Sunday, June 29, 2008
The most eventful part of the day happened much latter when I found out that I’d been fined for supposedly crossing the middle of the road when I tried to win the King of the Mountain. Thinking this could be my one ever moment of glory, I attacked early on the hill but was beaten by one other rider from the Eastern Suburbs club. At the end of the race I was told that I’d crossed the middle of the road when attacking on the hill. I was fined $50. This news left me completely gobsmacked but I didn’t put up a protest.
The following days Gunnedah to Tamworth graded scratch race was not the most enjoyable but certainly the most relaxing race I’d ever done. I was in agony just getting on the bike that morning. Luckly I was placed in the bottom grade “F” and had a very easy day of riding. We rolled out of town like a training ride and chatted away with only a few minor attempted breakaways that were all chased down. Eventually it came to a bunch sprint. The problem for me was I had no idea where it was. My odometer has broken the previous day and there were no signs telling us we where near the finish. Suddenly the sprint had had started on this empty patch of highway and I was in the worst position possible at the back left of the bunch. I tried to get through the chaos passing along the gravel edge of the road narrowly missing two other riders and almost hitting one onlooking race commissioner. I finished in 5th place and won $50. The truth was I'd bombed the sprint completely, but there seemed to be something almost zen-like about finishing in 5th place and receiving $50 to pay off the previous days debts.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Later I went down to Broadway Shopping Centre and I had to struggle to find a place to lock up my bike. Its kind of a nice thing to realise that the bicycle bandwagon is growing, but if it gets any bigger, they'll be nowhere to lock up my bike. We could even see fits of 'bike parking rage'.There were only 7 spaces at the shopping centre and all of them were all taken. Obviously the planners at the time assumed that 7 would be enough but that didn't stop them from allowing the shopping centre to build a few, say 1550 "first 3 hours free" car parking spaces on the edge of the CBD. Luckly I think I've come across a solution for this dilemma. I suggest that it be written in law that for every 6 bikes sold in Australia, we should remove one car parking space. And if we design them like this, perhaps no one will even notice the difference.
6 into 1, do the sums.
Monday, June 23, 2008
There are many cities that could aspire to the title of 'bike heaven', cities where cycle paths abound and where governments and car users alike regard bicycles as a solution to traffic problems rather than a cause of them. Sydney isn't one of them.So Sydney isn't "bicycle heaven"? Thats ok, I don't believe in heaven anyway. It features many well-known cycling identities.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I stumbled across this little video on YouTube and laughed myself silly. Amazingly, the Wham-O company is still around, but sadly I can't find the Wheelie Bar amongst it's list of products. Sad really, I can imagine a new market for this kind of thing. According to Wikipedia,
Wham-O's initial success can be seen as a result of the insight of its founders. Knerr and Melin aimed their products directly at kids, going out to playgrounds to reach them. They also did extensive research to find new product ideas, including traveling all over the world. For many years, the company's product strategy was to have a stable of eight to twelve simple and inexpensive products, such as Frisbees, Super Balls, and Hula Hoops. New products would be developed and added to the line for a tryout period, and old ones retired (either for a few years or permanently) as their popularity waned.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Marshal: Adrian, right?, I’m putting you in C grade5 mins later on the warm up lap I caught up with Simon:
Me: But I’ve never won a race?
Marshal: Yes, but you did 8 laps on the front the other week. You’re too strong for D grade.
Me: But I’ll have no chance of winning C grade
Marshal: Oh, you never know, remember that speed skater…what was his name?
Me: Yes I remember. Everyone crashed in front of him.
Me: Simon, you’re not going to believe this, they’ve bumped me up into C grade.The C grade race was a lot faster. We were holding near 40km/h for the first 4 laps. Around lap 5, the decisive move was made. A breakaway of around 5 riders shot off. The main bunch hesitated, then I chased after the breakaway like a dumb dog. I got close to closing the gap then slowly watched them pull away. Eventually a small group of 4 formed a chasing bunch. We tried to catch them but they were far too strong. I rolled in around 7th or 8th, pleased that I’d finished the race. Like Sisyphus rolling his rock to no end, I expect to be chasing an elusive C grade victory for the rest my cycling life.
Simon: Yeah, that’s because you should be in C grade
Me: But I’ve never won a race.
Simon: That’s because you’re stupid and you can’t sprint.
Me: Oh, thanks Simon, I feel really great now.
Simon: Don’t worry, you’ve done a Grafton. That’s what really matters.
