Monday, June 23, 2014

Megabunch - The Million Bike Milestone

Ride To Work Day in October last year saw the unveiling of a Cyclist Counter on the Capital City Trail in North Carlton. Funded in conjunction with Velo Cycles and the Moreland City Council, it displays the number of bikes using the popular path each day as well as a cumulative yearly total. It is located just west of Nicholson Street outside the Velo Cycles store. The aim is to clock-up a million bikes on the path by the time Ride To Work Day rolls around this year, on Wednesday October 15th.

The target is ambitious and may well require a dedicated promotional campaign in order to be realised. Either that or perhaps just some gentle massaging of the data…which might already be occurring.

For example, when I passed by the counter on March 19th this year, the cumulative total displayed was 225 000, which translates to around 1500 bicycles per day.

Despite this, a news article on The Weekly Review Melbourne Times website claimed that as of February 14th, over 306 000 bicycles had been recorded, which is an average of around 2500 bicycles per day. This is quite a substantial discrepancy and one wonders whether or not it was intentional.

As of yesterday evening (June 22nd 2014), the total displayed had risen to around 475k, with the average climbing to around 1900 per day. This is good news, but unfortunately not enough. In order to reach the 1 million bike target, or Megabunch, the daily average needs to reach about 2740 per day. This means that we’ll need to see an average of over 4500 bicycles per day between now and Ride To Work Day in order to achieve this ambitious goal.

The manufacturer of the Cyclist Counter is Danish company VEKSØ, who specialise in quality street furniture and offer a number of cycling-specific products. Their website even includes a dedicated section entitled VEKSØ and Cyclism.
VEKSØ promotes cycling
The bicycle is a healthy and CO2 neutral method of transport and reduces congestion in the cities. VEKSØ offers a complete solution for the cycle friendly urban space with cycle parking products, innovative bicycle service equipment and a consultation service to advice on how to get more people using bicycles.
Our cycling knowledge means that VEKSØ is a valued partner for everybody who, one way or another is working to make it more fun, more accessible and safer to be a cyclist.
Denmark is often seen to be at the forefront of bicycle participation, infrastructure and advocacy. Copenhagen-style separated bike paths are starting to appear in some Australian cities, and a general increase in bicycle infrastructure points to a healthy future for cycling in this country. However, sometimes a little more thought needs to be put in to the implementation of this bicycle infrastructure.

Whilst the intention might be noble, the execution here leaves a little to be desired. 

And then there was this example by the City of Moreland, brought to the attention of the Twitterverse by Jono Lovelock.

Although, in their defence, Moreland City Council did manage to rebut this criticism.

Unless some drastic measures are taken to boost numbers along this section of the Capital City Trail, it’s clear that the 1 million bike milestone (Megabunch) won’t be achieved…and that would be a great shame. If there’s one thing that cyclists love and value above all else, it’s milestones. There are distance milestones like centuries (100 or 200 kilometre rides – or miles if you live somewhere stupid); there are elevation milestones like Everesting (climbing a total of 8848m in a single ride); and Strava has pretty much given anybody with a bike and a GPS device the ability to rank themselves speed-wise against other likeminded individuals on endless ride segments. Up until now though, participation milestones have been difficult to measure.

The 1 million bike target (Megabunch) for Australia’s first ever bike path counter is important. Mainly because it’s the first time that such a milestone has been set.

A promotional campaign might be necessary in order to try and boost numbers. Something that will get people excited about the goal. We need to get people riding this trail more often, multiple times per day if possible. What about riding there nude? Surely this counts as double, so after you pass the sensor make sure that you remember to turn around and ride over it again.

Here’s where you can find the Capital City Trail bike counter. Why not try incorporating this location in to your daily route.

Perhaps some popular road bunch rides could make a detour via North Carlton in order to get some big daily numbers over the counter. If you follow Jens Voigt on Twitter then you’ll know that he always loves to get behind a worthwhile cause. Perhaps a few choice Tweets to @thejensie might help boost the profile of the Megabunch goal. Obviously there’s likely to be some whingy resistance to this cyclists’ call to arms:
“North Carlton isn’t on my daily route.”
“I ride on roads – bike paths are always full of dogs and rollerbladers.”
In order to address these concerns, here’s five good reasons why you should get on your bike and head for North Carlton and the Capital City Trail bike counter.
1. Café St Ali North (located on the Capital City Trail), ran a nude cycling promotion a couple of years back offering free coffee (and cash) to anybody who cycled naked to their takeaway coffee window. Why not get some friends together and relive this liberating experience. Remember to ride over the sensor twice (because you are nude) before heading in to demand a free-coffee. They might not initially be too keen to deliver on this old promotion, but remember that a large group of rowdy, naked patrons possesses formidable bargaining power. 
2. Cyclists love European things and there’s nothing more European than cheese, so head over to the Milawa Cheese Shop at 665 Nicholson Street and try something tasty and expensive. 
3. Visit The Spin Room (732 Nicholson Street) for an indoor Wattbike group training class. After the class, get all the participants together and head over to the bike counter where you can forget about megawatts and look forward to the first ever Megabunch.  
4. Dance the way God intended at No Lights No Lycra on Wednesday evening’s at 7pm. NLNL runs inside the church hall at 49 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East, one block north of the bike counter. 
5. Visit Carolina café (11 Nicholson Brunswick East) and try their signature Avocado Smash. Sure, you can pretty much be guaranteed of finding the same thing in almost every single trendy Melbourne café these days, but located only half a block north of the Capital City Trail, you won’t find any others this close to the bike counter. 
Remember, there's not much time until this year's Ride To Work Day rolls around so tell your friends, get people talking, send inappropriate group emails to all your work colleagues – do whatever it takes to boost the numbers and then know that you played a role in achieving Australia’s first ever Megabunch.

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