I've tweeted many times about my Australian cycling friend Paul van Bellen from Sydney & his cycling tour project 'Cycling Dutch Style': "If you want to get more people cycling in Australia, you need to make it more attractive, easy and convenient." - Paul van Bellen.
In May 2011 Paul will lead 30 Australian cycling thinkers over a 500km, 13 day tour in The Netherlands, the world's most cycle friendly country. Filmmakers Rowena Crowe and Paulo Alberton will follow and record van Bellen's tour as his team studies innovations and attitudes in cycling. Rowena and Paulo will shape the material collected into web friendly stories and information for a website called www.cyclingdutchstyle.com.au, and also into a documentary, once participants of the tour return to their homes and routines in Australia. Our website will be fully functional by early March 2011, in time for us to engage with our audience.
The Impact Major cities around the world are embracing cycling as a way to commute, in a bid to combat pollution, save petrol and avoid traffic congestion. While cycling groups in Australia are trying to promote cycling as a sustainable transport alternative through initiatives like Ride to Work Day, our major cities are lagging behind the rest of the world in infrastructure investment. The Netherlands has invested heavily in bicycle infrastructure over the last 30 years. The result is today 30% of all trips are done on a bicycle throughout the country, whilst in Australia many cities are aiming towards 5% by 2016. These stories will not only entertain broader audiences but they will also contribute to a valuable and unique online resource that may inform policy making in Australia and inspire other city planners around the world. The Tour The 30 participants meet in Dieren, the Netherlands on May 10th 2011 to begin their tour. Over the next 14 days they will ride an average 50 km per day. Our cameras will follow their journey, recording the sights and sounds and seeking their views on the state of cycling in these cities. We will meet Dutch people who use the bike infrastructure daily as they ride to work, school or to the shops. We will meet with experts who are involved in developing and maintaining this infrastructure. Together these stories will help us better understand the positive effects of investing heavily in cycling infrastructure. Each day we will be reporting from the saddle, bringing knowledge from the road. We will invite our audience to engage with our findings and consider how these ideas could be adapted to Australian conditions and way of life. Key moments on the tour will include a visit to: Groningen, the world's number one cycling city with 60% of all trips done by bicycle; Utrecht where they will meet the cycling infrastructure experts from Fietsberaad, the Dutch centre for cycling policy; Houten, which is recognised as a yardstick of a liveable sustainable city, where the direct route to town is on the bike path and cars are forced to use peripheral roads. For full break down of the itinerary go here. What We Need & What You Get We are asking US$ 8,000 (not Australian dollar) to cover the expenses of the plane ticket and accommodation, so we (Rowena and Paulo) can participate on the tour and create content for both the website and documentary. Our professional and creative work is voluntary. Also in order to offer you these fantastic and irresistible prizes, we have accessed the support of Gazelle Bicycle Australia who is offering Gazelle products (Gazelle bikes and accessories) as prizes at cost value, only for this project. This means a great return for your contribution!!! The monetary value of your contribution is just over to the value of the prizes. Check the prizes underneath. And if you prefer another bike, Gazelle is flexible and happy to discuss this with you. Please be aware that contributions are made in US dollars. Currently A$ and US$ are nearly the same value, but please check for up to date exchange rates prior to making your contribution.
This project desperately needs to get documented, thus funded & supported, so go click! FFFYI (Fun Facts For Your Information): - 'van Bellen' is a Dutch surname - the verb 'bellen' means 'ringing', either calling on the phone, ringing the door bell or...wait for it...ringing your bike bell :)). AND...look at Gazelle's famous print ad series from the early 20th century that came in the form of a cartoon called ''t AVONTUUR van PIET PELLE op zyn GAZELLE.', which translates into 'The adventure of Piet Pelle on his Gazelle'. Both rhyme, and so it does when you exchange 'Piet Pelle' for 'Paul van Bellen'...
I rest my case, there's only so much that can be written in the stars, I suppose ;).
Coincidently, I hooked up with Rowena Crowe late November when she was in town for the IDFA. She'd bought a crappy but lovely bike to get around. Crappy as many other beater bikes, but lovely all the same, because...it got her around ;). We rode together, she asked the questions and filmed for prosperity. As Rowena writes: "This film gives you a sneak preview of the kind of people we will be meeting on the cycling Dutch style study tour in May 2011." Of course we stopped for beers as well. Like the ride, we took it slowly, as her jet lag was starting to kick in. I'm looking forward to springtime, to give that part of cultural integration another shot.