Saturday, August 28, 2010

First bike tricks ever

Active Transport could save 16 000 lives

Major political parties have been urged to embrace active transport as part of the policy cure for the challenges of chronic disease, climate change, congestion and pollution.

In a unique partnership, five groups have come together with An Australian Vision for Active Transport and are calling on the next Australian Government to make a major commitment to driving active transport in Australia. Active transport has health, economic and tourism benefits for Australia and improves quality of life in our cities facing problems of congestion and pollution.

The Australian Local Government Association, Bus Industry Confederation, Cycling Promotion Fund, National Heart Foundation of Australia and International Association of Public Transport have developed a 9-Point Plan to promote active transport – walking, cycling and using public transport.

The Vice-President of the Australian Local Government Association, Mayor Felicity-ann Lewis, the CEO of the National Heart Foundation of Australia, Dr Lyn Roberts, and Stephen Hodge from the Cycling Promotion Fund explained an action plan for active transport in Australia at the launch and showed how 16,000 premature deaths a year due to physical inactivity could be easily averted.

Helmet debate

IN 46 years of bike riding, Sue Abbott has never worn a helmet. So when the highway patrol pulled her over in country Scone and fined her for a no-helmet offence, she decided to fight.

The 50-year old mother of four has never been in trouble with the law, has never fallen from her bike, and thought it ridiculous she could not ride at 15km/h on a dedicated cycleway with an uncovered head. A police video of the incident last year records the sergeant surmising ''it's a hair thing'', a view shared by many people when they first meet her.

But Ms Abbott says it's nothing to do with her exuberant hair. Her objections are based on her belief that wearing a helmet increases the risk of brain damage - and that forcing her to wear one is a breach of her civil liberties. When she tried that argument in the Scone local court, the magistrate would have none of it. He fined her $50 plus costs.

But when she appealed and laid out her view in the District Court in March, she went a long way to persuading the judge that, 19 years after the laws came into force, there is still no clear evidence of their benefit. Ms Abbott argued that if she fell from her bike while wearing a helmet she would be at greater risk of brain damage from ''diffuse external injury'', an injury similar to shaken baby syndrome, than if she fell on her bare head.

It may seem ridiculous to suggest helmets could do anything other than improve one's chances in an accident and reduce the number of brain injuries, but there is a serious debate under way on the subject in international medical and transport safety journals - and Judge Roy Ellis happily admitted his own doubts about the laws.

''Having read all the material, I think I would fall down on your side of the ledger,'' the judge told Ms Abbott after she had spelt out her case against the laws that exist in few countries other than Australia and New Zealand.

''I frankly don't think there is anything advantageous and there may well be a disadvantage in situations to have a helmet - and it seems to me that it's one of those areas where it ought to be a matter of choice.''

He found Ms Abbott had ''an honestly held and not unreasonable belief as to the danger associated with the use of a helmet by cyclists'', and quashed her conviction, although he still found her offence proven.

Now Scone police ignore Ms Abbott as she cycles to town, although one yelled at her ''you're not in Paris now'' - a remark which prompted her to send police a photograph of herself bareheaded on a bike on the Champs-Elysees marked ''Greetings from Paris''.

Ms Abbott's success in court delighted Bill Curnow of the Cyclists Rights Action Group. In several peer-reviewed publications he has argued there has been no reduction in brain injury levels due to helmet laws.

Why force cyclists to wear helmets when politicians ignored a 1998 report from the Federal Office of Road Safety that showed brain injury rates among motorists would be cut by up to 25 per cent, even where airbags were fitted, if drivers wore bicycle helmets, he said.

Associate Professor Chris Rissel and his colleague Dr Alexander Voukelatos of the University of Sydney's school of public health fuelled debate on the issue with a recent paper saying we would be better off without the laws.

Ms Abbott said ''I should be entitled to make this call about whether I can wear a helmet."

''You can still smoke, we are eating and drinking ourselves into early graves, but you can't ride a bicycle without a helmet,'' she said.


SUE ABBOTT told the court a helmet can ''increase angular acceleration which an oblique impulse imparts to the head, increasing the risk of damage to the brain, especially diffuse axonal injury''.

In other words, the helmet grips the road, twisting the head more quickly than if the skull were unprotected.

Evidence from Bill Curnow cited a report from the National Health and Medical Research Council that warns ''the wearing of helmets may result in greater rotational forces and increased diffuse brain injury''.

From Crikey:

A new research article documents the rate of head injuries among cyclists from 1988 to 2008. It concludes that: “It is likely that factors other than the mandatory helmet legislation reduced head injuries among cyclists.”

