More research into the benefits of cycling?

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There has been much research into the benefits of cycling to underpin cycling strategies adopted by government at various levels. It is carried out by government, advocacy groups and health professionals as well as others. This research variously shows that cycling has many economic benefits, is good for our health, will reduce congestion on the roads, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase agreed upon emissions targets, will save people money and so on. Yet, every time the possibility of spending significant amounts of money on new infrastructure projects is mooted, another study is promised or actually carried out. Interestingly, the findings of such studies do not change, the outcome are always there that cycling improves individual health and the liveability of cities.
The research is already out there: the benefits to society are many and they are real and if the government would commit to spending some dollars on cycle paths instead of more roads, they would go a long way to solving the above problems and save money at the same time. So why is it not happening?
Petrol sales, car rego and the entire automotive retail and repair industry are all areas which generate large revenues for the government. If cars lost their dominance, or even part of their dominance, this would have severe economic consequences for the government coffers. It is more economically feasible to carry out another research project which will find a way to enable cycling but not encourage it to the point where cars lose traction. New roads and highways are constructed all the time without the agonising over the many more millions or even billions that they will cost. Stupendous amounts compared to the cost of a cycling path.

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A black spot in Newcastle’s cycling network

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Google image of intersection of Glebe Road and Park Avenue

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Fernleigh Track

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Fernleigh track is Newcastle’s greatest cycling asset. It is long, (15k), entirely off-road, fairly flat and meanders through beautiful and varied bushland. The tunnel provides a dramatic moment and the remaining pieces of rail infrastructure provide interest. It also connects … Continue reading

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Gazelle Innergy XT Review

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While ebikes are much derided in some cycling circles, they are not without their place in the cycling commuter’s stable. So, when my husband decided he wanted to commute by bike to work, along the Fernleigh Track at night, an ebike was called for. We chose the  Gazelle Innergy XT, a new but superseded model that we got a good deal on and which was, for us, a significant investment in a bike.

The ride is powered by both the pedals and the motor, with the motor matching the effort from the pedals. This makes riding easy but still requires some effort. With the motor cutting out at 25kph, a legal requirement, the bike doesn’t allow for speedy riders terrorising pedestrians and slower riders on shared paths, but does make passing others on uphills an easy feat, something my husband finds to be one of the highlights of his trip home in the mornings. I have had my only experience of needing to brake on an uphill on this bike.
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The appearance is typical of the modern style Gazelle ranges with a futuristic look about it, with its flattened tubing, silver powdercoated finish and geometric decals.
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The battery is integrated with the rear light, under the rear rack, making it unobtrusive. The front light is beautifully integrated into the front mudguard. The additional weight of the battery and motor makes the total weight of the bike 26 kg approximately. While this seems excessive, the bike rides very well when not using the motor and the additional weight is unnoticeable to me.

Gearing is via an internal Shimano 7 Speed Nexus hub, also adding weight to the rear wheel. This has worked flawlessly.

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The upright seating position is easily adjusted to suit any rider with the innovative and easy to use handlebar adjusting system.
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But is an ebike worth the extra money? And why not just toughen up and ride? Petrol savings alone mean that this bike will have paid for itself in two years maximum. Where the ebike comes into its own is when you have a ride that is long or hilly or both. So that meeting on the other side of town suddenly doesn’t seem so far away and a 35 minute trip becomes a 25 minute one, arriving sweat free and energised, but not enervated, by the trip.

So far, after 13 months of ownership, he has ridden around seven thousand kilometres on this bike and is more than happy with it. He recharges the battery after nearly every commute as one charge would not quite do two commutes. The cost of electricity has not been noticeable on our electricity bills.

So far, there have been a few  problems, mostly fixed under warranty. Additional to those mechanical problems there has also been a worn out back tyre which needed to be replaced, brake pads and brake cable and three broken spokes. The total cost of these repairs has been around $200.

The problems that occurred as warranty issues have been the motor failing (the whole wheel was replaced), problems with water in the electricals and the lights stopping working.

The water problem occurred earlier this year in January when we had very heavy rain causing local flooding, and he insisted on riding to work. Riding through moderately heavy rain has not proven to be a problem however.

The complexity of the front wheel where the motor is housed makes a change of tyre very challenging, something that requires a trip to the bike shop. Servicing of the motor is also done by computer at the bike shop.

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He did find that, on Fernleigh Track, riding at night, the lights were not adequate in the total darkness there and we purchased an additional much brighter light. The standard lights are quite acceptable for use in street light conditions, however. Hazards on the track at night are mainly wildlife and striking a rabbit or wallaby at night could cause a crash, miles from nowhere. Thankfully, the only brushes he has had with wildlife have been twice with small owls, and have caused no problems other than large frights!

