Weird stuff is going on in the Melbourne Critical Mass “community.” Flames, etc appearing on the mailing list, and the sound of personalities clashing in the night…

There has been an interesting discussion on bells and the sounding of same prior to passing pedestrians. The argument for is in the interests of peace and harmony of all human-powered transport, the argument against is that most pedestrians on cyclable paths either know the bikes are there, and so don’t need the bells, or don’t know the bikes are there, and are such dopey idiots that making a warning noise is not in the best interests of cyclist or pedestrian.

The law requires me to have an “approved sound maker” “affixed to my bicycle.” Is my voice, capable of a large dynamic range, considerable volume, and wide variation, an “approved sound maker?” Is my 85kg mass, attached at seat, pedals and handlebars, better “affixed” than a bell or tweeter held on by a clip or one phillips-head screw? These questions and more can be asked of your local magistrate…

Woo! Bicycle Victoria has redesigned their webpages. It still amuses me that Bicycle Victoria has a “.com” domain while Bicycle NSW has a “.org” registration — and it seems to reflect their focus as commercial ride organisers rather than bicycle activism. Oh well, it looks like I’m out of luck with respect to the bells, below is a direct quote from Bicycle Victoria.

Bells are of little use in alerting people in motor vehicles but can help alert people who are about to step onto the roadway.

  • The rules

    Traffic regulations require a rider to have a bell fitted. The penalty for riding a bicycle without a bell is $50. The penalty refers specifically to a bell. The old definition of an audible warning device no longer applies - so you can’t argue that your voice meets the regulations.

I wonder how the law regards air-horns, since they obviously aren’t “bells? Strangely enough, the requirements don’t apply to tandems or other non-standard bicycles!

It’s too nice a day, I should be outside riding my bike.

In keeping with the day’s bicycle orientation, I went and attended Bicycle Victoria’s Annual General Meeting this evening — something I’ve never done in the past. I have my own views on BV, and of how they’ve changed over the years, and of what their focus is these days, after five years as a member I thought I’d see what the AGM was like.

A few observations from the meeting:

  • Out of a membership of around 30,000, approximately 50 people attended the AGM.
  • The motto “/More People Cycling More Often/” might well be amended to “/More People Cycling More Often — so long as we can make money off the events they’re cycling in/.”
  • The crisis in public-liability insurance is causing much consternation, both to BV and to the related BUGs.
  • Owing to “commercial sensitivity,” the majority of BV’s financial information is not available to its members — whether there is a real or imagined threat to their income is not known, but it only serves to hilight any suspicions that members have.
  • The statements “/All organized rides were financially successful/” and “/Easter-bike is no longer held since it is not financially viable/” seem a little circular. It appears that the money is more important than getting “more people cycling” in this instance, and that the one family-oriented event cannot be cross-subsidised by other events.
  • The closing of BV’s office the day before an important special meeting was explained as incompetence, rather than malice or any sinister motive to rail-road through changes to the constitution at that meeting.
  • The councillors, old and new, seemed to be predominantly business people, or “recent new cyclists.” It appears that once you are a regular cyclist, you are no longer the primary focus of Bicycle Victoria. This seems to be reinforced by their emphasis on off-road paths and recreational facilities.