The article was published in the Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety

The main reasons that mandatory helmet legislation is a problem are:

  • There is minimal evidence of helmet legislation actually reducing cyclist head injuries
  • It reduces the number of people cycling, making it less safe for the remaining cyclists (the well known safety in numbers phenomena)
  • It inhibits spontaneous riding (eg just hopping on a bike for a short ride), and is a massive problem for public bike hire schemes
  • It adds to the image of cycling as a “dangerous” activity
  • It is a victim-blaming approach (the vulnerable road user has to wear protection…) if it does not also address the road environment and behaviours and attitudes of drivers
  • Other factors are very much more important for cycling safety (eg cycling infrastructure, vehicle speed and driver behaviours)

Good ideas tend to travel. Australia and New Zealand are still the only two countries in the world with mandatory helmet legislation for adults. If it was such a good idea why hasn’t everyone else done it? Mexico and Israel have recently repealed their bicycle helmet laws, largely because of the difficulties mandatory helmets create for public bicycle rent schemes. If people want to wear a helmet, they should. If someone wants to go down the street to get some milk, or go on a social ride with friends, they should have the choice about wearing a helmet. Anti-helmet legislation advocacy is about choice.

The complaints and debate about helmet legislation have not gone away because there is no clear evidence that helmet legislation achieved the desired reduction in head injuries that it should have. Helmets may offer some minor protection in some circumstances, but the negatives far outweigh any positives. I think there needs to be a research study where the legislation is repealed in one jurisdiction (say Newcastle, or Wollongong) and the effects carefully studied over a couple of years.

This would add some valuable evidence to this whole issue.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Deals on Wheels at Erskineville Public School

Deals on Wheels hits Erskineville on Saturday 18 September 2010, and its shaping up to be the biggest cycling event of the year!

Put it on the calendar - you don't want to miss out on a great deal and a lot of fun.

So what is Deals on Wheels???

Deals on Wheels is your opportunity to donate the old bikes that you no longer ride or that your children have grown out of and that have been cluttering up the backyard for ages, see them cleaned up and on-sold to someone who can make good use of them. What could be better? - cycling and recycling all wrapped up in one fun-filled day.

Bring your wheels and get a deal!

We will take donations of bikes (all sizes and configurations) scooters, skateboards and roller blades; in fact just about anything with wheels that you can break an arm falling off. Donated items will be cleaned and serviced and sold on the day at extremely competitive prices. Any bike that isn't sold will be donated to the Waterloo Bike Club (AKA the Nunnery) for restoration/recycling.

But wait there's more..

There will be a Unicycle Hockey demonstration, a Bicycle Polo demonstration, possibly some Penny-Farthings to try out (and an ex-Australian Penny Farthing Champ to show us how its done), and live music.

Other events are planned including a slow-race, unicycle try-outs and anything else we can think of in the next 6 weeks.

We will also have the City of Sydney mobile bicycle mechanics in attendance.

Finally what would an Erskineville Public School event be without a BBQ and cake stall.


Meanwhile at the Tour Down Under

Deceitful campaign against cycleways exposed

Businesses along Bourke Road, Alexandria have been misused in a deceitful campaign to attack the City of Sydney cycleway program.

CEO of the City of Sydney, Monica Barone, said a legal letter from Mahoney Dominic lawyers to the City of Sydney had falsely claimed 102 companies and businesses were joined in a class action against the Council's cycleway.

"The alarm bells began ringing when the lawyer's letter arrived with a list of the companies supposedly against the cycleways.

"I was surprised to see the names of companies the City had worked closely with and who had long been supportive of cycleways and cycling.

"There is significant support for cycleways, as was indicated by the extensive research and process of consultation the City engaged in before beginning construction of the cycle network.

"I responded by contacting representatives of four organisations on the list. They included Fairfax, Westpac and the Australian Museum. They were completely unaware that they had been included on a list of alleged claimants.

"No-one had consulted them to be on the list and the legal letter in which John Mahony claimed he acted for them was utterly false.

"I have been informed that a further five companies have contacted Mr Mahony to require him to remove their names from the list and that John Mahony has written to Council advising that in fact he only acts for one person who owns a business on Bourke Street and not 102 people."

Ms Barone said the level of environmental assessment undertaken by the Council in relation to the Bourke Road cycleway, prior to the construction of the cycleway, was appropriate and in compliance with the relevant requirements of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act.

Should a legal action be mounted, the Council would strenuously defend its position and would argue not only that its actions have been lawful they have been made in accordance with the Act.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bike Rack Design Comp

Elevate the humble bike rack into a glorious work of urban art!

This Australia-wide design competition invites creative, street-savvy designers to design a cutting edge public bike rack that can be seen as a beautiful item of street art as well as a long-lasting, easy-to-use, functional device.

The winner will receive a cash prize of $10,000 and their bike rack will be manufactured and installed, to be viewed and used by thousands of people at selected locations in the Western Sydney River Cities of Parramatta, Liverpool and Penrith. Second and third place entries will receive $5,000 and $2,000 respectively.

