PEDAL UPDATE ISSN 13211870
Image: Robin Tatlow-Lord
No. 205 December-February 2012
The travel edition: Adelaide cyclists in NEW YORK, NEW ZEALAND, SWITZERLAND 1
a message from the chair by JEREMY MILLER As 2011 draws to a close I can look back on what has been a busy and highly productive year for The Bicycle Institute. As an organization we continue to make a significant contribution to cycling in South Australia – with a small team comprised of passionate individuals, all volunteers with a vision that places the bicycle firmly at the forefront of the development of urban planning and policy. We continue to engage with local and State governments – seeing the bicycle as a vehicle for social change, engaging communities with a sense of place and assisting in a transition to a transport mode that basically makes the world a better place! Sometimes it feels like an insurmountable task, but more often than not, we feel like the tide is really turning, that the impetus for change is palpable, that the right policy, programs and plans are falling into place, along with sizeable investment. Just the other day I was astounded to hear someone in government express the opinion “if we build it they will come” (or to that effect) basically justifying spending the money to encourage cycling when the current numbers did not necessarily justify the (economic rational) expense – this attitude was unheard of only a short time ago.
In the past couple of months we have been particularly busy. The Bicycle Institute formally launched the Community Bike Workshop – located at 34 Long Street Plympton at the Plympton Community Centre – without the assistance of West Torrens Council this initiative may not have been possible. I cannot thank them enough for their kind support. We were also lucky to receive a community Sustainability Grant from Conservation SA and The Department of Premier and Cabinet to make the workshop a (fiscal!) reality.
Bike nuts arriving at the workshop
We also hosted our Spring Ride – which we plan to make an annual event – the weather on the day was perfect, the ride an interesting exploration of some of Adelaide’s back-streets and by-ways ending in a picnic at Victoria Park. Thanks to Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood for speaking at the event and for Mayor of Prospect David O'Loughlin and Mayor of Charles Sturt Kirsten Alexander for coming along and showing their support. 2
We also ran a bicycle workshop on Pirie Street during Park(ing) Day, which gave us a chance to unfurl our new banner and promote our new logo – the first revision to the logo in over 20 years! We look forward to continuing with the Bicycle themed workshop at Park(ing) Day next year. So as we head into 2012 things are looking good – I would like to thank The Bicycle Institute committee for all their hard work and dedication this year and all those who have supported us and continue to do so – thank you all and Merry Christmas and a Happy (and bicycling) New Year Our Park(ing) day workshop on Pirie St
bike art adelaide The Tour Down Under attracts a huge number of spectators, but elite racing is just one form of cycling. There are far more people who use bikes to get to work and school, go to the shops, or just to hang out with friends. Cycling is fun, healthy, environmentally-friendly, and something you can do from a very young age. Bike Art Adelaide is about exploring and celebrating what bikes mean to people, in a way that everyone can enjoy. For three weeks in January (9th - 29th) there will be bicycle events to interest, amuse surprise and amaze. Thanks to the Adelaide City Council there will be art on pavements, buildings, in shop windows, parklands, along with crocheted bikes and bike rails. Want to be involved? Contact event organiser Fay Patterson at BAA@hubtt.com.au or www.adelaidecyclists.com/bike-art-adelaide 3
