Bike Hour is like earth hour, only for bikes.
Bike Hour started because a few us saw that organised bicycle protest rides weren’t serving the individualistic nature of cycling, but rather the agendas of particular bicycling tribes. Because of this, organised rides (nude rides, critical mass rides, tweed rides, etc) can never hope to bring all of a nation’s bikes out onto the street, at the same time. There are over 12 million functioning bikes in Australia alone (1.6 per household x 7.6 million households). We thought something like Earth Hour, but called “Bike Hour” instead, could potentially bring more of those bikes outside all at once.
Every equinox day all over the world, between 6 and 7 pm, anyone with a bike is invited to ride it, wherever, however, they like. Our best estimate is one or two thousand participants, centred mainly in places with active promoters, will be riding with Bike Hour in mind on the next equinox, Saturday 22 September. That still makes Bike Hour the world’s largest, albeit least organised, bicycle protest.
The message of Bike Hour is simple: most people own bikes but feel unsafe to use them. Our bikes are like trains without any tracks. In Australia, the people have made at 6 billion dollar investment in bikes, that the government has made no effort to match.
However, the freedom individuals enjoy to participate in Bike Hour on their own terms (on the road or on the footpath, in groups or alone, naked or clothed) does come at a price. Bike Hour can have a distinct lack of fanfare for most observers, who can wonder if they are the only person in the world doing this ride. Those who came looking for a party at the first Bike Hour, in March 2012, have dropped away, leaving a faithful few to build a dedicated international community. We persist in the hope it really does catch on some day, as a massive, individual, movement.
Bike Hour does get bigger though, ever so gradually, thanks to the good will of local supporters in any city, and hopefully one day every city. It has a Facebook community page, and Facebook events pages via which people tell their friends that they will be riding. We also use facebook to share pictures and videos of our individual rides, as many did last time in March.
That’s about it. There is no office, nor should there ever be one. Some famous social media campaigns have withered because organisers wanted glory, or even money, to float back to themselves. Bike Hour is owned by everyone who prints out the posters, informs their local newspaper, organises drinks for some friends at the end of a ride, or who just gets their bike out and rides it for Bike Hour.
There is a twitter account, for anything newsworthy. And as always there are posters to download and use how you like. We invite everyone who does Bike Hour to celebrate their ride by uploading photos or even a video clip onto Facebook. The first time we ran Bike Hour, this vid won an art prize.
Legal fine print: Anyone riding during Bike Hour, irrespective of whether they know it is Bike Hour or not, shall be bound by our Code of Conduck as follows:
Rule 1. Bike Hour Rides shall take place on 20 March and whenever the equinox is in September. They shall start at roughly 6.pm and finish at roughly 7pm having taken roughly one hour. The words “roughly” “start” “finish” and “hour” shall be defined (a) roughly and (b) by the individual who considers (rightly or wrongly) that they are doing a Bike Hour Ride.
Rule 2. Bike Hour Rides will be (a) in a group or (b) not in a group or (c) in a group some of the time or (d) some combination of the above or (e) none of the above.
Rule 3. Bike Hour Riders shall wear (a) their ordinary clothes or (b) cycling specific clothes or (c) some other clothes or (d) no clothes or (e) some combination of the above or (f) none of the above.
Rule 4. Bike Hour rides shall be (a) on a planned route or (b) not on a planned route or (c) both of the above or (d) none of the above.
Rule 5. Bike Hour RIdes will be (a) continuous or (b) not continuous. Whatever.
Rule 6. There shall be no rule 6. Alert readers who have spotted that this is itself a rule are permitted (but not obliged) to have a biscuit. Those who have spotted that there is no definition of “Bike” or “Ride” are advised (but not obliged) to loosen up a little.