Rolling with clover

April 18th, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized

Rolling with (Clothes and) Clover

It was lovely weather for cycling in Sydney this weekend and my family took full advantage.

On Saturday my wife, Fiona, had booked a stall at a second hand clothing market. But how to transport what seemed like half the contents of her wardrobe, a clothes rack and a full length mirror?

Many people would be looking for the car keys at this point, but as neither of us have a licence that wasn’t an option. Instead we attached the trailer that usually carries our dog Laszlo to Fiona’s Breezer, while I put aside my Fuji for the day, replacing it with BikeSydney’s Gazelle Cabby on loan. Between the two of us we managed to fit everything in with space to spare. The ride from Dulwich Hill to Darlington might not have broken any speed records, but it was perfectly comfortable. The Cabby took the load with ease and after a few minutes getting used to its steering I was happily sitting upright, spinning with ease. When we got to our destination the people unloading their 4WDs were amazed!

If you are carrying a load daily, be it kids, pets, the shopping or anything else you could think of, the Cabby really makes things easy. If you don’t need one all the time a good option is to borrow one – become a member of BikeSydney (http://bikesydney.org) or the Watershed Sustainability Centre in Newtown (http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/environment/thewatershed/Default.asp), who have a number of cargo bikes available for short term loans.

On Sunday there was only one place to be if you were a cycling Sydney-sider – rolling with Clover around the CBD! This was definitely a family day out, so the trailer was switched to my Fuji, Laszlo was loaded in, and we made our way into the city via Newtown, were we had arranged to meet up with a bunch of riders from the Sydney Cyclist forum (www.sydneycyclist.com) and Dulwich Hill Bicycle Club (www.dhbc.org.au). We arrived at Town Hall to a growing crowd, estimated to have reached 600 riders by the time we set off for our loop around the CBD. The gathering was representative of the full spectrum of cyclists in Sydney, from the very young to the old, those wearing lycra, business suits and everything in between (including a guest appearance by the Stig), multiple children and dogs in various trailers, bike seats and baskets, a parrot perched on a handlebar and at least one tandem, a recumbent and a tall bike amongst the more usual town bikes, fixies and racers.

As we cruised through intersections with 50 to 100 cyclists at a time you couldn’t help but think how much space the same group would be taking up if we were in cars. It really goes to show that bikes are far from a traffic problem – they are a traffic solution. Cycling is also a much more sociable way to travel – you don’t really mind being at a red light so much when you can have a friendly chat to the person next to you. Even with the roads and cycleways bursting with bikes, everyone rode in an orderly and courteous manner, talking to pedestrians and motorists as we passed and obeying the road rules (which did slow things down a little on the Kent St cycleway, particularly at the intersection with Market Street where cyclists only get a green light for 4 seconds at a time!).

Everyone involved had a great time and we really sent a message to all those in government and in the media who would have you believe that cycling is not a viable transport option in Sydney and that cyclists aren’t using the infrastructure that has been built. There is already talk about making the Roll a regular event, so if you didn’t get out on the roads with us this weekend there should definitely be other opportunities soon – at one intersection I bumped into one of the organisers of the Woop ride from last year who told me that there are plans for us to take over Bourke St again later on this year, which is great to hear. While we wait for the next big day out keep on using the infrastructure that we have and get involved with and support the groups and individuals, like our BUGs and our Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who are continuing to make Sydney a better city for cycling!