Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Bicycle Touring Packing Lessons (For NZ at least)

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015
Carrying everything you need and nothing you don't. The ultimate goal.

Carrying everything you need and nothing you don’t. The ultimate goal.

I recently returned from 43 days away with my bicycle, riding some of the Great Rides throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
I had never bicycle toured before, so it was a bit of a learning curve for me. There was very little I packed that I didn’t use. So I’ll start with those, then I’ll list what I think are must haves.

Didn’t use at all:
Almost all my spare parts for my bicycle: only used one spoke. However, if I had of needed cable, brake pads, patch kit, tube etc I would have been in a hard place without them – so totally worth packing and schlepping around. I used all my tools at some stage – though not always for what I packed them for!!
4 batteries for the GoPro: I rarely emptied a single battery, let alone all 4. The only time I had to use my second without being able to recharge my first was during my dive trip when the public power only worked while the compressor was on.
3 batteries for my camera: I never had one empty battery.
14 SD memory cards for my GoPro: I used a 32Gb and ¾ of a 64Gb plus about 20mins on another two 64Gb sticks. I have a LOT of empty, brand new SD cards. I initially decided to break my cards into locations/activities so if something happened I wouldn’t lose all my data. I gave up on that about 2 weeks in.
Lighter: Didn’t need it, but if the spark on the camp stove had died I would have been screwed.

If I was returning to a location, I would leave all unnecessary items behind and pick them back up on the way through.

If I was returning to a location, I would leave all unnecessary items behind and pick them back up on the way through.

