to be extinct, supposedly killed off at the Narrows in 1991.
It’s young women riding elegant bikes, not in Lycra, riding and loving it! Not to say that young women don’t have fun riding in Lycra too on occasion. But that’s well reported and so not our concern here.
I was thrilled. Suddenly I felt I needed a new word for these riders. Cyclists wasn’t right anymore, bringing to mostly mind the Lycra crowd.
Cyclist evokes speed and sport, costly lightweight bikes with no chainguards, no baskets, none of the things a girl needs on a useful bike. Or a guy for that matter with laptop and briefcase, on his way to a business meeting
Everyday riders is a pretty good alternative and is a term favored around the offices of Bikewest, I discovered. But for me, it’s a bit too… everyday.
For those folks who just want to use their bikes for the truly everyday,
for going to the shops,
for going to the job,
for everything except sport and racing,
then maybe they could be, should be called…
….Wheelers. It has certain ring to it, doesn’t it?
Come wheel with me!
I’ll wheel round to your place.
Bye, I’m wheeling off now.
Just wheeling to work as usual.
Oh, I’m just wheeling away a few pleasant hours.
Free wheeling again.
Hey, wheel on over if you want!
With my wheels on the path, and the wind in my hair…
What do you think? I know new terms don’t take on easily, though the name, Fixie, has caught on. Surely the need is there for something more engaging than utility cycling which I’ve used till now!
There’s history too, to this word. I’ve never forgotten reading about The League of American Wheelmen ,
At the end of the 19th century in the US, the wheelmen lobbied for better roads for their often gigantic wheels.
After years of pressure, they got the roads, but then along came the T Model Ford and stole them all away. Wheelmen, and women, were left on the shoulders, ingesting poisonous fumes from the noisy machines
I’ve always liked that name, wheelmen. So, taking away the gender, Wheeler remains and I now think of myself as a wheeler.
My other discovery in Perth was the strange attraction that riding out of the saddle has for me.
I’m talking from an artistic POV, and thinking of one of my first linocuts as I do (One of many, Hopefully) This one.
I’m not sure why this posture appeals. Something to do with the range of body movements the bike provokes when out of the saddle.
I have already decided that for an artist, two wheels provide one of the most successful presentational devices for the human body ever invented.
And the wheeler out of the saddle, standing tall, is an exciting figure.
I put this to Bree who I saw as having the line I was looking for. You glimpsed her in the green dress above.
Would she ride out of the saddle?
Not to say that Bree didn’t present a fabulous line just wheeling along, saddle bound. She clearly did as you see here.
I caught that too. But out of the saddle is more alive, more exciting as an image, I find.
Bree agreed to ride like that. We found the tiniest of rises and she powered up the incline two or three times.
Here’s another angle, head on.
Yes, Bree was indeed riding to order and giving me images I will use in Lino cuts later on, not the usual documentarian stance on my part.
But just to show you that Glamour Plus is not all coming from the hands of such fabricators, here is a woman wheeler we spotted on the outskirts of Freo and photographed in the true fly on the road manner.
(Freo, that’s Fremantle to the uninitiated, spelled with only one “e” to my (and google’s) surprise.)
She’s a wheeler who we stopped as we passed her by.
Jillian hopped out and made a good job of explaining our world view, our mission, and our crazy drive for sit up glamour….
All to find someone wheeling along as happy as she seemed to be. We never got her name. Maybe she’ll find herself here and leave a comment.
Have you heard of Cottlesloe beach?
That’s where my two guides, Jana and Jillian, took me at the end of a fabulous day.
I though that was all but, no, we had to stop on the way back to see the windows of a classy boutique featuring mannequins and sit ups.
No doubt about it, these bikes are, as they say in the trade; The Next Big thing!
Narrows bike counts.
Cyclist numbers plunged on the Narrows Bridge after 1992 helmet law enforcement but recovered from 1998 to 2003. Cyclist numbers then dipped for several years but have risen strongly in recent years partly because of soaring fuel prices and partly because more people are cycling illegally without a helmet. The inner city population trebled, petrol prices doubled and CBD employment surged over the 18 year period due to Western Australia’s booming resource economy.
In December 1991, 11,406 bikes were counted on the Narrows on weekends. In December 1992, it was down to 4526. By December 1993, it was 6507 and by December 1994 it was 6863.
This is down from a mean daily count of 1267 in December 1991 to a mean of 762 in December 1994… a reduction of approximately 40%.
In December 1991, 35,122 cyclists were counted on the Narrows on all days. In December 1992, it was down to 20,581. By December 1993, it was 29,506 and in December 1994 it was 27,216.
This is down from a mean daily count of 1132 in December 1991 to a mean of 877 in December 1994… a reduction of approximately 23%.
Cyclist survey figures before 1990 are scarce. However, these are the known statistics from random surveys:
* In a 12 hour survey in May 1976, 59 cyclists were counted on the Narrows and 100 cyclists were counted on the Causeway.
* In June 1979, 127 cyclists were counted on the Narrows over a 12 hour weekday period.
Note: It was illegal to ride a bike across the Narrows until the introduction of dual-use path legislation in 1981. Note also that cycle pathways adjoining the Narrows were completed in the 1980s and bike hire facilities are situated nearby. Both these latter issues may influence cyclist numbers on the Narrows.
* 1047 cyclists were counted on the Narrows during a 12 hour weekend survey in November 1984.
* 1763 cyclists were counted on the Narrows during a 12 hour weekend survey in August 1989.
* There were 839 cyclists on the Narrows during a 12 hour survey in September 1989.
* 1700 cyclists were recorded on the Narrows in a 12 hour period on a Sunday in September 1989.
* A maximum peak hour flow of 288 bikes per hour was recorded over the Narrows Bridge on Sunday 3.9.89 between 3pm and 4pm.
* Government departments calculate weekend cycling numbers on the Narrows grew by an average 11.4% per year between 1983 and 1989.