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.
Reckon another simple idea is a automatic email to all new members with a FAQ about the site, Richard has done a good precis above.
It could be similar to the ancient aus.bicycle FAQ or even a site map & could be in either text/html or a link directing to a permanent page on MC so it can be easily updated.
Who would of thought riding would require so much information management ;)
The volunteer idea is a good one, I've suggested it several times before.
Other ideas - investigate if the Ning platform has a mobile version as MC takes forever to load, i.e.: a cut down version.
Chat to more groups, shops etc for give aways and prizes linked to local events & meetups, i.e.: shop rides, social rides, Australian & o/s cycling events. The TdFCommenters group used to really fire up in July.
More local input - very disappointed that there wasn't more items posted recently about the Melbourne BikeFest, 2012 Track Worlds, Tweed Rides, beginner rides, i.e.: events for every type of rider or even the non-rider (yet)
Really, really like Heathers idea for a jersey or even a t-shirt with a MC logo, getting ideas into action aren't that difficult when it's an ensemble & people can get on with volunteering for ideas that interest them.
Is there any action on getting a rides list? There's a couple of tabs on the MC site for Strava, a merged google calendar & events.
IMHO it's a bit confusing & need to be simplified. There's quite a few apps that could do this, a simple RSS feed to similar to get local content & ride details. Thoughts?
Hi Damian, well MC has changed my (cycling) life!!! I found it when I started cycling two years ago and it helped open up what was out there ....... I started my own group a few months ago and it's gone from strength to strength and now I look forward to my Sunday rides even more, knowing I'll be catching up with people I now know and having a great ride and heaps of laughs - always! I check the site daily and couldn't live without it - thanks to you and Chris and Sammy for this, pleeeeeeez keep it up. Gotta say, the newsletter I received today was the first one, and I agree with the others, keep 'em coming - maybe put it out there for people to send stuff [to you] that they would like to have mentioned in the newsletter. I find that if I have advocacy issues - big one at the moment being the tardy state of Shepherd Bridge on the Footscray Road bike path - I use Bicycle Network as it seems to have a higher profile, though for this one I've been lobbying the local council. I'm always 'on the hustings' on my daily commute or on my group rides to recruit new people, and I'm a bit amazed at how many people have never heard of MC (philistines!!), what's the chance of getting some advertising to the general public? Maybe you can create flyers to be available on the Site that we can download, print and and display around the place: IE workplaces, local cafes, supermarkets etc, the choices could be endless!! Word of mouth seems to be working, but this is such a fantastic initiative[ that doesn't just appeal to the 'posers]' and I'd love it to be even more widely publicised. You know, most of us who love MC probably have skills they would provide to you on a voluntary basis (designing flyers etc), and seeing as there are so many groups, what about exploring options of current members to set up some sort of custom design jersey service, with MC logo of course, that doesn't cost an arm and a leg warmer!!!