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Many thanks to Metro Cycles for their excellent service and the great deal on this bike.

I know it has been a long time since I’ve blogged here, due to my parents going into aged care, but I now have a Facebook page which is quite active, so please join in the discussion there. The link is on the sidebar.

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Ride2Work Day


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Next Wednesday is Ride to Work Day, Newcastle Council is holding a free breakfast for all cycling commuters at Wheeler Place, just arrive on your bike!

Ride to work day is a great way to start your cycling commuting. There are more bikes on the road and you can get to meet other cycling commuters who can give you tips on how to ride safely and which routes are the easiest to ride. Plus, a free hot breakfast and cheap good coffee before work is always a good thing!

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Tweed Ride 2015

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The Newcastle Tweed Ride was again an outstanding success with around seventy people showing up to display their bicycle and costume vintage handiwork. It was great to see a penny farthing in attendance again and also to see people getting penny farthing riding practice afterwards. One rider was quite proficient at riding it within minutes! Very impressive!

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Bemused bystanders wondered what was going on.

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Me with Therese Doyle, Greens Councillor and bike enthusiast. 

Our master of ceremonies, Zac Watt, was entertaining and we were honoured to have such an auspicious person to entertain us with stories and poems about the art works which adorn the water frontage that we rode along. You can see him here riding his vintage American cruiser …

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Equally wonderful was the attendance of so many tweed ride stalwarts. I was especially grateful to Iain who transformed the hacked fitting of my cheap K Mart vintage style light on my Speedwell to a professional looking installation. Such is the power of vintage bike aficionadoes, who are able to turn a hack job into a professional one. I don’t have any before photos luckily …

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I was again impressed with the job Gareth had done on another roadside find this year, using driftwood as handgrips. So clever! And lovely and smooth to use. I think I have an idea for my own bike now …

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The usual suspects turned up including the Georgetown Juggernaut with inbuilt picnic table, complete with flowers, teaset and tablecloth.

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We had a special award category of ratbike this year for an impressively built cargo bike, made to carry musical instruments. I will try to get a photo.
Style was high on the agenda again, with so many wonderful costumes worn by both men and women, some of who were riding equally impressive bikes.

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Everyone was taking photos …

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The Newcastle bloggers were there, giving us great coverage. The Curious Novocastrian has some wonderful photo on her blog. You should also check Instagrams of Pink Patent Mary Janes, Curious Novo and the showbag for more and better pictures than mine!

One surprise was the Herald coverage, calling us all hipsters….

Although I have said this will be the last Tweed Ride I organise, there are plans in place for a successor, so stay tuned. The Vintage Tweed Ride was a Make Your Place community project supported by the City of Newcastle and Newcastle Cycleways Movement Inc.

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Tweed Ride 2015

 

Tweed ride poster

Tweed ride poster

This year’s Tweed Ride will be on Sunday 7 June. Starting at Islington Park at 9am for a 10am start, we ride to Nobbys accompanied by a wonderful story teller. So start trawling those op shops for a set of tweeds, get out your old bike (or just come along for the fun) and join us for an entertaining and easy ride with music and coffee at the end. Free event!

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Storms and Anzac Day

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We have had terrible storms here last week and many areas have flooded badly as a result. Four people died in those floods. Many have lost their homes. It has been an intense week.

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Now sights like this are common around the streets, and for a time it was much worse. Many roads have been impassable due to debris, fallen trees or flooding water. Now the sun has emerged and we can make our way outdoors again, tentatively. Riding can be a great way to get around after a storm. A bike has the flexibility to traverse uneven ground or to go around a fallen tree or to be carried over obstacles, whatever they may be.

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Tunnel on Fernleigh Track

Riding on the streets is quite safe now in most of the areas I’ve ridden and the weather has cleared beautifully, making riding a pleasure. Fernleigh Track is still closed except for a stretch at the Adamstown end. There is still the danger of falling trees and branches along there.

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Anzac Day was yesterday,  and the newly opened Memorial Walk was packed with walkers.

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Although this new construction is not permitted for cyclists, it has improved cycling conditions in the area in one respect.

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The shared path up Memorial Drive is now much less crowded and thus is more conducive to cycling, and while it does not have the same spectacular views as the new walkway, it is not as steep.