The competition judging panel will include well known artist, designer and architect, Richard Goodwin; Diana Lorentz, the Design Manager at the Powerhouse Museum; Greg Chalberg the Marketing Manager of Shimano Australia; Matt Faber, RTA Sustainable Transport Section; and Myfanwy Lawrence, representing Liverpool, Penrith and Parramatta Councils.

Key dates
18 October 2010
All completed applications must be submitted.

22 November 2010
Selected finalists will be notified by email.

Week beginning 10 December 2010
Winners announced

Ride on dinner comes to Sydney

Dinner is served!

Following on from successful events held in Melbourne, ride-on-dinner will partner with Object: Australia Centre for Craft and Design to host their first Sydney event. Anthony Hamilton-Smith (Design Now 2009 winner and member of the Cultural Transports Collective) will lead a swarm of cyclists on an urban meal adventure.

BYO bike and join your hosts in a tour that takes you around the inner-city, experiencing a world of food, history, transport and architecture through storytelling and skills sharing.

The audience become participants in this mobile, pedal-powered kitchen, sharing a meal along the way.

Join your neighbours in an event to remember: inspired, local, shared and sustainable.

when - Saturday 14 August, from 4pm

where - Inner city cycling tour beginning at Object Gallery, 417 Bourke Street, Surry Hills

cost - $20 including dinner

Buy tickets here.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Sydney’s bike economy booms

Bike shops in the inner city have almost doubled in the past five years as Sydney's bike economy continues to boom.

A City of Sydney survey of 23 bike businesses within a 10km radius of the CBD found 10 new bike shops opened in the past five years. Together the 23 bike stores employ 214 people.

Sydney's increasing demand for cheap, efficient two-wheeled transport has fuelled the growth with the bike stores reporting a 30% increase in sales of commuter bikes in the past five years.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP said; "Bike shop growth and increased sales shows just how popular cycling is in Sydney. These businesses have done their research, observed increased bike traffic, and have forecast the growth of cycling in this city."

Jeremy Scrivener, co-owner of Bicycle Garage and Coffee Shop in Lilyfield said: "We'd never owned a bike store before but our instincts and research showed it would work. We chose our location carefully and since opening the bicycle traffic has doubled."

The bike businesses reported a variety of factors underlying the growth in sales: a perception that bike riding is now safer, that it is more 'doable' in terms of fitness and length of the ride, and that it is a cheap transport option in times when the cost of living is high.

Morgan's Bicycles of Alexandria opened in 2008 selling Velorbis bikes that are highly popular in Europe. Last month Japanese cycle store Tokyo Bike opened its first store outside of Japan in Surry Hills, near the Bourke Street cycleway.

One shop, Ashfield Cycles, said that 5-10 years ago they couldn't sell commuter style bikes, but now they represent 75% of sales.

Mike Shaw of Clarence Street Cyclery said: "In the last five years, people who are cyclists have come in looking for a hybrid bike for commuting. In the last two and half years a lot of non-cyclists have come in looking for a bike to commute to work."

Industry associated with bike sales is also growing. Renegade Cycles of Lane Cove has taken on an apprentice bicycle mechanic to help service the bikes they sell. Israel Leichterman also saw a need for more bike mechanics and after doing his own research opened his repair store, Bicycology, in Pyrmont earlier this year.

The popularity of cycling is evident in BRW's top 100 growing companies with Cell Bikes of Stanmore making the list.

The increased availability of hybrid and commuter bikes has also underpinned the growth in bicycle sales.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore concluded: "We are just seeing the beginnings of a cycling boom in Sydney as more and more people come to appreciate the health, cost and travel benefits of riding a bike.

"Alongside an integrated public transport system, this upward cycling trend will help ease Sydney's congestion problems in years to come."

Bike theft justice

A heart warming tale from the USA.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Bicycle Art Happening

Don't miss this one. Send us your photos!

Unleash the photographer within and capture a slice of Sydney on this cycling tour with a difference. Exploring the design precinct and some of the lesser-known parts of Surry Hills, you are provided with a LOMO camera, map and passport to aid in your self-guided tour, documenting your discoveries as you go along. The cycling tour starts and ends at Cloth and Metalab, meeting in the middle at I Ran The Wrong Way. These three venues will be showcasing the Designer Sushi exhibition – an exciting new project which challenges designers to re-imagine everyday objects.

During the bike tour, stories are to be collected from bespoke retailers, cafes and designers who, in turn, stamp passports for discounts on return visits. At the finish of each day, cyclists hand in their cameras and their bikes. Selected photographs will be used to create a large photographic installation which will develop over the three weeks of Sydney Design. A closing party at The Beresford Hotel showing off their work will celebrate the participants’ contribution to the stories that can be discovered amongst the creative backstreets of Surry Hills.

FU Alan Jones

Now available at Three Point Turnz