Bold questions seek inspiring answers. Highlights from the Australian Cycling Conference

Yesterday I took the day off work, cashed in my Qantas points and headed to Adelaide for the Australian Cycling Conference “Everyone’s Cycling?” I was rewarded for my 4am start and 11pm finish with sensational speakers, intriguing findings from new academic research, lively debates, extraordinary round-table discussion facilitation (pure brilliance!) and a live link to researcher Clare Wasteneys in the Dominican Republic.

It would be unfair and disrespectful to the prestigious academics and tireless researchers to provide a summary of their papers, presentations, data and findings on this humble blog. Instead I’m raising some of the fascinating and attention-grabbing questions asked by academics, professionals and advocates alike in group discussions, in the Q&A sessions, during tea breaks and over lunch.  … If some of these questions whet your appetite for discussion, debate and dispute please join our #cyclecitychat Tweet Chat tomorrow (Thursday) lunchtime (details below)

“How do we as residents, tax payers, bicycle riders and advocates tackle ALL of the problems – potholes, safety, asking for better infrastructure, lobbying elected members, going to council meetings, collecting data?” and “How do we do it in an effective way?”

“Why do we expect lobbying for cycling infrastructure and safe cycling conditions to come from ‘grass-roots’ community groups all of the time?”

“How can the public bike schemes be extended to be socially inclusive? – They need to include tricycles, cargo bikes and electric bikes so that people with physical and mobility disabilities, medical conditions and parents/carers with young children can also use them. How do we lobby for this?”

“How do we make riding a bicycle more diverse, because surely that has to be the ultimate goal? – In cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam everyone rides a bicycle. How do we include manufacturers/retailers of more diverse bicycles, like folding and electric bikes, and people from more diverse groups, not just people cycling now, into conversations about cycling in Australian?”

“Why isn’t there more money available for small community projects? For example $1,000 to establish a cycle training course for women who want to return to cycling and cycle skills for kids. Surely if we spent $1,000 in every community then that would lead to significant behaviour change across every Australian city?”

“Why are we as bicycle riders in Australia forced to take responsibility for our own safety in a faulted environment (unsuitable infrastructure for less experienced bicycle riders)?”

“Why don’t we have databases of data? We never seem to collect data before, during and after the construction of a new bikeway, new bus lane or new road. Everything is just anecdotal and we have a transport system based on an economic model. It seems impossible to identify the ‘real’ changes in travel behaviour and ‘true’ economic/social benefits as a result of  new projects. How can we do things better in a time and cost effective way?”

“Why do we depend so much on data for the things that we already know are troublesome problems; congestion, obesity? Why don’t we engage the creative and innovative people to help solve these problems?”

“How do we influence and motivate city leaders and city planners? How do we ensure that every town and city in Australia has a leader (with influence, power and money) as passionate and determined as Clover Moore, Boris Johnson and Janette Sadik-Khan?”

“Why do we fail to challenge the poor design and regulation of Australian streets, which give priority to rapid road movements?”

“How can we make space for children and older people to safely cycling in Australian cities?”

“What are we doing wrong? … cycling participation rates were pretty much the same in 2011 as they were in the 1970s?”


#cyclecitychat Tweet Chat

Thursday 24 January 2013   at 10am – 11am Perth / 12 noon – 1pm Brisbane / 1pm – 2pm Sydney & Melbourne / 3pm – 4pm New Zealand

Theme ‘Cycling, Streets and Safety”

Follow the #cyclecitychat hashtag on Twitter for a real time discussion with thought leaders, bicycle riders, architects, urban planners, spatial analysts, advocacy groups, university students and people who love cities. We’ll be asking six questions. Each question will have a number e.g. Q1, Q2. The only thing we ask of you is that you reply to the appropriate question with A1, A2 and of course please don’t forget the hashtag #cyclecitychat