Sunday, April 15, 2007

Busting the Myths of Sustainable Push-Bike Culture (I’m not talking sports)

Are there any excuses left for people to not be a part of Sustainable Push-Bike Culture?
It is dangerous to ride a bike. True, and almost as dangerous as driving a car… The frightening fast cars passing you is just like the fear of flying (unjustified). Is driving a 1 tonne vehicle at 17meters a second (60km/hr) is safe ? The health benefits from cycling continually show in many studies to outway the risk of injury.
More difficult for cyclists to crash and kill other people “accidently”
When cyclists back out of drive ways they don’t run over toddlers (4WD problem)
Annual Road toll is horrific (1500), but exhaust emissions is 20000. If the government was serious about reducing road toll they would make helmets compulsory for motorists.
Childhood obesity is an epidemic now. 80% less kids ride/walk to school. More cycling as kids leads to safer driving cars when adults.
Combining transport and exercise is perfect for today’s busy lifestyles
Roads are paid from all tax payers to be used by everyone, like parks and footpaths.
Obeying traffic rules is in our favour: Compulsory to ride safely, predictably & in straight lines (don’t weave around parked cars). Allow cars to pass safely in next lane.
Dangerous to ride in gutter, close to car doors, or in “bike pictures lanes” near car doors. This just further encourages cars to squeeze dangerously past you.
There will never be a separated bike path to your front door, connected to everywhere you want to go. Cycling skills can be learned to stop getting annoyed by cars.
Exercise and sweat keeps you fit and your body and skin clean
Long loved & Pre-loved bikes save on pollution caused from the production of new bicycles overseas. They isolate you from the all consuming multinational greed cycle. Less chance of these bikes getting stolen aswell.
No new roads, no new cars, a just transition to a sustainable future!
No climate changing fossil fuels, but remember there is no such thing as a green car
Peace and Sustainability not wars for oil, or oil spills, or peak oil chaos
Effective communities not Urban Sprawl. Car infrustructure uses up 40% of cities land area
Cycling fun not stressful road rage or social isolation
Drunk driving/Smoking is socially unacceptable now, after 30 years, When will cars be?
We love appropriate use of cars: ambulances, fire trucks etc. But car congestion blocks them.
Footpaths are exactly that for feet. So walk your bike or ride at walking pace. Do not ride as fast as a jogger, this is dumb and dangerous. We don’t want pedestrians hating us too!
Bags on bikes (panniers), baskets, kiddy trailers are very handy when shopping, etc.
Travelling by bike is faster than you think. Proper bike setup and gears make a difference!

So why are you not riding a bike? When you answer with your usual excuse you have been using, read above to find your myth busted. If your only excuse is “I’m too lazy” then I wish you well with your Car Carnage & Consumeristic Climate Changing Chaos Culture!

BikeFun at STOMP Festival (

Stomp is an annual, free one day festival celebrating cultural diversity and unity,social justice, the environment and the arts.Saturday May 19, Civic Park Newcastle, 9am to 9pm

The STOMP Festival Bike-Train
Become awakened to healthy, safe, and sustainable transport in 2007 with STOMP!!
Start your STOMP Festival day off on the right pedal by hopping on board the STOMP Festival Bike-Train. This year, the Cultural STOMP is reclaiming some of the people’s roads: with a safe & environmentally friendly way to get to the festival. Join the colourfully decorated, mass bicycle ride as we make our way from Wallsend, picking you up along the way at several of the designated STOMP Festival Bike-Train stations or come out to our starting point for an extended fun bike ride. The STOMP Festival Bike-Train is a free ride and roadside/cyclewayside assistance will also be free during the ride. We will be “stopping at all stations” and going at a pace so anyone can keep up with us. Bring a safe bicycle and a helmet to participate. Although not compulsory, cyclist riding insurance cover can be got from Bicycle NSW.
Ride Times: Wallsend Plaza 8am, Cameron St Jesmond Mall 8:20am, Rankin Drive Uni 8:30am, Waratah shopping centre 9am, Clyde St to Tighes Hill Tafe 9:20am, Hamilton Train Station 9:40am, Parry St, King St to Civic Park, 10am!

