Tillie & Coco

two ladies, two bicycles, two hemispheres

Category: Uncategorized

Governments should get behind bikes, and not just one day a year

by Alacoque

Governments should get behind bikes, and not just one day a year

By Chris Rissel, University of Sydney

Australians are pretty enthusiastic about cycling for recreation. Cycling to work is another matter entirely. Arguably, cycle commuting is even more important than recreational riding: as well as the health benefits, cycle commuting helps with congestion and with reducing transport emissions. But it’s also a lot more controversial.

Ride2Work is significant for cycling advocates because it is the only promotional event focused on workplaces and commuting. There are many recreational rides available, and many sport related riding options, but commuter cycling is lower on the public’s hierarchy of cycling acceptability.

Most people would agree that recreational riding is fun and healthy. In sports-mad Australia, cycling for sport or going on training rides is reasonably acceptable.

But when transport cycling starts to compete for road space or shared bicycle/pedestrian paths with other commuters, there is less support. Making the transition from regular recreational rider to sometimes riding to work is for many a psychological step too far.

Stuck in traffic? Cycle commuting improves health and reduces congestion and emissions: supporting it shouldn’t be controversial. Kate Dreyer

Evaluation of Ride2Work shows that participation has been steadily increasing over the years (now over 150,000 people expected to register in 2012). Importantly, a substantial proportion of these are new to riding to work. And in 2011 38% of these new riders were still riding to work five months later.

Single day popular cycling events do work to encourage more people to cycle. This is because participation usually means preparing well ahead of time and sometimes training or building up fitness, finding enjoyment and satisfaction from participating on the day, and then continuing to do something that is inherently pleasant.

Perhaps we need a ride to work day every week, not just once a year?

Clear government leadership on this is fundamental to enhancing the image and acceptability of commuter or transport cycling. Comments by roads ministers that city cycle paths should be removed send, at best, a mixed message about the value of cyclists to the community. Where are the state funded communication campaigns encouraging more people to cycle?

At all levels of government there are policy documents that identify increasing cycling as a priority. New South Wales, for example, has a state target to “more than double the mode share of bicycle trips made in the Greater Sydney region, at a local and district level, by 2016”. Surely as part of this plan it will be important to legitimate cycling, make it seem attractive to the public, and maybe balance the inexplicably virulent attacks on cycling and cycling infrastructure by some radio commentators?

The international evidence is absolutely clear that the health benefits of a greater proportion of the public cycling regularly could lead to huge savings in the health budget, by helping reduce levels of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Encouraging people to ride to work has benefits for governments and for other commuters. AAP/Julian Smith

Ride to work day once a week might well change the culture of cycling as we know it. It would be safer, because of the well-documented “safety in numbers” phenomenon, there would be fewer cars on the road, less pollution, and more people might even be in a good mood when they get to work.

Not everyone can ride to work – think tradesmen with heavy tools, those people who live too far from their work (riding more than 10-15 kilometres is tricky for most), or people with a disability. Nonetheless there are many who might be interested and capable if we (government agencies, workplaces, colleagues, families, drivers) made it easy for them.

If we seriously want to double the mode share for bicycles, we need to do a lot more. Even though there are more people riding these days (greater absolute number of people riding) the proportion of bicycle trips to work by commuters has stayed the same for the past 20 years. Certainly there have been real increases in pockets of the inner capital cities, but this is outweighed by the vastly greater population growth on the urban edges of capital cities where there are marked declines in the proportion of workers using a bicycle to get to work.

The annual Ride2Work is a worthwhile event, but to get more people riding regularly, even just to the train or bus stop, we should start to think about monthly ride to work days. Then let’s take it up a notch, and institute regular Ride2Work Thursdays.

