Cycling in Melbourne Australia
What is this bike culture thing? Is it image conscious northern suburb types with dreads on fixies? Tweed clad women on retro bikes with crocheted pannier bags? Lycra clad Beach Roaders? Or hard core scarred knee commuters biting the heads off wayward drivers?
I ride bikes everyday; there are at least 12 bikes lying around the house and another on layby (drool...), but I don't consider myself part of bike culture or any of the various tribes, and don't care if I am accepted as part of bike culture - what I want is that I am accepted by the rest of society as a legitimate road user and my mode of transport gets its share of community resources. I think bikes will dominate the earth one day, but until that day we seem intent on thinking of ourselves as 'special' in some way. When there is no mention of this thing called bike culture, I will know that that is when bikes are an accepted part of society - by riders and others. In Europe, there is no bike culture, it just is. Now get out there and ride!
Even in countries where bikes are really strong, John, there is continuous moving around in the bed, trying to get comfortable or more comfortable, all bike culture talk. Have you ridden in Europe? They are very aware they've a different bike culture to us, esp. that they don't have to wear helmets and we do. Barcelonans talk about this in The Bicing Story, for example.
I think the cycling community spend too much time debating bike culture and not enough time riding. It doesn't matter what people ride, how or where, either. What matters is that they ride and are supported in it.
What Australia needs to re-examine is its car culture. For example, part of the legal definition of a "clean driving record" is fewer than 5 traffic infringements in the last 5 years. A speeding ticket every 15 months is not a clean driving record for somebody who is licenced (therefore only authorised to participate if they meet conditions of holding the licence.) I've had one speeding ticket (a few months after getting my P plates) and learned from it. It's not hard to obey the road rules yet even quite reasonable people fail to stay under the speed limit.
It's not cyclists killing people on the roads on a daily basis. I'd say there's nothing wrong with our bike culture.
So long as cycling remains a tiny fraction of transport as it is in Australia, it will always be seen as something "different". But Mike's blog is about different uses of the bicycle, and if you read the media post-tdf it's clear there is confusion or at least blurring between these.
The State Government has cashed in on this by arranging for Melbourne to be named a "world cycling city" by a cycle racing organisation, while implying that it is doing wonderful things for cyclists in Melbourne, see http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/melbourne-gains-bike-city-status-... the reality is that the State Government cut Vicroads budget for bicycle facilities very early after being elected. This was done quietly, without any announcement.
Melbourne is not a "world cycling city" by any stretch of anyone's imagination. To say so is spin.
BTW, like John E. I get sick of people being introduced to me as "a cyclist". Oh, I say - are you a "motorist"?
However much cycling in Melbourne could be improved, and there is much that could be done, it's way better than the "globally recognised" state of "clean/green" Tasmania, and for all the spin in Sydney about the new cycleways, I shudder to think what hell cyclists would have to go through in a city where buses get away with 10 to 20 km/h above the limit and ignore road markings completely.
Don't sell Melbourne short, it deters cycling to do so. Just like cycling is safer than most believe, Melbourne is better provided for cycling than most believe. Yes, people are still being run off, injured and killed, yes some paths could be updated, but for the most part, motorists do expect us to be there in Melbourne, and even if they begrudge us being there, they're more tolerant simply for not being surprised.
In Melbourne we're at an awkward point - half way. We need to convince a more cautious layer of the community to jump on the wheel, and screaming at officialdom to fix all the dangers (which are dangers that aren't there if we ride with our eyes and ears open), we put those people off. We need to allay the fears of the cautious - for instance, there are 600 years worth of average cycle journeys taking place between fatalities according to the best official figures I can find, but I suspect the number and length of journeys are under-reported, so it may be even better.
I can't stress this sort of reality check enough.
Simple answer, IMO No.
Cadel's win will inspire some road bike purchases, and a few more racers on Beach rd, but its effect on 'bike culture' will be minimal at best. Not that I'm a fan of the label 'bike culture'; just ride!
Interesting argument. For a while now I’ve been wanting to experience the apotheosis of a democratized bike culture first hand, whether it be in Portland (USA) or Copenhagen.
But then, when I take stock and look around where I live in Melbourne, there’s a democratic bike culture right here, and it’s growing.
Thank the fixie mob for creating a social movement that has assisted non-riders get on a bike, any bike. “I don’t reckon I could ride a fixed-gear bike, but that looks so cool” and as we shallow types know, cool is good, cool is a must have. If it looks attractive, people want it. If it means the chance of joining a good-looking crowd, we want it.
My daily bike is a ‘sit-up’ Xtracycle, with swept back North Road type bars, and it’s decked out with a bit of colour and bling, because it feels good when I ride it.
The evidence is that when there is a greater presence in number of people on bikes – any type of bike – the numbers will continue to grow. Then it doesn’t matter what sort of bike you ride.
We need to celebrate BICYCLING per se.
It is up to avowed cyclists like us to encourage the would-be to join the movement any way that they are comfortable to do so. We don’t need any sort of mainstream media assistance to help spread the message.
And as the total number of cyclists on the road increases, there is greater safety in numbers. We help our hip pocket, our health, and the environment.
I have no desire – at the age of 51 – to start entering Masters level road racing, but I found Cadel’s win very, very, inspirational. (Although I do have an early ’80s Italian road frame in the shed that I’ll restore one day.)