Couldn’t have done without:
Hong Kong Shopper Bag: Yes. One of those cheap and nasty red, white and blue striped bags. I would pop my panniers in it for flights, bus trips, train trips etc. It also folded/rolled down to almost nothing. In NZ you are allowed one bag on buses/trains. Put the panniers in one of these and boom – one bag and no extra costs (except for the bike). I did get quizzed a lot while lining up to check in on my flight, but can’t recommend one enough. It also worked as a “blanket” on which to sit and eat without getting a wet/dirty bum for the many picnic meals and snacks.
Enviro Green Shopping Bags: I broke my gear down into these (different sizes and colours), then packed them within my panniers. This meant I could quickly pack and unpack or find things. Bath gear – grab and go. Cooking/Kitchen gear – grab and go. Tools and Spare Parts – grab and go. Packing was SOOO simple with this. Roll and pack. Done. It also meant I didn’t have to bring panniers into my tent (often very dusty). I didn’t even always take them off my bike.
A hat: I packed the hat I was riding in at home, but unfortunately lost it about 2 weeks in. I replaced it ASAP but having a hat was imperative. While it was unseasonably cold, it was also ridiculously sunny pretty much everywhere we went. As soon as the helmet came off, the hat went on. It meant my face was never burnt in 40+ days of sunshine.
Reimanns 10 hour sun block: Put it on in the morning – done. So easy. My travelling partner had to reapply every 2-4 hours and was always digging her sunscreen out of her packs. She also used almost two full bottles. I used 2/3 of one bottle. While it is a tad expensive, it’s totally worth it. Given that the sun was up till 9.30pm, having a long lasting sunblock was great.
Lifeproof cases on my iPhone 6 and iPad Air: The iPhone was dropped multiple times and brought out in rain. My iPad got knocked around a lot – bashed by cooking gear, dropped on gravel and tea spilt on it. No issues.
VivoBareFoot Ultra Shoes: These weigh almost nothing (lighter than thongs) yet cover the whole foot like a sneaker (with big holes in the top/sides) and are fantastic for camping (night time bathroom tracks, showers), perfect for stream fording, stream bathing and such a break for the feet after a day in the shoes I packed for cycling/walking. I used the neoprene inserts when I rode in the rain so while my feet did get wet, I still had dry socks and shoes in my panniers.
Camp stove: I took one large and one small pot with me and a frying pan (all part of one set). I am pleased I carried all three with me – as often I boiled water from streams or had access to tap water not safe for drinking – as such, I didn’t have to decant hot water to use a pot. It was also fantastic for a quick cup of tea along the trail. Many of the holiday parks I stayed in didn’t provide any cooking equipment – so the pots and pan got used even when the stove did not.
Measuring cup/coffee cup: While the cup itself wasn’t really big enough for a satisfying cup of tea, having the measurements inside was a godsend. I often packed processed carbs to go alongside the veges I would cook – so having the right measurements of milk/water for pasta packs, mashed potatoes and being able to make perfect couscous was brilliant.
Mophie Powerstation XL: This was my first thing I put to charge wherever I was. I would also ask cafes/restaurants if I could charge. This could fully charge my iphone 6 4 times, and my ipad 2.5 times. I also had my 2 year old little charge stick that was super convenient to charge and for use on a bus/train etc to just keep the charge up while watching youtube/killing time.
Power board: Many places I went only had one or two power points. People would be waiting to plug in and charge – then I would turn up with my power board. Many happy people! It also meant I could charge everything at once vs having to swap and change.
Solar panels: Fantastic for charging my mini charge stick. This meant I always had power. Only once in poor weather did my phone almost die as my Mophie was sucked dry and I couldn’t get enough sunlight to recharge the stick. On the back of my bike, next to my tent, on a picnic table – anywhere and everywhere – awesome. I would recommend buying a decent quality one, as the one I had was a tad heavy (it was a loaner and less weight would have rocked).
MSR HubbaHubba: I did some research and just about everywhere on the web said this was THE tent. I can confirm, it is THE tent. I went with the two person version and very pleased I didn’t get the single. It meant I could dry things overnight in the tent with me, no claustrophobia, easy clothing changes etc. This tent is SO easy to put up and pull down. Tent would be up and I’d be gone while other people were still trying to set up their tents. It also dealt with 43km hour winds and insane gusts that sounded like freight trains coming through the trees. It dries super fast so long as there is a breath of breeze and a little bit of light. It’s also incredibly light. I didn’t use the MSR ground sheet designed for this tent. I’m pleased I didn’t, as it meant I had a small landing off the grass for panniers or my knees. The only thing to beat my tent was my bike, which got blown over by the wind and broke one of my poles – but the tent came with a repair piece and my tent wasn’t out of action at all.
Emergency Blankets: I was given two by the guy who sold me my tent as a “just in case.” Thank god. I only used one, but I used it a lot at the start of my tour. The weather was unseasonably cold, 8C less than average. This meant I camped in weather down to -4C. I put the emergency blanket between my inflatable mattress and the inside of my tent to reflect my heat back at me and keep the cold of the ground well away from me. This meant I didn’t ache in the mornings. I still had some cold nights where I wore almost everything I owned (including wet weather gear) but I wasn’t chilled to the bone or unable to sleep due to the cold (except for my first night as I hadn’t packed a thermal inner – I bought one the next day).
Thermal Inner: I bought one that added 8C to my sleeping bag. In the cold weather it was brilliant, keeping me warm(ish) and then as it became warmer, it replaced my sleeping bag. I also had a silk inner which I used often.
Garmin Edge Tour: At one place of our adventures, the trail was closed due to major infrastructure works. We went the alternative route recommended, again to be thwarted by infra works. My Garmin found an alternative route got us to where we needed to go (through parks and eventually multiple back streets and pretty flat – as I set it to avoid hills as much as possible). I had no phone reception so couldn’t pull up google maps to help.
Bath Foofy Thing: Those ball like body wash/exfoliators. The trails were dusty – very, very dusty. To be able to scrub off the ingrained dirt was bliss after a day on the bike. I was so dusty at the end of the day I always looked so much more tanned than I was.
Baby Wipes: A quick wipe down of the bike for a bus trip or to bring it inside where I was staying. Having a dirty bike and expecting someone to handle it or allow it inside is just disrespectful. Also great for cleaning bird poo off the tent. I also used them a lot for an end of day wipe down when a shower/stream wasn’t available. This meant that most of my sleeping gear was pretty clean as I wasn’t grubby when I went to bed.

Just me and my bike. Perfect day.

Just me and my bike. Perfect day.

Things I wish I packed but didn’t:
Vegemite tube: I caved and bought a tiny jar but a tube would have been lighter.
Valve adapter: Using my teeny pump was a pain.
Insect Repellent.
Anti-itch cream.
Thermal Inner: See above.

I would give my packing #fourwellpackedpandas

howmanypandas.com 4

When an apple isn’t an apple – Brisbane City Council’s dirty little Bicycle Infrastructure Secret.

Friday, April 11th, 2014

There is so much mis-information about bicycle riding out there. Whether it’s TMR’s questionable use of language, local radio stations asking people if they are going to obey a new law, or “journalists” writing clickbait – it’s out there… buckets and buckets of it. We bicycle riders have a mantra we try and stick to – “Don’t read the comments.” Why? I find it scary what some people think. It’s all about perception, really.

Some of our infrastructure (main North-South route on the Southside) goes through storm drains - safe? Hell no

Some of our infrastructure (main North-South route on the Southside) goes through storm drains – safe? Hell no

Some motorists perceive bicycle riders to be law breakers or pushers of an elitist agenda. Some bicycle riders perceive motorists as being selfish and unaware of the impact their driving has on others and the health of a city.

What doesn’t help is the perception, helped along by the Brisbane City Council’s frequent pronouncements, that there is a network of 1,100km of bikeways in Brisbane.