Me: Ok. I am feeling better now.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
WHEN the Danish urban designer Thomas Ermacora sat down to study global bicycle culture, he began by making a world map of cycling capitals. Unfortunately, Australia didn't make the grade. "Australia doesn't really have a cycling city," he says.
According to Ermacora, whose love of bicycles began as a child, cycling cultures in cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam are multilayered. "Even if you threw money at making cycle lanes, it wouldn't create a bike culture on its own," he says. It's a holistic approach that makes the difference, starting with encouraging children to ride, providing lanes for them when they are adults and making cycling attractive, he says.
So to have a “bike culture” we are supposed to have a multi-layered and integrated approach to cycling for all the community. More recently, I read another rather cutting definition of bike culture:
Bike Culture: A social clique organized around a certain style of bicycle and clothing. Members identify one-another through recognition of certain inside jokes and by displaying certain labels and brands on their clothing and bicycles. Periodically members of the “bike culture” organize events which only peripherally involve riding. Such events include: art installations; film screenings; and sitting on their bicycles for as long as possible without putting their feet down. Ironically, one can ride or race a bicycle every day for years without ever becoming—or even meeting—a member of the bike culture. Then one day one might stop into a bar for a drink and suddenly encounter 20 or 30 of them.No points for guessing who wrote it. The popularity of his blog must be a testament for hitting on some truths that “bike culture” might be something of fickle fashion clique that was grafted out of an idealisation of courier culture.
And just to rub it in, here is another more recent link/post exposing a new book on bike culture:
In the wise words of the BikeSnob:
I do admit I'm sort of baffled by the "bike culture's" compulsion to preen and model and to photograph itself and its fashions and thereby emulate some of the more disappointing aspects of the larger culture, but I'm sure someone out there can tell me what I'm missing.In Sydney, bike culture seems to be something that has evolved in the space between the larger ‘tribes’ of competitive and recreational cycling, but it also follows the global trends in the production of Bike Culture Inc. What irks me about the concept of 'bike culture', is it’s potential for in-group narcissism. We often seen this with the growth and demise of various 'youth', 'music', 'sub' or 'counter' cultures that ride in and out of style, making lots of money for trend spotting cultural producers like MTV. However, the word ‘culture’, in its most basic definition, has a lot more to do with farming than fashion. According to Raymond Williams, founder of "cultural studies" : “Culture in all its early uses was a noun of process: the tending of something, basically crops or animals”. Culture makes up the ordinary and acquired practices and habits that sustains life within a community. On this account, 'bike culture' should aim to be ubiquitous.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
For instance, in the article, ‘Road Rage’: Media hype or serious road safety issue? the Australian Transport Psychologist, Barry Elliot, makes a number of claims. Most importantly, he argues that ‘road rage’ is a very problematic concept:
It can be defined as a term coined by the media to describe a range of anti-social behaviours and/or acts of aggression which occur on the road. The range of behaviours include minor instances such as gestures and use of car horn through to the more serious violent acts such as assault or even murder.
‘Road rage’ can include a number of activities such as:
Beeping the horn;
Pursuing a vehicle;
Flashing head lights;
Forcing a car off the road;
Forcing a car to pull over;
Bumping into another car;
Threatening another driver;
Breaking or slowing suddenly;
Damaging another vehicle intentionally
Physically assaulting another driver; and
Cutting off or swerving in front
Given the diversity of activities identified above, it is fair enough that one should want to develop different terms to distinguish between ‘road rage’ and road aggression. The concept ‘rage’ presupposes an escalation of aggression towards violence. According to Elliot:
The majority of motorists will experience one or more of the above road behaviours over a normal year or two. However, if we define ‘road rage’ as assault then it is a rare phenomena.
But it is here that we find the crux of the problem. No consideration is given to how other vehicles, such as bicycles, may experience acts of road aggression in a vastly different way. Personally, I can say that I’ve experienced 7 of the 15 acts listed above and that I’ve twice experienced the more malicious acts of being run off the road by a raging motorist. Thankfully, such events have been rare, but the lesser acts of road aggression are very common and would occur on a less than monthly basis. One can only speculate on what findings Elliot would have made if he’d asked different road users about their experiences of ‘road rage’/aggression?
The next problem I found with the article is a level acceptance it gave to road rage/aggression as a public concern. According to Elliot:
While there are good reasons to reduce levels of violence (‘road rage’) on our roads, doing so is unlikely to have any noticeable effect on road crash statistics. In essence, ‘road’ rage is not a road safety priority issue. It is an ‘issue’ for those dealing with violence in our community.
