[First filed: October 08, 2008 @ 15:30]
Every now and then readers suggest I should attend some community council event or forum thingy.
I always beg off because I suspect they’re populated by overly intense people. Women wearing capes and men wearing beards.
Last night I went to the Pedal Power Community Forum. Partly I went because I thought I should give at least one of these things a go this election. Mostly I went because a friend’s sig other was organising it and she made me scared about the consequences of not attending.
Women in purple capes were certainly in attendance, and a disproportionate number of the men sported beards. Being a cycling event, however, most attendees were in pretty good physical shape.
As political theatre it lacked bite. All the candidates said how much they loved Pedal Power and cycling. To some extent they tried to outbid each other in promising to deliver Pedal Power’s agenda and then raise it.
Brendan Smyth was on the nose with the crowd for some perceived slight to cycle racing funding in the past.
Richard Mulcahy gathered the second greatest round of applause for reasons not immediately obvious to me.
The greatest warmth in the room came for the Greens Shane Rattenbury who was very much one of the tribe and made sure the crowd knew he owns five bikes.
When it came to the Q&A some issues were universal to the community; “police treat us with contempt”, “urban infrastructure is crumbling”, etc.
On the other hand it was a treat to hear that an overly masculine approach was responsible for a lack of general cycling uptake.
Changes to the L-plate test were suggested to incorporate more cyclist related questions. We look forward to that one bearing fruit in 60 years.
The problem was raised of broken beer bottles on cycle paths. It was suggested that banning open beer bottles in cars would fix this. We wondered if that wouldn’t encourage more throwing of beer bottles out of windows. Shane Rattenbury suggested that the Greens’ proposed container deposit legislation would be help reduce this problem.
To be fair to the organisers though, they’d won before they’d started. By putting together sensible submissions on what’s needed to improve cycling in the community, based around how cycling can improve the community.
The Pedal Power advocacy group are sensible serious people. But they do have a fringe of colourful supporters. Chief among those was the pictured helmet-guy who sounded like he was channelling Rik from The Young Ones.
These events are great for the groups holding them. I’m still not sure they’re adding much to debate and discourse. But there seems to be at least one every night so no going back now.
Here’s some video, apologies for Che’s occasionally shaky camera work: