Don’t run me down

I just saw this great video by Montreal artist “Lederhosen Lucil” all about bicycle safety, featuring some beautiful Montreal bike lanes and streamered-bicycles.


chickenonclark

Chicken On Clark – Official Video” — LEDERHOSEN LUCIL is baaaaaaaack!!! In “Chicken On Clark” we see Lucil on planet earth in the city of Montreal, riding a be-streamered bicycle down streets and bike paths…solo and with friends…dodging the grim reaper who is awaiting her arrival. Will she meet the grim reaper?? What will happen to LEDERHOSEN LUCIL??

THE fluoro coat is for sale!

I’m just putting the word out that I’m selling the fluoro coat that I created for the first Cycle Style Fashion Show in Auckland. So if you, or anyone you know, would like to own a designer ‘statement coat’ that will ensure you get noticed, head over to Trademe and put in a bid.

The coat is a ladies size 8 or 10 and the reserve is $50. I’m happy to post the item so you can add a little colour to the furthest reaches of NZ … or beyond!

Check it out!

180397_1857814008861_6633939_n

style 023  style 024

Critical Mass: What’s your opinion?

Dearest cycling community of Wellington,

Back in January Critical Mass (CM) Wellington’s (re)founding father Tom Elliot personally charged me with the mission of keeping CM going in Wellington, after he left town on an exciting round-the-world cycling and sailing adventure.

Thus far I have failed miserably in my task.

If you are not familiar with Critical Mass, it is an international event in which cyclists gather to ride collectively with the aim of creating the required “critical mass” of bicycles necessary to assert our rights to the use of roads on equal measure with motorised vehicles.  This mass ride phenomenon began in 1992 in San Francisco and now occurs in more than 300 cities worldwide, generally on the last Friday of the month.

The Wikipedia article provides more information regarding the background and history of critical mass.

I moved to Wellington in 2010 and was unaware of any local critical mass events, until I saw a flyer for the October 2011 Wellington ride.  I participated in the ride, enjoyed it thoroughly  and continued to do so regularly until November 2012, missing only 1 ride during that time! Sadly, since December 2012, CM has ceased happening in reliable numbers.

My understanding is that previous to the re-founding of CM in Wellington by Tom Elliot in 2011, there had been a CM tradition in Wellington that received the expected negative criticism from the motorist community, however surprisingly it also received some negative criticism from the cycling community.  Apparently (again this is just my understanding from what I have been told) the methods used by some more radical cyclists during the rides was viewed as reflecting poorly on the Wellington cycling community.  For this reason, and perhaps others of which I have not been made aware, CM in Wellington was halted for some time (a few years?), until it was rejuvenated mid-2011.

Of course, as cyclists, we all know how important it is to be responsible advocates for cycling, and how the individual cyclist’s behaviour reflects upon the cycling community as a whole.    We also know how important the wider perception of cycling and cyclists is when it comes to advocating for and implementing improvements cycling infrastructure, as this requires support from the public and the city council.

To oversimplify the scenario, if one person rides their bike around like an asshole, the motorists think we’re all assholes, and the city council will never give us bike lanes, because we all look like irresponsible menaces to safety and good conduct.

However, there is a distinction between riding safely and comfortably, and what motorists expect the “rules” for cycling to be.

Irrespective of this tangent (which I hope may provoke an interesting discussion) CM does have a reputation for using some aggressive, anti-motorist tactics to promote cycling.  However, in my experiences participating in CM rides in 3 different countries, I can say that by far, the Wellington CM rides were the most polite, and least aggressive or intrusive to motorists or pedestrians.  This is perhaps because of that keen awareness of our sensitive situation as cyclists in Wellington.  I have also had discussions and experiences with cycling New Zealanders that made me aware of how my perceptions, as an American, differ to those of the locals.  But anyway, I digress, this was not meant to be a diatribe on the cultural factors affecting cyclists’ behaviours, but on the merits of advocating for the cycling community in a responsible and enjoyable manner.

I have conducted some informal surveys of my acquaintances regarding resuming monthly critical mass rides in Wellington.  The responses have varied.  Most of those who have previously participated are interested in participating again, however some had complaints about the format and function of CM.

In the past Civic Square has been our meeting point, and we have more or less stuck to one route through the CDB, along Victoria street, down Vivian, along Cambridge Tce, up Courtney Place, and ending with the traditional CM “bike lift” near the bucket fountain on Cuba Street.  We have not aggressively employed traditional CM techniques such as “corking“, but rather tried to remain as a group and be aware of lights and pedestrian crossings.  However, phrases such as “Ride your bike!” or “Burn fat not oil!” were shouted alongside choruses of bike bells to bring awareness to the activist nature of the ride.

(Better picture coming soon…)

While personally I found this a good balance, others did not.  For me personally, I enjoy the social and activist aspects of CM.  I don’t normally participate in group rides unless they have a specific goal or objective other than “just to ride” or for fitness; I ride my bike to get where I need to go.  CM isn’t about riding for fitness or endurance, we ride very slowly for about 45 minutes and only go about 3 kms, though of course you do get out and moving on a bicycle.  CM began as a way for commuters who gathered in the city centre to begin their rides home together.  I believe it’s about making people aware of cyclists and an opportunity for cyclists to socialise.   After our rides we would often go to the nearby Leftbank for some noodles or a beer.  Some of the participants in my informal survey found the rides to be too tame – they wanted CM to be a vehicle (excuse the pun) for aggressive cycling activism.