Just because an action of road rage/aggression may not result in injury or death, why would it then be considered a ‘low priority’ road safety issue? Why do acts of aggression have to be extremely ‘violent’ to become a cause of concern? While road rage/aggression may not be an issue for accident statisticians, it still affect people as an often unsanctioned form of social violence that takes place in a social field that should be governed by road rules/education.
Another concerning part of this article was on the causes of ‘road rage’. It was suggested that road rage is largely caused through a dynamic relationship between a perpetrator and a victim. According to Elliot:
The consensus among experts in this area is that ‘road rage’, even broadly defined, originates because of poor, careless or risking driving… Sometimes, perhaps mostly, the victim unintentionally or unwittingly raises the ire of the offender with no malice intended. But the recipient of the poor driving (the offender) takes the incident as a personal affront which involves an emotional reaction – usually anger… The critical contributing factor in ‘road rage’ in general is the behaviour of the victim which leads to aggression by the offender and so long as the victim retaliates the conflict increases. Accordingly, it ought to be possible to lower the level of possible road rage by: improving driving standards.
So what does this mean for cyclists? Given that there is substantial of evidence that many motorists (in Australia) don’t even know or respect the rights of cyclists to be road users, it would seem rather short-sighted to simply ‘blame the victim’ as the unfortunate recipient of aggression on the road. This victim/perpetrator model of road aggression doesn’t seem to be able to give an account how acts of violence and aggression can be completely unprovoked and without some sort of quasi-legitimacy.
While I haven’t read far enough into these matters, it seems to me that a lot of research on ‘road rage’ has been framed within the ‘blinkered’ paradigm of the automobile and that an analysis of acts of road aggression towards cyclists has been ignored and unspecified. Road rage research is most often conducted by criminologists, transport psychologists and crime prevention researchers. I wonder if they'd ask different questions if they rode their bikes?
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Of the negative perceptions of cyclists, the following representations were the most common.
Each of these perceptions is discussed in further detail below:
1: Cyclists are inferior or illegitimate road users
This perception represented cyclists as an inferior class of road users. It was suggested that cyclists should not be allowed on the roads without some system of taxation, licensing and registration. Many commenters argued that cyclists were unpaying (‘free riding’) and undeserving because they were not being taxed. A perceived lack of individual and legal identification (registration and insurance) was also presumed to make cyclists unaccountable to both the road rules as well as any accidents they may cause as road users.
In this era of user pays why is it cyclists can take up the whole road during peak hour without forking out a cent ? (1.28)
Do they know that cyclists in European countries have to pay rego to ride on the road? So don't complain when you are free-riding! (3.25)
When will cyclists realise they do not belong on any roads! If they want to be a road user - let them pay for it. At least then it would soften the blow of having to put up with them. Car, truck and motorbike owners must have current registration, which we pay for, a licence, which we pay for and Compulsory Third Party Insurance, which we pay for. We are then expected to give up the roads for non paying and hazardous cyclists. (3.27)
Cyclists don't pay road taxes as cyclists......yet they get all these great privileges. They need somewhere to cycle. Why can't councils and governments create dedicated cycle routes? If cyclists aren't paying for the roads then it's no big deal if they don't pay for the cycle paths. I drive along Beach Road and continually get pissed off with cyclists on the road...... (3.56)
The roads are paid for and upkept from car rego's and petrol. It is only obvious that if bikes want to use the roads then they should help pay. (5.35)
2: Cyclists are unlawful road users
This perception argued that cyclists were unlawful road users. Common proponents of this opinion suggested that cyclists did not follow the road rules, that cyclists ignored the laws by running red lights, riding on footpaths, and holding up traffic in large bunches.
They can cry that they have as much right as a car to use the road but they should also follow the road rules too. (1.42)
there have been numerous reported cases where these large packs of cyclists have shown themselves to be irresponsible, law breaking goons who don;t give a crap about anyone else on the road as illustrated by the group that went through red lights and killed a man not so long ago... (1.68)
Excuse me bike riders, but you say that you are within the law to ride on the road. Well it also is the law to stop at red lights, stops signs and to give way at roundabouts. I'm sorry, but you can't hide behind the law when you don't abide by the law. (2.53)
And as for road rules they seem to have a secret set of their own. (4.54)
It seems to me that cyclists want to use the roads but not by the rules that apply to all the other road users. (4.109)
3: Cyclists are foolish road users
This perception constructed cyclists as being foolish, crazy, stupid, morons and idiotic. Generally, it was suggested that cyclists were devoid of intelligence by virtue of not acknowledging the risks or perceived dangers of riding on the road.
