Tuesday, March 25, 2008

World Protest Bike Ride – Newcastle 2008 Ride Report & Things a non-cyclist might not understand

*** World Protest Bike Ride – Newcastle 2008 Ride Report by Daniel Endicott ***

I started my World Naked Bike Ride day off by heading off to the Loop The Lake
Charity bike ride. There I set up the Newcastle Bike Ecology Centre stall and went
into bike promotion mode. With little (only 1) approach to the stall I had to make
a more direct approach and walked around handing out free bike magazines, and other
local bike handouts including BNSW, NCM, Critical Mass, NBEC, WNBR, etc. Thanks to
all the NBEC vollies that helped me. Many people wanted more info about Newcastle
Cycleways Movement, so I will be recommending to NCM to be more pro-active in
handing out more info to more people. At 1pm, and with a lighter load we rode to
the Newcastle University to the WNBR start point.

About 30 cyclists then prepared themselves and their bikes. A family with 2 kids
had a great time hand painting themselves all sorts of colours. There were love
hearts, peace signs, and slogans a plenty. Dave had a personal plea on a stop sign
painted on his chest “Stop F’n crash’n into me”. Dave is slowly recovering from
being hit by a car door. I am slowly convincing him not to ride in the car door
lane, but there is so much pressure to ride there (no matter how dangerous), it is

Group photo’s finished, we were off east towards the inner city. Early on it became
apparent that some riders would need assistance. I helped 3 riders change their
gears, one to tighten handlebars, and another to put their chain back on. Emerging
from the Uni cycle way, and crossing Newcastle Road we got lots of applause from
onlookers who supported some of the protest themes for naturism, environmentalism,
peace and the rights of cyclists to use the road safely. We promote environmental
consciousness and practices at every level of society in attempt to save the planet.

I tried to entice the boy of the family participating by telling him that after the
Jesmond cycleway hill it was all down hill for a long way. But exhaustion got the
better of him and the grandparents support ute picked him up. This is the only
downside of having a lovely sunny and hot day for the ride!
The 8 year old girl was determined to get over the hill and was all smiles rolling
down towards the Croudace St traffic lights.

In Lambton a man’s chain went off the low side into the frame at the rear wheel.
While stopping to dislodge the chain, and re-attach, we heard a man yelling
obscenities at us and getting very angry. Later on the East-West cycleway we got
a call from the police that the angry man had complained. The police paid us a
visit, and the man was arrested, put his pants on and continued with the ride.

Being the tail-runner, I was relied upon to know where we were going. Going over
the train hill into Hamilton caused another spreading out of riders. When we reached
the Beaumont St turn we again lost sight of the main group. The lights went green
and the family set off in front of me, but confusion over taking the footpath or
road led to a parent-child collision at about zero speed. The lady put her bike
in the ute and hitched a ride to the end.

We re-grouped with the front bunch and headed towards the beach. Riding down a
small section of Darby St we got a great reaction. Thanks to all the onlokking
Novocastrians for encouraging the colourful, cheerful cyclists. Whoever thought
protesting could be so much fun?

Finally, when the last incline up Scott St came, the 8 year old girl’s legs could
go no further, and she walked the remaining 200m. At Pacific Park, all the front
group gave a huge cheer for the girl. And the girl almost died of embarrassment,
and hid behind a parent. Some riders already redressed (I wore my shorts for the
4th time, going “As bare as I dared”) and we headed to the Newcastle Surf Life
Saving club for the post-ride party.

Thanks for James who is a better Electrical Engineer than me for getting the music
system working (James is also a good bike fixer, having sourced and fixed a bike at
the NBEC the day before to ride on the day). Thanks to the chef’s and other WNBR
organizing committee for the food and beer, more people helping this year was great.
Thanks to mother nature again for a great warm wash off in the ocean. Thanks to
the little girl who made a remarkable recovery and showed everyone how well she could
dance. And thanks to Marte, the WNBR organizer who also had a major part in Sydney
and Melbourne’s WNBR rides this year aswell. We all had a bike-tastic day and next
year will be even more fun!


*** Things a non-cyclist might not understand ***

Monday, September 25, 2006
Things a non-cyclist might not understand
Part I: An open letter ....
I ride my bike year-round as my main means of transportation. My bike is not a toy.
I don't aspire to be Lance Armstrong. I'm not too poor to afford a car. I choose a
bicycle because its healthier for me, and healthier for the city I live in. I'm not
riding in the middle of the lane to slow you down or thwart you. I'm just trying to
do the same thing as you - get from point A to point B safely.
I ride in the middle of the lane if the lane is too narrow to share safely. This is
actually a courtesy to you, because you don't have to guess how wide your vehicle is
versus how much space is available, and decide if you have to change lanes or not. If
the lane next to you is wide open, it really isn't necessary to blast your horn or
yell things out your window. Maybe you think there's room for me to be riding in the
gutter, but I really have a better view of the pavement there than you do. There's
debris there that will flatten my tires, and potholes that can break my bones. If I
need to swerve to avoid some garbage someone threw out their car window, I need room
to maneouver. Its not going to make either of our days if we collide.
I can move faster than you think. While you may think a bicycle is too slow to be
practical for transportation - in downtown Toronto most of the time, including the
time spent to park, I will beat you to your destination. While you were so anxious
to pass me, perhaps you didn't notice that I have caught up with you again at the
next red light. It isn't a race from red light to red light, so if you need to slow
down for a few seconds it isn't the end of the world.
All kinds of people find the bicycle useful. Just as there are drivers deficient in
common sense, there are people riding bikes without common sense as well. I don't
happen to know the Joe schmoe who you saw riding a bike down the center of a busy
one-way arterial in the wrong direction snarling traffic. Please do not assume I'm
going to behave like Joe schmoe. Or take your anger at Joe out on me by honking or
yelling at me from the other side of the road, where I cannot possibly be in your way.
Also be glad Joe was not driving a car where he would be a real danger to everyone.

I am very aware of my surroundings when I am on a bicycle. I can hear when you are
behind me by the sound of your engine. You don't need to toot to let me know you are
there. I'm never sure whether you are trying to let me know you are there, trying to
say hello to me, wanting me to move, or whether you are just angry.

#posted by Tanya @ 11:34 PM