river torrens linear park a story and some policy by KATIE GILFILLAN It’s a dream ride when we are free from the stress of cars, when we can ride without stopping at intersections, and amongst greenery. Linear Park is one place in Adelaide that gives us all this. It is a special place for me particularly. I bought my home a few years ago so I was able to ride from home to the city without having to stop once, or ride the road. Although it took me a while to get into riding, but now in the habit I haven’t looked back; deciding to be rid of the car once and for all. Well sort of. I was quite attached to my dear old Volvo station wagon so although the dear hasn’t had a chance to be on the road for a while she still sits waiting patiently in my driveway eager for the chance, and in the meantime provides shelter for many spiders needing a home. Today Linear Park is a place where walkers, riders, fishers, and families can go to spend time among the river gums for some much needed ‘nature time’. As a regular you start to recognise faces and form bonds (does that sound a little creepy?) from frequent head nods. Translation: ‘I see you fellow rider and greet you with good cheer’, and I will admit, you start to form favourites. Like the elegantly aging chap who has perfected what I would call ‘riding frog legged’. He greets me each morning with a wide grin and a yelp from his Jack Russell who is always along for the ride. It isn’t only the people though that keep me smiling as I ride. Anyone who spends time along Linear Park will tell you it is the ducks that steal your heart. That first brood (yes I had to look that up) of ducklings you see in spring is my sign that the seasons are changing and the sun about to come visit once more. Then you watch the little chaps, grow so quickly from little tackers to teenagers, the whole while being warned sternly by mum and dad not to bring those wheels any closer. Reading back this all sounds a little idyllic. I guess I should offer some of the less fun parts of my experience with Linear Park. Although only briefly. I don’t like to dwell. There was the time the bike slipped from under me as I came around a corner on a wet day. And then there is of course the traditional Adelaide rivalry, In the red corner are the ‘walkers’ and in the blue the ‘riders’. “Ring your bell”, “Don’t ring your bell”, “What side are you walking on?”, “Why isn’t your dog on a lead?”, “Slow down”, “Speed Up”, “Have you seen my top hat?” Oh, and of course the charming river we call our own, The Torrens, in its full glory. In winter it rages over the bridges, in summer it morphs into a giant blob of snot squirming its way toward the sea. 4
So you may be asking what’s this all about? A Draft Linear Park Management Plan has been developed in consultation between the state and local governments with the aim to protect and enhance the natural assets Linear Park offers to the city of Adelaide. Currently each council with land ownings does their little bit but there isn’t a cohesive concept for the parks future. It therefore looked to define the role of Linear Park and steps to enhance these roles. The suggested roles are for stormwater management, as a biodiversity corridor and for recreation and transport. The Bicycle Institute wrote a response to the Draft Linear Park Management Plan based on feedback received from Adelaide cyclists. Overall cyclists were supportive of the roles as set out, particularly keeping the space unstructured with a natural feel and maintaining biodiversity. The majority of our feedback focused on the role of Linear Park for transport. Currently the plan views transport as secondary to recreational use despite acknowledging commuter cycling numbers are on the rise. A 3m shared path is recommended for walkers and cyclists – and so the rivalry continues! We instead suggested, where possible, a separate path be provided for riders. In our feedback we wanted to consider all users including walkers and believed a separate path gives those who love Linear Park space to enjoy what they do. No need for walkers to fear a bike flying around the corner and no need for cyclists to fear riding into a dogs lead across the path. There were many other recommendations I won’t go into here but for those interested please have a read of the draft plan and our response, both available at www.bisa.asn.au In putting forward a response the Bicycle Institutes aim was to represent the view of cyclists and as such asked for cyclist input to help us understand the issues. We were pleased to receive invaluable feedback from cyclists who use or would like to use the Linear Park trail, contributing to our submission. We hope to follow a similar model in the future by engaging local cyclists in local issues to gain local expertise! Thank you to those who provided feedback and we look forward to future engagement. I like to think you may be some of the familiar faces I see riding along the river – might see you tomorrow. Any chance you own a Jack Russell? I shall practice my best head nod in preparation.