Language is so important. Calling Brisbane’s mishmash of infrastructure a “bikeway network” is a perfect example of misrepresenting the truth that does a lot more harm than good.

How many times have you seen a motorist interviewed say something like “why don’t they ride in the bike lane?” or “we spent all that money on bikeways for the cyclists, so why do they ride on the road?” And you know what? When you know that there are around 6,000km of roads and 1,100km of bikeways, it’s a damned valid question.

The only problem is, is that this data is wrong (or at least counted very creatively).

A road is that bit of bitumen going outside my house, down the shops, past the school and to my office – and there’s 6,000km of it.

A bikeway, according to how the Brisbane City Council counts it, is some sort of bicycle related infrastructure (more on that later) that goes outside my house, down to the shops, past the school and to my office AND BACK AGAIN! That’s right. The Council counts BOTH SIDES of the road.

One of the 186kms of unridable bike lanes. This one is in New Farm.

One of the 186kms of unridable bike lanes. This one is in New Farm.

So there’s 550km of bikeway then, right?

Yeah, well, no.

No? I hear you ask.

No.

You see some infrastructure on the road is counted more than both directions.

Take Victoria Bridge into the CBD from South Bank for example. For motorists, it is counted once. For bicycle riders, it’s counted three times. Yes, three times. There are two bike lanes that are narrower than TMR guidelines (inbound and outbound) plus there is a shared path on the upstream side of the bridge. Three times.

So when someone says “why aren’t they riding on all that infrastructure we built for them?” the answer is, “It isn’t there.” As to what is there – well that’s a whole other problem.

The majority of people who ride these days are sports cyclists. Not all, but most. These fit, brave and oft times lycra wearing bicycle riders aren’t the ones that are being targeted to start riding. Older people, women, mothers – all are being strongly targeted to ride. Money is being spent on programs and communications to encourage them to do so. However all the research here and abroad says unless you feel safe, you won’t be a utility rider (ie just riding for short trips, taking the kids to school, nipping down to the shops, slowly riding into work etc). Saying that we have 1,100km of “dedicated” bike paths (on and off road) sounds like there’s safe infrastructure out there…. but the low numbers of women riding says that this is not so.

Aberleigh Road BAZ. You can just make our the yellow bicycle through all the repairs.

Aberleigh Road BAZ. You can just make our the yellow bicycle through all the repairs.

The Council’s own data shows that less than half of these 1,100km (419km) is off road (including informal paths). That means that most is on the road, and of that, 50% are BAZ.

What’s a BAZ? It’s a Bicycle Awareness Zone. Essentially it’s just a normal road with some orange bicycle stencils on it. That’s not infrastructure – that’s crossing your fingers.

30% are bicycle lanes (186km). Don’t get excited. There’s a reason why bicycle riders don’t ride in bicycle lanes too (and we don’t legally have to). Most are in the “door zone.” Just like a motorist would drive out from a parked car incase a door is opened, so must bicycle riders. “The width of the door and a little bit more” and that means, riding on the edge of the main lane versus in the “safety” of the bicycle lane. Further more, it’s often safer for the rider to “claim the lane” vs trying to ride on the edge of the lane.

I do believe that the Council wants to do the right thing. It makes huge financial sense to have more people (of all ages) on bicycles, where and when they can.

As it stands now though, what the Council touts as infrastructure, in almost all cases, really can’t be classed as such, when compared to the rest of the world.

We have those “dedicated bikeways” in heavy and fast moving traffic offering no protection and aggravation to motorists, we have paths that are impassable after heavy rain as much of the off road paths are on flood plains and some even traverse storm drains, paths that are so dark at night that people are afraid to ride on them, and we have planners and councillors that are car focused, even removing funded bikeways.

A strip of paint, does not safe infrastructure make. This is LaTrobe St in Paddington

A strip of paint, does not safe infrastructure make. This is LaTrobe St in Paddington

The Council needs to step up, show some political will, some foresight and make Brisbane the “New World City” it is selling itself to be. Until then, Brisbane’s “1,100km network of bikeways” receives One Panda. onepanda

Source material can be found via the CBDBUG’s site here.

DISCLOSURE: The author of HowManyPandas is a member of the CBDBUG Leadership team and is also the author of the tumblr blog surlesfleurs mentioned in the open letter to the Lord Mayor and images used here.

Queensland’s Inquiry Into Cycling – My Thoughts

Friday, December 13th, 2013
Myself, Lord Mayor of Brisbane Graham Quirk and Co-Convenor of CBDBUG Donald Campbell at the BCC's Bike Skills Lauch

Myself, Lord Mayor of Brisbane Graham Quirk and Co-Convenor of CBDBUG Donald Campbell at the BCC’s Bike Skills Launch. Skills are great, but doesn’t make up for poor infrastructure

Two weeks ago, the Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee Inquiry into Cycling Issues delivered their report, listing 68 recommendations.

