Nothing like a Kombi to make you smile

smiling_kombi

And here is Episode 13 of the Briztreadley podcast for 2016.

  • To cover the World Cup mountain biking in Cairns, we cross to our woman in the rock garden at Smithfield, Cathy Peel
  • As the Eagles almost sang, “There’s a new trail in town, everyone’s talking ’bout it”. Hayden Lester chats with Jamie Borg chat about Kombi, over at Ironbark Gully.
  • And we have a look forward at the Giro d’ Italia and start to get in to the groove for Bike Week.

Hosted by Andrew Demack.

Bike Week 2015, featuring the Q&A event, Is Cycling Important?

This episode of the Briztreadley podcast includes your hosts Andrew Demack, Chris Welsh and Jordana Blackman doing a quick review of Bicycle Queensland’s festival of cycling, Bike Week 2015.

And the event during Bike Week that this podcast focuses on is the Q&A session “Is Cycling Important”. The new Main Roads Minister, the Hon Mark Bailey MP, and Brisbane City Council’s chair of Active Transport, Cr Peter Matic, are the two key speakers. Greg Vann, board member of Bicycle Queensland, is the facilitator. And the audience throws in some pretty good questions!

A tour of Brookfield, a Welsh local legend, and a Dutch gentleman

Louise Jones ... a Welsh legend on the track and road, now living and coaching in Brisbane.

Louise Jones … a Welsh legend on the track and road, now living and coaching in Brisbane.

Plenty of variety in the Briztreadley podcast this week, with Chris Welsh (from Wales) and Andrew Demack (from Brisbane).

We speak to a local legend, Louise Jones (above).

We discover the link between the cobbled classics of Belgium and France, and the backroads of Brisbane, thanks to Ashley Everton and the Kangaroo Point Cycling Club.

And we chat to Martijn te Lintelo from Nijmegen, about what it is that Brisbane’s (and Australia’s) urban and transport planners can learn from The Netherlands.

Bike events mentioned this week

Send your feedback to [email protected]!

 

 

 

Facing the Peaks Challenge, and giving kids the chance to ride to school

Craig Jones finishes the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek ... with 7 minutes to spare!

Craig Jones finishes the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek … with 7 minutes to spare!

So here’s Episode 10 of the Briztreadley podcast in 2015.

This week:

  • Some hyperlocal news about a sewer upgrade on the River Loop at St Lucia
  • We chat to three riders who have just come back from the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek: David Hodgson, Craig Jones and Morgana Jones. What an amazing effort!!
  • And for National Ride2School day we make a visit to Junction Park State School to meet folks who are enthusiastic about active school travel.

Thanks so much to people who have rated and reviewed the show on iTunes! If I knew who were you were I would send you flowers. If you want to be in my good books, now you know the way.

No more CarLand, let’s move to Velotopia!

Episode 6 of the Briztreadley podcast has interviews and our musing on just the one topic: Where or what is “Velotopia”?

Groningen in the Netherlands ... as close to Velotopia as we can find at the moment!

Groningen in the Netherlands … as close to Velotopia as we can find at the moment! Pic from Streetfilms.

Dr Steven Fleming has written about his idea of Velotopia on his blog, Behooving Moving. Dr Fleming and his collaborator Prof Angelina Russo held a workshop at the Queensland Museum in early February. Briztreadley’s Andrew Demack was there in his capacity as the Development Officer for Bicycle Queensland.

As more information becomes available from this workshop, I will post it here on the Briztreadley blog.

Let's workshop this idea.

Let’s workshop this idea.

Plus there’s a little bit of follow-up news from the Oceania road-racing championships as well.

Planners just have to outsmart the market. And voters.

Pic from Flickr by Simon West (https://www.flickr.com/photos/krypto/)

Pic from Flickr by Andrew West.

After 10 years (approx) in bicycle advocacy, I am convinced of just a few things …

1. People who say “it can’t happen here because [insert short-sighted reason]” are often well-meaning, but wrong. Brisbane can become a great place to ride a bike, if we (by which I mean citizens influencing the State Government and City Council) make decisions over the next few years which prioritise walking and cycling over other modes of transport.