reality sucks stop pedaling and start driving! boardroom panic in the car and finance industries? by SAM POWRIE The US’s abc recently posted a story about a GM car ad that went seriously wrong for the big-but-broke car maker. With echoes of print and TV ads also seen in Australia, GM’s ad read “Reality Sucks - Luckily the GM College Discount doesn’t” followed by the prompt “Stop pedaling … Start driving.” The offending ad, which was posted in campus newspapers across the USA, depicted a young man ‘struggling’ on a bike and hiding his face in embarrassment from the smirking young woman beside him in a car. It was classic putdown-plus- solution armtwisting! I was reminded of the similar ads seen locally on the sides of Adelaide’s buses and sponsored (very unfortunately I thought) by one of SA’s major financial institutions! Like GM, the local ads sought to paint bicycle use as hard work, inconvenient, ‘immature’ and ‘uncool’. To my mind they displayed the same similar disconnect from reality as GM! GM was completely unprepared for the internet and Twitter-based backlash they received nationwide. Clearly GM was unaware that students everywhere are pretty keen on bicycle use as a genuine alternative to the car – in fact their ‘new reality’. The GM ads, as well as the similar local ones, also seem completely disconnected from a growing view that maintaining ‘car culture’ is not necessarily the main tenet of civilization! It probably didn’t help that GM and other North American car makers – all now essentially bankrupt - have also been bailed out by the US Government at public expense! A letter from a UCLA academic (published by BikePortland) was particularly fierce and it was this that set off the nationwide reaction. The academic summarized his views as “GM, the company that required us taxpayers to bail it out in 2009, is now biting the young people who bear and will bear the environment and health damage of its gas swilling ways… While every driver in LA knows that the reality which truly “sucks” is the grid-locked, car-loaded, obesity-enhancing, stressgenerating car-toxicity of simple commuting in this region.” Even Giant, the world’s largest bike manufacturer responded with their own version of the GM ad! 6
Public comment at BikePortland also included the following sentiments: “The problem is this: GM’s eagerness to lock students—people who have NO MONEY and are about to have A LOT LESS—into 10-year payment plans with insane interest rates by making them feel bad about using transportation that’s already free and available to them. It’s dirtier than GM’s most inefficient truck.” “Riding a bike is good exercise, easy on the environment, and is cheaper. GM wants us to feel inadequate without one of their cars. Instead they found this approach is outdated in the 21st Century.” “Heh, yeah, the reality that our country can't pay for health care and education because we're too busy propping up GM and friends ” “They're bankrupt; their model is bankrupting us & the planet; they're desperate.”
The offending GM advert
Giants responding advert
After the email addresses of GM’s executives were posted on Twitter (with even one Lance Armstrong joining in), the company seemed to have realized its error and eventually pulled the offending ad with the announcement: “Wanted to let you know we have been listening to the community and decided to pull the ad...” Unfortunately the ‘reality sucks’ message continues to be used at the ‘Campus Discount’ section of GM’s web site! The interesting thing for me is that this very public episode really does illustrate that there is indeed a clash of realities occurring. GM and it’s fellow carmakers as well as much of the financial industry, seem to inhabit an imaginary world in which fossil fueled mobility is all that matters. They are now contending with growing public awareness of rising fuel prices and the reality of reduced purchasing power and rapidly changing social priorities! Bikes have been outselling cars now for years. I wonder when they’ll really start to take notice? 7
nite flux lights: a review by JEREMY MILLER Nite Flux are an Adelaide based company and manufacturer of high performance bicycle lighting. Their latest offerings are the Red Zone 4 and White Zone 5. I have been fortunate to have a pair of these lights for a long-term test and evaluation. Here are some initial thoughts. It is hard to put these impressive little lights into a category, probably the best description I could give them is daylight visible safety lights – emphasis on ‘daylight’ – as this consideration is important when comparing the NiteFlux against most other ‘daylight visible lights’ on the market today.