 

I had some initial strong thoughts of support and opposition for various recommendations listed but really wanted to think the recommendations through and their implications for Queensland.

 

Contrary to how it was covered in the main stream media, it wasn’t just all about making the world kittens and chocolate for cyclists. People who ride bikes aren’t all “cyclists.” To most, a “cyclist” is someone who rides a road bike, travels at around 35km/h and sticks to the roads or occasionally the bike paths and generally makes a motorist’s life a PITA. Most of the people I know who ride, aren’t cyclists per se. They ride bikes. Sometimes they ride really fast on the road on ludicrously light and expensive machines, other times they fly down a rough path, jumping ditches and dodging trees, and at other times again, they trundle about more sedately, using their bicycle as a utilitarian form of transport. I know very few dedicated sports cyclists, what most would call “avid cyclists,” yet I know and ride with lots of people on bikes.

 

Rebecca who rides a bike but as you can see, isn't a "cyclist." This was taken at Style Over Speed.

Rebecca who rides a bike but as you can see, isn’t a “cyclist.” This was taken at Style Over Speed.

The media tended to focus on the “cyclists.” They obtained quotes from “cyclists.” They spoke to “cyclist” representative bodies, especially those ones that say they represent everyone but really just focus on sports cycling. What they didn’t do much of, was talk to people who ride bikes. And the thing is, the Inquiry’s findings mainly impact those who aren’t “cyclists,” and people who want to ride.

 

The larger picture in Queensland is one of sedentary behaviour. Of people driving their cars because car culture has reigned supreme here for decades – and still does. Did you know that 70% of all trips in Brisbane by car are <10km? 10km isn’t very far on a bike – and is immensely doable, even for those who aren’t “cyclists.” So the Committee did their best to address this increase in sedentary behaviour, the escalating health expenses (not to mention the huge expense of subsiding motor vehicle transport and the gaps of Brisbane’s barely coping public transport network) by making recommendations that would, on the bulk increase the numbers of people riding bikes.

 

There are many reasons people cite when asked why they don’t ride. The big one is not feeling safe, followed by lack of infrastructure, which unsurprisingly impacts how safe you feel when you ride. The vast majority of recommendations directly impact these two. The minimum one metre safe passing distance is a great start, but real infrastructure is sorely needed, and the Inquiry recognised this, even calling out substandard attempts at infrastructure.

 

Some of our infrastructure (main North-South route on the Southside) goes through storm drains - safe? Hell no

Some of our infrastructure (main North-South route on the Southside) goes through storm drains – safe? Hell no

They correctly (in my opinion) pushed for more infrastructure, everywhere! That every road (I don’t mean motorway) should be seen as a bicycling option, and that parking in a bike lane is farcical. That infrastructure should be included in developments and train stations should cater for the casual commuter. To many around the world this would sound like common sense – but this is a HUGE leap here.

 

There was much made of the relaxation of mandatory helmet laws. People who have followed me on Twitter for many years, especially after the launch of CityCycle, would know that I used to think that a helmet made you safe.

 

What makes you safe is infrastructure, enforced road rules that protect vulnerable road users, and everyone working together to make sure we all get home safely.

 

Yep - I do wear a helmet, just not all the time.

Yep – I do wear a helmet, just not all the time.

After my “smoosh and drag” last year, where my helmet was knocked off during the impact (someone went and found it back down the road and brought it to the Fire and Rescue Team), I realized that just because I should be safe, didn’t mean I was. It was a harsh reality check that questioned my values in almost everything – including mandatory helmet laws. As I slowly recovered, I stayed focused on returning to riding (on a new bike as my old one was totally destroyed while saving me from a more frightening outcome) and given my total lack of confidence in my fellow man, I refused to ride on the road. As I learnt the way to and from almost everywhere without putting rubber to bitumen other than crossing the road at pedestrian crossings, I realised just what safety theatre the helmet had become. As such, I am totally in favour of the relaxation of MHL as recommended by the Inquiry – it doesn’t mean you can’t wear one, it just means that if you’re tootling along a pavement or in a park, you won’t be fined. It comes down to perceived and actual risk.

 

I suppose my biggest disappointment with the Inquiry’s recommendations, was their avoidance of the “20 is Plenty” idea. Essentially, this limits residential and city streets to 20mph or 30km/h. This would have instantly reduced the likelihood of accidents, the severity of any accidents that occurred (the correlation between injury severity/death and speed limit is well documented), as well as making so many streets truly “bike friendly” without painting a yellow bike on them and a token share the road sign, followed by crossing fingers.