Although it was a silly thing to do. I can understand this drivers frustration. What a stupid time and place to be cycling. Peak hour on a main road!! (1.42)
as far as it is concerned they are all a bunch of freakin morons... (1.168)
I can tell you that riding in a pack of 50 in peak hour on Southern Cross Drive is insanity. (1.77)
Cyclists have a right to use the road - but at their own peril. They are bloody idiots if they think they're going to be safe on Sydney's roads. (2.23)
Get one thing straight cars kill cyclists not the other way round. Only the mentally challenged would incourage thier children to do this. Do you educate the crocs up north to beware of dumb swimmers? (4.49)
4: Cyclists are arrogant road users
This perception identified cyclists as being arrogant and/or selfish road users. Cyclists were particularly characterised as being inconsiderate towards other road users. Cyclists were also perceived as being ‘tall-poppies’ or having a misguided sense of superiority. In many cases, cyclists were identified as elitist, righteous and pious.
Ban these elitist wankers from the road and give the car driver a medal. (1.14)
You expect consideration to be showed yet most of you are inconsiderate when on the road (3.5)
Get these jerks of the road during peak hour, actually get them off the road period. If its pushed him to the brink of moving overseas good pissoff overseas. bloody latte sipping wankers. (3.35)
Bike riders are not Pandas and don't deserve special protected status. Bike riders should have some bloody manners on the road and act like any other road users. Its pretty simple guys, don't hold up traffic. (3.45)
Its great to see those holier than thou cyclists get their noses rubbed in it – (4.55)
5: Cyclists are ‘in the way’
This perception constructed cyclists as being ‘in the way’. Primarily, cyclists were perceived to be ‘holding up traffic’. Cyclists were identified as a hassle, pain, and a nuisance. The presence of cyclists was also regarded as frustrating, annoying and enraging for motorists.
You hold up traffic and annoy the crap out of everyone. (1.82)
At peak hour, everyone is trying to get somewhere, they are simply clogging up the already crowded system and can do it somewhere else!(1.122)
I hate it wen im stuck behind cyclists, adding a xtra ten minutes on my trip when ive already spent a hour and a half driving.... (2.42)
Obviously they were blocking traffic. Obviously many many motorists were very angry and frustrated. (3.10)
I drive along Beach Road and continually get pissed off with cyclists on the road......with a bike a bike path about 1 metre away. Another thing to drive motorists crazy is when they hold up traffic while you try and get around them and then sneak up the inside at the lights. Then you have to go through the same thing again (3.56)
6: Cyclists are ‘to blame’
This perception identified cyclists as being ‘to blame’ for being hurt on the road. Some comments related to the specific incident on Southern Cross Drive while others characterised cyclists for being ‘to blame’ for generally riding on roads. In others comments, it was suggested that cyclists were ‘asking for it/trouble’, ‘had it coming’ or ‘should know better’. Some commenters sympathised with the actions of a ‘road raging’ motorist and believed that such events ‘served them right’ and ‘taught them a lesson’.
Maybe they will learn their lesson now and not take up a whole lane in peak hour traffic. They really bring this all upon themselves. (1.121)
I must say that I am horified that these cyclist were targeted by some idiot. But really, what did these cyclists expect? (1.77)
So these cyclists rear end a car, because they were going to fast, then have a 50 bike pile up cos they didnt give themselves enough safe space to stop, and now the motorist is going to be charged?. (1.94)
Yes - I'm with the car driver. Many a time I have had to deal with great packs of riders taking up most of the road. It is dangerous and if they get hurt, then they generally have themselves to blame. (4.69)
if you go for a swim and get bitten by a shark is it the sharks fault your in their world?, (4.129)
7: Cyclists don’t belong on roads
This perception constructed cyclists as not belonging on the road. Many commenters believed that cyclists should be ‘banned from the road’ or at least confined to other ‘safe’ places such as bike paths or velodromes. Many commenters also assertively argued that ‘cars are for roads’ and that ‘roads are built for cars’.
