‘Reality Bites – Bike Week special’ – Cycling: Where to from here?

Last week Tony, my new accountant, asked me where cycling was going and I’ve got to admit I was a little bit stumped. The thing with Tony is he’s always looking forward. He never looks back. He’s got his vision, a clear brand and a very grand plan. It works. He makes more in a week than I make in a year!

That’s why in this final episode of ‘Reality Bites – Bike Week special’ I’m asking…

‘Where to from here?’

It strikes me, right now, that if we really want riding a bicycle to be a viable, convenient and equitable mode of transport we need to ask a few ‘Whys?’.

Trouble is in Australia we’re obsessed with TV. Nothing gets our blood pumping more than My Kitchen Rules, The Block, Biggest Loser, Master Chef and The Voice. The list goes on. Then there’s the sitting on the sofa watching sport. That’s a national sport in itself, which might just explain why more than two-thirds of our population are overweight or obese. Why don’t we switch off the TV and do something else?

If people like Hughie, the yogi with a chocolate craving, are passionate about Cycle Queensland but the value for them is the community spirit and the food, and not the actual cycling, then why are we selling cycling how we’d sell soap?

If KPMG’s Liz Crawford says that we should stop asking Governments to do everything for us and if the ‘Story of Stuff’ and the ‘Story of Change’s’ Anne Leonard says we need to work together to take action and that we can do it with just six different types of people, then why are we all too busy watching TV?.. or just clicking ‘Like’ on Facebook?

If we want a cycling ‘voice’ or a cycling ‘hero’, someone like Jamie Oliver financially backed and properly endorsed by a major brand to lead the bold and brave conversations then why aren’t we supporting the volunteers in our community? Why aren’t we helping the 1 or 2 people in each city and regional town who devote 20 hours of their personal time each and every week to run the BUG’s and cycling events?

If we want women to be the indicator species for cycling then why aren’t we hosting more activities at schools, at workplaces and at community centres and for women to have a go at cycling? The annual Heart Foundation and Cycling Promotion Funds cycling survey showed us that less than one third of women have ridden a bicycle in last 6 months but more than 60% want to cycle. Why don’t we have a monthly Lazy Sunday Cycle in every suburb in every city and regional town?

If we want to have affordable inner city first homes for young people then why aren’t we challenging and inspiring planners, architects and developers? Why is it that a new affordable housing residential development in Gladstone will have 30 units and 48 car parking spaces and probably no bicycle parking?

Why aren’t we supporting our new, independent small bicycle related businesses? Why is it that a cycling business closes down every single week?

If, as a nation, we’re so passionate about improving our lives, making our streets and our public spaces more vibrant, reducing obesity, increasing physical activity, reducing depression, eliminating transport poverty, safeguarding our economy, reducing redundancies and increasing our financial stability why are we all watching TV?

Like the 1980’s UK TV program ‘Why don’t you’ always said “Why don’t you switch off the TV and go and do something else instead?”

So as we all struggle to make our financial ends meet, to stay out of debt, to stay healthy, keep fit and to enjoy this beautiful, safe and comfortable country that we are all blessed to live in I ask “Where to from here?”