 

The legislative requirement of infrastructure funding tied into the target bicycle riding participation percentage was another big one that I think the Committee overlooked. However they did link in the amount spent on safety communication to be tied with the percentage of the population that rides (18%). The “buy” for such an amount would be huge! This can’t be a bad thing, even if it isn’t exactly what I wanted.

 

I must admit to being perplexed by the lighting requirements. All it is really doing is adding another barrier to entry and perpetuating the idea that riding a bicycle is dangerous (it’s not supposed to be). Also, the “colour” of bicycle lights are different to those of motor vehicles, and don’t work as well during the day – so I’m not sure how they would be visible at such a distance during the day.

 

The equalising of fines didn’t really bother me too much, until I thought about how that would work with children – as their parents/guardians would be held accountable for any fines. If a small child rides and inadvertently breaks a road rule, they are fined at the same rate as a motorist and the parents have to pay? I don’t have a problem with this is we are talking 16 year olds, but young kids playing on a local street? Oh, and if you think they shouldn’t be playing on a street to begin with, then you are the target of the cultural shift mentioned in the report.

 

Riding should fun, safe and awesome!

Riding should fun, safe and awesome!

Overall, I am very much in favour of nearly all of the findings made by the report. It isn’t surprising, given that most of my 34 recommendations to the Inquiry got up in their entirety or in a similar format.

 

Now the biggest question is which of the recommendations made by the Inquiry are going to become law. Already the Transport Minister has stated that some points, like the one metre minimum passing distance will go ahead. However, to truly make a difference to how Queensland moves, he needs to not just cherry pick the easy ones. Scott Emerson needs to  show true political will and foresight, and implement recommendations that may initially be seen as unpopular (eg parking in bike lanes which is illegal in both NSW and VIC) but will be regarded as creating a safer, healthier and altogether better Queensland. This is his chance to be the one who draws the line in the sand. To be the one who is remembered for what he did, not what he failed to do.

FIVEPANDAS

 

 

#fiveoutoffivecyclingpandas(even if I don’t agree with everything it is to be applauded

PS. If you want to see the best and worst that Brisbane has to offer riders, check out my photoblog.

The Power of Flowers

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

As some of you may be aware, I was in a car vs cyclist incident last year.

I am now back riding (kind of), though with a slight difference, and I don’t mean the fact I can’t ride more than 5km at a time or handle hills yet. I am talking about putting flowers on my bike. And not just anywhere on my bike, on a wicker basket no less.

Once the flowers went on, the strangest thing happened. I went from being a seen as a “cyclist must get ahead of/push in front of/not give way to” to “awww how cute, a cyclist, I better slow right down/give way/leave a good metre/wave across a crossing.”

All hail the powers of the flowers.Tweede 1

Now I am riding the exact same bike as was destroyed in last year’s incident. I am wearing pretty much the same clothes as I rode in as well – the only thing that is not constant are the accoutrements on my bike. For the record, I should state that my bike is a “granny style” or Dutch sit up bike, so no one could ever confuse me for a Lycra Legend on the great white beast that she is. I had panniers on my last bike too, but not matching. My new ones are matching, but surely having matching panniers isn’t what grants me so much courtesy while riding. It has to be the basket with flowers.
I used to get more than my fair share of complements on my bike that was called “Lady.” Like her Game of Thrones namesake however, she didn’t end so well. With Tweede, my new bike, I get complements all the time. People take photos of my bike while it’s parked at cafes or in parks. It is definitely noticeable, and I think that is what is the difference.
Flowers and a basket says “oh I am just out for a ride, I don’t take this whole cycling thing seriously,” and that seems to resonate with motorists. Now of course, I have no hard stats to back this up, it is all anecdotal. I am also not riding my old route to and from work – that is still far beyond my capabilities, but even just cruising around the inner city, it feels different.
Tweede 3I was never a risk taking rider. In fact I was boringly law abiding when I compare my riding style to other riders I saw and still see. Red lights equalled stop. Stop signs equalled stop. I always wore a helmet. I didn’t weave in and out of traffic. Heck, I even did hook turns so not to slow down turning traffic. Yet all this still saw cars not give way, cut me off, yell abuse etc.
Add flowers, and I’ve only had one cut off in almost 2 months of riding. Granted I am mainly on bike paths, but in bike lanes (approximately 30% of my riding) you can still frequently be cut off. Now though… not so much. I’ve been overtaken once with a cut off (scared the bejeebus out of me) but a second time at the same intersection, a car sped up to overtake me, saw me (and the flowers) and then dropped back. While riding around New Farm and Teneriffe, cars are now much more likely to stop to let me cross (you’d be surprised how many cars blow through zebra crossings while you are pushing your bike across it). These days though, more often than not, it is a stop with a smile and wave.

