Melbourne Without Motors

Melbourne Without Motors, pic by Crunchysteve

I have this idea to "toob" cycling and walking in Melbourne, Australia. That's it up there, the title of this blog entry. The idea came about last year while I was training for my "weekend adventures", the latter an idea that has been, well, troubled because of my health causing me to struggle to get anything like the necessary fitness. Meanwhile, I've persisted in trying to get back to cycling longer distances, but 30km (20 miles) feels like a brick wall. I used to be able to tour 100km (60 miles), camp, then do another 100km, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat... It feels like it was ripped from me, but I persist with training, finding lower traffic routes for the peace and quiet, and looking for ways to use this training time for another tube channel.

I've been doing a lot of urban "rat runs" on the bike but don't like the connotations of post holocaust Nazis in that term. Today, it came to me while contemplating Doctors Without Borders, my brain goes to odd places with little or no context, sometimes, but it's a much more life affirming similie - "Melbourne Without Motors - the places to cross town with less noise and traffic." It will be unashamedly advocatorial for walking and cycling as well advocatorial for cyclists and pedestrians to "hijack" back streets rather than demand infrastructure on the awful main roads.

The latter position in the above paragraph is not ingratitude for existing infrastructure. It's simply a position based on a fact that busy routes are noisey, smelly and all round unpleasant. Sometimes you have to use them, and the infrastructure along the sides of these wide arterials makes them safer, at least, but what if there were a quicker and quieter way?

Enter the urban rat runs, places where a lot of money is spent on infrastructure to keep motoring through traffic away. Motorists, other than residents, are discouraged from these routes mostly for noise reasons, but sometimes for safety reasons, too. Cycling or walking a contiguous zig-zag through these streets, sometimes linking with rail-side and shared pathways, is much more pleasant riding! It can also sometimes be a shorter route!

So, with more money being spent in Australia on roads for cars rather than roads for people, maybe roads for people can be usurped by non-motoring road users. My plan is to start a cycling and walking "rat run culture" - "revolutionaries" who can decolonise the free transport of shoes and bicycles, by "liberating" routes that the "colony" (motorists) don't know, or don't want, encouraging people to "hunt down" the shortest routes through their city's "narroways."

Time to get my older-school camera gear out. Also, I've had my "narwhal*" bicycle camera mount for 6+ years now and used it once, not to mention my phone's robotic gimbal for 5 years and never used it for serious stuff once. Time to script the pilot.

* I designed the Narwhal myself, as a "selfy stick for cyclists." I relly need to finalise the plans and put them on Thingiverse, too.


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