Beautiful Bikes

I Review The Jolly Flag Man Rule

On the front page a politician (can only be) is giving a demo of a new, enormous flag sticking out the side of his bike pannier to show a '1-metre' rule cars should obey if his law becomes effective when travelling near cyclists. Cool.

Or is it? Do we need more laws? Yes.

There's no harm in laws. They probably prevented you from having your head chopped off, to this point, your television being misappropriated, and your boss taking a 20% handling fee on last month's check.

Reorganising the pile of red tape so it's more sensible is never a bad thing, until it becomes the disguise for other new productive work - which is the way it will always end up anyway.

Nevertheless we have to indulge them because occasionally someone's got a big marble they need to push through the parliamentary halls and it might just be worth it. I think this is one, if only because car drivers are a good lot generally who will do whatever Today Tonight tells them - they're that sort of people, the picnic-bench sitting, Mrs Mac pie eating, carton-of-Masters, 4WD toting, BCF appreciating neck tatooists - and for Today Tonight to broadcast it it's going to have to find it's way into mainstream conciousness, which it will always do when it's a fait accompli and that only happens when it's law.

See, car drivers are a good lot actually.

If you have a neck tattoo you probably eat chickens straight out of the cage, feathers and all, but you also ring up Today Tonight and say if it's a law then our grandfathers must have thought it a good idea too, '- and so I eat this chicken to him,' even if the law only wodged it's way into our pages and found position 6-months ago.

This is the difficult impulse we have to observe - the 'if you don't want any trouble don't do anything wrong' gene, which will pop up like a newborn daisy after the 1-metre rule is introduced, like granny-tattoo had always thought of it, and it will certainly provide for less bicycle-lane borrowing from Mr BCF and his alpha-female cousins, calling talkback radio and claiming that because 'mathematically' riding a bicycle to school is more fatalous than being driven, then cyclists are lethal, sociopathic-vegetarians who should not be allowed to travel about and certainly not to have space on the road, and they should read the law more and see what grandfather always wanted.

It will mean that at BBQs and dinner parties cyclists won't be treated like the tick-ridden immigrant-refugees of yesterday who in principal probably have a right to exist, but only if they can walk the red stones of casual public ridicule until boredom or little laws set in to redirect our angst to eye-level, where it should be, setting and recognising assets around us - and the ability to transport yourself around our city in a variety of ways is one - and then to take these assets and harvest them so they spawn or fertilise more.

We don't know what joys a proper bicycle network will bring to our city - oh, we can look to Amsterdam and Copenhagen and other places where people travel with a stick of white bread under their armpit, but that would be boring.

Their lesson to us is eye-to-eye thinking with new assets that spout from the fortunate-to-already-be-fertile social landscape around us, and to pressure them into further productive development.

Yes, it is a bit naff when we're promised New York apartments, Copenhagen bike lanes and Melbourne coffee - and thank The Blues we don't have to have that. That would be boring - it is boring actually (we have way too much of this governance via someone else's marketing).

The real fun and interest - indeed the actual, true way that Life on Earth is meant to run is regional difference. And if we make jolly flag man in the paper here pull out the 'Copenhagen' card - and he will, if you resist his new law, then BCF may never develop their bicycle esky with pre-made ice and fish, nor will we see square-shaped bicycle cup holders with occasional pouch for a pie, sauce and Coffee Chill.  

Unless you want a stick of bread in your armpit. Which will be boring.

Photo violently stolen from The Subiaco Post website. Photographer: Billie Fairclough.

Shane Guthrie on a bike. 

I'm Glad To Be Back

I'm glad to be back, in front of a fantastic computer, where I can organise and re-organise my life and day.

Revisiting my photos, I'm going backwards to July 12, to publish relevant A Beautiful City, urbanistic articles and photos now originating from the A Beautiful City Phnom Penh, Hoi Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi trip - and you can see them here ...

Above: Super-Chubbs, A Beautiful City's first employee, in layover at Singapore Changi airport.  We notice straight away that manners, habits and conventions in Singapore, are different (better?) compared to Perth.  All over the airport, people are peacefully sleeping alone or in clusters, their eyes covered, their effects piled neatly to one side and their shoes off the furniture - their posture discrete and restrained.

Above: One of my first photos in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  I thought I'd shoot it as the bear-face was kinda cute, and multi-people on motorbikes was a novelty for me - and now I see that his cucumber looks like a wing-wang.  Bonus!

Below: I don't expect journeys to and from airports to be beautiful, but still, I shot away.  These photos have some A Beautiful City elements - Beautiful Bikes. 

And we can already see that people's attitudes or choices about personal transport are different, interesting - something we can learn from or think about, and adapt for our own city.

Below: I thought Super-Chubbs was as interested in the transport options as I was but then I realised he was just after coconuts.

And this is it for this post - below: a fascinating story about electricity development.  Love it.  We often complain and argue about red-tape, bureaucracy, added costs and unnecessary interference in building construction.  I'm not arguing for this, but we can reflect of the balance between development and restraint.  And there's no saying that this method is less safe, although an expert may chime in here and advise.  Thank you.

Another Stunning Hanoian Streetscene

I have written earlier about my attraction to this city and these types of scenes.  I am still wrestling with the simple words that explain why.