This is simple, if the riders where not on the road nothing would have happened. (1.110)
isn't there a nice velodrome out at homebush where they can ride around in circles for hours on end without having to worry about cars???? (1.132)
Well i think they should be banned of the road, the think they own it! (1.140)
When will cyclists realise they do not belong on any roads! (3.27)
You wanna ride your bike? Go for it - though do it somewhere safe, otherwise quit your complaining and deal with the consequences - the roads are for motor vehicles - DEAL WITH IT! (3.87)
This is only a very preliminary analysis of the data and there is a lot more work to do. The next step is to analyse the data in terms of mood, gender, uses of expletives, and most importantly to identify various emotions and to see how the may or may not correlate with perceptions. After reading through all the comments (and feeling very ill at times) it was great to find some people made really thoughtful comments. I thought that the following was probably one of the most insightful:
There are issues with both motorists and cyclists using roads.
Melbournians would remember the cyclist in the 'hell ride' who hit a pedestrian when they were trying to cross the road. The pedestrian was killed and a furore erupted about cyclists and road use.
The fact that these incidents can cause such emotional reactions shows there are deeper issues at stake. Like the ever more divisive nature of Australian society...its not simply about cars and bikes...its about consideration for other people, or the growing lack of it these days. (4.134)
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
"I think I've stumbled on a new law of politics: the harder life becomes in this capitalist economy, the more our supposed leaders soft-soap us. The harsher it gets, the harder they try to persuade us we're living in a Sunday school where no one plays for keeps."
Ross Gittins "Too gutless to give us the bad oil"
Sunday, June 08, 2008
On a lighter note, I absolutely love the simplicity of this comic by Jim Borgman:
And there has also been some great discussions about cycling on the ABC:
On ya bike! (via Rob at Sydney Cyclist)
The Bike Boom (via Treadly and Me)
Note: both segments are towards the end of program.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
A companion is someone with whom you share bread. It can also be a person with whom you share a pannier or even a plastic bag for clothes that haven't quiet dried. (p127)
Here is a snippet from the end of the book:
There are two common ways of musing about roads. The first represented by the stage directions at the of Beckett’s Waiting For Godot. Vladimir and Estragon sit by the side of the road, exchanging small talk and banter, waiting for someone or something to turn up. They have no idea what it might be. They wait passively as garbage bins. They are at the mercy of fate. The world, whatever that might mean, is indifferent to them.
A more common way of musing is represented by The Wizard of Oz. The yellow brick road will take you to the land of your dreams where you will find courage, brains and good heart. […]
Waiting For Godot represents a kind of fatalism in which people are powerless. They are roadside refuse. The Wizard of Oz represents a kind of individualism in which people are all-powerful. They can achieve anything and still be home in time for tea.
Neither of these ideas appeal to me.
The road can go in two directions at once. Maybe more. But the rest of us can only go in one. We are enriched by what we can’t do and even more by what we choose not to do. The secret of being human is leaning how to enjoy limitations. Just about anyone can ride a bike from Sydney to Melbourne on their own. But it’s impossible to squeeze a pimple in the middle of your back without help. If we could do everything, we wouldn’t need other people and we wouldn’t need a road. None of us is God. I just like to pretend sometimes that I am. Those have been the loneliest times (p300-1)
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Reading the Herald a two days ago I came across this article about the measures many motorists are taking to save money on fuel. One of the most strange or amusing comments came from the pensioner Solomis Lazaris who was quoted as saying:
"There's one good thing about the price of petrol - I've had to give up smoking so I can drive my car."Good on Solomis for kicking his smoking habit. However, the funny thing about his statement was it seemed to suggest that in his own psychic economy, he needed petrol far more than cigarettes. Anyone who has spent time with a cigarette addict knows that giving up is no small thing. We know scientifically that it takes around 8 seconds for nicotene to travel from the lungs to the brain switching various neurotransmitters that produce pleasurable and highly addictive dopamine. However, it seems that the effects that oil has on our minds and bodies is something that we are still collectively struggling to understand. I wonder if it will be the price of food that is the next big thing forcing us to kick the oil habit? By hey, there'll still be plenty for those who can afford it.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Finally someone has put Nelson's little dummy spit on youtube. I wonder if he drives a 30yo Torana?
Amazingly, I read recently that this knee-jerk popularism is spreading. According to the Sun Herald the 'Oil crisis rage spreads' and the French president Nicolas Sarkozy is calling for a cut it EU VAT taxes on oil.
In the UK, Gordon Brown is facing petrol price protests:
In the US, Hillary is planning a petrol tax cutting holiday.
And in New Zealand, Helen Clark has sold out on petrol taxes.
Pop-psychologists say that denial is the first stage of grief. Are we there yet, or have we moved into anger?