Today there is a vast array of LED lights available at many different price points, with some very powerful models at very reasonable prices. However, if you use a light everyday, or have ever dropped one, you will quickly realise that the mounts and light bodies can be quite fragile and brittle – I have a shoe box full of failed lights, mounts and parts from cheap and not so cheap lights that have broken. I have even made my own lights, a particularly powerful 12volt head lamp – requiring a 12v battery – not the best thing to carry around on a bike (total overkill) From the outset, I think I can confidently say that The Red and White Zone lights are the most robust bicycle lights I have ever seen - designed to be used everyday and on every ride. They are easily moved between bikes as they use a simple velcro and/or clip style mount that attaches to either the frame, clothing or a saddle bag, or in the case of the Red Zone, ones helmet (this is how I have mainly been using it). The case of the lights is a resin-based material that apart from the charging socket (covered by its own sealed plug) totally seals the entire unit. The lights are USB rechargeable with an internal non-serviceable battery. The lifespan of this battery is anticipated at 5 years. The lights come with a 1-year warranty with additional extended warranty options available from the manufacturer. 8
Most bicycle lights, whether front or rear, are highly focused and directional. The narrow field of vision of a front head light is really good to see where you are going on a really dark street or mountain trail, but perhaps not so good in city traffic or on an overcast day where you want a wide angle spread of light offering maximum visibility and attention to the rider. The same goes for the rear light, but even more so. Focused rear lights get lost in all the background information that motorists have to process when driving. Distraction and situational awareness are two things that motorists have to constantly deal with. A bright, visible and wide-angle taillight that is ‘un-miss-able’ is a very desirable accessory for the cyclist. The Red Zone certainly meets these criteria. Both lights have several power and flash intensity settings. The defaults are: a daylight visible intense strobe flash, a lesser nighttime flash (otherwise you are likely to dazzle oncoming traffic or cause your riding partner following behind to have a seizure) and a steady highpowered light (particularly handy if a main front head light fails – such as happened to me in McLaren Vale one moonless night). These however can be adjusted and customised. The main point about these lights, one that I feel really needs to be emphasised – is the visibility. They are like no other bicycle light on the market today. They have such an intense LED light source that is not focused, resulting in an incredible field of visible light. This light is visible from a wide angle of view, giving approaching traffic ample notice of your presence on the road.
I have been using the lights commuting almost 35 km every day and on long rides through the Adelaide Hills. I have actually felt more visible using these lights; with motorist behaviour modified by the additional presence these lights seem to give me as a cyclist. So, first impressions are very good – the lights are very well made, robust and are very user friendly. I look forward to continue the trial and report again at the end of summer and the cooler darker months of the year later in 2012.
For more information: www.niteflux.com/Products.aspx
biking on the other side of the tasman by BONNIE DOWLING New Zealand was perhaps not the most foreseeable destination for a cyclist who has a habit of avoiding hill riding. This was to be a trip of firsts. My first time to cycle tour alone, first time overseas, first time to take my bike on a plane and the first time an Australian Roller Derby travel team competes internationally, which was the original purpose of my journey to Auckland. All the preparation really did my head in but finally I landed and everything was hunkey-dorey. I found myself in a town not dissimilar to Sydney. Motorways divide suburbs. Hill climbing unavoidable; even in the CBD (Auckland is built on a landscape of volcanoes). It was time for me to face my fears and this town was the place to start. Through WarmShowers.org I found an awesome household, my host, involved with the local bike workshop Temeke Cycles and Auckland's Critical Mass, gave me the perfect insight into the side of town I was looking for. Also having ridden from the UK to Auckland, my host, Claire, was a great help as I pencilled out my journey. My trip went a bit like this: critical mass(acre), play roller derby, recover, plan, cycle north for nine days, return by bus, watch derby, visit bike workshop, escape again, four days this time, out to the Coromandel peninsula, bus back, plane to Melbourne, even more derby, get hit by a car (ironic after all the cycling I did), train home.
To begin with my head was full of worries. But after a few days those concerns began to fade. The 'why am I doing this' thoughts turned into 'wow, I can't believe I'm doing this. What an adventure!â€? 10
Water was much easier to come by. Townships were far closer together than home. The weather was lovely (not like cycling through a heatwave) and boy was everything green. Those first few hills were certainly tough. I was still struggling with my new-found weight. I couldn't get out of my saddle, as I try to focus on riding straight, keeping my legs spinning, vehicles buzz by effortlessly. My mothers words creep into my mind “You can always get off and walk”. “No!” I tell myself, “not yet, you've only just started. That is your very last option and if I have anything to do with it you wont resort to it at all”. I guess Mum's words proved as a good motivator. Soon each hill became more of challenge than a looming threat. I learn to focus on the things around me rather than my actions. I admire plants growing nearby, the constantly changing layers of the cliff faces, I find comfort in the familiar perfume of the roadside jasmine, I watch the landscape far into the distance, I trace the shape of the mountains with my eyes. I passed through valleys, tree fern scattered forests, rode over rolling paddocks, weaved my way around ocean view roads, had staring contests with cows, talked to sheep, kept myself amused by bird behaviours and mocking sketchy swamp hens (Pūkekos). Each town I pedal though I imagine what it's like living there. Envisioning what life would be like.
