video

Bikes, coffee and friendship

Done! And I’d like to think that it’s my best yet. But I’ll let you be the judge of that. At the end of the day I really just wanted to provide an antidote to that dreaded ‘Bike Warrior’.

Without wanting to patronise the intelligent readers of this site, the point of this video was…

I wanted to tell a story – about the potential role of the bicycle in our cities.
I wanted to convey – freedom, the buzz of city life, a to b transport, ease, coolness, simplicity.

Imagine you are off to meet someone for a coffee at a cafe…

It’s empathy that we so desperately need in this world. And as we know, narratives are a good way of achieving that.

Finally, a big shout out to my bike model and friend Emilio.

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat. As easy as walking, but faster.

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Riding a bicycle in Japan looks like this

I have commented before on this site that capturing images of people riding bicycles in Japan is akin to shooting fish in a barrell. Bicycles are an integral part of daily life in Japan. All members of society are represented. There’s the 80+ year old gentleman riding to his chess club at the local community centre, the school students travelling to and from school, the young children hanging out in the afternoon, the mums transporting their young child and groceries home, the stylish teenage girls socialising at a restaurant, the elderly women doing the shopping.

The bicycles are similar in style – practical, comfortable, easy to ride. Apart from extensive bicycle parking provision, infrastructure for riding bicycles is largely absent. People on bicycles seem to be treated as fast moving pedestrians. In many cases I watched people on bicycles following desire lines. It was not unusual to see people riding contra-flow. Unfortunately, like everywhere else in the world, the car is the dominant urban force in Japan. But despite this, it is quite remarkable that city streets are relatively congestion free and people on bicycles are ever present.

I also noted that some of the tourism focused cities in Japan offer bicycle rentals. I captured one of those experiences and turned it into a short video. You can check it out, here.

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat. As easy as walking, but faster.

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Auckland, the city of bicycles?

Rat running

It’s nice to hear that, according to the latest survey, the number of people riding bicycles in Auckland is up. Though it seems as though they are the recreational type, waiting to be converted to the wheeledpedestrian type.

I can’t vouch for the numbers. I’m just too busy avoiding motorists using my “designated cycleway” as a rat run. We are told that new motorways will keep motorists off local streets. I prefer the theory that says motorways just encourage more use – “induced demand”, is the official term.

I’ve been doing a little casual investigation. It would appear that motorists use Hendry Ave to get between Onehunga and Hillsborough Rd. In the video, the motorist does a right hand turn onto Hillsborough Rd and then makes a quick left onto the motorway on ramp. And just to clarify, Hillsborough Rd ticks all the boxes for many of Auckland’s arterial roads. It’s residential, high speed and 4 laned (in part).

Now, it would be churlish of me not to acknowledge the benefit the separated cycleway, built as part of the motorway construction, has provided me. But it’s not continuous and I have to take extreme caution when using the non-connected parts, such as Hendry Ave.

But really, Auckland as a cycling city? Can’t see it myself. Not while motorists are allowed to run so free and easy. Sure, provide the necessary infrastructure for cycling. Those pull factors are critical. But something also needs to be done to push those motorists out of their cars. Make it harder, more expensive to drive and park. Sell the vision of a city that prioritises the moving of people instead of cars.

Stopping motorists rat running through local residential streets would benefit more than just people on bikes. Those people just don’t know it yet. Which seems to explain quite a lot, I think. Clearly, there is work to be done.

And sorry, I don’t know what those two lads on the fence line were doing.

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat.

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The power of narrative to affect change is yet to be fully explored.

Heart is a drum

 

I know. I said I’d retired. Well I’ve relented. Kind of.

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on the role and value of narrative in an education setting and couldn’t help but think of the possible implications for the people and organisations involved in working to create change in society. Just a thought. But we’ve got the facts. The research. The data. But do we have enough stories? Are we making the right connections? Developing empathy? I don’t think so. And I’m thinking visual stories.

Narrative

So, if you agree with this sentiment and would like to make a contribution, why don’t you hit me up. I am feeling in the mood to make another video; to tell another story. I need some props ie. people on bikes and maybe even some leading characters to share their story. A story that conveys the possibility of short, easy, wheeledpedestrian type cycling. A story that connects emotionally. A story that shows what cycling could be.

The plot and all the other details are up for negotiation. I think the new cycle tracks on Quay St should be a key location for filming – for some ‘B roll’ footage.  For a better idea of what I’m talking about, check out some of my previous work… here, here and here. My contact details are here.


