Civia Hyland commuter bicycle

Here is a mid to high end commuter bicycle from Civia in the United States.  It comes in three different versions all built around Civia’s frame and Shimano’s Alfine componentry. The base model has a SRAM i-Motion 3-speed hub, the standard build uses a complete Alfine drive train (8-speed hub) and brakes and the top of the range incorporates a Rholoff 14-speed hub. The Hyland web page has full specifications and prices.


Civia: Hyland

Needless to say I’m dreaming about the high end version with the Rholoff hub. Having had a bike with one of these I can attest to the wonderful simplicity of riding with 14 perfectly spaced gears. Other nice features on this bike are the hydro-formed frame components that enable cables to be routed very cleanly (check their web site to see what I mean) and good quality components all over. You can even get Civia branded panniers to go on the nice sturdy rack.

The good news from Civia is that they are in the process of establishing an Australian distributor. I don’t know who that will be yet but I will update this when I find out. PJ from Civia told me they are expecting the first bikes to arrive in Australia in June 2009. If you are at all interested in these bikes I suggest you look around their web site. You’ll find lots of interesting information about Civia and their bikes, some video footage showing you how to do things like remove the rear wheel or adjust the chain and plenty of nice pictures.

The Civia mission sums it up for me:

To spread our passion for bicycles as fun and responsible transportation through our products and actions.


Reading: Fuel for thought

While digging around the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) web site I discovered Fuel for thought, a publication by the Future Fuels Forum 2007. This June 2008 publication informs us how the Future Fuels Forum thinks transport fuels will pan out in our future with modelling from now to 2050.  It is an interesting document and I suggest you read it if you are at all interested in the future of transport fuels in Australia. Click the cover page below to download the PDF (1.5Mb).

challenges and opportunities (PDF)

CSIRO 2008: Fuel for thought - The future of transport fuels: challenges and opportunities (PDF)

Apart from being relatively easy to read and informative for those of us without a scientific or economic background it provides great insight into the conservative information upon which our governments are making decisions that impact your future and mine. It isn’t all conservative mind you. The modelling for a continuing rise in demand for oil and a sharp decline in supply shows we could pay as much as $8 per litre for petrol in the not too distant future and the authors do stress the urgency with which alternatives for oil must be found.

While the document was written before the global financial crisis really started to bite the bulk of it remains relevant. If you do read it I’d like to know what you think so please leave a comment.

Bicycle cages available at Victorian rail stations for commuters

Commuters using a combination of bicycle and train travel can now park their bicycles securely at 23 train stations across metropolitan Melbourne and in five regional centres.

Metropolitan Melbourne stations with bicycle cages:

Bayswater, Bentleigh, Brighton Beach, Broadmeadows, Caulfield, Cheltenham, Croydon, Eltham, Frankston, Glenroy, Hallam, Hoppers Crossing, Newport, Roxburgh Park, Sandringham, Surrey Hills, Watergardens and Werribee.

Regional Victorian stations with bicycle cages:

Ballarat, Bendigo, Castlemaine, Geelong and South Geelong.

Ten more cages will be built this year providing secure and weather protected storage for a total of 850 bikes.

The new bike cages will be managed and supported by Bicycle Victoria and will be known as ‘Parkiteer’ cages.  Each cage provides secure parking for around 25 bikes and is accessible via a Parkiteer swipe card for registered members. Anyone interested in becoming a bike cage user should visit the Parkiteer website or Parkiteer registration page.

If anyone can supply a photo of a finished Parkiteer we’d appreciate it.

Source: Bicycle Victoria, The Premier of Victoria

City Living versus The Great Australian Dream

For a few years now I’ve harboured a dream to be able to live life without a car. I have this imaginary lifestyle in my mind where I live in the centre of a city. Everything I need is within walking or cycling distance. On the rare occasion that I need to do a long road trip I’ll just hire a car.

A series of articles that appeared recently in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Lithgow Mercury (here, here and here) got me thinking about it again. You see, Sydney planners are wanting to build an underground rail line from Central Station to Parramatta. Along that line they want to build high rise (up to 15 storeys) apartment blocks with the aim of encouraging their increasing population to live withing walking distance of the new mass transit system. From a sustainable mobility perspective the Sydney plan sounds great. The problem is the planners are fighting The Great Australian Dream. The big house with the big backyard.

