Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ride Planet Earth : Global push-bike ride Sun 6th Dec 2009

*** Ride Planet Earth : Global push-bike ride Sun 6th Dec 2009 ***
Cyclists from around the globe will take to the streets on the 6th of December 2009, demonstrating the capacity and willingness of ordinary people to take action against climate change. The next day in Copenhagen, the COP15 negotiations begin. Ride Planet Earth aims at helping convince world’s governments to take immediate action in order to close a global climate deal.
Participants will be recording video messages to address the COP15, stating not only that public action is necessary, but also that they will be taking action personally, to demonstrate that ordinary people will take the lead if governments fail to reach an agreement.
Ride Planet Earth, started by Kim Nguyen, has begun as a solo bicycle journey from Brisbane, Australia, to Copenhagen, Denmark, to collect messages from people already affected by global warming and their will for economic change.
Over the course of the journey a mass solidarity movement has developed and bicycle rides are occurring on every continent as to promote radical alternatives to burning fossil fuel.
* All the details about where rides are taking place can be found at the Ride Planet Earth website or the Ride Planet Earth facebook page.
Newcastle ride :
Sunday 6th December 10am at Islington Park.
Ride to Nobby's beach along the foreshore shared walking/cycleway.
Ride Length/time: 1 hour
Organised by:
Newcastle Bike Ecology Centre
"Start Cycle Change: Stop Climate Chaos"
Kim Paul Nguyen
Project Manager
facebook: The Ride Planet Earth Challenge
skype: kim.paul.nguyen1

*** The Artist as Family on Bikes & sustainability *NBEC ***---------------------------------------------------------------------------

DECEMBER 09 / JANUARY 2010 - Greenwash #7

Environmental writer Derrick Jensen believes the only level of technology truly sustainable was developed in the Stone Age. Pretty harsh claim at first glance. Then there are the majority of folk who believe technology can redeem us, who believe that only an investment in newer and better technology can rescue us from the mess we’re in. For me this argument is perennially flawed. Technology nearly always creates more problems than it solves. Take dentistry for example. It appears that we have progressed immensely in this field, but this level of technology has only come about as our diet has become more and more disembodied from natural systems; as our diet has been fashioned by food technologists and their commercial patrons. By 1978 a former Japanese agricultural scientist, Masanobu Fukuoka, had become intensely aware of the flaws of science and technology.
“The more people do, the more society develops, the more problems arise. The increasing desolation of nature, the exhaustion of resources, the uneasiness and disintegration of the human spirit, all have been brought about by humanity’s trying to accomplish something. Originally there was no reason to progress, and nothing that had to be done. We have come to the point at which there is no other way than to bring about a ‘movement’ not to bring anything about.”

So how have the majority of us been seduced into thinking that technology is a good thing? Simple. Billions upon trillions of advertising dollars spent over many generations.
Some technologies however are infinitely better than others, and they’re usually the ones that advertise themselves. The humble pushy for one. A bike is like a solar panel. Yes, carbon is spent and polluted to produce it, but once it exists, it has the potential to become a tool and plaything of enormous value, only requiring human generated electricity (a renewable energy) to power it.

Dan-the-bike-man Endicott (facing) and James (volunteer with wheel and wide smile), at the Newcastle Bike Ecology Centre, September 2009. Photo: Meg Ulman

With global climate ascension inextricably linked to the peaking and inevitable descent of global oil reserves, bikes are back with a vengeance. Of course we don’t need to manufacture another bike again, there’s a spare one in every second garage or shed, and parts aplenty at local tips and online. Making use of the waste around us is part and parcel of developing a transitional mindset and tackling climate change and energy descent in a direct way. Until we again appreciate the value of the things we have, our abuse of the carbon cycle will lead to more and more Black Saturday-type scenarios.
From global warming comes social warming – and I reckon the bike is a thing of social warming. I have a saying that I regularly use when paying a compliment: ‘That’s the best thing since the return to unsliced bread’. A car is a thing of global warming – a thing of sliced industrialised bread; an oil-based technology that’s systematically wrecked the planet. And this is where Dan the-bike-man Endicott steps in, a thirty something year-old from Newcastle who several years ago started the Newcastle Bike Ecology Centre, otherwise known as the Newcastle Bike Library. Dan has dozens upon dozens of bikes that he’s scored from the tip, found dumped around the city or been gifted. He and his fellow volunteers make repairs, exchange parts and hold workshops to get them going again. The bikes are then borrowed out. A small deposit is made to loan a bike which is 100% refunded. Dan is doing all of this gratis for our enjoyment and benefit, either as a
concept for change for those who hear about it, or for those who physically visit or live in Newcastle. The bike I loaned, Trixie, was a dumpster gem. For three weeks Trixie, alongside my son’s bike The Don and my girlfriend’s bike Lotti Darling, steered us around the city and down along the coastline where we collected waste for our project “The Artist as Family”. Dan-the-bike-man is establishing a future model for a public service, and like most important early C21st innovations, it is neither a growth business nor a government initiative, and it’s not based upon new technology.

