Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Tips on using bikes with V/Line regional trains in Victoria

Summary: V/Line provides regional public transport in Victoria by train and bus. Taking bikes on trains to and from regional destinations is becoming more desirable for both commuters to Melbourne and for cyclists pursuing recreation in regional areas - especially given Victoria's fantastic rail trails.

Unfortunately, V/Line currently provides very limited and low priority services for those seeking to take bicycles on regional trains. Present regional train services accommodate only a handful of bikes at the best of times and the decision on whether to allow bikes at each station is solely up to the conductor. Official advice is to avoid taking bikes in the peak hour direction during weekdays from 7-9:30am and 4-7pm and any other busy times.

Nevertheless, there are various tips to maximise your chances of being able to take bikes on V/Line trains. I've collated them in this post. Experienced V/Line bike travellers have figured out how to make it work most of the time because there are few people committed enough to persist.


Friday, 23 October 2015

The dirty secret of Yuppie urbanist's parking waivers: car ownership on the public teat

Summary: Among other things, New Urbanism principles favour policies that reduce the ownership and use of cars in order to improve liveability for all residents. In practice, Yuppie Urbanism uses the cover of progressive urban reform to primarily pursue the narrow interests of professional elites. Broad Shoup-style parking reforms are typically thrown in the too hard basket, and so obtaining waivers (special exemptions) from off-street parking minimums is a common element of new urbanism projects where commensurate car ownership and parking demand can be reduced. An egalitarian, scalable interest in policies that actually reduced private car ownership would seek unavoidable tradeoffs (no cheating) that were open to all developers and residents. The dirty secret of campaigns for parking waivers on specific projects is that some of these urban elites are cheating - escaping the cost of contributing to car parking supply while still owning private vehicles they park in free or highly-subsidised public space (e.g. on-street). In this post, I look at a specific example in Melbourne and discuss how it could be resolved fairly for genuine, scalable community benefit.

Nightingale proposed development in Brunswick

Friday, 21 August 2015

How can cycling best contribute to personal wellbeing and a better life?

Summary: Liveable city rankings are obviously flawed because quality of life varies considerably for residents based on where they live and their access to well-paid jobs and amenities. But the more damaging implications are that individual wellbeing is primarily at the mercy of politics, economics and planning, and that individuals should focus on maximising the suggested indicators (e.g. income, home ownership, private schools). A more useful exercise is to compile a list of the proven factors that significantly influence personal wellbeing, quality of life and happiness. And then to consider how you might optimise your housing, work, transport and lifestyle decisions to maximise the benefits. This post isolates many of these personal wellbeing factors and suggests how cycling can best contribute to leveraging them.

The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

How to escape the tyranny of others' thoughtless car-centrism

Summary: I’ve already fully escaped from car-dependence and the accompanying costs, hassles, stress, health impacts and wasted time. I don’t use a car at all unless absolutely necessary for trips out of town, such as camping. If the trip is genuinely worthwhile, I’ll make the effort to organise a car through the best car share option I can find (currently Car Next Door). Unfortunately, sometimes family, friends or acquaintances arrange plans that presume we all own or use cars, and don’t mind hours of pointless driving or taking very expensive taxi rides. I've now quit accommodating these thoughtless demands. Rather than have to explain my justification in depth to each person, I wrote this post so I could just send it to those most aggrieved. Feel free to use it yourself; the case is watertight!

Flickr CCby2.0 - Sakeeb Sabakka

Friday, 13 March 2015

What infrastructure and legal changes are needed to prevent dooring deaths in Melbourne?

Summary: In Feb 2015, Alberto Paulon was killed after being doored and pushed under the wheels of a truck driving alongside. This entirely preventable death occurred on Sydney Rd which has long been notorious for its high risk of dooring. This is exactly the same way James Cross died in another popular Melbourne street in 2010. However, a video of Alberto's incident has led to more media, political and community attention than normal, and there has been much debate on how to prevent future dooring deaths on this road and similar ones. Unfortunately, most of the mainstream discussion is ignorant of the key facts and real infrastructure and legal changes required to prevent these deaths. I'll use this post to concisely discuss them.


