Monday, June 29, 2015


(Screen capture: ABC Media Watch 22/6/15)

Oh, Media Watch, oh, Paul!

Calling those oil-funded boffins from UNSW 'experts' in this matter ...


I have just attended the Velo City 2015 conference in Nantes (France) as a blogger, and there was no sign of your 'supposed experts' strutting the stuff they routinely strut for the Oz stage, perhaps because they're just a teensy weensy bit timid of being academically shredded by all the international experts who would have had them with their croissants and espressos.

I'm sorry, Paul, but your 4 are 'legends in their own lunch boxes' ... and clearly yours too.

The most pathetic Media Watch I’ve ever watched … sigh

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Memo from Paris for NSW Premier Mike Baird

Dear Mike,
I am giving up writing to Duncan - he doesn't get back to me, and ...

... well to be frank, he just isn't up to the task anyway.

Seriously it's just pure folly to carry on in the 'pork-chop' manner that he does, and he's doing nothing for Sydney or Sydney's transport or for our international standing amongst global transport leaders.

I have just been to Velo City 2015 in Nantes (you know what that is, don't you - that would just be too too embarrassing if you didn't) ... clue ... biggest urban and transport bicycle conference in the world ... (jeez)

Anyhoo, I can inform you that we are the laughing stock of this very large and influential world of 'using a bicycle.'

Delegates and speakers guffawed raucously when we lined up our transport plans against theirs - I mean just picture:

"Howdy we're putting in cycle lanes so that yo'all can go ahead and have a nice time using a bicycle in our country"


"G'day, we're ripping them up cos if you're planning on using a pushbike in our place, you've got rocks in your heads"

... too humiliating.

... and not a good look!

And everyone, just everyone knows Duncan ... and talks about him - I mean fancy the world knowing the name of one of our states' transport ministers - too weird - just shows you the abundant material he provides as a transport clown - so incredibly cringeworthy

Seriously he's got to go - global cities aren't weighing themselves down with his sort of a roads minister.

They're thinking big and radical.

They're thinking drastic and remedial because they're thinking that no-one can afford to dodge the pollution equation anymore, and they're thinking that cars are inescapably are part of that problem and that problem needs fixing.

That's what they're thinking ... but not our roads minister!

He's busy deleting cycleways and inserting motorways to solve our congestion problem ...

Duncan's dated like doughnuts ... and you need to do something about him - sack him perhaps.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Velo City15: A Parade too far for Duncan & Oz

Dear Duncan,

This blogpost is for you because your knowledge of liveable cities and good roads and robust transport is sorely lacking,

... and if we have to put up with you for the next political term, certain things are going to have to be sorted out between us all.

First, it was such a shame you didn't think about joining us all at Velo City this year in Nantes.

It was a truly wonderful event (check out Queensland mob above) and unquestionably 'you' would have learnt a lot.

Global politicians were present (although we can hardly refer to you as global can we!) and of the opinion the use of bicycles is not just an important ecological salvo but an economical one too.

Now that ought to grab you because your government makes such a fuss about being 'grown ups' with the money side of running New South Wales ...

... which if that really was the case would see you championing the use of bicycles significantly more than you do.

I'm afraid you really are a 'fail' in that department and we really must get you back on track.

No-one at Velo City15 could believe their ears when we mentioned that were about to rip up one of our rare separated cycleways in Sydney ... no kidding, no-one! Delegates and presenters alike were shocked and gasped in horror! Apparently it's completely unheard of as a transport strategy.

What were you thinking?

Hard to save face on that one so might I suggest you just grin and bear it and just take your idiocy on the chin ... and then reverse your regrettable decision immediately.

I have to hand it to you, you completely stumped them with your 'cyclelane demolition mindset' - no-one saw that coming not even from Australia.

Most politicians, Duncan, actually recognise the speed of automobiles needs to be limited whereas you carry on wanting to facilitate fossil fuelled vehicles throughout our city.

And most importantly, Duncan, and this is where your old grey matter really seems to struggle, most politicians pretty much got that improving cycling mobility improves transport mobility ...

Yes ... research shows this time and time again, Duncan, yet you cannot take this fact on board and turn it into a workable transport initiative.

Velo City15 has finished now for another year, and political, municipal and transport leaders have left or are leaving Nantes with various take-home messages that promise to see improved cycling in their various countries by improving cycling safety with good infrastructure and legal protection.

