Cycling in Melbourne Australia
Based on a couple of recent conversations I've had I feel it's time we had a good look at the future of Melbourne Cyclist, and I want to open it up to the community to help create the site that you want.
For the "too long, didn't read" version, scroll down to the bit that says "So, what's next ?". Otherwise, read on!
A little bit of history.
I created Sydney Cyclist in October 2007 because I didn't feel Sydney had a central place to discuss issues in Sydney, as well as share rides, tips and connect with people online. All the various tribes and groups had conversations off on various private forums and mailing lists and there was no easy way for new people to break in and find out what was going on.
It's worked pretty well.
A few months later, ChrisS contacted me and asked if consider doing the same for Melbourne. I was a little hestitant at first because from what I could see, Melbourne didn't have a lot of the advocacy and infrastructure challenges that Sydney did, and because Melbournites seem to be generally a little more social and progressive, the needs that I saw in Sydney seemed to be being met for Melbourne. Secondly, and more importantly, I didn't know much (anything) about riding in Melbourne. Chris talked me into it and agreed to help run the site though and we launched it in December 2007.
Through Chris's work and her awesome network of cycling people, this site turned into an awesome online community full of great discussions. Other than keeping the lights on and helping cleaning up spammers when they hit, I didn't have to do much and the site thrived. Also in 2009, I moved to Brisbane and after bunch of encouragement kicked off Brisbane Cyclist and put what time I had (not a lot) into that community.
In late 2010 Chris had to pull back from the site because all her time was needed on other ventures and she wasn't able to put the time into Melbourne Cyclist. She offered to find someone else to help run the site. At the time I was trying to look for somewhere to live and organise a house move, I was somewhat distracted and I think I said something along the lines of "it's ok, we'll take care of it".
What I thought I did around that time, but have looked and can't find it was publically say thanks.
So if I didn't say it, I'm truly sorry and I'd like to very publically say a massive thank you Chris for making Melbourne Cyclist a great online community. Your work getting it running was awesome, and the site wouldn't exist without you.
Since 2010 the site has grown quietly. It's a great source of upcoming events and it's home to a couple of localised cycling groups who use it extensively. But it's not the home of great discussion it once was. A lot of new people find the site and ask some questions, but a lot of those go unanswered for many days.
I work to keep the spammers at bay, including manually approving every new member at the moment (because of the nasty type of spammer who join at 4am and post links on the profiles of as many members as they can before I can see them), and add to conversations when I can, and we (myself and Sammy) put together the occasional newsletter and run some competitions, but can't add much about cycling in Melbourne, because I still don't know that much about it.
So, what's next ?
I'm putting it out to you guys and girls to let me know what Melbourne Cyclist should be.
What would you like more of ? What would you like less of ? What new things would make it more useful ? Do you have an event / group / club / idea that could benefit from something here ? Is there something here you love, or something here you can't stand ?
I see that a good listing of group rides and training groups, with a way to find a ride that suits your level and style could be a good addition.
But I want to know what you think.
Post your thoughts and ideas here if you are happy to have them in public, or if you'd like to do it privately email them to me directly at email@example.com. I won't promise I'll be able to reply to everything, or do everything people ask for, but I do want to know what people want from Melbourne Cyclist and get some ideas for how to make it more awesome.
Thanks everyone for your time reading this, and hopefully a couple of minutes giving me your thoughts.
I agree about starting a list of group rides!
Hi Damien, the site seems to run well - probably because of the back of house efforts from the selfless few - and I wouldn't want too many changes. I must admit that I pretty much only use it these days to post information about route closures, detours, etc, but I do welcome the invites to the various events, even if I can't get to many of them.
Thanks to you, Chris and the others for keeping the site in such good order.
Thanks so much for inviting input. I love the site because it has enabled me to hook up with other cyclists in my area and generally just communicate with like-minded people. Well done!
I found Melbourne cyclist when I was visiting family in 2009 & became a fan. I live in British Columbia & so I'm not able to be involved in activities but if I did I would. However I keep an interest in the site because it keeps me in touch with Melbourne in a different way & also keeps me focused on bike issues. I even had a thought of having a similar site here, but pressure of work has prevented that idea so far. I live in Rossland the Kootenay region of BC where there is a strong mountain & road bike passion. Rossland is also a ski town where a lot of Aussies visit each year. Anyway, I guess this is a long winded way of saying "keep the flag flying". I enjoy the site & perhaps one day I'll return to Oz & get more involved in the bike scene there. Hey...check out the new bike mag from France named "Steel"....it reminds me of Treadlie.
Regards John Lake
I joined then hardly looked at it, so maybe that says something about what is needed. Perhaps emailed reminders like the one that prompted me to reply to this. I'm not sure what purpose it serves - yet another website but doing what??? I think that a list of rides, be they shop rides or any other loosely organised group would be great, along with the type of rider it would suit. It should be open to all members, so that those who are looking for like minded people in an age group with time on their hands from 9.30 to 14.30, for example, can say so. By suburb of course. BIG thanks to those whose work keeps this going.