Artist Unknown, Tall Bike, Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne, Summer 2009. Photo: Patrick Jone

Similarly, Josh Bowes in Hepburn and Nick Sara in Daylesford both have bike-recycling practices. Again, these are not businesses based on growth, although in putting together his “Junkies”, akin to his art practice, Bowes makes a little money to keep The Man off his back. Sara has been a bike fanatic for decades and ran a bike service, The Flying Carrot based at the Powerhouse Arts Centre in Daylesford in the 1990s. But their bikes are really upcycling – they are fastidious about good second-hand frames, sometimes complimented by new parts to reproduce bikes fit for a lifetime of use. Their bikes are specific to the local terrain. Light steel racing frames sit on sturdy wide-rimmed wheels to tackle the mountainous topography. Sara can often be seen riding in the Wombat Forest, and Bowes with his dog Ziggy, around the town. Both contribute to building a site-specific bike consciousness in what is a difficult bike riding area.

Steve Futo, Bike Ball, Daylesford New Year’s Eve Parade, 2008. Photo: Lisa Gervasoni.

Steve Futo, from nearby Bald Hill has similarly been a bike lover for decades. As a kid he attended the first ever BMX race meet in Victoria. He is also an artist and congenial anarchist, and bikes are a mainstay of his creative practice – both functional and otherwise. Futo’s bike collage in last year’s New Year’s Eve parade in Daylesford was a standout – a moving public object that wasn’t for money and brought the street alive with social warming.
In terms of technology, bikes may be a little more developed than a Stone Age wheel, however in terms of developing a transition culture back to a low-energy future, bikes-r-go. With recycling and riding bikes we are bringing about movement without bringing anything about.

Steve Futo, A Futo Special, Bald Hill, Victoria, Summer 2009. Photo: Patrick Jones.
Patrick Jones is an artist, writer and food gardener who blogs at
You can read more about The Artist as Family via their blog:

*** Stop cars annoying you - some riding in traffic advice ***---------------------------------------------------------------------------
WHen I talk about a right to ride safely my context is
best summed up in an example:

All vehicles should travel "as far left as

But many Aussies think bicyclists should ride as far
left as POSSIBLE. That's where we see most bicyclists
ride, so it must be law right??

We have a right to bicycle as far left as safely
practicable, including giving room for a car door that
could open in front of us. And having road position
to reduce the amount of motorists dangerously sqeezing
past us when overtaking

I try to have this info in my auto signature so I
don't need to answer these questions. But thanks for
asking and maybe I will change my auto signature.

I think current bike lanes are way too narrow and
there are too many car door opening and cars squeezing
past too closely occurances for them to be perfect.
Many first time cyclists using these bike lanes still
feel frightened. I agree for experienced cyclists
that some bike lanes make you feel more safe. But
when the first time cyclists still feel frightened in
the "You beaut new bike lane" it is easy to see why
they revert to cars.

Bike lanes are good when accompanied with education of
safe bicycling. I would never separate these two

But a major
reason Critical Mass exists is to assert our right to
ride (safely) on the road. Until different solutions
like Michael suggest exist we need to continue to
assert our right to get from A to B safely and timely.

So Critical Mass is a celebration of cyclings good virtues (mostly enviro). And our
right to ride on the road. We do NOT have a right to ride dangerously (running red lights,
mowing down children, etc). We have a right to ride SAFELY on the roads.
But as I said motorists are taking away this right for us to ride safely by
passing many cyclists too closely. Many motorists say to get into the
bike lane, but the bike picture lanes in Newcastle aren?t mandatory because they
are too narrow.

Many cyclists complain about cars or trucks passing
them`too closely when they ride on the very edge of
the road or gutter. Most people are unaware that this
riding style usually encourages cars to dangerously
overtake, sharing the lane when there is not enough
room to share. This further encouragement of the now
socially acceptable practice of passing cyclists too
close means when a cyclist rides in a different manner
(Critical Mass style for example) it is socially
unacceptable. I suggest to them to get a flag that
sticks out in traffic (like me) OR learn safer cycling
techniques, so we can be spared the whinging.
Cyclists require 2m passing distance which usually
means the car/truck would need to change
lanes to overtake. That means the car/truck needs to
wait until the other lane is clear. Or should the
car/truck just force its way into the other lane,
making on-coming traffic swerve to miss them??

The general problem with appearing to "endorse" in your words
"fourth-rate bike lanes" is that they have become viewed as "acceptable" to
motorists and road authorities and can be death traps for inexperienced cyclists
hence in general, they are better described as minimum or substandard
... it is a factual audit assessment ... use Austroads Part 14 or if
necessary, international practices. The RTA guide is not sufficient.