But seriously what can we Australians who attended this Velo City really claim to be taking home apart from shattered dreams, forlorn hopes and peptic ulcers.

The time has past where you get away with your ignorant cavalier attitude to roads and transport because the time has come to reallocate space away from cars ...

... we know it and the rest of the world know it ... and you ought to know it.

And yet notwithstanding that the United Nation's Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon has challenged the transport sector around the world do something about climate change, all you can do is perpetuate your vicious cycle of automobile dependency.

Politicians need to ensure that the cities and regions they represent make it easier for people to live sustainably because if they don't they will be cast aside for not meeting their citizens' desires.

In effect, you're are fast becoming irrelevant.

So, Duncan, my message to you is that you must cease and desist your 'subsidising fuel for tranpsort' habit and get with the programme - the bicycle programme.

Yours in bicycle cheers,
Sue (no-relation-to-tony) Abbott

Monday, June 8, 2015

Velo City15: We need to talk about Sydney

We need to talk about Sydney ...

... and we need to talk about Duncan.

Here at this international Velo City15 bicycle conference where cycling best practice is clearly on display, all I can think about is the travesty that's about to happen in Sydney: the ripping up of the College Street Cycleway.

In Nantes, the bicycle is Queen and no-one argues with the fact that more bicycles mean less cars, and that more bicycles promise better population health with benefits for entire cities, ecology and for our planet.

Absolutely none of that is up for discussion because outside Australia that information is instinctive.

No-one doubts that hurdles will be thrown in the way of cycling advocacy by petrol heads, and many people acknowledge that petrol heads are already embedded in the cycling community as disruptive agents de provocateurs (we're onto you, bicycle helmet promoters!!!).

Yet it seems to me that apart from Australia, the rest of the world knows that bicycles can not only complement existing transport but improve it as well.

Here at Velo City15 everyone acknowledges that improving and 'growing' cycling is a global project and that tout le monde is required to be involved.

Oh, Australia, what is wrong with us?

When asked in Nantes about the Road Minister's brutal plan for College Street, Fiona Campbell, Manager of Transport Strategy, City of Sydney, and instrumental in the planning and implementation of the City of Sydney's cycleways and initiatives said:

"All we can do is to redouble our efforts through every avenue not blocked already, and thinking about the Copenhagen Master Class I attended last week, we need to look at soft measures that may influence parents who can be useful as the drivers of change - it is the parents who want this infrastructure so we need to broaden our influence.

"We also need to work more with businesses and provide incentives perhaps through bicycle friendly business certification.

"Bike East have mentioned soft measures too and have looked at bike buses [cycling in clumps]

"I hope we do not get to the ripping up stage but there is not a lot we can do even though the NSW government is in breach on their contract now that they are not going ahead with the part time cycleway in Castlereagh Street which was the sweetener for removing College Street.

"It is frustrating when you think that the NSW government's own figures show that more cyclists use the College Street cycle lane than motorists in a single College Street lane for motor-vehicles."

It seems to me that even holding the Velo City14 conference in Adelaide left us with no legacy whatsoever to use in Sydney, and no mettle to stand up for what rightfully ought to be ours and our responsibility to our city and the planet.

Most nations use these conferences as opportunities to encourage citizens to use bicycles but ... oh I know this particular bit of the post is very subjective ... but seriously all I got out of that Velo City14 was yet another bicycle ticket followed up by a court telephone mention in April to be followed up with a pre-trial in Adelaide itself this coming July.

Where was the standard Velo City recognition that bicycles are tomorrow's future and that they provide a solution via conviviality and collegiality and creativity with the necessary little touches of madness so necessary for the essential quirkiness of life and joie de vivre?


Also in Nantes, when asked about Duncan Gay and his plan to rip up the College Street cycleway in Sydney, Jackie Fristacky, former mayor and now councillor of Yarra Council said:

"It is a disaster, and it completely ignores the transformative effect of cycling on city liveability, their economies, and it would lead to a future of greater congestion and polluting vehicle emissions.

"Is that the future the minister wants for Sydney?

"It's a disaster."

How did we miss out so badly on received cycling knowledge in Australia?

Why do we Down Under only think about facillitating the needs of motorised vehicles in our cities?

Why are we so wedded to such pre-historic ideas?

Why aren't we realising that so much of our city transport and delivery needs could be done by cargo-bikes?

Why not indeed!

Investments in alternative transport and tourism are cheap but the benefits are immense.