As I explore quiet beaches memories of family holidays are reawakened. I search for the best rocks and shells, swing on tyres hanging from trees, drag my feet in the sand; making melodies and patterns behind me. I feel strange jumping from rock to rock on my way to a hidden bay, like something is missing. My cleat hits a rock in my eagerness and I slip. I laugh at myself. No one else is around. It's odd being alone in such beautiful special places. There's no one to hear my little remarks, to share my oohs and ahhhs with. Instead I have my camera, I guess I’ll take photo to remember. 11
Life on a bike is simple. You are stripped of regular concerns. Back to basics you go. A new routine is adopted. Your mind prepares your next meal. Supermarkets become temples. You find yourself on a food pilgrimage. It's an easy state of mind. Content with moving forward, you're always getting somewhere. Tent up before sundown, dinner and a walk, divide up the next day's snacks, put my oats to soak, jump into my sleeping bag with a camomile and a couple of squares of choccy. How far shall I ride tomorrow? I get out my highlighter and see how far I have gone and where I am headed. There's definitely something very satisfying about cycle touring. Everything seems possible. Doing it alone has its pros and cons just as travelling in a group does. I've certainly enjoyed myself and can't wait to go on more adventures. The land of the long white cloud treated me kindly and I look forward to visiting it again someday. But until then I say goodbye to the luscious green and hello again warm happy Adelaide.
the australian cycling conference The Australian Cycling Conference is again being held in Adelaide on the 16th and 17th January 2012, with the theme of Cities for Cycling. The conference is Australia's longest running annual cycling conference and is the only forum to have the core aims of advancing and promoting rigorous research into cycling. It is also Australia's most affordable and inclusive cycling conference with the two days costing only $290 (students discounts and one day passes available ). Professionals from academia, government, private industry and community groups will be present from the varied fields of transport planning, engineering, health policy, geography, urban planning, sociology and environmental and spatial sciences. The Australian Cycling Conference is also proud to confirm Fiona Campbell (City of Sydney) as its Keynote Speaker for the 2012 conference. Fiona is the Manager of the Cycling Strategy, City of Sydney and will be presenting her experiences, challenges (and successes) in developing Cities for Cycling. The Conference will also be opened by Tim Horton, the Commissioner for Integrated Design in the Department of Premier and Cabinet. We can also confirm the inclusion of a delegation of representatives from the Road Traffic Management agency in Nigeria, including the President of the West African Road Safety Organization who will be given opportunity throughout the conference to provide insight into cities for cycling from a different perspective. www.australiancyclingconference.org 12
cycling in aussie cities needs some swiss velocity
by GEOFF RUSSELL
I’m cycling on a side street crossing a major suburban arterial road in Adelaide. At the intersection, I scan left and the traffic is banked up from traffic lights 300 metres away. To my right is a sizeable gap. Off I go. A shiny 4WD accelerates towards me, closing the gap faster than I thought possible, but nowhere near fast enough for panic. I’m across and his acceleration turns to fierce breaking as he approaches the banked up queue. He wasn’t trying to kill me, just making a point. He owns the road and I’m no longer in Switzerland but back in the land of super-sized metal assholes and need all my cycling warrior skills to stay alive. How did we get to this? The bicycle racks at the Rapperswil camping and swimming center on Lake Zurich in Switzerland have mount points for 510 bicycles. Yes, I did count them. There are no marked car parking spaces, but you could park three or four in the little area outside the gate where delivery vans turn around. This is a centre for children and families. There are wading pools and a water slide. There are about 90 permanent large tents complete with outdoor settings and BBQs. How do toddlers get to the centre? And whole families? Is it on a train line? Are there buses? Achtung velo! The Swiss call bicycles velos. Any Swiss 5 year old knows to call Achtung Velo as a cyclist approaches any group of walkers. I laughed when I first saw the 510 velo parking points at Rapperswil. The weather was foul and they were empty like a derelict field of dreams. We had arrived at the start of a month’s cycle-touring-camping holiday and everything was deserted. The permanent tents were empty. The huge glistening white shower blocks were empty. The place looked like a resort where the promoter had gone bust half way through. The mirage of Christopher Skase floated through my mind.
