Monday, 18 October 2010

Aussie culture

In any conversation about cycling, the benefits it can bring and the need for decent infrastructure, the cities of Copenhagen and Amsterdam rear their cycling friendly heads. Someone for whom all of this is not necessarily an issue will inevitably say, not unreasonable, that Adelaide is not Copenhagen.

While Adelaide might not be Copenhagen, it does have some similarities. Contrary to popular belief, greater Copenhagen is fairly spread out and like Adelaide, many of its streets are wide with more than one lane in each direction of free-flowing traffic:

(Original here).

It is the wide separate bike lanes that distinguish it from Adelaide.

Wouldn't be a cool thing though if there was a decent example of Australian style cycling? Well, I was in Byron Bay this weekend. It is, if I may say so, one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. Absolutely stunning coastline and views of the mountain ranges close by, plus the town itself is a pleasure to be in.

One thing I noticed was that cycling has totally taken off there. On the beachfront there were bikes everywhere. In keeping with the beach culture, the bikes the dudes and dudettes rode were often cruiser style bikes you might expect to see on the west coast of the U.S:

On the streets too, bikes were everywhere. Byron Bay is so popular that even on a Sunday, traffic is slow moving. Even with no real cycling infrastructure to speak of, bikes are all over the place. I am a crappy photographer so hardly got any pictures of them all but there were there.

There seems also to be a no-helmet policy. I could be wrong but looking around I saw about one person in five (if that) who chose to put a helmet on. I caught a couple of them. Here are two people, one with and one without:

and here's another:

In the main, riders can be divided into two groups - beach bums in boardies and hippies.

As I say, they were everywhere.

I couldn't tell just by looking what led to such a strong bike presence. The strong hippy culture can't hurt, nor can the large number of young people. The lack of any infrastructure was made up for by the slow traffic which allowed for a shared space system to work very well.

It also has an absence of big box stores surrounded by car parks. Instead the streets are full of independent shops selling everything - stuff you normally would never find in supermarkets or department stores. My only hope is that they survive as Byron Bay gets more popular and the rents get higher.

Whatever the answer is, it's brilliant. True Aussie style cycling culture.

No comments:

Post a Comment