citizen cyclists making urban spaces liveable

27 July 2010

From Protest to Pinot (and everything in between)

5am Saturday morning, stumble out of bed in dark, shower, dress, throw various chargers into bag, rain in Sydney, cold in Melbourne where I am headed for a day of spontaneous Cycleiciousness.  Layer up with as much cycle chic as I can muster for this hour and out into the taxi waiting to take me to the airport.
9.05am arrive in Melbourne, Skybus it to hotel, check in and dump bags and jump in another taxi to first date of the day - the protest ride.

There's nothing I like more than standing up for what I believe in, a little political unrest does us all good and this was right up my alley.  Mike Rubbo from Sit Up Cycle had organised a ride to draw attention to the mandatory cycle helmet laws and why they will probably be detrimental to the success of the new Melbourne Bike Share scheme.  Of course it will hinder rather than help the scheme be a success, it doesn't take a genius to work that one out so the more attention this gets the better.  Will the laws be repealed as they have been in Mexico City ?
Time will tell.
It was a small but spirited turnout and snapping away in the midst of the crowd surrounded by tv crews was Mikael Colville-Andersen, in town for his much anticipated Four Goals for Promoting Urban Cycling talk as part of the State of Design festival.  He's disarmingly charming, passionate, funny, cheeky as hell and obviously loves his role as Denmark's unofficial roving Bicycle Ambassador.  Who wouldn't ?  He strongly believes in what he is doing as do I and it seems the thousands of fans of his various blogs Copenhagenize, Copenhagen Cycle Chic™ and The Slow Bicycle Movement to name but three.

So pictures were taken, the police did what they had promised to do and booked those who decided to ride helmet-less through the streets of Carlton - the horror - and news coverage was obtained from The Age and ABC.  Apparently we also made the ABC tv news in Melbourne but I've yet to get my hands on a copy of the segment.  With all the lively online commentary over the last few days it would seem the ride was a success.  Great to have been a part of it, now let's see the change hmmm ??

(more pics on flickr)

Next stop on the whirlwind bike tour of Melbourne was a quick trip to Gertrude St, spotted lots of nice stationary bikes (quite a theme of this trip) then off to Fed Square for Mikael's talk.
No doubt that it was illuminating and inspiring (and there's that screwball Danish humour again) and he really has hit the nail on the head.  His ideas so clearly point the way forward for bicycle culture - lessons to be learned whichever continent you are in.
It was however, followed by a rather dull panel discussion but I suppose that's to be expected when it consists of public service types talking about commuter cycling corridors..... WTF??!!
It left me, and I think the ragtag group of bloggers and bicycle advocates I was with a bit cold.  More action and less talk is always my view but hey, call me naive.  Is it not just simply about getting on your bike, as you are, going where you need to go in as fuss free a manner as possible ???

So conference over and off for drinks which turned into dinner and more drinks and well more drinks and stumbling back to the hotel at 2.30am quite a little tipsy.  A rather wonderful day followed by a rather seedy Sunday.  I took solace at the alter that is Rothko before heading back to Sydney, badly hungover but energized for some serious bicycle business.

Great to put faces to my fellow bloggers and tweeters too and meet the lovely Festival ladies on their beautiful bikes !
Tak Mikael for the hangover ;-)


Anonymous said...

Great post, Saskia!

It was a fabulous event and I think we should repeat this, on a grander scale, in Brisbane (assuming they're going to have the same problem with their scheme...)

Putting faces to names was fun; and what an interesting group of people we had gathered. I'm only sorry that we all didn't get together to talk a bit more before we all disappeared to various corners of the country.

Next time we should have a social gathering the night before to nut out the plan and get to know our fellow revolutionaries! ;)

I see it has appeared on both Sue Abbott's blog & the iBikeLondon blog.

It is refreshing to see that the London (Barclays - *gag*) Cycle Hire has a mix of helmeted and unhelmeted cyclists - the way it should be.


Paul & Veronika
Brisbane, Australia

slow rpm said...

Double good for you. Sadly, the commercial channels edited the story down to about 20 seconds so as to make the riders look like a bunch of eccentric dreamers. Unfortunately,I believe we need the bike share scheme to fail in order to bring our ridiculous helmets laws to the front. Regards and thanks for taking the time to come down to Melbourne . ~ ian

saskia said...

Hi Paul & Veronika - yep it was all a bit rushed and it would have been nice to chat longer. I'm sure we'll see each other again really was a whirlwind day !
It's been getting such a lot of twitter interest and it's great to be involved. I'm up for more rides wherever they are needed.
Let me know when/if you come down to Sydney and we'll go and test out the cycleways :-)

And Ian, that's a shame about the coverage but I can't ay I'm surprised. It would be sad if the scheme failed and it would certainly jeopardise the proposed Brisbane & Sydney schemes but yes you may (sadly) be right. Australia's backwards laws are all a bit embarassing really and the negative comments I hear from pro-helmet people just wear me down.
Whatever happened to freedom of choice ???

Thanks for your comments :-)

Anonymous said...

I want more action and less talk too but more action cannot be done without talk. Im very disappointed that you have only two articles under the helmet law tag. Only two. why can you Australian be more passionate and aggressive like towards fishing dolphins or animal welfare?
Because most of general people who need this law disappear, are not special nor extinct yet? And who rides bike with 60km/h in freeway need to be protected by the law because they are special and beautiful rare species I guess. That's Australia! Yeah!

from angry citizen wish to ride my bike without my helmet any time!