2. That reliance on “the market” and private developers and infrastructure built by PPPs (public-private partnerships) leads to a business-as-usual outcome, which repeats the car-biased transport and land-use planning mistakes of the past 50 years.

3. That “density done right” is a massive factor towards building a better city to ride and walk around. Land use planning and transport planning are so intertwined that we must never again do one without the other.

My friend Greg Vann makes the point (which I absolutely agree with) that everyone is seeking amenity, and that the concept of what urban amenity is, is changing. And that’s a good thing.

Greg says that good planning leads to a better city to live in, and I think nobody disputes that. But it requires long-term thinking by political leaders, and making decisions which lead to changes in our urban landscape. And change can be tricky.

The best thing a city can do is elect a planner as Mayor. Which happened in Adelaide (Stephen Yarwood), and they were starting to get some great changes that will lead to Adelaide being a better place to walk and ride, and therefore a better place to live. Awesome!

So the voters, who don’t like change, have voted Mr Yarwood out. How depressing.

The solution? Well as far as I can see, it is to have as many people as possible who are interested in building walkable and rideable cities keep on being engaged in public debate and discussion. And maybe planners encouraging other planners to stand for office.

It can totally happen here. Let’s make it happen here.

Bike-riding is personal

Really enjoyed the episode of Squeaky Wheel that we recorded this afternoon.

Jordana Blackman makes a great point about the vital importance of person-to-person relationships for people getting into bike-riding. Have a listen!

Great contributions from Emma, and from Alix Everton as well.

It’s good to work with good people.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not cheating if it replaces a car?

The eZee Sprint, with Briztreadley-branded accessory, parked outside my bike shed.

The eZee Sprint, with Briztreadley-branded accessory, parked outside my bike shed.

The very first question that almost every bike rider asks when they first encounter the electric bike is: “Why?”

There are so many great things that we love about riding a bicycle that seem like they would be diminished or would disappear completely in the case of electric bikes.

A bicycle is very simple. You get on your bike, you ride, your legs power you, up hill and down dale, and you arrive at your destination through your own effort, your own sweat.

An e-bike, or a pedalec, or a power-assisted bike just seems like it’s probably a form of cheating. The simplicity thing gets a bit lost too, when you have to remember to re-charge your bicycle in between uses.

Well, after sharing a pedal-assisted bike for a month with the other members of the BQ staff, I’ve come to the conclusion that e-bikes are excellent, and I would love to own one. I’m not quite ready to plonk down my own $2500, but given the slightest encouragement by other members of my family, I certainly would.

The first time you sit on the saddle of an e-bike and take it for a spin, it is kind of disconcerting. It’s like an invisible hand is pushing you in the back. Your pedalling isn’t what is causing you to accelerate easily up to 30km. But there’s barely any sound of a motor either. And because you control the power assistance by the act of pedalling, it’s nothing like riding a motor scooter or motorbike.

The eZee Sprint that I used had five power-assist settings. I most commonly used it on ‘4’, the second-most powerful. Sometimes I would drop back to ‘3’, if it looked like the battery was being used up too fast. With the power-assist on level 4, my 11km commute from Salisbury to West End was nearly effortless, and almost as fast as driving my car.

The disconcerting thing about an e-bike is that when you get to a hill, you actually pedal softer, rather than harder. That way you let the electric motor do all the hard work. You keep soft-pedalling, and the bike charges up the hill. It’s weird, but also exhilarating.

The travel times for my commute are (going the fastest way, I often commute by bicycle using many alternate slower routes, for various reasons):

Mode Time
Driving (no congestion, say at 5am) 15 minutes
Driving (peak hour) 20-30 minutes
Riding a bicycle 30-35 minutes
Riding the eZee power-assisted bicycle 25 minutes

The commute example starts to give an inkling of what I liked about the pedal-assist bike. For existing bike riders, I don’t think that e-bikes are competing with your bicycle. You already understand the physical benefits of riding a bike and there’s no way you would give that up.