 

Now having a noticeable bike that grants you nice manners from motorists is pointless though if they don’t look. All the hi-vis in the world can’t make someone see you. Putting more flowers on my bike won’t magically make me appear to drivers who don’t check for bicycles or just drive on “auto pilot” – and that is the real challenge. Not just for me, but for everyone. Drivers, passengers, cyclists, motorbike riders, pedestrians, everyone.
Flowers are great, but an educated public is better.

Tweede 2

From non-cyclist to bike owner via CityCycle – a 2 year journey.

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

 

00001. Numero Uno of CityCycles

Take one non-cyclist.

Add one much maligned bike share program.

Include a healthy dose of passive aggressiveness.

That’s me.

Even before CityCycle  started, I was sold. The more people dismissed it, the more I wanted to do it, to prove them wrong.

What did I know about cycling though?

I believe the technical term is: Jack.

I hadn’t cycled as part of commuting since high school (a very nasty fall due to some road works saw me keep off a bike for many, many years). I did spend a few hours on a bike on a holiday overseas a few years back, but riding in Brisbane? Forget it. Everyone knows just how dangerous it is!

Yet here I was. Committed to CityCycle to prove to people that you could use it as part of your day.

That I did.

I battled through the roll outs and the station that still hasn’t opened close to my home… I pushed through and ended up selling my car, because I rode everywhere. When I went out of the CityCycle network, well there is Translink for that. When I really needed a car, I just hired one. I would CityCycle to and from the rental agency. Too easy and oh so much cheaper than owning.

Weekend on the Coast? Don't forget the bike!

Living and working in the inner city meant that I could get away with not needing a car, with jumping on a CityCycle and getting to where I wanted to go. Free helmets saw me use the bikes even more – because on the odd occasions I didn’t have my helmet with me, I could jump on one and just ride. I mean why walk 10 minutes when you can ride it in 2? Need to get to a meeting (or a coffee) a few blocks away? Jump a CityCycle. It is just so easy.

Over the course of 2 years, I went from pavement and bike path only riding, to being a confident (and law abiding) road based cyclist.

CityCycle did exactly what it is purported to do, for me at least. It got me out of the car, saw me opt out of much public transport (or at least incorporate it for shorter distances), increased my cycling confidence, improved my fitness, and transition into a bike owner.

A few months ago, I took on a new role, located way outside the CityCycle network. When I looked at the job and the location, I didn’t worry about parking, I checked public transport (as a back up) and how it was for riding to and from work. This of course meant I would have to buy a bike. So my CityCycle journey was complete.

I currently ride to and from work daily. If it is a lovely day, I come home the long way along the river, to truly enjoy the city. I love my town and I love riding. I plan weekends around where I can cycle and explore. I have met a whole new group of people – cyclists! Who would have thought that a few years ago this would be me? I would have laughed at you for suggesting it.

 

Yep. That's me. The cyclist.

Yet here I am.

A cyclist.

Post Script:
I have been asked quite frequently since buying my bike if I will be keeping my CityCycle membership. You know what? I will be. I still think CityCycle is the best option for one way trips, or if I want to go somewhere I don’t feel confident about locking my bike up unattended for hours. For $60 a year, I truly believe it is best option out there for many people… you just have to commit to not only trying it, but sticking to it.

Sneak Peek – CityCycle Phase II

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Thanks to JCD for the pic.

So I have been pretty quiet on the blog recently, not just about CityCycle but about everything.

That is not to say there hasn’t been a lot happening with CityCycle, there has.

We have the creatively named KillCityCycle campaign chugging along with reams of disinformation and vitriol; the push to make the stations more accessible for riders (had a couple of wins there); the CityCycleParis competition; my meeting with the CFO and Comms Manager of JCD Australia; my speaking about CityCycle and Active Transport at Engineers Australia: just to name what instantly comes to mind.

What has energised me to write is that I just spoke to the BCC’s Project Manager for CityCycle – Samantha Collie again. And let’s just say the news is good!

I first spoke to Ms Collie after I expressed my concerns regarding the safety of one station in particular and a couple of others in the network. Today Ms Collie was calling me back giving me an update. After briefly discussing works to be completed and an action plan to test the existing stations for usability in both directions of travel we spoke about Phase 2.

First up – let’s talk about where it is going….

  • There will be a few more in the city that couldn’t be done last time.
  • UQ!
  • Milton!
  • Auchenflower!
  • Toowong!
  • Dutton Park!
  • Southbank!!!!
  • Mater Hospital!

What extra information I have (most of it relates to me or people who I asked for).