All images from http://veloland.myswitzerland.com
A month later, at the end of our trip, we returned and the place was buzzing. It was nowhere near full capacity, but the weather was passable and there were a couple of hundred velos. There were velos with little trailers for toddlers. Velos with battery assistance for the not so young. Velos with big knobbly tyres. Velos with skinny racing tyres If it’s a nice enough day for a swim, why would you travel by car? That’s how the residents of Rapperswil and surrounding areas think. So that’s how the centre runs and it works. The manager tells us they get 3500 people on a really good day. Rapperswil itself has a population of less then 8000 so people are clearly travelling from surrounding areas. Rapperswil doesn’t feel like a country town. Nor do the other little urban centres around it. The Swiss call them villages but I often couldn’t tell where one village ended and another began. Likewise, the city-country division is similarly blurred. On just about any road apart from some in the heart of Zurich, you could find yourself passing a vehicle that looks like a small petrol tanker but smells rather different. These vehicles carry cattle excrement in slurry form around to fertilise the fields. On some days in Switzerland we would smell this for most of the day during a 6 hour ride! Swiss cities are small. Zurich has a permanent population of less than half the population of Adelaide. Basel is even smaller with just 166,000 people, with the Swiss capital Bern being slightly smaller again. An efficient rail system and bicycle parking at the stations make it possible to commute to the cities from farther afield, and people do.
But Swiss urban centres outside the cities are quite unlike most Australian towns. They are fully functioning living centres. Embarrassingly, Australia’s biggest bicycle race, the Tour Down Under, often has finish lines in towns around Adelaide which don’t even have a bicycle shop, let alone a theatre, or a hospital, or a real museum. The Swiss don’t just talk decentralisation, they do it. They have more than twice as many hospitals as NSW despite having a similar population. This isn’t just a matter of public policy, it’s the way people live. 14
A bicycle shop in a small town around Adelaide must compete with the bigger shops in Adelaide (and, of course, the Internet) because Australians will travel large distances to save small amounts of money. Few non-service local businesses can survive in such a culture. We found 3 bicycle shops in Rapperswil in 20 minutes despite it being just 35 kms from Zurich, but there are no bicycle shops in Tanunda despite it being twice as far from Adelaide. In Zurich at peak hour, the traffic in the heart of the city is crazy ... for cars. Many pedestrian crossings having no traffic lights and others can simultaneously give pedestrians and turning vehicles green lights. On the crossings without lights, pedestrians just step out without looking. They don’t do this as a kind of stupid mistake that anybody might make every few years while deeply engaged in mathematical contemplation. No, they just do it because that’s how it’s done in Switzerland. The drivers, somewhat astonishingly, just seem to accept this as a fact of life. They don’t swear and curse and get out and thump people with car jacks. They pull up at pedestrian crossings in anticipation. At one point, while on foot, we were busy studying a map and happened to be beside a crossing. It eventually occurred to us that we had caused a dozen cars to pull up. There was nothing for it but to hurry across as if we had meant it. Australian drivers are great at anticipation also, but it works a little differently here. Ride in a bike lane and look even remotely like you want to turn right in Australia. Perhaps even give a hand signal. Pretty soon, cars from 100 metres behind will be accelerating in a rush to pre-emptively pass. More thoughtful drivers will slow down leaving their front bumper level with your back wheel and then wonder why you are reluctant to do a suicide turn in front of them. Exasperated and annoyed, they will then race off. In Switzerland, the equivalent action (remember they drive on the other side of the road) will see cars immediately and unbegrudgingly slow down and leave you a good safe distance to turn in front of them. Cyclists breaking road rules in Australia, even in total safety, can drive normally mild mannered Australians to apoplexy. But Swiss car drivers seem totally unconcerned. It was explained to me that this is because most car drivers are also cyclists. But I have an alternative explanation. Think about it. A cyclist approaches a red light to turn left (remember they drive on the other side). If nothing is coming, then they just keep going. End of story. Had they obeyed the traffic light the odds are that frequently a car would be behind them or beside them when the light eventually changed. 15
