An interview I just gave about Bike Hour

With 2 weeks to go until Bike Hour, I just gave this interview via email. I won’t tell you the media outlet.

  • How did the event turn out last year? Did it exceed expectations?
Bike Hour is every equinox (20 March and 22 September), between 6 and 7pm. That means it happens twice per year. The first time it ran, the response was incredible. People from dozens of countries shared photos and videos and strava maps of their Bike Hour rides via Facebook. Newspapers and radio stations gave us coverage, from some surprising places like Poland and Cyprus.
More countries joined us in September, but overall numbers didn’t go up very much. I suspect a lot of people who did Bike Hour the first time, would have been puzzled and disappointed to have not been a part of a big rally. You have to understand, most people doing Bike Hour, ride alone or with a handful of friends. The idea is not to all ride together, but to simply ride at the same time and make people all over the city scratch their heads and wonder why they saw an unusually high number of cyclists around, in all manner of places. I say that with my fingers crossed, knowing Bike Hour may never catch on quite like that. But you can’t stop believers believing.
  • Is this an annual event that happens every 20th march?

every equinox

  • Goals and objectives of bike hour. (the info wasn’t clear)
it means something different to everyone who does it. We do it in the hope the idea catches on and raises awareness of cycling, the way earth hour raises awareness of burning electricity.
  • Who else besides you, who else are involved in organising and marshalling the event?
It has as many organisers as christmas or easter. None. So far 2 of us, me and a graphic designer named Michael Newton, have carried the responsibility of blowing on the flames in the run up to Bike Hour, but gradually people in other countries are seeing the benefits to themselves and their communities of championing the cause without waiting for permission from us.
  • How many countries has this spread to?

I haven’t kept track. In no particular order, these come to mind: the US, Singapore, Germany, Australia (of course, where it sprung from), Canada, the Philippines, Poland, Thailand, Cyprus, Greece… honestly, I haven’t kept track.

  • What makes bike hour different from other cycling events? And why do people embrace the concept and ideology behind the ride?
People are frustrated by organised rides, because all of those rides subtly require us to submit to the organisers’ ideas about how we each aught to ride. Bicycling is individualistic. None of us want to the told we have to reclaim the road, or told we have to reclaim the footpath, or told we have to campaign for cycle tracks, or dragged into campaigns about nuclear disarmament, or the environment, or any other agenda that get’s mixed up with cycling. We all have our own views about all of these things. Bike Hour lets us all stand united, around the one thing we all have in common. We appreciate the elegance of bicycle transport.
  • How are the routes planned and what routes are install this coming event?
Do you think I am god? :)
  • Estimated numbers taking part.
How many presents can you load in a sleigh :)
  • What kind of responses or feedback do you get from people who find out about bike hour and who took part last year? Any worth mentioning?
We get lots of people sharing rather absurd and creative videos of their solo rides, or small rides with friends. Funny ones can include dudes heading off on their own, waving bye to their wives, or photographing the clock on their handlebars indicating the date and the time. In other places people will ride around and converge upon agreed mustering points at the end of Bike Hour for a beer or a chat, and to take a group photo. What is really special, is seeing the crazy array of ways to do bike hour that people come up with and share via facebook. The guy who rode around his city grid writing Bike Hour with his strava application stands out as one of my favourites.
  • Take us through the program of the event (what happens before, during and after) and what can we expect.
It’s entirely up to the rider. Personally, I just ride around with my family, and wonder if the other people I see riding around are doing it because it is bike hour. If I get a nod and a smile, I usually assume that they are. Then if that person turns up to the mustering point I might have announced via facebook, I say yep, you looked like the type.
  • What can participants look forward to with this ride? And what do you think the highlights of the event are?
For me, the highlight is catching up with creative people after the ride who, like me, believe in bike transport, but not enough to be bothered with bike advocacy groups. Then the other really big thrill is seeing the photos and videos coming in via Facebook. You realise how much cycling means to visionaries all over the world. It’s like a kind of global group hug linking Europe, Asia, America, Australia and who knows where else. You get encouragement from people in little neighbourhoods just like your own, all pleading for safer conditions for cyclists in their little necks of the woods.
  • Tell us more about what kind of resources and how people share and contribute to bike hour.
Just social media, mainly Facebook. I’ve given interviews to mainstream media outlets, but the event is not staged for them: there is nowhere they can point their cameras and feel as though they have captured the story. But then traditional media has lost its power, so I’m not concerned about that. “The revolution will not be televised”: what a great lyric!
  • Do you think there is any room to improve the experience of the event citing from previous events and how do you think this event could be different the next year if there are plans to change it?

It has a life of its own, beyond me. What I really want to do, is start adding more Facebook and twitter administrators, but they have to people I can trust not to corrupt the idea for their own personal gain. They must be pure of heart, as I would like to say I am, but the honest answer is I am just lazy. I’m deliberately leaving a power vacuum for other honest but lazy people like myself and Michael Newton to step in and help fill.

About Steven

I'm on a mission to put cycling on the agendas of architects, urban designers and fellow academics, who see the potential for bicycles to change cities and buildings. My PhD is in architectural history and my interdisciplinary research spans art theory, philosophy and cultural studies. I teach architectural history and theory and design studio at The University of Tasmania, Australia, and formerly worked as an architect designing large public housing projects in Singapore. My favourite bikes are a titanium racing bike I use for racing, a Velorbis retro commuter for riding to cafes and work, a single speed ultra light Brompton that I take with me when I travel on planes, a 29er hard tail mountain bike that I get lost on in remote places, an old track bike that scares me, a 1984 Colnago Super with all original campagnolo components that is plugged into a virtual realm that I train in, and a Dutch-made Bakfiets, that could easily replace half of the bikes I just mentioned.
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2 Responses to An interview I just gave about Bike Hour

  1. Pingback: Bike Hour March 20th | bicycletasmaniablog

  2. Craig Horton says:

    Not the best time of the year to ride in West Tennessee, USA, but now that I have a bike, hopefully I can join in next year!

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