Velo-city Global 2014: Thursday, 29 May
Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards is in Adelaide for the Velo-City Global 2014 conference this week and reporting daily highlights here on the Ride On blog. See his summary from Thursday.
Today was my turn to take to the stage with our Please, Tony! campaign. Pretty intimidating with the world’s bike riding royalty watching on.
I had 19 minutes (this conference is a well-oiled machine) to plead my case. I spoke for 10 minutes and then gave the Velo-city delegates 9 minutes to write to Tony Abbott and ask him to please spend $7.5 billion on separated bike lanes and paths.
Thanks to the wonders of smart phones more than a hundred delegates joined the campaign. Some even went old school, with delegates from Montana, USA and Portugal writing Prime Minister Abbott a letter.
I had some great positive reactions from people keen to help out:
- “Well done for being so bold and aiming big”
- “Thank goodness you’re doing something about the federal government ignoring bikes”
- “I’m sick of how slow things are moving, we need to do something”
- “Even if we only get a third of the $7.5b ask it’ll be a huge win”
Of course, I knew bike groups were going to be the toughest nuts to crack. My own words of ‘riders have a tendency to fight among each other rather than unite for a common cause’ were ringing in my ears as a couple of bike groups told me in no uncertain terms:
- “No matter how good an idea it is I’m not doing it unless you ask my permission first”
- “This might get you some attention but there is no way this will work”
In a bid to silence the critics I went out on a limb. I wish I hadn’t told the delegates that if we do prove the doubters wrong, I’ll wear knicks in public for the first time. But I can’t back down now and to prove my commitment, here’s the pineapple I’m going to keep and use to buy a pair of knicks when the Federal Government realises that bike infrastructure is more important than planes, trains and automobiles.
The good times kept on rolling until I was nailed by an anti-helmet campaigner. He gave me both barrels, ‘You’re making me wear a helmet. You’re fining me. You’re ruining me. You’re daft.’ I tried to appease him with my soothing tones of, ‘People can have different opinions. We just love all bike riders and want to look after them.’ It certainly didn’t work and with the distance between his finger and my chest down to millimeters I kept my eyes to the ground and retreated slowly.
After all that heavy stuff it’s time for some light relief. Every place has its culinary quirks and the Velo-city caterers did their best to showcase Adelaide to the world.
Just quietly, I’m not sure the trade commission (if there is such a thing) will be banking on the ‘pie floater’ and ‘frog cake’ to be our next big export when the mines are empty.
Late in the day, our own Bashful Bart jumped at the chance to speak about the Bike Futures Conference in October. But this time Velo-city was a step ahead of him and kept him contained in a tank.