Chris Rissel does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Cycling the continent

by Alacoque

Michael O’Rilley has an excellent piece on the Sydney Morning Herald site today http://www.smh.com.au/executive-style/fitness/blogs/on-your-bike/cycling-the-continent-20120906-25fpg.html

by Alacoque

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The Stigma of Riding a Bike

by Alacoque

An interesting article on one of the barriers to cycling http://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/the-stigma-of-cycling/

Vows

by Tillie

Dear Coco,

I know I have been a very remiss blogger of late. I’m sorry. I’m still here! We are both busy with Life Upheaval™, which I’m sure our readers (if they are still out there – hello readers!) will hear much more of in the coming months (stay with us, dudes). In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a lovely column in the New York Times called “Vows”, of which I have become a huge fan. Vows chronicles the stories of couples who have recently married. It includes a really wide range of people and experiences, and it is very addictive. This week, I got a tad misty-eyed reading about a Firefighter/cyclist who barely survived a terrible collision with a bus on the mean streets of New York, and managing to beat many a dark moment through some gentle encouragement* from others, met his lovely wife.

*I must say I love the role encouragement plays in this story. I saw Tony Benn speak at a conference a couple of years ago, and he said that one of the most important things you can do in life is encourage people. As someone on the receiving end of much encouragement, I can vouch for its transformative power.

Love Tillie

We’re now on WordPress!

by tillieandcoco

Welcome to our new home! You can sign up for emails, and we don’t have to grapple with the blogger bugs anymore. Sweet.

Bike Tram

by tillieandcoco

Dear Tillie,

I haven’t done much riding lately as I still haven’t managed to repair my rear tyre (it’s tricky and I’m sick). I did, however, happen to come across this little gem of a photo which reminded me of Tess’ bike-on-a-bus story:

epic win photos - Hop On WIN

I think he took it a step further.

Love Coco xx

Priorities

by tillieandcoco

Dear Tillie,

I know this type of crass humour isn’t really our thing but I couldn’t help but have a giggle at this bloke’s priorities!

Party Fails - Priorities

Love Coco x

Letters to the Editor

by tillieandcoco

Dear Tillie,

Yesterday in the Sydney Morning Herald there was an article highlighting the increase in middle-aged men taking up cycling and also a corresponding increase in their injuries. The article can be found here. I wasn’t too impressed as it ignores the teething problems you always get with new infrastructure and increasing driver awareness.

Today in the Letters to the Editor there was these great responses to the article:

Cyclists can rely on safety in numbers

What good news that middle-aged men are taking up cycling (”Revealed: middle-aged men at most risk on two wheels”, April 1). Collectively we’ll save a lot more in the health budget than we’ll spend on injuries. RTA data on three major cycleway entries to the city – at the Harbour Bridge, Anzac Bridge and Anzac Parade – show growth of cycling into the city grew by 10 per cent a year from 2000 to 2008, and by 20 per cent in 2009. The City of Sydney commissioned counts early and late last year intersections that found more than 30 per cent growth in just six months.
The well-known theory of ”safety in numbers” predicts more people cycling makes it safer for all cyclists, and we’re seeing this in Sydney.
Chris Rissel Sydney School of public health, University of Sydney

The issue is whether the increase in injuries is a reflection of more cycling or inadequate road safety measures for cyclists. I suspect it is largely the latter because experience overseas shows that as the number of cyclists increases, injury rates generally decline, with the rate of decline being greatest in those nations having better conditions for cyclists. Sydney is embarking on an important and ambitious program of providing cycling infrastructure in selected areas but this must be accompanied by policies that treat cycling as a legitimate form of transport, including lowering urban speed limits, education for both drivers and cyclists, and imposing stricter levels of liability for drivers involved in bike collisions. We have done a lot to improve car occupant safety, but the trends shown your report suggests there may be a ”cycling blind spot” in road safety in NSW.
Stephen Greaves Associate Professor in transport management, University of Sydney
I also loved this article yesterday which was really an April Fools joke but I found it made helmets look just as ridiculous too. 

Love Coco xx

Bondi Beach Cruisers

by tillieandcoco

Dear Tillie,

So I know I shouldn’t post videos that are totally ads but this does kinda sum up the feeling of cruising around Sydney in summer (except I’m stuck with a helmet rather than the breeze flowing through my hair). Considering we’re now heading into autumn (I totally wore stockings today!) it’s nice to hold onto that summer feeling for a just a little longer, even if it is vicariously.

Love Coco xx