Why aren't we availing ourselves of these opportunities?

Most of the world already realises that bike tourism can enlarge the peak business seasons - just look at the various international ski resorts which very efficiently are re-badging themselves to include bike fun and snow fun for all year round opportunities.

Did you know that bicycle tourists spend more than car tourists? (35 euros to 10 euros!) ... I learnt that this week!

What is wrong with us?

When asked about what we should do regarding our Sydney specific disaster involving the Roads Minister and his fossil-fuel driven plan to rip up College Street Cycleway, Carlton Reid, the British author and historian, said:

"There's got to be some radical chaining-yourself-to-railings type of activism. There is no point pussy-footing around, and whatever you do it should be media friendly.

"Sounds to me like it is going to happen so you need to show that you care - don't let it go without putting up a fight.

"Your actions need to have some resonance down the line to demonstrate that your cycleways matter. Just think about it, this could not happen in the Netherlands where there is great respect for cycling.

"So be radical.

"Destroying your College Street cycleway will put you back in terms of cycling by at least two decades."

So what are we going to do with this 'Duncan' of ours?

How did we end up with such a troglodyte?

Oh me, oh my, oh what to do?

(Image: courtesy Dr Glen Koorey, right, back row, Soirée Sous Chapiteau, Velo City15)

I had the good fortune via twitter (thanks, Katya!) to meet up with Claire Prospert (left, back row) in person at Velo City15, co founder of Britain's Newcastle Cycling Campaign, who with Katya Leyendecker kickstarted an important 'conversation' in Newcastle to make cycling safe and to involve more people.

Claire, originally from France, and Katya, originally from Germany, had both decided that existing training programmes and road layouts in Newcastle did nothing to help those who were not cycling to date and in fact only assisted those who were already part of the existing cycling equation.

So together they set up their campaign, talked to the decision-makers, and within four years had politicians on board, a very supportive mayor plus £15 million for the next three years and a design-process in the making.

When asked for her thoughts with regards to our recalcitrant Roads Minister, she said:

"Guerilla action definitely!

"It needs to be very bold and not just a statement.

"You need all sorts of people involved, not just your usuals but others too. You need to find others like children and the elderly ... and get them on board!

"Yes you need guerilla action!"

As for Copehagenize's Mikael Colville Andersen, and his thoughts on our Sydney predicament, he said:

"Paint in the night, and keep on putting it back."

Sigh ... so we get Duncan, whilst Copenhagen, Gronnigen and Paris get these three who 'battled' it out at the Velo City15's Cycling Embassy of Denmark, for the prize of best cycling city in three years time.

This good-natured 'Battle of the Mayors' bubbled with plenty of ideas and champagne and good humour but made me yet again want to weep into my lunchtime aperatif ...

... and my digestif later on that night!

But life is too short for such subscription to defeatism ...

... so when I get back to Oz I'll be finding myself some railings and a can of paint along with some grannies and some kiddies ... and, Duncan, we'll be taking you on

En garde, Monsieur Gay, on arrive!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Velo City 2015 a bicycle paradise unlike Sydney

If you're an Australian, it is hard not to be depressed here in Nantes.

And it's not the urban wildflowers ...

... or the scenery that get you down!

No, it's what everybody else has ...

... that is commonplace,

... and unremarked upon ...

...en effet,

... it is the comprehensive 'sharing of the roads' ... sigh

So with local cheeses on every table at La Cité (le Centre des Congrès de Nantes), and big cheeses from further afield on some of the floors, we're well and truly underway with Velo City15 and as an Australian, I am truly bothered by the cycling disconnect.

And notwithstanding that it was good to see (along with french bubbly and macaroons) Sydney's very own Fiona Campbell receive a monitoring 'Eco-Counter' award at the opening cheese ceremony, it was hard to get too excited knowing full well, in Fiona's own words, that 'we're under attack!' ...

...because back home in Australia our political leaders are about to systematically destroy our scarce cycling resources by sending in the demolition squad ... no kidding

Are we really going to let that fossil-fuel-loving, inept dinosaur of a NSW politician, Duncan Gay, rip up our College Street Cycleway because it annoys him when he drives past it on his way to work (NSW State Parliament House) and are we really going to let him get away with it?

It's all so very depressing ... and en ce moment I can only weep into my drinks at new temporary local, l’Univers Café whilst listening to excellent french jazz ... sigh