Central Station will finally be getting bikes. It won’t be quick, as there is some works going on there currently, but we will be getting multiple stations at Central including one just down from Turbot Street. This will make hooning (I mean commuting down Edward a breeze). There will also be a station on Anne St as part of the revamp of Central next year.
Southbank have agreed to four (yes 4!!!) stations inside their boundaries.
There will be a like a ring road of stations for Dutton Park and up to the Mater which then connects back through South Brisbane.
UQ will have multiple stations (hope they are big ones) though personally I think they need at least 4 plus they will be getting three stations en route from Toowong Village to UQ.
Toowong will have good access including one just by the Commonwealth Bank.
Milton will have multiple stations – though unfortunately NOT Suncorp Stadium though was advised I should lobby them, but as we know, Suncorp Stadium are NOT bike friendly at all. We will see great Milton access (especially given the lovely BiCentennial Bike Way there), plus stations in hot spots – like the stations and entertainment/restaurant areas. My closest station to work will be Little Cribb St, which means I can avoid the hill past the Barracks.
I forgot to ask where in Auchenflower, but I imagine the station and along the bike path plus a couple of feeders.

All up there will be 46 new stations with construction commencing in September, 2011.

The official announcement will be on Thursday, June 9th by Cnr Simmonds the Minister for Active Transport. So stay tuned for the exact locations, more details and general YAYNESS!

Can we get a HELLS YEAH???

UPDATE: Media release to be Tuesday 14th June, awaiting confirmation from Cnr Simmonds’ office for full details.

Pandas, Spandex and Snags

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

 

Das Panda meets a Fan

Today was Ride2Work day as part of Bike Week, Brisbane puts on a huge free breakfast (snags, cereal, juice and coffee) and lets cyclists take over King George Square. This morning, around 1000 cyclists (and more than a few journalists) showed up to either praise or dis cycling.

I was briefly interviewed by the always lovely Anne O’Keefe for 612Brisbane (ABC Local Radio and Brisbane’s #1 Breakfast show) and had the chance to talk CityCycle with Lord Mayor Campbell Newman. It was amazing to hear him tell me that he came across my blog and printed out my latest piece and gave it to the POTB. I saw my last piece have a lot of Brisbane City Council hits in one day a month after posting – now I know who and why. You can listen to both myself and our Lord Mayor here.

Some random snaps are below.

 

"Two wheels are better than four!" (I think she is only holding up one finger though so unicyclists don't feel excluded)

"We will continue to roll out CityCycle!" Music to this panda's ears.

 

More bikes on the racks than at a Triathalon

Anne interviewing Can Do Campbell for Ride2Work Day (she also snuck in a question about dying trees)

Happy Ride2Work Day everyone.

PS. Apparently I was filmed by Ten and made their main Brisbane News – though I don’t know in what capacity. I hope it was me looking super cool while I swiped my CityCycle card!

 

Review – Brisbane Bandits vs Perth Heat – Season Opener

Friday, November 12th, 2010

We are ominous - GRRRR! PS. Have you met our mascot?

The last baseball game I went to was with the ill-fated Daikyo Dolphins, 18 years ago. I remember the happy dolphin, snarling with shark sharp teeth, and sitting up on the hill with my friends at the old Gold Coast Stadium. I also remembered that the team had a lot of imports – including designated hitters who were fat and sat down after they reached first because they had someone else steal bases and run for them.

So last night, heading to the re-birth of the Australian Baseball League, 10 years after its last demise was a bit of a trip down memory lane… as well as reminding me just how much I had forgotten about baseball, including how much I enjoyed it.

The Brisbane team is called The Bandits – and while you can’t tell from the logo (face covered in shadows and a black kerchief), he is actually a Ranga and looks like a textbook illustration of a Cowboy stereotype. Not that it is a bad thing, but it did amuse me that the logo was so dark and menacing in comparison to their mascot. The Bandit himself reminded me of Nicole Kidman as a cowboy. Red hair, super wide smile and a face that doesn’t move.

The RNA Showgrounds is the new home for the Bandits. First up, the seats are remarkably uncomfortable. They might be OK for the fireworks at the Ekka, but for 3 hours or 5 hours in a double header – no way. BYO cushion needs to be written on every ticket.

We paid the big $12 each for premium seating, which saw us just to the right of home base, on the side of the visiting team. The seats were unallocated, but thankfully the person I went with arrived early and jagged us a good spot to see the action (not that there were any staff making sure you were going to the right area). The only problem with the premium seats is that you can’t see the score board over the dugout of the away team. Now I use the term ‘dug out’ loosely, as it wasn’t dug, but it was certainly out. It was a portable pagoda/marquee that just needed a big gust to blow it up and away. It was pretty cool to be able to see the players though while they were watching their team mates.