Aussies want at least four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a double garage and room for the kids to run around out the back. The Great Australian Dream is the main driver behind urban sprawl in all our capital cities. To get the big block you have to live in the outer suburbs. Living in the outer suburbs means you will most likely need to drive a car to work, if not all the way then at least to the nearest decent public transport. As a result The Great Australian Dream clogs our roads in peak hour and causes us to curse everyone else following the same dream we are.

The sad news is that the Great Australian Dream is a lifestyle that is unsustainable in a peak oil world. The Sydney planners know it and so do a lot of other people, particularly Europeans who are practiced at living the width of a wall away from their neighbours. The rising cost of oil as supplies diminish will increase demand for public transport but Governments will be unable to build and maintain the infrastructure required to service the urban sprawl. We are going to have to adjust our definition of living and part of that adjustment will be living closer together, closer to public transport and closer to work.

Right now I’m almost living The Dream. I’ve got a big yard in a very quiet neighbourhood. The house is small but I’ve got a big shed. The problem is that I’m 35km from work and about 15km from the city where my better half works. There is no nearby public transport so getting to work would involve a drive followed by multiple bus and train journeys. Cycling and working from home are my best options for reducing car use but neither can be achieved every day due to distance and the need to see clients or work at clients’ sites.

So, what would it take to get me living closer to my neighbours, closer to public transport and closer to work? I’ve been mulling this over for the last few days and it all comes down to two words – lifestyle and happiness. To achieve the lifestyle and happiness I desire when living in a city centre I’d need the living environment to meet five criteria.

1. I am not prepared to live in a shoe box. I’m a country boy and I like my space. That doesn’t mean I need a big house, it just means I need room to move and an uncluttered environment in which to live. Good views would help.

2. If I’m going to move from being surrounded by not much to living shoulder to shoulder then I want to do so in a truly environmentally friendly building. It will need to be well insulated, take advantage of winter sun and summer breeze and have lots of natural light and ventilation. The building or development will have its own power supply, preferably cogeneration or trigeneration powered by natural gas.

3. Silence. I don’t want to hear the neighbours and I don’t want them to hear me. I don’t want to hear traffic even with the windows open.

4. There will be secure storage for bicycles and general living stuff underneath the building. There should be no need to clutter the place up by bringing bicycles upstairs or locking them to anything you can find. Each tenant should have their own private storage space.

5. The building or development will need to have shared facilities that provide safe and secure space for kids and adults to be active and get outdoors. Ideally it would be in a precinct that restricts the entry of cars thereby freeing up as much space as possible for parks, barbecues, swimming pool, gyms, etc. To my mind the design has failed if it encourages or necessitates car use.

That’s it. If I could find a place like that I’d seriously consider moving to the city centre or a public transport hub. I’m not sure about you but I haven”t seen or heard of any developments that meet, or even come close to, the above criteria in my city or others.

This brings us back to Sydney. If the designers and developers of the urban living environments along the Central to Parramatta mass transit system are going to tempt those chasing The Dream to live in their developments they are going to have to focus on lifestyle, not just stylish buildings. They are going to have to provide outdoor living space while building high quality, high density housing. And they are going to have to make the developments environmentally friendly otherwise they’ve lost before they’ve begun.

New Schwinn fast charging electric bicycle

In September 2008 Schwinn Bicycles announced a strategic collaboration with Toshiba Corporation that they think is going to dramatically improve the uptake of electric bicycles around the world. Schwinn presented the results of this collaboration at the recent Interbike International Bicycle Expo in the form of the Tailwind.

Schwinn Tailwind

Schwinn Tailwind

The Tailwind incorporates Toshiba’s new Super Charge ion Battery (SCiB) technology. The SCiB technology will enable Tailwind owners to recharge their battery in 30 minutes through a standard electrical outlet or as little as five to seven minutes through a commercial charger. By comparison, it takes four hours or longer to fully recharge the battery of most other electric bicycles.