 

Hmm. The response to my offer – to make a video to present cycling as something that is easy and potentially inclusive – was decidedly underwhelming. I don’t want to overthink the reasons for this lack of response. But I do hope that it is not a reflection of where cycling advocacy is currently at. That it does not reflect the existence of a blind spot towards the emotional and psychological components in bringing about behaviour change.

And I was so enjoying my retirement.

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat.

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Cyclists aren’t allowed to ride on the footpath, you know.

Queenstown Rd

 

“CYCLISTS AREN’T ALLOWED TO RIDE ON THE FOOTPATH. IT’S ILLEGAL.”

To which I replied, “Yeah, I know that but sometimes I do it just to keep safe…”

“BUT CYCLISTS AREN’T ALLOWED TO RIDE ON THE FOOTPATH. IT’S ILLEGAL.”

To which I replied, “Yeah, I know but if I didn’t ride on the footpath occasionally, I would have to give up riding all together. And I do it slowly. And only when it’s absolutely necessary.”

“BUT CYCLISTS AREN’T ALLOWED TO RIDE ON THE FOOTPATH. IT’S ILLEGAL.”

T.W.I.R: “Don’t we need to take a broader view of the issue? I would have thought that we are natural allies. The real focus here should be cars, and how they are allocated so much space and liberty.”

“BUT CYCLISTS AREN’T ALLOWED TO RIDE ON THE FOOTPATH. IT’S ILLEGAL.”

I said, “Strange as it may seem, I don’t really see myself as a cyclist. I want people to think of me as more like a pedestrian on wheels. We may have more in common than you realise.”

“BUT CYCLISTS AREN’T ALLOWED TO RIDE ON THE FOOTPATH. IT’S ILLEGAL.”

“Is that the time…?”

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat.

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Connections

 

I think that storytelling and visual imagery is an under-utilized strategy for shifting perceptions of cycling. And I think that the need to address how the public perceive cycling and how it is allowed to be presented in the media is overlooked.

The cycling I want to talk about is the one that is connected to making better cities. Build the political/public will and the cycle lanes will come?

Anyway, here’s my latest attempt to tell a story. Apologies for the low budget hack of the Modacity cycle chic videos. My hope is that someone(s) with some expertise in visual storytelling will take this idea and run cycle with it. 🙂

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat.

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I’ll have some culture jamming with my tactical urbanism, thanks.

It was one of those moments that I love. One of those moments that, perhaps unsurprisingly, is often delivered by bicycle. I was being inspired. There was an element of puzzlement too. But I can live with that. I’m learning that thought experiments don’t always progress in the way that I want them to; in the way that I initially hypothesise. I also know that just because others aren’t thinking like I am, it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.

That moment of inspiration came while I was listening to Mike Lydon talk ‘Tactical Urbanism’ to what I would like to suggest, was a pretty reasonable number of Aucklanders. He was talking to me. He was speaking a language I understood. He was talking about stuff that I have been dwelling on and been puzzled by, for years.

Blogging can be a tough gig. I’d like to think I’m doing the world a favour. Sharing ideas and opinions, with the faint hope that someone will agree with me and join in the conversation.

And while my thinkings and musings make sense to me and are all based on life experiences and from reading widely, it is all pretty much going against orthodoxy. People drive cars. That’s normal. It’s futile to suggest otherwise. Well maybe not. At least not according to Mike Lydon.

Based on what he said, I would now suggest that this blog is a form of ‘culture jamming’. A social form of ‘tactical urbanism’, if you will. I don’t share videos of people riding without a helmet because I want to be viewed as a law breaker. It’s about challenging the status quo. To inspire, inform, enlighten. That kind of stuff.

And that’s the value of social media. It allows the dots to be joined. In this case, the dots being people. Because at present, there is not a sufficient critical mass of people who share the same thoughts and values of wheeled pedestrian cycling. It’s still too early. Too counterculture.

When that critical mass has grown sufficiently (assuming that it will, in a timely fashion), we can ramp up the tactical urbanism and then maybe, just maybe, get started on some full blown campaigning.

I’m also curious to know why the Council would want to host a talk about ‘tactical urbanism’. Is the Council trying to encourage some activism, some boldness? Build some political will, perhaps?

In the meanwhile, keep making and sharing the cool stuff you are doing. Stand up and make some noise. Connect the dots.

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bike’ is everyday activity. No sweat.

