What’s Your Ride?

At a recent Melbourne Conversation on the Future of Transport, enlightened transport engineer and urban strategist, Steve Burgess, said that each time we choose to walk or ride, we give to the city, and each time we drive our car, we take away from the city,

Jam Jar cowork - bike parking - Collingwood

Happily, as our community has grown at Jam Jar Cowork, so has the number of bicycles in our foyer and car park – hardly surprising for a shared office in Collingwood. We’re now working on a bike parking solution that our members are telling us we need, simply by arriving at their workplace on bicycles. Actions speaking louder than words!

The bikes in our foyer are also showing me I need to be better at walking and riding the short distance from home in Carlton to our coworking space in Collingwood, and to stop using the I-have-too-much-stuff-to-carry (including an office dog) excuse when I know that riding to work is just a matter of having the right bike, with the right racks.

So which bike is the right bike?

It’s the one you will ride, and not leave home. Here are some options.

In the past I’ve commuted on a mountain bike, a hybrid bike, a road-bike style touring bike, and a cute, drop-frame, 1980s-vintage Malvern Star. They were all great and variously combined with racks, a basket, panniers, backpacks and courier bags depending on my needs and the fashion of the time.

Right now, I’m loving my Brompton folding bike. It’s a comfortable, compact, upright ride. I can transport it in an Uber or on a bus if I don’t want to ride home (or forget my lights). It has plenty of luggage carrying potential, a good range of gears, mudguards for wet weather, and the seat is readily adjustable to deal with my work wardrobe (raised for platform heels; lowered seat for skirts).

As my resolve to cycle weakens in winter, I might look at investing in an eBike. The pedal assist gives you a little push along when the going gets tough, which can be the difference between riding or not on those chilly can’t-be-bothered mornings. And with less exertion, you’re less sweaty in summer. Local writer and comedian, Catherine Deveny, is a big advocate. Here’s the link to her 10 reasons to get one.

In general, upright rides like my Brompton, hybrid bicycles, flat bar road bikes and eBikes can be safer for negotiating the inner suburban traffic of our neighbourhood – the Collingwood, Fitzroy, Clifton Hill, Northcote, Abbotsford, Richmond area. The more upright you are, the easier it is to see what’s around you and the less weight you put on your hands, which makes it easier to communicate with hand signals to the surrounding traffic when you turn, stop, or spot a hazard. These sturdier bikes are also easier to attach carry-racks to than a road bike. Check the bike frame for braze-ons to attach your racks to.

Brompton folding bike - Jam Jar Cowork - Collingwood

Once you’ve decided on your handle bars, luggage requirements, and riding position, it’s just a matter of style and how robust or zippy a bike you want.

If you’re riding cross-country – which you probably won’t do on a commute to an inner Melbourne office – then perhaps a mountain bike is for you.

If you’re on unsealed paths and streets, like along Merri Creek or around Melbourne’s running tracks – think about a hybrid.

If you’re on made roads and paths or covering some distance, think about a flat bar road bike (or drop-bars if you’ll use it for sport outside of your commute).

If you don’t want to sweat and shower, think about an eBike.

Want to know more? Ask a coworker-cyclist about the pros and cons of their chosen ride, and why they chose it. Then get on yer bike and give to the city!