I like the groups concept (I have joined touring and tandems) but consider that there is very little activity on the site.
Yes I am as guilty as the rest of you for not posting but unless this site can find a special niche it will possibly drift along as usual.
We have BNA and BV both running sites with far more traffic than here but there was a recent thread on BV trying to analyse the reduced traffic on that site, one suggestion being that many people were moving to social network sites.
BV has a useful thread where people may ask question about bike maintenance and there are a number of members who are able to offer expert advice. The site has a small core of members who post using pseudonyms but all know each other and post lengthy threads dealing with their recent rides with the odd attack on motorists each time a cyclist is killed or injured, conveniently ignoring the fact that the cyclist is sometimes at fault.
BNA appears more structured than BV and has dedicated forums for the different cycling disciplines, eg road, MTB, touring etc.
I believe that like the social networking sites Melbourne Cyclist should encourage members to post using their names and not used pseudonyms.
Not much help I know but that's my 2 cents worth.
Thanks to Damian, Chris and Sammy for taking the site to where it is now. When I first joined. (looking back in September 2008) there was a lot of activity. Personally I was helped a lot from people on the site with most of my questions. ) over the years I have seen regular posters come and go and I must admit it is nice when there is some activity for I check the page at least twice a day and when the site is quiet for a couple of days it is a bit disappointing but I still come back and check.
Love all the different groups that have formed over the years but it would be nice if somehow they could be a bit more active.
The weekly email that Sammy sent out to members is a great idea, but maybe some may not like that feature, it has been so long since I signed up I cannot remember if there was a check box to accept them.
I am probably a bit different to most but my daily bike viewing is here, plus, Cycling Tips and the Fyxomatosis site. For the rest of the time I am working or participating in my main hobby of Amateur Radio. But just reading those 3 sites I can keep up with most of the current cycling activity.
I do like to get on the bike but not as much as I would like to (this is evident on my Strava profile) but do like to somehow feel I am part of the cycling culture.
Probably not too much for you to work with Damian, sorry about that.
One thing I did not mention is if you ever wonder how much activity a particular post can produce it is interesting to look at the view status which in most cases is far in excess of the posted messages. A god example is the Kaise Baas Camera post which has 239 looks but only a few comments.
Cheers, Jack..VK3WWW for those who were wondering!
I'd like to know if anyone has yet to design a self contained shower system that cycle commuters can use in small business's that can't afford the space or money to make a real shower...
oh, and what an earth has happened to the Kona Dirt Crits under the Westgate bridge? Ever since they moved from the original car park I've NEVER been able to find them at the time or place they say they are.
Best to ask Kristjan or someone at FGP directly, maybe they're in hiatus?
Well done on maintaining this site for a start! Cyclists in Melbourne are a disparate bunch, each with their own interests and passions. Being the home of cycling, there's a niche for everyone who likes being on a bike.
Melbourne Cyclist has the difficult task of reflecting that.
Stephen is right: I think the first place to start is with a fortnightly (at least,) or monthly email newsletter that provides a snapshot of recent activity, discussions, videos/photos, and also provides a notification of upcoming events. Just a hyperlinked email, without graphics. Human Powered Cycles do something similar.
As far as the total site is concerned, it's a bit lacking in focus, especially the top-menu items. This is what I would like to put forward:
After the Home page, Groups (of Forums) across the top defined by interest, and in no particular order, e.g. -
New To Cycling
Fixies/Singles/Hip & Cool
Utility & Riding With Kids
Each of these top menu items would open to a page that describes what the group is about, with forums by topic underneath.
Also as a top-menu item, group videos and photos under a Multimedia page, just as a place to post videos & photos.
Finally, have a General Forum top-menu item, under which you'll find sub-forums, e.g. -
Cycling In The News
Retain all the other current front page features, such as: Latest activity, Updated Photos, Latest Activity, Member List.
A member can still subscribe to as many Forums as they like, but I think the most important thing - new development - would be the opportunity to opt in/subscribe to an email newsletter. So, a Registered Member receives notifications from as many Forums as they like, or just the Newsletter notification, or all of the above.
Well done on keeping this site going!
(And I agree with Amanda - this site is for 'ordinary' cyclists, that's it's charm).
All the best
I too, have found that some of the 'pearls' get lost. I think that's largely due to the environs that ning provides, however I think the above menu structure would help greatly.
I think we do a really good job of catering to the newbies (both cycling, and to MC). It's one of MC's many, many virtues. I'd frequently post in the New to Cycling, the Commuters, and the Utility/kids sections (although I do think perhaps they could be split?)
I also haven't posted as often, of late, due to change in job. Once things settle down a little, I hope I can pick it up a tad.