This blog sits in the nexus of bicycles and public transport being interested in bike technologies and the real meaning of the word sustainability, not as some fancy buzz word used by limited ability politicians, but as a real fix the world, make it a better place kind of word. So I think that trains and trams should carry bikes. I think that there should be bike share in cities and towns. I think that we deserve decent cycle infrastucture rather than rubbish cycle infrastructure designed by highway engineers. And I advocate a clean environment in which to ride.
But at it’s heart this blog is about bikes, technology and how cities should be built. For instance this blog has talked about Railcycles, Sailcarts, Flying bicycles, Bike elevators, Ascensors and Bicycle Tubes. It also has shown a few rides around the lower North Island and presented a few ideas to make cycling safer and more fun. All of these ideas come together in my ideas for Wellington number 1 and Wellington #2 thru #11. A city is just a place where a whole lot of ideas come together. By happenstance I currently reside in, or near enough to Wellington. I don’t plan on staying forever. Over the next ten years it’s going to go through a motorway building phase that it can’t afford, and not a lot of progress is going to be made on just about any sustainable front. Whilst I have confidence the Transmission Gully Motorway will get built, I have no confidence that it will be safe to ride from Petone to Wellington in 10 years time. The weather is kind of rubbish, the local politicians are kind of rubbish too, and there are more progressive places to hang out. If living in and about Wellington has taught me anything it is how to think about how to get a bicycle up a hill, and it has coincided with my interest in electric bicycles. Also in 2009 and 2010 the internet and bicycles have come together in a way that some people are calling Bicycle 2.0. The bicycle-blogosphere is kind of a democracy of ideas, and a new kind of political activism. Where as before the local library might have one or two tomes on urban planning, it is now possible to learn more about urban development in an afternoon of clicking a few links and seeing photos of Dutch cycle infrastructure, or reading how crap cycling is in Waltham Forest.
So not only have I learnt what good cycle and public transport should look like, I’ve also learnt that we should be demanding it, and we should have little patience for any politicians who are just getting in the way. I’ve always felt poorly served by all politicians and thought they had ego problems, and now I know they’re almost universally rubbish. The blogosphere is way better in representing me than so called representative democracy.
The most important things I’ve learnt in the last year or so are these things:
Helmets aren’t important
Safe bicycle infrastructure should be well funded and well designed and extensive
Roads should be tolled
Bike share schemes should be made to work, and they should be integrated into a city’s public transport
Electric bicycles have a place in sustainable cities
So at that nexus if I was to say one thing that I would like to see it would be that there should be integrated into a city’s public transport system, not only a bike share scheme, but a bike share scheme that includes electric bicycles. In this part of the world that is quite a thing to hope for. By this part of the world I mean Australasia. I’ve lived and worked in Cairns, Broome, Mackay, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Wellington. It’s only in this part of the world where we are stupid enough to insist on the unscientific mandatory helmet laws that deter cycling and make it look more dangerous than it actually is. Australian and New Zealand cities are car-sick, where cycling is looked on as a sport for lycra louts. Melbourne is the laughing stock of the whole world at the moment with its failing bike share scheme. I have more hope for Brisbane’s. But I live in hope that one day one smart card will let me catch any train, ferry, bus, tram or cable-car in cities from Perth to Invercargill, and the same card will let me hire bikes in each city and in country towns as well.
Electric bikeshare you might scoff, like it’s ever going to happen. Well it’s happening in Tokyo right now with Sanyo eneloop bikes. There are solar panels on the roof of the bike shelter that charge the bike batteries, but also charge other battery storage so the bike batteries can be charged when the sun isn’t shining on the solar panels.
You know these things don’t have to be free for the first 30 minutes, nor possible only through advertising funding. I would happily pay for the privilege of riding a shared bike, electric or non-electric when I get off the train that takes me into the CBD. The roads into the CBD should be tolled to get people out of their cars and onto bikes and to provide funds for enabling and expanding the bike share scheme. Many of the roads should be closed to cars, and given over to pedestrians and cyclists. On street parking should be got rid. Roads should be very much slowed down to speeds where they don’t go faster than bikes. Our cities should be for us human beings, not for motor vehicles. The electric car ain’t going to save our cities, but bike paths might.
This post is dedicated to all those revheads in Bathurst at the moment. May they one day find the joy in riding an electric bicycle around Mount Panorama.
This post was brought to you by the letter eth and the number pi.