Friday, 16 January 2015

The Better By Bicycle Android app

Summary: If you have an Android phone you can now download the free Better By Bicycle app, which is intended to provide useful smartphone-targeted content for transport cyclists. It is only available for Android as the app maker I used (Andromo) is Android-only. This post will be updated with details of what I've currently incorporated into the mobile app and any ideas for new features. Please also use the comments to suggest any content for the app, such as links to the most outstanding articles, websites, videos, books, apps and Facebook Groups/Pages.


Sunday, 4 January 2015

The green illusions and false promises of the electric car (including Tesla)

Summary: Naive environmentalists have been fooled into thinking that private electric cars are green, sustainable and a necessary, key part of our transport future. In reality, electric cars are about sustainability only for the automotive industry and status quo financial and industrial systems. Thankfully, new sceptics like Ozzie Zehner, author of Green Illusions, have broken into the mainstream media with arguments dispelling the myths and greenwash around electric cars. I'll use this post to collate evidence that demonstrates why private electric cars will simply perpetuate our real problems (private cars, a commuting culture, a consumption and growth based economy). Bikes are the real solution for local trips, with public transport for longer journeys and car share and carpooling where required. And the focus of genuine environmentalists should be on transformative improvements to how we live, work, get around, and build a healthier, fairer society.


Friday, 2 January 2015

My calculated benefits of cycling for transport

Summary: In 2014, I cycled for 99% of my local trips in Melbourne between 2km and 20km (4000km). So this annual calculation exercise will demonstrate with hard facts whether cycling really can be cheaper, quicker, easier, safer, healthier and more enjoyable than the alternatives for getting around cities like Melbourne. For each criteria, I compare cycling with using a car or public transport.


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Greg Raisman

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The complete guide to electric bikes

Summary: Electric bikes (e-bikes, pedelecs) can make it feasible for more people in more types of circumstances to achieve many benefits of cycling for transport - specifically where distance, hills, winds, loads or fitness are barriers. However, it's important to consider: if e-bikes are really the best solution, if so, what type of e-bike to choose, and how to best use it to maximise cycling's advantages while not unnecessarily eliminating some benefits (e.g. free exercise, improving fitness/health) or introducing new barriers (risk of theft, ongoing costs). As I don't own or use e-bikes, this post will primarily collate links to the most helpful guides and resources.

Superpedestrian Copenhagen Wheel

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Why Mr Money Mustache's biggest secret of financial freedom is to ride a bike

Summary: Most people can benefit greatly from simple, candid and accurate guidance on how to really achieve financial freedom and put earning, spending and saving money into perspective with regard to what's really important in life. Mr Money Mustache (MMM) is one of the most popular personal finance bloggers in the world for doing just that. The connection with cycling and transport is simple - MMM advises that if he had to strip down his financial advice and philosophy to just one tip it would be to ride a bike. I agree and have a few insights that help clarify that it's not primarily about the money savings, it's about cycling's potential to transform your life for the better. This post will collate MMM's most salient posts and arguments about cycling vs driving in one place. This is especially important as many devotees of MMM or similar blogs struggle to fully understand how riding a bike can be so critical to a better life and financial freedom. Hence, they don't fully implement this element and I think they're really missing out. Also, if struggling to overcome the barriers to cycling, note that MMM doesn't write a transport cycling blog and his biking advice has some shortcomings that I've corrected in this post.

Mr Money Mustache

Monday, 22 December 2014

Working less and more flexibly is desirable and a key to going car-free

Summary: Rethinking the purpose and desirability of conventional jobs is the key to eliminating car-dependent or miserable work commutes. Indeed, if you subtract the work commute, many more households could reduce or eliminate their car ownership. Logically then, there is a pathway for many households to follow, whereby reducing the number of work commutes and inflexible work constraints (e.g. being at work each day by a set time) enables alternatives to driving and car ownership to become feasible. This post will provide examples of how working less or more flexibly provides significant opportunities to reduce car ownership/use or make cycling and walking feasible options.

Flickr CC by 2.0 - Robert Couse-Baker

Friday, 19 December 2014

Why you should campaign and vote to kill bad infrastructure projects

Summary: Big, expensive, city-changing infrastructure projects that are likely to fail, blowout in cost/time, cause major adverse impacts or simply miss the opportunity to radically improve the city, need to be killed as early as possible. You can't trust most politicians, bureaucrats, project-connected experts and especially private corporations to deliver the best social outcomes. Citizens need to inform themselves early enough to get directly involved in forcing the best decisions to be made. Urban cyclists often have the most to lose from bad projects as they shred funds that could be spent on cycling infrastructure as well as embed massive obstacles that entrench car-centric urban design. In this post, I'll collate salient articles and examples of these projects and the battles to kill or reshape them.