But if you don’t already ride? Well you probably aren’t reading this.

But if you have a partner or a friend who doesn’t ride because of hills, or because of lack of energy or fitness, or because they don’t want to end up all sweaty … the e-bike addresses all those concerns. Arrive at your destination faster than by bicycle, only slightly slower than a car for trips around 10 km.

For the existing bike rider, an e-bike extends the number of trips you can take without resorting to the car. So you rode to work and home again, but now you have to go out to pick up some groceries or visit friends or go to a community meeting in the evening? The e-bike is perfect to replace the car for those short utility trips. Most e-bikes on the Australian market have plenty of load-carrying capacity. The eZee Sprint I tried had a capacious front basket, and a rear rack which would also take panniers. The average office worker, even one who took a laptop to and from work every day, would have no problem carrying everything they need. Likewise, a shopping trip for a couple of days groceries would be easy to manage with the eZee.

My household has three drivers and three cars. It would only take the occasional co-ordination between the three of us to cut down the number of cars by one and replace it with an e-bike.

The process for charging the e-bike is simple, as long as you remember to do it. The charger plugs into the battery, nothing needs to be taken off the bike for charging. For a round trip commute of 20km, you could easily get away with charging every second night. But maybe charging every night would establish a routine which ensures the bike is always ready to go.

The eZee Sprint was loaned to Bicycle Queensland by Electric Bikes Brisbane.

http://www.electricbikesbrisbane.com/collections/electric-bikes/products/ezee-sprint

Bikes and Berlin: goes together like currywurst and chips and samurai sauce

(This is Part 2 of what might in time become a four-part series. Part 1 is here.)

When I left you at the end of Part 1, Annette and I had enjoyed — with excellent help from Christian Cummins — our stay in Vienna. We swanned around on Vienna’s gaudily-decorated City Bikes, advertising mineral water or banks or something.

Our next stop on the Euro tour was Prague. We did see a few bike riders in Prague, but not in the centre city. I would have said ‘not in the old town’, but of course as Prague aficionados will immediately realise, the centre of Prague is not one “old town”, but four. But even so, none of those four towns is bike-friendly. Tram and by foot is the way to see Prague, so that’s what we did.

We arrived in Berlin late on a Saturday afternoon, navigating our way with some difficulty from the ICE (Inter-City Express) to the S-bahn to the U-bahn to get to Eberswalde Strasse station. Our flat was a short walk from there.

So our first day in Berlin was a Sunday. And I was pretty keen to get riding. Our hosts had pointed out some places we might visit … the flea markets at Mauerpark (literally ‘Wall Park, because it is a memorial to the Berlin Wall), and Arkonaplatz. And also, Zionskirche, which I’m sure you are aware was Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s first parish appointment in Berlin.

So while Annette headed off on foot to Mauerpark in the late morning, I went to find a bicycle, at Lila Bikes. Only to find that they did not open until 2pm on a Sunday.

So I put the bike-riding on hold. We walked around Prenzlauer Berg, and also went via public transport modes for our first touristy day in Berlin as well. All while I schemed up a plan for getting on the bikes.

So it was our third day in Berlin that we really got rolling. I think we paid about 8 Euros each for very sturdy bikes from Lila Bikes, a store populated by one slightly gruff owner and several friendly dogs.

From Prenzlauer Berg, the main city centre is slightly downhill, along Kastianallee, the same route as the tram we had taken the previous day, on our visits to Museum Island. That is to say, straight through Hakescher Markt onto Museum Island, and through there to Under Den Linden.

So of course we rode around the various places we wanted to visit, and locked up the bikes while museuming or art-gallerying or morning-coffeeing. And then came back and rode some more.

In the first, long-since-past episode of this adventure, I talked a little about what I am calling ‘German-style bikepaths’. Berlin had the best network of these, although Berlin actually cranks it up a notch above both Munich and Vienna, by providing a lot more specialised high-standard separated paths. We used these on our cruise through the massive and wonderful Tiergarten, and also later on our way back from Kurfurstendamme, along beside the Spree.