Need a safe bicycle to join the STOMP Festival Bike-Train?
The Newcastle Bike Ecology Centre is extending its “100 free bikes for students” program to include STOMP Festival Bike-Train participants. The Newcastle Bike Ecology Centre’s “Push bike co-op” takes pre-loved bikes & parts that are then restored by volunteers. This saves useful push-bikes from landfill and saves on the pollution caused from the production of new bicycles. If you want a bike, the Newcastle Bike Ecology Centre can help you recycle one, for free! If you want your STOMP Festival bicycle checked for safety, also for free, also drop into the Newcastle Bike Ecology Centre.

Stop getting annoyed by cars & practice riding in a Festival like ride?
For practice riding in a “Festival” style mass bicycle ride, come to:
Critical Mass, 1st Friday of Every Month, Civic Park, meet at 5:30pm, ride at 6pm.
The Newcastle Bike Ecology Centre runs Bike skills workshops to stop getting annoyed by cars. Web:

The STOMP Festival Bike Corral
This is where lotsa FREE STOMP bike fun happens!
Start point (every hour) for All Day Bike Ride
Bike Library Pickup point ($20 deposit applies)
Bring your bike to get fixed / checked
Bike fixing workshops, learn how to fix your bike
Bike skills workshops to stop getting annoyed by cars
Bike information (WNBR, Critical Mass, NBEC, EPBLC, Sustainable Bike Culture, etc.)
Workshop to set up your community Bike co-op
Biketivism Films (World Naked Bike Ride and Bike activism). Screenings TBA.

The STOMP Festival Bike Library
STOMP is the launching pad for the Newcastle Community Bike Library. Pick out a bike by leaving a deposit of $20, if you like your bike so much just keep it and it’s yours to keep. To take advantage of this offer, bring your bicycle helmet to the Festival even if you don’t bring your bike. Volunteers needed pre-festival to help fix these bikes.

The STOMP Festival All Day Bike Ride
Starting from 10am when the STOMP Festival Bike-Train arrives, a continual all day group Festival bike ride will begin. Starting at the Bike Corral at the top of every hour, go in a group ride, being your opportunity and to ride in safety and style. Help bring life back to the car dominated streets of our fabulous city and visit some wonderful sites. Then come back to Civic Park for more Festival fun. Where each ride goes to, and the duration, will be up to participants: Leave your ride suggestion on the ride sheet at the Bike Corral or just vote at the start of each ride.

Thursday, February 8, 2007



Students and others won't ride on the footpath because it slows them down. We need a program to teach how to ride as safely as possible on the road. This does not mean always riding where the bike pictures are painted on Newcastle’s main roads. It is not mandatory to ride in these “bike lanes” and when there is not enough room for safety we shouldn’t ride there (e.g. when a parked car door would hit you if it opened, and many other examples).

Australia talks about wide lanes and narrow lanes. Britain talks about primary position and secondary position. The Dutch have 3 categories, not 2. Wide lanes, narrow lanes, and "critical width" lanes. A critical width lane is a lane that looks wide to the motorist trying to overtake, but in reality doesn't have enough width. The answer is to position yourself so that your lane is never critical. Ride far enough out to remove the ambiguity, and make it obviously narrow.

When I started riding away from the gutter and parked cars, my enjoyment of cycling went way up and the number of close passes decreased dramatically, and I am much better able to deal with those drivers who overtake. Primary position riding makes it much easier to deal with cross traffic and road hazards as well.

The problem is that the idea of moving INTO the traffic in order to get it to move AWAY from you is not intuitive. So, without instruction, even experience doesn't teach cyclists anything except "cars pass too close." It doesn't occur to the "experienced" but uneducated cyclist that there might be something they can do about that. This drives a lot of cyclists onto the sidewalks in fear, and that ultimately puts them in even greater danger.