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The convergence of these two events, the storm and the Anzac centennial ceremonies (celebrated here with the opening of the Memorial Walkway as well as record attendance at other ceremonies) has made for a very intense time here in Newcastle. The mingling of grief for those who have lost their lives or homes after the intensity of the storm, along with the sheer brilliance of the weather for Anzac Day has left a somber yet positive mood over the city.IMG_0966

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Metro Cycles, Newcastle West End

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I’ve written before about the Bank Corner Café and how the area around Bank Corner has become a “place” in Newcastle. With its adjoining laneway covered in murals and other art works and its pavement seating and decorative paving, it is picturesque and quirky and you don’t know just what is around the corner. Adding to the ambience of that area is a recently opened bike shop “Metro Cycles”, owned by Bernie Hocking.

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The shop fits in well with its surroundings, as there are always lots of bikes parked in the vicinity during the day, so the lineup of Metro Cycles bikes looks just like another part of the streetscape. Additionally, all the posts here have been yarnbombed, which fits in nicely, adding to the placemaking feel of this small area. The fact that car parks are hard to find around here makes it even more attractive to cyclists.

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With its lineup of commuter, folders, ebikes and cargo bikes and appropriate accessories for them, Metro is catering to a section of the cycling market that has not been strongly recognised before in Newcastle. This provides the opportunity for those in the market for utility cycles to shop in Newcastle rather than buying elsewhere or via the Internet.FullSizeRender

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Bernie’s choices of bikes on his shop floor has been strongly influenced by trips to Europe and a cycling study tour he has done there. It shows in the diversity of town and cargo bikes that are on display and European and British influences are also evident in his selection of stock. Bicycle art work adorns the walls …

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Bernie, on the right, talking to a customer

Bernie, on the right, talking to a customer

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Bago Studio: cycling fashion

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While this blog is primarily about bicycles in Newcastle, I keep an eye out for interesting developments elsewhere, and I am always on the lookout for cycling clothes which don’t look like cycling clothes. So when I saw Bago Studio featured in Treadlie Magazine recently, I could see an exciting new cycling fashion label which is affordable and practical, as well as extremely beautiful. Kellie has a fresh approach to fashion adapted to cycling in our conditions and I could not resist asking her to do an interview to showcase her work ….
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– Can you tell me a bit about yourself and any business partners you have?
I grew up on the Mid North Coast of NSW on a beautiful property, nestled at the foot of Broken Bago Mountain, hence where the name ‘Bago’ comes from. I have always had a love of adventure developed from exploring the surrounding bush when I was a child, which has carried on even now.
I studied Fashion and Textile design, at the University of Technology in Sydney with a focus upon printed textiles and sustainability. I have always been interested in creating clothing to be loved and cherished as art pieces rather than fast fashion.
After studying fashion I travelled for a few years exploring and working abroad in Italy and London continually developing my experience in textile design. Returning to Australia, I worked in the industry as a textile and print designer for about 6 years before starting Bago Studio, initially whist also working full time for other people. Bago Studio was launched in 2013, but I have only recently started to work full time on the business.
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– Why did you go into business?
I have always wanted my own business, maybe it’s the creative freedom. I watched my parents work endlessly building a small locally run business and as such I see the importance and value of small business. Having also worked for a few small companies I also realise the struggles, but it’s something which I don’t want to regret trying in the future. When I moved to Melbourne after being in London I began cycling and this was my transport everywhere, all year round. I was inspired by clothing which was designed for a life of cycling.
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– Do you ride a bike? What type of bike?
Yes, a Kona Honky Tonk. I like streamlined bikes with no fuss.
– What was your vision when you started making cycling clothes?
I believe where possible we should cycle everywhere, like they do in other parts of the world. So cycling is just part of the everyday. I wanted to create practical and elegant clothing for the everyday female cyclist, to look and feel good both on and off the bike. I think Bago Studio has grown into much more now and symbolises a lifestyle of active travel for cycling, traveling, exploring and relaxing.
– Can you tell us about your manufacturing process?
Bago Studio is run as designer-made business from a small studio in Brisbane, I work like a tailor or dressmaker would. I am responsible for the whole production from initial print design to the final sewing. It is a very sustainable process as I am in control of the entire operation and its nice to keep it small and intimate. As such all garments are locally made with a focus on quality craftsmanship. The only process I outsource in the digital printing of the fabric, which is done through an Australian company in Sydney.
– As a small business owner, how do you spend you week?
It really does depend on the the week/time of year. As some weeks I might spend the entire week designing new silhouettes, garments, patterns and prints for my next collection or other weeks I might be sewing in production mode all week.
An average week would have one-two computer days, book keeping, admin, researching, social media updates or designing new prints. I might have a day pattern cutting and two days sewing the garments. As a small business I have to multi task and if an order comes through this will always be the priority.
Thanks so much for this interview, Kellie, for the insight into your business ethic and for the peek at some of your work. I just love the original prints you are using and the styles look so good for wearing around town. I can’t wait to see your winter collection!
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