Flickr CC by 2.0 - WSDOT

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Opportunities, benefits and tips for mixed mode commuting

Summary: Mixed mode commuting simply involves combining more than one mode of transport in completing a trip - public transport, cycling, walking and driving. Many people that could gain some benefits from mixed mode commuting don't consider it carefully enough and stick to their existing mode (primarily driving or public transport only). Others struggle with the challenges of mixed mode commuting (connections, parking, flexible bike access). This post will collate opportunities, benefits and tips for getting the most out of mixed mode commuting with cycling as a key element.

Flickr CC by 2.0 - EURIST e.V.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

How to best improve cycling infrastructure through voting and political involvement

Summary: In modern democracies, the conventional way of achieving political change (laws, policy, public projects/initiatives) is through maximising the vote of the parties or candidates most sympathetic to your views. And also by influencing the policies and promises of these parties and candidates, and holding them accountable for commitments if elected. Most people are familiar with the many conventional ways of engaging in mainstream, conventional politics and so I won’t discuss them here. Instead, I’ll concentrate only on highlighting specific issues and opportunities in Melbourne that are not well known but may be worth


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Why you shouldn't use Uber or companies like it

Summary: Many "sharing economy" boosters love Uber because it's been so successful so quickly, disrupted entrenched monopolies and is trailblazing the changes needed for similar peer-to-peer enterprises to take off. But even if offering valuable, new solutions, not all businesses are worthy of support. Uber is a classic example of a business where profit matters more than people and social consequences. In this post, I'll collate various articles that expose Uber's unethical philosophy and practices, and by extension all profit-seeking transport enterprises with similar priorities. However, real ridesharing and carpooling are important enablers of going car-free, so I will also try and identify the best alternate options available.


Monday, 24 November 2014

How to use a local sharing site to save money, learn skills and connect with neighbours

Summary: Websites that allow neighbours to freely and easily give away or lend goods, services and skills are a great asset for utility cyclists seeking to save money, learn or share skills and connect with their neighbours. In Australia, I recommend Streetbank as the best site to do this through. It enables genuine sharing, building neighbourly relationships (especially around common interests) and resilient communities. In this post, I'll provide cycling-related examples using Streetbank of how such sharing services can provide valuable advantages for individuals, neighbours and communities.

Streetbank

Sunday, 23 November 2014

How to deal with windy conditions and still get around by bike

Summary: Windy conditions can be as big a deterrent to getting around by bike as heavy rain. However, experienced cyclists have ways to either avoid riding into the wind (at least the worst of it) or, when unavoidable, make cycling as efficient and safe as is feasible. This post explains some of the most common methods daily cyclists use to deal with the wind.

Flickr CCby2.0 - Martin Mutch

Friday, 21 November 2014

How to use and contribute to Melbourne cycling safety data

Summary: Cycling crash and black spot maps and other safety visualisations capture a lot of attention but rarely provide individuals with accurate, self-explanatory means to determine the safest routes or best mitigate actual risks. This post will collate the various data, maps and apps for Melbourne and provide guidance on how individuals can best get value from this data and also contribute to improving cycling safety.

CrowdSpot: Cycle Stories

Thursday, 13 November 2014

How to source cheap bike parts and accessories in Australia

Summary: Buying bicycle parts and accessories is unnecessarily expensive if you are forced to purchase them when not on sale and from a typical bike shop which has high costs to recover. I buy consumables (e.g. brake pads, chains) in bulk on special and wait for clearance prices on more expensive equipment. In this post, I'll provide details of some of the parts and accessories I've bought - prices, websites and tips on acquiring decent quality equipment cheaply.


Friday, 7 November 2014

How to deal with and report dangerous drivers

Summary: Urban cyclists are affected by or observe dangerous drivers much more frequently than they are involved in actual accidents. Unfortunately, much of this dangerous driving goes unreported and unactioned because there was no injury/damage or necessity for immediate police contact. This post explains what cyclists should do when confronted with dangerous driving or behaviour and how to best report it to police or other organisations and also follow up action. It will also document the outcomes of any reports I make myself.