Mind you, you should not ride too far out. You want the motorist behind to think that the reason he cannot share the lane is because the road is too narrow. You do NOT want him to think that he cannot share the lane merely because you are selfishly blocking him from using it. I don't get a lot of it, but I ignore rude beeps and yells (not only ignore as input to any action I will take on the roadway... and but also don't allow it to impact my state of mind.)

All the vehicular bike skills reading material is great, but limited. It will teach you how to ride in traffic, but it won't make you comfortable in traffic. Start riding as much as you can stand on streets that make you a little bit uncomfortable. Eventually you will get used to them, and you will feel comfortable. Move up to slightly busier streets. You will get comfortable with them. Keep up this progression until you can ride anywhere.

The Need for More Cyclists

Remarks of Charles Komanoff Bicycle Education Leadership Conference / League of American Bicyclists New York City • May 3, 2005

There is nothing ailing the world that can’t be helped by more bicycling. Name your favorite, or unfavorite malady, and I’ll tell you how more cycling will help:

Global warming (climate havoc)?, Peak oil / oil depletion?, U.S. collaboration with despotic regimes that spawn terror?, Traffic gridlock?, Urban decay and community disintegration?, Disease and disability?, Exploding medical costs?, Youth alienation?, (Ask for volunteer maladies)

The world needs more bicycling. Bicycling needs more bicycling, as I explain later. My point now is to broaden your mission; to expand it from safe cycling & effective cycling to more cycling. Because more cycling is good for your town & our planet AND it’s the best way to get to safe cycling & effective cycling.

Let’s begin with a few key questions. 1. What is safe cycling? 2. What is safety? Is safety not part of something larger, called health? My pole star for these questions is the noted policy analyst Mayer Hillman. In a landmark study for the British Medical Association, Hillman found that the health benefits of regular cycling, in terms of life years gained, far outweighed the actuarial loss of life from road accidents. Even in Britain’s anti-cycling road environment, Hillman found, each minute of lost life-expectancy from the increased probability of crash injury or death to some cyclists was offset 10-fold by the increased longevity from improved cardiovascular health of other cyclists. Let me put this a different way: Hillman demonstrated the risk of not cycling. This is not just a rhetorical point — though it’s very effective rhetoric, as I find in conversations with non-cyclists here. “How can you ride a bike in New York City?” they ask, and I say, “I couldn’t live here if I didn’t ride a bike.” “Isn’t it dangerous?” they say, and I say, “It’s dangerous not to,” and then I tell them about Hillman.

There’s a further point, just as important — for us — as Hillman’s. It’s the benefit to cyclist safety when more people cycle. Cyclists like having other cyclists around. Not just to lend a wrench or help fix a flat, but for a far bigger reason: our larger presence on the road compels drivers to take notice of us. Researchers in several countries are documenting, and quantifying, this safety-in-numbers effect: they’re observing a “power law” relationship of approximately 0.6 between cyclist numbers and cyclist safety. What does that mean? It means that the probability that an individual cyclist on a particular road or in a city or region will be struck by a motorist declines with the 0.6 power of the number of cyclists on that road or in that region. Maybe I should give an example. Say the number of cyclists triples. Since three raised to the negative 0.6 power is roughly one-half, each tripling in cycling volume brings about a halving of each cyclist’s crash risk. Now say the number of cyclists increases nine-fold, that is, triples twice. Then each cyclist’s crash risk is halved twice, i.e., it falls by three-fourths. Safety-in-numbers means that none of the things we talk about for individual safety — helmets, blinkies, Effective CyclingTR — will improve the safety of the individual cyclist as much as increasing the number of cyclists on our roads. That’s why I say that what bicycling mostly needs is... more bicycling.