Now there are two vehicles, a car and a bicycle turning left. This impedes the car and puts the cyclist at some risk. So most cyclists just ignore the red light when safe to do so. The logic relies on cyclists going slow enough to reliably make good decisions on safety. Most are. In any event, the proof of the pudding is in the numbers. Switzerland has a road fatality rate per head of population that is half the European average and about two thirds that of Australia. This is despite (or perhaps because of) many narrow winding dangerous roads. In a month on Swiss roads riding anything from an hour to eight hours every day, I saw exactly one dangerous hoon driver, I saw a single “altercation”. It involved a delivery van and a cyclist. Both parties were smiling and the whole thing looked more like an ingenious pickup attempt than a real dispute. Climate change and peak oil will both drive an increase in cycling. Could Australia ever sustain the cultural shift required for a significant increase in cycling? Swiss people told me that the culture isn’t an accident but a result of decades of deliberate policy. Dutch cyclists say the same about Holland. Interestingly, we met a French couple who go on cycling holidays in Switzerland but never cycle in France. They told us that the French are like Australians, they love cycling sporting heros but want the rest to bugger off. My post-holiday good humour certainly didn’t take long to bugger off once I was back on Adelaide roads.
cycle indonesia Colin is an Adelaide hobby cyclist who has been offering cycle tours around the Indonesian island of Sulawesi since 2009. His trips feature cultural immersion, back routes in non-tourist areas, Indonesian language instruction, swimming most days and optional yoga. Tours planned for 2012 include: January: North Sulawesi June: Central Sulawesi September: Toraja December: South Sulawesi Have a look at the Cycle Sulawesi website: www.cycleindonesia.com.au for info. 16
an adelaide cyclist in new york by PETER HILL So I put the hired stinky helmet on. I roll the bike off the kerb and onto the road. Then it all starts feeling natural… I’m on it. I’m doing it. I’m on the bike. I’m on the freakin’ road, still alive. I’m fine and the cycling feels great! It feels really good! Right hand side, not a problem. Traffic lights – I stop. Pedestrians. Light goes green. More pedestrians cross in front, but I go anyway. Cars go around and pass me. Some pedestrians ahead have seen me and briefly pause or slow down to avoid a collision. A bus passes then stops in front of me but this is no time to not go with the flow. Around the bus, more cars follow me then I leave the bus behind. I ride a couple of blocks to the Hudson and the glorious Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. The Greenway is a linear riverside promenade with dedicated and shared bike paths that wind along the gentrified docks area. Smooth paths, shady trees and planter boxes that attract joggers, walkers and of course cyclists. During my NYC bike day however there were not many people around at all. It is a truly beautiful ride with views across the water and also into the heart of Manhattan. I sit up on the bike and gaze across the Hudson, just like rolling along the Esplanade at Somerton Park. As I head south the buildings cast greater shadows and parts of the track start weaving between riverside buildings. After a few km’s on a complete blissful high I passed a sobering reminder of the unpredictable hazards that I was so paranoid about. A Ghost Bike. From the website: “Eric 22 years old and had just started teaching math in a Brooklyn public school. He was killed by a drunk driver while riding on the protected bike path on Manhattan's http://ghostbikes.org/new-york-city/eric-ng west side.” I continue cycling leading through the World Financial Centre and a stones throw from the huge void left from the annihilation of the World Trade Centres. I worm my way through Battery Park, right at the southern tip of Manhattan Island dodging more pedestrians and lots of tourists with telephoto lenses all photographing the Statue of Liberty in the distance. Past the ferry terminal, I don’t have time to go for a cruise on the ferry, and frankly I don’t really want to today. I’m on a bike, and that’s where I want to be. 17