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Recruiting now: Wheeled Pedestrians

Cyclists Dismount

 

Some traffic engineers and some politicians are fighting a determined but ultimately futile battle against the natural order. One day, this stupid sign will be erased and replaced with a red carpet. That would be the common sense approach; the human way. A ‪#‎wheeledpedestrian‬ is not intent on breaking rules. It’s just that some rules and attitudes are so stupid, they deserve to be ignored.

In the meanwhile, please take note of all the signs, physical and symbolic, that indicate how far away we are from achieving the grand prize; of creating cities that are great for people, rather than cars. One day, the quantity of #wheeledpedestrians will be one of the measures of a city’s quality. There’s work to be done.

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat.

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It’s about more than just the ‘cycling’.

The response to the above vine has been muted compared to previous ones. I can see that it doesn’t obviously fit into the themes presented in previous vines. But let me explain the rationale.

If you are a ‘glass half empty’ kind of person, then the government’s recent announcement to continue spending the lion’s share of the transport budget on motorways for the foreseeable future would probably give you the sense that you really are going round in circles; that little progress is being made. What’s the point? Spend more time with your family, go tend to the garden. Do something that provides you with more positive and immediate feedback.

However, I would like to offer an alternative interpretation. Research shows that the most effective strategies for achieving behaviour change is to model and induce the behaviour that you wish to see and be consistent and repetitive about it. If we accept this to be true and accurate, (I can vouch for it because I use it to great effect in the classroom everyday), then it has very serious implications for the quality of the message that is being conveyed.

Wheeled Pedestrian Cycling is all about presenting the image of cycling that appeals to the people who are not currently riding a bicycle. Hence the tag line;

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat.

That’s the message I was trying to convey in the video, below. It’s not about cycling. It’s about everything but. If you share that understanding, please watch it again and share it with friends and family. It’s far from perfect and it will be met by derision and skepticism by some, but share it anyway. Because it will help present an alternative vision of what riding a bicycle is all about. And that is what we really need. The World needs more #wheeledpedestrians.

Oh, and the vine was also an opportunity to practice my video editing techniques for a video I am currently working on this summer holiday. Stay tuned.

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat. As easy as walking, but faster.

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Cities for people.

 

The central theme of this short video is…people. Up until now, cities have been ranked on their car parks, skyscrapers and motorways. Now they are being measured by their livability.  The rules of the game have changed. Cities that are at the top of the livability stakes are the cities that are full of bicycles. People using bicycles to get about their business. It’s about people and how they interact. Thats why bicycles are so wonderful. They amplify the ability to engage with the city, its people and surroundings. It’s people that bring vibrancy and life to a city.

This video is also designed to highlight how easy it is to ride a bicycle. No special equipment or knowledge is required. Cycling can be an everyday activity. It already is an everyday activity in an increasing number of cities around the world. Using a bicycle makes sense for short utility type trips. It’s as easy as walking, but faster. There are many potential #wheeledpedestrians‬ amongst us. That is the growth market. But to get those people riding bicycles everyday like wheeled pedestrians is going to require some smart and strategic interventions.

A wheeled pedestrian has as much interest in discussing the details of a cycle path as the average motorist has in discussing the details of traffic signals.

Of course, the transport environment (separated cycle paths, speed reduction) needs to be vastly improved before those potential #wheeledpedestrians will seriously consider this option.

But equally importantly, the image of cycling needs a major overhaul. The overriding public perception of cycling at present is about sports and recreation. Focussing on encouraging those cyclists to convert to everyday cycling will have limited long term success. Instead of talking about ‘cycling’, we need to be talking in terms of ‘riding a bicycle’. Riding a bicycle needs to be presented as a normal everyday activity. Convincing the people who are not currently using a bicycle requires the use of different strategies.

At present, advocacy seems to be all based around the provision of cycle infrastructure. That’s an inherently limiting strategy. There are a wide range of strategies and approaches that need to be employed. A wheeled pedestrian has as much interest in discussing the operation of a cycle path as the average motorist has in discussing the operation of traffic signals. Presenting cycling as a normal everyday activity is much harder than you would imagine. Being a teacher and watching cycling being ‘taught’ in a school environment, I speak with some authority on this matter.

Isn’t it odd that while we have professionals building cycling infrastructure for us we don’t have any professionals doing the marketing stuff. So in the meanwhile, the Ninja Princess and I will continue to produce these sub-par videos, but if you know any professionals that would be in to making cool videos to promote bicycles in the city, please get in touch. I know my limitations.

You can find more videos at:

https://vimeo.com/wheeledpedestrian/videos

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat. As easy as walking, but faster.

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