Building widths, from left to right: 2.89m, 2.37m 2.41m, 3.04m (9'6", 7'9", 7'10", 10')

I think it's interesting how colours are all from the same palette.  They're similar, but different.

Worth noting that texture and materials play a role, I think.  Paint (not sure what sort it is) on plaster gives this sensational finish.

All good, but perhaps unrealstic to replicate in my city?  Mainteance costs (plaster!) can be a killer.

Above: Nguyen Sieu, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Below: To the far left of the picture you can see a side-by-side comparison of the new vs the old.

Kids in the economy - makes your heart swell

To have a child transport itself independently around your city is a real boon.

Would this kid travel if his parents didn't think it was safe?  No.

Success, then.

Elizabeth's Bookshop, 6 South Terrace, Fremantle, Australia

What do you do when you've got to build a gate?

You do this.  That's what you do.

Percy Street, Prahran, Australia - this is the services store for a commercial/residential building and houses essential, boring elements such as electricity transformers, fire services and stuff like that.

Kink it up a bit, I say.

Let's Take Management Of Bicycle Lanes Seriously

Bike lanes are a great idea but more management is required to address the lack of respect shown to this part of our city by drivers.

What do you think about Rumble Strips on the dividing line between bike lane and road?

Rumble Strips are the duggada-duggada lines you hear when you veer out of lane on the highway.

Unfortunately, though, the traffic boffins have told us that rumble strips are a hazard to cyclists ...

When they're wet, or even if they're not, the bicycles can slip and slide on them.

Let's take management of bicycle lanes seriously or, perhaps, cyclists won't use them and their investment will be under-realised ...

So what's my solution?

I think very short rumble strips of a couple of metres could be trialled in areas where cars lazily cross the line.  This happens on bends and traffic lights mainly.

Alternatively or additionally, a big painted bike in the bike lane, maybe with an exclamation mark, will help the driver to understand that these areas are sacred.

Marmion Street, near corner Stock Road, in Palmyra, Australia

There's a new bike in town

Walking home yesterday, I was delighted to see that opposite my house is the new depot for a Fremantle pedicab business.

I went inside to have a chat.  They just started yesterday and are still assembling the bikes, which are imported from the USA and cost quite a bit.

The cabs will operate just like a taxi.  They pick up and drop off anywhere reasonable, I guess, and the driver will wait around at the drop-off point for their next customer - or just go roaming for them.

Surprisingly they will operate from 12.00 noon thru to 6.00am.


They're just fitting out their little depot/drivers lounge at 27 Queen Victoria Street.  There are some nice diagrams on their concrete floor which will be painted over which I shot for posterity.

On speaking to the owner, Rick Ferris, I promised to introduce him to key people in the Fremantle tourism industry so he can hit the ground running.  Good luck, mate.  This is a very interesting use for Queen Victoria Street.



Beautiful bikes

There's a lot of comment about cars in cities.

Some of its about rejecting cars.  Some of its about embracing cars.

It's all good.

Bicycles fit in there somewhere as well.

Upright bikes (not TOUR DE FRANCE style) are a good indicator of coolness in your city*

They are also a good indicator of foot traffic in your city.

A bikable city is a walkable city.

Heading straight into town.  This capture is at 3 Quarry Street, Fremantle, Australia - just metres from the main commercial district.

I love the freaky effect which was a complete accident.

*My study

More beautiful bikes?

Shopping on Bikes #3

South Terrace, Fremantle, Australia.

I had permission from the subject and their parent for this photo.

Taken early in a square of sunshine, out the front of Gino's Cafe.  The other shops are still unopened but they will be, after a baby-choc.

An eight year old on a bicycle needs supervision around the city because the bicycle network is not safe enough.

This reduces the opportunity for the child to participate in city life.  Conversely, a city with a great pedestrian and bicycle network is giving itself more opportunities for economic development.

Because, as a broader spectrum of ages are independently mobile around the city, activity occurs between more diverse participants, plus in greater quantities.

This positively influences the rate of innovation among people in your city.

We must connect the dots ...

Cottesloe offers a brilliant shopping street and a beautiful beach.  We must connect the dots ...

This is Cottesloe Beach, but unfortunately she's a difficult bike ride from Napoleon Street - Cottesloe's prime shopping precinct.

The bike lanes are minimal or non existent, and footpaths are interrupted by driveways and side streets.  There is no contiguous cycling- or even high quality walking-networks between the two.

Car travel between the two is easiest (parking permitting) given that several large roads connect them.

But travel between them by other means, such as by foot and bicycle, must be made easier by improving infrastructure.  (They are about a kilometre apart.)

Cottesloe's economy is centred around Napoleon Street, and Cottesloe Beach is one of Western Australia's trophy beaches.

The local economy must encourage and facilitate the transfer of people between the two.

Cottesloe beach is great for young people (without driving licences) and visitors to the state without a car ...

Cottesloe has an opportunity to make connectivity with one of the state's most popular beaches and its retail heart much easier - especially for the age groups not yet old enough to drive.

If you have any intelligence or discussion on this, please include me in the conversation.

Thank you ...

Dome Coffees, 19 Napoleon Street, Cottesloe