The SCiB offers an expected 2,000 recharge life cycles to Tailwind owners with each charge giving them a range of 40 to 48km. The Tailwind also comes with a 32,000km or two-year limited warranty (in the US).

A previous post about Schwinn electric bicycles have been very popular with many people asking how they can get one in Australia. The problem is that in Australia the maximum legal power output of electric bicycles is 200W. The Tailwind has a brushless electric motor in the front hub that produces 180W of continuous power and 250W peak power, thereby making it a motorcycle in the eyes of the law. For that reason the Australian distributor for Schwinn bikes, Sportz Australasia Pty Ltd, appear loathe to import them regardless of demand.

Hobart to get improved cycling network

The Tasmanian State Government is providing $415,000 to co-fund five cycleway projects which will form part of the Hobart Regional Arterial Bicycle Network. Local Councils will provide the remaining funding.

Construction has begun at the ‘Cadbury Link’ cycleway in Claremont, and work will begin early in the New Year on cycleways along the Bridgewater Foreshore, Victoria Esplanade in Bellerive and on-road cycleways along Campbell Street and Argyle Street in Hobart’s CBD.

The cycling network improvements are aimed at providing alternative transport options for Tasmanians and visitors to Hobart while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the fitness and health of the population.

Cycleway Projects

Cadbury Link – will extend the existing Intercity Cycleway, which extends for 15.6 km between Hobart’s waterfront at Sullivans Cove to Box Hill Road in Claremont. The extension will improve access to Claremont Primary School, Claremont recreational and sporting facilities adjacent to Cadbury and provide employees at Cadbury opportunities to cycle to and from work. Additionally the cycleway will also provide an alternative tourism route to the Cadbury factory.

Bellerive Bluff Coastal Link – the new cycleway is proposed to run along Victoria Esplanade, from Gunning Street to Queen Street in Bellerive. The path will link the historic village of Bellerive with its ferry terminal providing access to Hobart and with the recreational facilities of Bellerive Oval and beach and the suburbs beyond.

Argyle Street / Campbell Street On-Road Bicycle Lane – the on-road bicycle lane starts from Federal Street and heads towards the city until it reaches Burnett Street; here the cycleway splits, one route continues along Argyle Street, the other follows along Burnett Street and then turns into Campbell Street. Both cycle way routes go as far as Brisbane Street. The cycle path will improve bicycle access to and within the Hobart CBD without introducing significant disruption to existing users.

Bridgewater Foreshore Link – a multi-use gravel track along a significant amount of the the Brighton foreshore starting from Gunn Street, heading South East along the coast, around Green Point and up as far as the Jordan River Bridge.

Bonnet Hill Cycle Planning – feasibility study.

Maps of existing and future cycling routes are in the Hobart Regional Arterial Bicycle Network.

Victorian Transport Plan released

The Victorian Department of Transport released the Victorian Transport Plan (VTP) earlier this month. Not having a great understanding of Melbourne and Victoria make it hard to assess the VTP but at least Victoria has a plan. The proof will be in the execution.

Highlights include:

  • Up to 70 new trains and 100km of new track for Melbourne’s suburban rail systems
  • Up to 50 new trams
  • Up to 270 new buses and the continuation of the hybrid bus trial
  • Regional rail improvements to boost capacity by 9000 extra passengers and hour
  • Upgrades to regional transport infrastructure (in partnership with the Commonwealth)
  • Improved freight access to Port Melbourne
  • Completing the Melbourne ring road
  • Improving regional rail lines including electrification of existing lines
  • Fostering research into second and third generation biofuels
  • $100 million increase in funding for bicycle lanes and shared paths
  • $5 million public bicycle hire scheme for inner Melbourne
  • Encouraging the use of low emission vehicles
  • Mandatory emissions targets for State Government fleets


  • No transport emissions reduction target set
  • No inclusion of viable alternative fuels such as natural gas

You can download the VTP here (9.2Mb PDF).

You can download maps showing the detail here.

Freight Futures is a companion plan to the VTC dealing specifically with Victoria’s long-term freight network strategy. You can download Freight Futures here (5.3Mb PDF).