2015 – a brief year in review
Well, the year is almost over. Out with the old and in with the new, and all that. Predictably, I feel an overwhelming pressure to do some sort of end-of-year summary of how the year went and how we should approach the next.
But who’s year? The simple fact is that I’m not informed with anywhere near enough detail to sum up how the world went in regards to the promotion of cycling as a mode of transportation to break it down for you here. If I had to guess, I’d say that there were big gains in some places (NZ, and specifically Auckland, has had a cracker of a year), while others continued with the same formula that has seen urban sprawl and a preference for personal motorized transport that has got us where we are today. There were small but meaningful set-backs in other places, but the overall tone of the year, I feel, has been positive. The trouble is not that cycling is making gains, but that it is not making them with enough urgency given the state of our cities and communities.
Australia, for example, has been putting in a few bike lanes here and there, ripping others out, the mainstream media fueling the supposed war between cyclists and motorists, and maintaining some of the most draconian cycling policies the world over, with the result that cycling rates have been in steady decline since 2011 (and that’s only recreational cyclists – I don’t have the figures to hand, but I recall that cyclings mode share is hovering around a paltry 2% nationally), while the rest of the world is seeing gains. And the penny doesn’t drop. They don’t get it. Or, aren’t interested in getting it, at any rate.
Adelaide, specifically, is better than it was 12 months ago, but as far as infrastructure goes, little is different. There have been some roundabout treatments here and there, some streets that have received some fresh paint, some redesigns that have helped but nonetheless give priority over to motorized vehicles, a few more areas going to 40kph (from 50kph), but nothing major like protected intersections or segregated cycleways. The biggest change has been in rolling out the Metre Matters legislation, which came coupled with the ability for people of all ages to ride on the pavements/sidewalks. These two things have made cycling on our otherwise identical roads a little more comfortable, and if nothing else, is an important symbol of our legitimacy on the road (the metre part, at least…).
The US is having some success with their cycling, what with all of the protected intersections going in, segregated bike lanes appearing in Federal design manuals, and Congress now allowing cities to use their own design manuals for how they will build their infrastructure. Los Angeles, NYC, Portland, Boston, and many, many other cities are making headway while simultaneously battling intense opposition, as the ability to drive a large vehicle to transport only yourself to any destination near or far is still considered an inalienable right by many, as it is here.
Europe seems to be doing just fine with cycling, and as ever, are increasing their mode-share, while the UK is pretty average. London is certainly making some bold moves, but we’ll see how that actually affects the cycling uptake there. South America has its high-points, but really I don’t know if places outside the likes of Bogotá are doing well or poorly. It’s funny how South America in general just isn’t that interesting to Western media. Not much economic interest (at least, or a threat to anyone to bother, I guess.
Overall then, on a global scale, it’s either stagnant, or improving.
As for The Sticky Bidon? The first full year is behind me. And? Would I say that it has been successful?
I suppose that depends on what the criteria is. I started this on a whim, really. Blogs often cost nothing but time and energy (and this has been an expensive exercise in that respect!), for the most part, and I had (have) opinions, like to argue, and a desire to give cycling a little push in what I hope is the right direction.
So I started writing, and here I am still writing. I guess that’s a success. Am I rich and famous? I think you can probably answer that one, but readership is growing, slowly but surely. I’ve had some really good people contribute some words, helped a few people out with the product reviews, provided a wee bit of entertainment, received some positive feedback, and I’ve really enjoyed getting stuck into my Instagram feed, showcasing just how beautiful the riding is here, in and around Adelaide. Hopefully, I’ve put some ideas into the heads of a few people and have caused a few conversations to be had around the topic of cycling.
Since it was put to me rather plainly in the later part of this year, I’ve been wrestling with the fact that advocacy really just isn’t that sexy. I’m not even sure how appropriate the term “advocacy” is, really, when applied to what I do here. I’m not leading rallies or staging die-ins, organizing letter-writing campaigns to elected officials, or starting any grass-roots movements. I guess that’s what I think of when I hear the word advocacy, but technically, I suppose I am engaging in an activity with the aim of challenging or influencing decisions or opinions of those in the political or social realm.
It’s important, and it’s what I’m into, but it could be one of the reasons why readership isn’t growing faster than it is. So, I sometimes wonder if I should be doing more product reviews and the like, which, as it happens, are consistently among the most read pieces. I’ll keep doing them, to be sure, and I’ll happily do more of them for relevant products, but although it’s helpful, it’s not the reason why I began this website. That’s beside the fact that nobody needs another Bike Rumor, Cycling Tips, Bike Radar, Cycling News and the like, anyway. They do a great job of that and have that area more than covered.
So, while I don’t have notions of grandeur, I’ll have to have a bit of a think about how to spice things up a bit here while maintaining a foundation of advocacy, critical analysis, inspiration and encouragement relating to cycling in an every-day context as well as for the simple pleasure of turning the pedals and getting more people to do so.
2016, then, will hopefully see more contributors bring you more interesting stories and perspectives, while I try to turn the interest level up a few notches with a few ideas I’ve got rattling around in the background.
If you have any suggestions or ideas about things that you’d like to hear about, see more of, are involved in any projects or businesses, or anything else that you’d like to discuss relating to the betterment of cycling, I’d love to hear from you.
Have a safe and happy New Years, and I’ll see you in 2016!
Header image: source (cropped)