There are roadworks and overhead roads as I head north to the Brooklyn Bridge. I get to the base of it but I have to leave the comfort of the bike path to get onto the Bridge. OK, this is for real. On the road with traffic, following some bike markings hoping I will get to the bike path across the bridge. I make my way past the Supreme Court Building and pause for a minute with all the other ‘Law and Order’ freaks. Back into the middle of the road, glancing at the bike lane markings faded by heavy traffic until I see the bridge entrance. “HEY STOP – YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY” Oh shit!! A hot-dog vendor saw my horrible mistake of continuing with the traffic I’ve started heading into the car-only lanes of the bridge entrance. I pulled over and drag my bike to the side of the road like a matador and count my lucky stars that I hadn’t gone another 20 metres. So I go across the Brooklyn Bridge in the bliss of the bike path and back again. Lots of pedestrians, all tourists, and all herded into the pedestrian side of the painted lines by official looking people with whistles. Nice crowd control guys, keep it up. Americans hate being told what to do but the tourists here love it (or at least this one does). Back on the streets of Downtown Manhattan, cutting right across the island to the Hudson again. In Adelaide I had read websites all about the 8th and 9th street bike lanes, so that’s where I am heading. Somewhere in Chelsea and West Village I head east again along some tree lined cobbled side streets. There is not much traffic. This area is lovely and feels very European. Americans don’t like to acknowledge how much they are inspired by Paris. I come across the bike lanes. One street heads north the other street is for heading south. But once again the liberal minds hate governance and so people on bikes seem to go in both directions anyhow. Having made my way there, the lanes of 8th and 9th avenues were similar to Adelaide’s Sturt Street trial, very under whelming (but perhaps that’s exactly what they are supposed to be like). Nice boring perfunctory safety zones to roll your bike on your daily commute without the fear of injury or death. My lasting memory of the lanes was how dirty and stained they were. Frankly, whilst the lanes were interesting from a traffic control point of view, there were better places to ride! So on I went… 18
But how does riding in New York compare to riding in Adelaide?
The Hudson Greenway is well constructed, well marked and continuous (no ‘bike lane ends’) bike path. Pedestrians and cyclists are kept away from each other. Compare this to the half baked attempt at bike paths in Adelaide’s Torrens Linear Park and along the coast near Glenelg. We almost have it right but still have a long way to go.
There were many areas and streets that were way less of a hassle than in Adelaide. Because of Manhattan’s shape the north-south roads are longer and the traffic is faster and conversely, the west –east streets are a lot slower and many are pretty quiet making cycling a pure joy.
The 8th avenue and 9th Avenue experiment is possibly about as successful at polarising opinions as much as Adelaide’s Sturt Street. In New York the lanes are a brief respite but take up a large portion of the road and this alone, like in Adelaide, seems to some be a breach of basic rights for vehicles.
I saw lots of 16inch wheel folding bikes. After visiting some friends in Brooklyn I can only surmise that folding bikes are the best answer for such expensive and limited floor space in NYC apartments. In Adelaide’s CBD one could expect a similar demand (and more so in Melbourne and Sydney).
No helmet cycling is very common. I was constantly surprised by it and I also saw it in England, France and Switzerland. The ground was as hard as it is here in Adelaide and I’m sure peoples heads dent as easily too. This is something we can teach USA, UK and Europe (and for that matter China, India and the rest of the world!).
Casual clothing was common too (especially in Europe) and this would be attributable to shorter ‘low sweat’ journeys. Adelaide is spread out over much larger area and a lot of people cycle 5-10 km or more to commute, and a change out of sweaty clothes at destination is nearly mandatory. Adelaide Cyclists, if you go to New York, go for a bike ride!
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Pedal Update is a newsletter of the Bicycle Institute of South Australia Inc., and is now published four times per year. The Bicycle Institute is incorporated in South Australia. Material published in Pedal Update is copyright unless otherwise stated. Articles and graphics may be copied and republished by non-profit organisations, provided the author and Pedal Update are given credit. Opinions published in Pedal Update are not necessarily those of the Bicycle Institute. We are always looking for contributions, send any stories, ideas or feedback to email@example.com Nicole Dowling - Pedal Update Editor
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