Hello from Sydney,

Sorry about this but i'm a bit of an outsider looking in.
Up here we get a fair bit of publicity on behalf of Bike Victoria, i occasionally read and hear about them saying a lot of stuff, often even speaking on behalf of NSW advocates. 

They cop a fair bit of criticism up here, mainly about their support of vulnerable road users (cyclists) getting penalised as much as motorists (non vulnerable road users) for flirting with the road rules. I often get the feeling that the general cycling public up here percieves Bicycle Victoria as a non pro cycling institution.

Somebody on Sydney Cyclist made a comment that got me wondering...

"Bicycle Victoria is partly funded by the Victorian govt and has become a govt mouthpiece.

What is the point of having a cyclist organisation then?"

Thought i'd hear it straight from the horses mouth.

Is what this person said true?

What do the cyclists of Victoria think about this?

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You could always try contacting BV and asking them what their sources of income are. Bizarre I know, to try and do some research when you can just rely on rumours and "someone somewhere said that..."

http://www.bv.com.au/about-us/41496/ might be a good starting point, or you could always phone them and ask.
Thanks for your reply Adrian.

Bike Victorias homepage mentions that
"Bicycle Victoria is an independent, not-for-profit organisation. We work with our supporters to get More People Cycling More Often and measurably grow the bike riding world."

This link is informative
The reason i started this discussion was to find out how Victorian Cyclists feel about the way that Bike Victoria represents them.

Does anyone have an opinion?
Are you happy with their stance on certain issues?
Do you disagree with some of their policies?
They're good at organising large events.
They provide insurance.
They do an OK magazine 6 times a year.

Bicycle advocacy? Notsomuch.
What he said ^

except the magazine tends to be a rehash of stuff you've probably already read if you read cycling stuff online.
Look, I don't want to badmouth BV's good work, summed up by their slogan - more people cycling more often. This raising of cycling's profile is great.

However, they do also seem to have turned on the group in cycling who are the whole point of cycling as improving the urban environment. The fast commuter.

They're signing off on works which, while great for noobs, marginalise experienced cyclists. The so-called Copenhagen bike lines, placed between parked cars and footpaths (and requiring cyclists to give way to everything, seem to be BV's "great future of cycling. If these become the norm, rather than a solution for problematic clearways, the fast cycle commute will be dead.

They've also very much become a mouthpiece for road laws, regardless of whether those road rules work for cyclists or against them. A recent example of this, is citing a questionable Canadian study as "gospel" that helmets don't discourage cycling as a counter to the very scientific historical study into Australia's helmet laws which showed that all the safety gains claimed by the authorities were the result of 1980s road safety campaigns, not compulsory helmets.

Finally, I've seen them take credit for cycling lanes that I KNOW Tasmanian activists had been campaigning for for years, simply because the lanes were opened while BV were in town for the Great Tassie Bike Ride. There were more than a few of my former "State Mates" who were left with a sour taste in their mouths over that one. And the lanes were arguably useless because they ended halfway up a hill because HCC would NEVER remove parking for cyclists. Heavens forfend!

So, all in all, I'm not fond of the current BV culture, but the principle of the work they do is still a noble cause. I think they've got too big to be radical, basically. As Cory says, great event managers, pretty good insurance and an easy to read mag and web site.

The solution, I reckon, is independent localised "ratbag" BUGs, not affiliated with the "peak" movement, for State groups (and their supporters) outside of Victoria to say, "Hands off, none of your business, clean up your own back yard." and for Bicycle Victoria members who feel this way to raise their concerns with the organisation.

All that said, I still pay my dues so that I have the "right" to complain and vote.
Hey thanks for your balanced reply. Bike Vic seems to be a lot more active than Bike NSW (although Bike NSW has a new exec so we have our fingers crossed) Its funny how up here we complain about inactivity and the complaints in regards to Bike Vic seem to be about misrepresentation.

Its almost a bit dammed if you do and dammed if you don'tish.

I would be more supportive of Bike Victoria if they pushed to.

1. Introduce some form of Vulnerable Road users Legislation.
2. Update the road rules to allow cyclists to avoid the danger that is motor vehicles.
3. Change cycling infringements to be less than that of non vulnerable road users
4. Simplify light sequences and Pedestrian crossings.
5. Prioritize moving people instead of moving machines.
And that is not something you'll ever get out of Bicycle Victoria.

Like I say, we need more, independent, noisy, ratbag BUGs.
Except that this is exactly what BV WON'T do.

We need noisy, anti-establishment, ratbag BUGs to promote this. Keep the bastards honest, as the late Don Chip might have put it.
I've been a member of BV for only a couple of years, and think they do a great job, love the mag, but I guess they could never do enough to stop the amount of injury / deaths on the roads - more action in that area would be a help to us all
Steve Jay you said "And that is not something you'll ever get out of Bicycle Victoria.

Like I say, we need more, independent, noisy, ratbag BUGs."

I fear your right and that kind of sucks, I mean especially if "this is exactly what BV WON'T do."

The problem is that Bike Victoria is vocal so to be a "Ratbag" bug we have to disagree with a peak cycling body.

its a bit of a schmozzle.
@Doddsy Not "disagree" so much as point out who they're "letting down" in given statements.

For instance, if BV come out in favour of short cycleways over on-road works, we would simply point out that they're letting down the cyclists who make a real environmental difference, fast commuters and long distance commuters.

Always spin it as a call for a positive, "don't turn your back on serious cyclists, BV, we're the ones who got you where you are" rather than "brunswick st/fixie/cafe culture is not a reduction in car use." Both statements are generally "true" by interpretation, but the former is bearing witness, while the latter is an expression of opinion.

@rich14 from my own attempts to put together Australian data by googling for government data from around Australia, we have a conservative fatality rate of 600 "cycling years" between fatalities, where a cycling year is the average trip time per person of all cycling journeys totalled, it's like the old measure "man hours." The UK has a figure of 4000 cycling years between fatalities.

The media are obligated by social convention to report fatalities, and these stand out. The reality is, cycling is very safe so long as you do it sensibly and keep alert. Probably safer than driving, really. Also, there are studies from around the world, also reported in the media from time to time, which indicate that for every year of life expectancy lost due to injury, 20 years are gained due to health benefits of cycling.

Now statistics don't in themselves help to overcome fearful impressions, but by searching out this data, we can understand how safe we are and how we can make our own safety, and feelings of safety, better.

Also, I believe that BV staff genuinely believe they're on the right track and are as much true believers as any of us here. That doesn't mean they're always right (or that we are, either.) It's up to "the movement" to keep the buggers honest and question that which might not be benefiting certain groups.
I have never seen cycling fatalities expressed in cycling years? But if it is time based, then how would it relate when comparing fatalities per million hours spend in a vehicle vs the same on a bicycle. I'm becoming sensitive to deaths from cycling - I think we have had 3 in the Geelong region in the last 12 months alone, I cycle all the offending roads regularly, so it doesn't stop me from cycling, but losing any life on the road is a tragedy that we should try to avoid.

I commute to work and I would love to have less glass / potholes / better tarmac surface on the shoulder - it's bliss when there is a good section of smooth track - these things can help us get more people cycling with better outcomes, and isn't that the thing that improves overall safety (ie more cyclists on the road means more people paying attention to cyclists?)


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