Thursday, December 25, 2008

"Cycling" and "Cyclists"

I've recently been doing some media analysis as part of one ongoing project on the hatred of cyclists and a new project that is looking at the reporting of cycling in the Australian print media over the last 5-10 years. One of the most alarming things I've discovered is the complex language politics between "cycling" and "cyclists". "Cycling" is an activity involving bicycles and can include anything from riding to the local shops to participating in the Tour de France. "Cyclists" are identified as people who ride bikes and therefore could be almost anyone.

One of the strange things I've found is that when you conflate cycling and cyclists and then look at all the positive and negative attributes associated with each in the media, the positives are almost universally associated with "cycling" as an activity (ie. its fun, healthy, environmentally good, and convenient) whereas the negatives are almost always associated or tagged on "cyclists" as a group of persons (i.e. cyclists 'are' irresponsible, dangerous, arrogant, inconvenient). For the purposes of clarity it would be nice to partition each of these concepts and analyse them separately, however like most things involving language, they tend to slide around and stick to eachother. For instance, we hear that ‘Cycling is dangerous'... because its an activity that involves exposure to motor cars and/or because cyclists are irresponsible and break the road rules etc. How then do we response to this perception of cycling/cyclists as 'dangerous'? What's the danger – cycling, cyclists or fast moving automobiles? The language we use to account for 'cycling' and 'cyclists' seems to be incredibly important in framing many of the political debates. My sense is that by focusing on/positioning cyclists as some (out)group, it is easier for the media to engage in the politics of blame and in doing so evade questioning what may be good about cycling and how we might want to encourage it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bikelove interview

I was recently interviewed about some of my research on cyclist/motorist interactions by Jo Jones on 2Ser Radio 107.3FM. You can listen to the program at:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Early Bird

One of my favourite films from the recent Bicycle Film Festival was called Early Bird, written, directored and produced by the Melbourne animation artist Trace Balla. The film traces the thoughts that go through ones mind when considering the different experiences we have of traveling to work each day by bike and by car. You can now watch it at the Portable Film Festival's website.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


The public consultation on the proposed Union Street cycleway finished today. I took this time lapse photography of the current intersection just for prosperity. Hopefully in a few months I'll be able to take a new clip when the new cycleway is built.

Its a very exciting time to see some real changes begin to occur and slowly fill in some of the missing links across the city. Here are some pics of the soon to be finished King Street cycleway. King street has always been a major missing link in creating any east-west cycle network across the city.

Very soon, cyclists will no longer have to merge up the hill with 4 lanes of fast moving traffic turning off the Darling Habour expressway overpass.

Talk of the cycleways has been all through the print media and radio this week. Of course the Telegraph and its readers have been going off with the usual anti-cyclist tirade. One has to wonder what has happened to journalistic ethics when reporters begin news articles with sentences such as:
THEY are the bane of motorists everywhere and now they're set for an even bigger share of the city's roads.
Thank God the DT has warned its readers that the cycling-folkdevil is out on the streets and its coming to get them!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Sydney Community Bicycle Workshop

For the last two Monday nights, I've headed to the Nunnery Bike Co-Op (now know as the Sydney Community Bicycle Workshop). It has only been two years since I'd been there, but in that time I'd moved twice and now the bike workshop had moved to the end of my street in Waterloo. Here is some timelapse photography of the workshop in action.