Take one non-cyclist.
Add one much maligned bike share program.
Include a healthy dose of passive aggressiveness.
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.
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.
Yet here I am.
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.
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.
- Dutton Park!
- 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.