I always enjoyed participating in CM and I am overcome with guilt for not having actively tried to keep it going over the last 6 months.  However, with this aim, I would like to solicit the feedback and opinions of the wider cycling community with regards to the future of critical mass in Wellington.

Some questions to consider:

  • Is it worthwhile to try to keep the last Friday of the month (5:30 pm meet, 6 pm ride) CM ride going?
  • What is the message Wellington CM should be trying to communicate to the public?
  • How do we best communicate this message?
  • What is your motivation to participate (or not participate) in CM? Is it for the social/community aspect?  Activism?  Exercise? Some other reason?
  • How should CM riders behave with regards to traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, etc.?
  • What kind of routes should be taken?
  • Any other feedback/comments…

Please post your comments below.

Another barrier to me taking a more active role in the organisation of CM (albeit self-imposed) is that fact that I am not a Facebook user and do not have access to the Wellington CM group or event pages.  In addition, I am trying to finish my PhD thesis within the next 6 weeks.  Is anybody keen to help out with organisational responsibilities and Facebook skillz?

Yours sincerely,

Nicole M. Gaston

Cycling and sewing

I like riding bikes and making clothes, so I was really excited to come across McCall’s Sewing Patterns 2013 spring catalogue. 

bikemechanic

 

The lookbook is full of sewing patterns featuring ladies with bikes!

Here are a few examples to inspire the crafty and stylish cyclists amongst us.

M6694

M6696

M6701

 

So what are you waiting for?  Grab your sewing machine and your bike and make yourself a beautiful new frock for the next Frocks on Bikes ride!

xx Nicole

 

Book Review: Everyday Cycling in Aotearoa New Zealand

Republished with kind permission of Lennyboy at Cycling in Christchurch.

By Alastair Smith (185pp., Awa Press, Wellington, RRP $35)

Here’s something that might be handy as a [summer read]!

Everyday Cycling cover

Over the years I have collected a variety of books on cycling for transport and urban cycle commuting. Invariably they have been written for overseas audiences; the only “NZ Edition” biking book I ever got was basically a British book with a sticker about our helmet law slapped on it. So it is pleasing to see the recent attention to utility cycling by local publishers, including this latest offering from Awa Press.

Alastair Smith has been a stalwart of cycling advocacy in Wellington for many years, so he is well placed to write on how to get around your town by bike. This compact guidebook is an easy read covering all the essentials, from choosing a bike and gear, safe riding skills, and basic bike maintenance. There’s also useful advice on little details like dealing with crashes, cycling with children, and using public transport with your bike.

Lots of good photos and diagrams help to illustrate the points mentioned; there’s some particularly useful ones to explain on-road cycling skills. If you’re not yet convinced, Alastair also provides a comprehensive list of reasons why cycling is good for you and society, including a thorough list of references on health benefits.

Not surprisingly, many of the examples and pictures are rather Wellington-centric, but there is a very useful summary of cycle routes in 16 of our major urban centres and weblinks to find out more. Rather oddly though, our 5th largest urban area Tauranga isn’t included, yet the likes of little ol’ Oamaru is? Christchurch gets a generous three pages about some of our key facilities – there’s even a plug for the “Cycling in Chch” website!

Alastair also puts his advocate hat on at the end to explain how the reader can get involved more in making everyday cycling better in New Zealand. And there is a handy list of other books and websites (many from NZ) to learn more.

All in all, this is a very useful addition to the bookshelf of any New Zealander who rides around their town, or who is thinking about doing so. As the title page says, enjoy the freedom of a bike!

(Disclosure: I provided some local Christchurch information for the book).

Cycling in Nelson

I spend every Christmas in Nelson, where my family is, and I’m also lucky enough to get down there on business a few times a year. It’s a delightful place to ride, and if you’d like your next holiday to be in a sunny, pretty, bike-friendly place I can highly recommend it.

Journey – Inspiring bicycle adventures

A new bicycle adventure mag is on it’s way – with a little help from your good selves.

Journey is Insipring Riding’s new quarterly journal – the inspiration for bicycle adventures of all kinds. Issue #1 is to be published in February 2013, with the theme ‘adventure starts here’. It will have contributions from talented writers, photographers and illustrators from New Zealand and Australia. It will be beautifully printed on lovely paper, with no adverts breaking the editorial flow.

Right now, Insipring Riding are crowd funding Journey, building the web presence and engaging with adventurers. Here’s what they have to say;

WE NEED YOUR HELP TO MAKE JOURNEY HAPPEN
We are asking people to pre-purchase Journey #1 or a subscription for the first four issues.
We are offering some unique rewards (musettes, photo/illustration prints etc.) to thank anyone who supports us.

PLEASE CLICK THROUGH TO OUR PROJECT HERE: WWW.POZIBLE.COM/JOURNEY
where you will find everything you need to convince you to support us.
And you get to see our on-screen discomfort in our promo video.