One way to achieve the “numbers” part of safety-in-numbers quickly, is by promoting and participating in the worldwide monthly cycling event known as Critical Mass. What makes Critical Mass feel so good, even magical, is the chance it offers to ride a bike without being swamped by a sea of cars… the chance to enjoy the astonishing fact of navigating a city under your own power… the chance to transform the motorized craziness of the street into something gentler. And it’s all because of safety in numbers. But safety in numbers works both ways: Critical Mass is generating new energy for cycling. Bringing in new riders. Providing training wheels, if you will, for cycling wannabes who find solo bike-riding too daunting. Creating a buzz for cycling. Providing a venue to dress up one’s bike — a “pimp my ride” for cycling. Getting cycling out of its geek ghetto into someplace more appealing to the 99% of people who don’t consider themselves “cyclists.”

In this context, it’s quite an irony that in the city where we are meeting today, the Mayor and the Police Department have recently undertaken the most brutal, expensive, and extravagant repression of Critical Mass ever, anywhere in this broad, and ever-broadening, land of ours. Don’t think for a minute that this is some crazy New York aberration. Today New York — tomorrow Austin, or Ann Arbor, or San Francisco. The hysterical persecution of Critical Mass that we’re seeing here is not about cyclists running red lights or “blocking traffic” or inconveniencing motorists. It is nothing but a moral panic about cycling — the same demonization that occurs and recurs across America, whenever drivers feel entitled to imperil cyclists for taking up “their” space; when radio shock-jocks urge listeners to run cyclists off the road; when municipalities ban cycling in their central districts, as many towns in this state and elsewhere have done. Why cyclists? A more harmless group would be hard to find. I suspect it’s because of our harmlessness — we’re the scapegoats for the bad conscience of a culture that knows, on some level, that it can’t continue on its present path. We demonstrate the alternative — so we can’t be tolerated. A society in denial simply can’t stand to see us. The real problem we face is not poor visibility or bad signage or insufficient skills or inadequate equipment. The problem we face is... hatred. We need to recognize that initiatives for individual safety can only go so far … and must be complemented, every step of the way, by the political and cultural struggle for social recognition of cycling as a legitimate, valid and valorized way to get around. (Ed’s note: For Australian Wheels of Justice bike group, striving for similar goals:

So I’m happy to report the Bicycle Federation of America is incubating a new project aimed at transforming the prevailing paradigms of American traffic law and culture: at moving from individual safety to social safety, and from traffic safety to traffic justice. For now, I urge you to go back to your communities with the knowledge that teaching people to be better cyclists, while helpful, isn’t enough. All of us need to work as well on getting more cyclists on the road, and simultaneously widening the discourse of cycling advocacy and safety to include justice. The contemporary historian Benjamin DeMott tells us, “Great causes nourish themselves on firm, sharp awareness of the substance of injustice. The country’s very foundations, indeed, lie in clearly defined understanding of injustices.”

MEDIA RELEASE Feb 9th 2007 100 Free bikes for students “With University, Tafe, and school students going back to study, they have the opportunity to get one of 100 pre-loved bicycles for free from the Newcastle Bike Ecology Centre. Many students and young people set a great example by using more healthier transport than the working populace, but the opportunity for more walking and bicycle use still exists”, Daniel says.
“This is an initiative to focus on people that have yet to be hooked on fossil fuels and those dangerous fast cars. With Catastrophic Climate Change a real threat, we need an even healthier transport alternative to the gas guzzling small cars and expensive Aluminium framed push-bikes. Aluminium production is highly energy intensive, and so using a pre-loved bicycle means saving lots of green house gases that are emitted from producing any new bike. “,Daniel continued.

“To register for this offer leave your contact details at the Newcastle Bike Ecology Centre. People willing to learn and help fix a pre-loved bicycle will get first choice. Learning to fix your own bike gives you the confidence of safely maintaining it and being able to fix minor breakdowns.“, Daniel said.

“Why get stressed by both studying and ALSO getting stressed on the way to your study place? Get fit, and have some bikefun at the same time to cycle away your worries.“ Daniel concluded.