We got as far away from Prenzlauer Berg as Kurfurstendamme, a famous shopping boulevard on the western side of the Tiergarten, and it was late afternoon before we started to head back, about 8-10km.

By this stage we were both pretty comfortable on our bikes, and happy using the well-connected bikeway network. So I just planned a route back that seemed the most direct, confident that there would be good bike infrastructure all the way, anywhere in Berlin.

To be fair, this is analogous to just looking at a map of Brisbane and saying, ‘I am at Chermside and I want to go to Spring Hill, Gympie Road looks like it will be the quickest way’.

So we lucked onto some lovely bikeway along the Spree, but then later on I navigated us onto Invalidenstrasse, through Moabit on the way back to Prenzlauer Berg. And there just happened to be lots of roadworks on Invalidenstrasse.

Where there were no roadworks, the bike facility was absolutely fine. But in the chaos of the roadworks, there were occasions where the bikepath was only a narrow footpath, which admitted only one person or bike in either direction.

We made it home eventually, but not before I had put us out into the traffic coming along Veteranenstrasse, on the hill leading up to Zionskirche (and therefore not far from ‘home’). Annette wasn’t happy with that, and fair enough. But eventually, with some stumbling around, we finally made it onto Schonauser Allee, up the last little section to our flat.

All in all we had probably covered about 25-30km on the bikes that day, on paths and roads. All in our normal cool weather clothes. Berlin is pretty flat, and the traffic goes pretty slow, and on almost every occasion there is bicycle infrastructure to ensure your separation from the motorised traffic.

Compared with riding around Brisbane, Berlin is far better set up for transport cycling, everyday cycling. Combined with a superb system of U-bahn and S-bahn trains, it would be very doable to live without a car in Berlin. And I’m sure many people do.

In Berlin, much more than Vienna, I noted that just about every demographic gets around on bike. Older people, younger people, mums and kids, just whoever wants to use their own power to get around. Bicycle riding there is convenient and safe, so why would you not do it?

currwurst-and-chips-at-curry-mitte-berlinsml

PS … Currywurst and chips looks like this. Comes standard with tomato ketchup, but samurai sauce, which is sort of like equal parts chilli sauce and mayonnaise, really takes it to a whole new place. Superb, magnificent even, when the temperature drops below 5 degrees C. Otherwise, pretty ordinary. Weird, huh.

 

Nobody does it bester

I interrupt the inexorable schedule of posts about riding in Europe (believe it or not there are two drafts of the Berlin post in my WordPress back-end system here, but neither are anywhere near finished) with some wonderful news.

Bike Bestie had a launch party last night. (Website design by Michael McMahon, photos by Nick O’Donnell and others, words by Emma with some contributions from me).

Some of the bikes Emma has worked on, which were the 'stars' of the launch party.

Some of the bikes Emma has worked on, were the ‘stars’ of the launch party. Here they are hanging out in the green room before the event (i.e. the garage at Emma’s place).

Which must mean that it is now in orbit.

Here is the video (shot and edited by the super-talented Thomas Day), which gives the vibe of what Bike Bestie is all about.

Couple of things that I like a lot about this video. The first is the subtle and gradual way that Thomas introduces Emma … just as a voiceover to start with, and with the workshop space and tools as the early ‘stars’, but then gradually we see her working on the bike.

And the second one is how the bike goes from basically just a frame to very nearly a completed bike which is ready to ride, in just a couple of minutes! Wow, that woman must know how to build a bike!

*****

Emma has worked so hard to get to this point, and deserves immense congratulations. But mostly, it was just so much fun to be at the launch, with lots of Emma’s friends and family, to celebrate both her efforts in setting up Bike Bestie, and the support and collaborations involved in getting this far. A really great night, and thanks to all those who shared it!

So, do you have a bike in need of a tweak or a service? Or is there a custom bike build that is percolating in the back of your mind, but you’re not sure how to make it happen? Or are you a woman who wants to get out on your bike more often, but find your lack of skills (riding or mechanical) are holding you back?

I think you know who to contact!

bikebestie