Blocking the scoreboard - but very cool to see them hanging out and stretching

Food was priced comparably to what you would expect at any other event of after a night partying. $5 for chips or a hotdog and $8.50 for a burger (They didn’t do a bag check – so I brought along sushi which I forgot to eat). The real disappointment though was the merchandise. The tees (well tee as there is no choice) is black with the logo and Bandits written on it. I am not sure why it doesn’t say Brisbane Bandits. The tee is also black. Yes black. I guess that goes well with their menacing logo, but I really don’t want to be wearing a black tee during the afternoon game, or even in the afternoon heat in Summer as I make my way to the game. Some of the supporting staff (e.g. the younger players who were supporting the teams) had two different white tees. They were brilliant. I would go either of those, though preferably the white with black piping, versus the white with black sleeves. The hat – $50 for the hat? Really? It isn’t even SunSmart! Were they hand sewed by ex-major leaguers with golden thread?

The logistics was also a bit haphazard. Maybe they weren’t expecting over 1000 people, though they did have over 500 tix presold apparently (1551 was the official count). But when I arrived shortly before 7pm, the line up for parking was insane (this Panda strolled in from her home in The Valley/New Farm area) and there was no one to assist in crossing the road. Some cars were swerving around those that were lined up and having to break to avoid the ppl who were crossing the road. Accident waiting to happen. Another challenge was getting in to the ground. There was no clear signage other than Tickets (to buy) so there was this massive pack of ppl with a combination of passes, print out tickets, looking where to collect their tickets and then the usual tickets. Turned out I was on the wrong side of the pack, as I had an internet print out ticket – which could only be read on the other side of the gate. Signs or staff directing ppl constantly would make a huge difference.

Once I take off my kerchief I am super happy and friendly!

The game itself was pretty fun. It took a while for the nerves to pass and the teams to gel, but it turned into a really good game. Bandits were more consistent in their hitting and their fielding, was on the whole, tighter than that of the Heat. One of the highlights, for me at least, were members tauntingly chanting BAAAAROOOON BAAAAAROOOON over and over as the Heat’s opening pitcher (Baron) was preparing to pitch. LOVED IT! The crowd also really got behind the local team, cheering as they were announced as they came up to bat, standing and cheering when we got a runner home. Great atmosphere. The PA system was a bit hit and miss, but you could recognise the songs, people got into the clapping and stamping, they even got up and sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the 7th Innings stretch. At the same time though, it wasn’t hokey American. It felt like a typical Aussie sporting event, just with Baseball.

Pluses:
Great atmosphere.
LOTS of activities for the kids (they get in free, youth are $6ish)
Awesome value for money $12 for 3 hours is fantastic – and for a double header you get TWO games for one price!
Really easy to get into the game – Baseball isn’t that complicated to understand.
On par food pricing.
Lots of Public Transport options (no CityCycle unfortunately)
Home by a decent hour, even on a work night.
Not too many imports.

This close for $12 - awesome!

Minuses:
The logistics and planning.
The inability to see the scoreboard from the “Premium Seats.” (I assume they would put the name of the player and stats etc on board while playing – could be wrong but I would like that).
Unappealing merch.
Safety in road crossing.
Spelling mistakes on their home ground sign – they play at the CORAL not the CORRAL.
You don’t get to see them play the same team again later in season unless finals.

If you want a really fun evening or afternoon out with minimal cost – you should check out the Brisbane Bandits. Get in with the diehards and have a ball!
EDIT: I forgot to say – Bandits trounced the Heat 8/3 and you can follow the Bandits via The Twitters.
EDIT of the EDIT: I forgot to say how impressed I was with the batting and base work of relief Pitcher Naughton as well as just how fantastically supportive the crowd was of Fukoda as he overcame some early nerves/adrenaline to do some awesome bat work and run like the blazers!

#threeandahalfpandas
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Update from Das Panda

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Hi Panda fans.

Sorry I have been horrendously busy. I have a number of reviews in the “can” but not time to post. I will make an effort before I get swamped in BIFF stuff.

Tonight I am off to the Opening Night of BIFF, so hopefully by this time tomorrow there will be a good number of fresh reviews on Smallville, Nikita, Stargate Universe, Caprica and Hawai Five-0, Sushi Train and Freestyle Tout – not to mention Canetoads: A Conquest.

Oh and super congrats to Lun Lun on her new baby.
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Call for Suggestions

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Hey loyal Panda Fans!

Is there something, someone or somewhere you want Panda’ed?

Flip me an email (howmanypandas AT gmail.com), post a comment of contact me via Twitter.

I can’t guarantee you will agree with what I have to say, but I will give it a stab – and everyone knows that Pandas are super stabby.