There’s other events to get you through a Melbourne winter but Melburn Roobaix sets the high mark. Every year it banishes a thin winter sun, uniting all the cycling tribes into a day of bikes, discovery and laughs ’til your cheeks hurt.
It’s probably hard to explain to non-locals. Even copying the mix probably wouldn’t produce Melburn Roobaix’s lovely vibe – a credit to fyxamatosis founder Andy White and his crew.
Sure, it’s a meandering treasure hunt across the burbs, linking cobbled laneways that tip a lufted cap to the famous pave sectors of namesake race Paris Roubaix. Australia’s first Paris Roubaix winner Stuart O’Grady was guest of honour one year, and 2016 winner Mat Hayman wasn’t forgotten.
One of the funniest websites around is Warrington Cycle Campaign’s Cycle Facility of the Month, an hilarious look at bike infrastructure that should never have left the drawing board.
Inspired by the laughs, I captured some of Melbourne’s efforts in 2008-2009 and while they’re not a match for Warrington’s, I’ve dropped in a few below.
Melbourne has been called the world’s most liveable city for the past four years, based on an annual ranking of services, stability, culture and infrastructure in 140 cities.
Topping the list matters to ‘brand Melbourne’ and local politicians facing State polls next month, but no-one else really cares.
Does anyone remember the John and Betty readers?
John can jump.
Betty can jump.
Boroondara Council in Melbourne’s east is using the same idea in a trial of signage to improve behaviour on shared paths. We grizzle about uncontrolled dogs, walkers bark about speeding cyclists sort of thing.
Even cyclists complain about some of the commuter behaviour on the busy Gardiner’s Creek trail – overtaking on blind corners, PB speed etc – while walkers four abreast and unrestrained canines are the other side of the coin. I had one suggest Lassie wouldn’t bite but had no idea I was more worried about my collarbones. On sunny weekends, it’s safer on the road.
So council installed three multi-panel ‘stories’ aimed at both protagonists on the trail in October and asked its 1000-strong sounding board, the community panel, for feedback. We haven’t heard back yet.
I’m not sure what to make of it. I didn’t like the first one when I went to have a look and alternative captions sprang to mind. It struck me as anti-cyclist.
But the next one aimed at walkers seemed to even the score a bit. And given the food chain that has cars giving way to cyclists (we wish) giving way to walkers, maybe it’s fair enough that the trial aims two stories at bikes.
It shouldn’t be needed but more rules and signs won’t help. So maybe it’s worth a try. I’d be interested in what people think.
Today was trade day at the annual AusBike Bike Expo at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building, giving suppliers and buyers a chance to get together before the masses arrive on the weekend.
It’s a little quieter than the consumer days so a great time to check out the 100+ stands and catch up with people, especially some of the technical experts behind the gear.
Not all the big brands have stands but Giant is there with a giant stand as are a few bike shops, and you can inspect lots of parts, clothing and accessories and talk to people about all things bike – insurance, selling, trips and even beer.
As a warm-up for this week’s Ride2Work Day and Around the Bay ride next weekend, here’s a few of the bits at AusBike that caught my eye …