Are Bicycle Victoria incompetent or merely complacent?

23 January, 2008 – 2:00 am

Let’s run through a quick history of BV’s responses on this issue, shall we?

January 1st.

Herald-Sun, Call for bike lockers not bans:

Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky said despite the lack of public notice for the ban, the Government had been discussing the issue for some time.

“There had been consultation with all the public transport operators. There had been consultation with Bicycle Victoria,” she said.

BV’s website, from Jan 1 to 10th:

We have talked to the Department of Infrastructure Public Transport Division staff about the changes. . . We have agreed to support the changes, recognising that they will inconvenience some riders.

BV makes no public comment against the bans.

According to at least one DOI contact, BV knew of the proposed bike ban since August.

Cyclists find out about the ban via the media and get pissed off. Letters to DOI, V/Line, Connex and BV ensue.

People who wrote to BV got replies like mine:

Hi Brianna,

Bicycle Victoria believes – and are checking through the survey – that
more riders are interested in riding to the station than taking their
bike on the train. This means our first priority for train travelling
riders is to get bike routes to stations and secure parking.

By filling out the survey on the Metro Trains page you will help Bicycle
Victoria gain a better understanding of how you use the public transport
system with your bike.


[name removed]
Bicycle Victoria

—–Original Message—–
From: Bicycle Vic Enquiries
Sent: Monday, 7 January 2008 9:39 AM
To: Bicycle Victoria Campaign Enquiries
Subject: FW: Connex bike ban

—–Original Message—–
From: Brianna Laugher
Sent: Friday, 4 January 2008 3:38 PM
To: Bicycle Vic Enquiries
Subject: Re: Connex bike ban

On 04/01/2008, Bicycle Vic Enquiries wrote:
> Dear Brianna,
> Thank you for the email. I have forwarded your email along to the
> campaigns department. We have a link listing what people can do in
> terms of contacting Vline and connex at

But BV supports the metro ban. Can you please explain why?

On it says “Support the
people who support your bike riding. Join Bicycle Victoria.” I joined BV
some months ago but how are you supporting cyclists by supporting this

How does this ban enable BV’s aim of “more people cycling more often”?

It is bad enough that cyclists have to fight the train companies and the
government but now we have to fight the organisation that is supposed to
be representing our interests??? How can you justify this?

Brianna Laugher

Note the whole non-answer to the question “how can you justify supporting this ban”.

Jan 10.

Kerfuffle continues and BV updates their website, softening their stance:

Bicycle Victoria’s overall aim is to make it easier to ride your bicycle to and from train stations. We’re also of the view that bicycles should be allowed on trains.
However, we recognise that given the current overcrowding on trains, it is unfortunately not practical to take bikes on all peak-period commuter trains. Regrettably, this will inconvenience some riders. When the overcrowding issue on trains is solved we can then approach the Public Transport Division to request that the current peak-period restrictions are lifted.

Throughout this entire issue BV made no media comment about the ban at all, that I could find.

Jan 22.

Thanks to continued lobbying from cyclists groups, Minister Kosky announces an immediate review of the bike ban.

Harry Barber, BV chief executive, talks to 774 and says “he appreciates the problem of overcrowding but the ban is too restrictive.” (ABC)

Jason den Hollander, BV Facilities development manager, talks to RRR’s Along for the Ride, and makes comments like:

[Re: BV’s apparent support for the ban] I think unfortunately that was a bad bit of writing on our website. The word “support” was the one that obviously got everyone worked up. …I think what we were trying to say was that we were accepting the umpire’s decision, but we were going to the tribunal, over it. We didn’t necessarily like it but we were going to work with what we had at the time, and push harder…. I’d just like to apologise to everybody who did misread that. … It[our response] was probably luke-warm public, we were certainly paddling quite busily under the surface… I don’t think we’re quite sure what the core, or original seed reason was for the idea to bring the bans in on peak hour. Now we’ve heard congestion…the congestion one was a strange one, because DOI’s own figures show that it’s less than 100 people on peak, so quite simply the numbers didn’t really stack up.

So are the folks at BV incompetent, in terms of not understanding BV’s role as the peak representative group for cyclists in this state? Or are they merely complacent and take their members’ support (and money) for granted?

  • How far in advance did BV know about the ban, and why didn’t they communicate it to their members earlier?
  • Did BV tell the DOI that the ban was acceptable?
  • Why didn’t BV make any public statements against the ban if they did in fact have that position?
  • In what sense was BV “going to the tribunal” – by promising to “review” it with the DOI once overcrowding was solved?
  • Does BV accept that it has a role to lobby for cyclists’ interests, or not?
  • What structural or procedural changes is BV going to make to ensure that debacles like this don’t occur again in the future?

At the very least Bicycle Victoria owe their members a proper explanation as to why their members had to assume the role of lobbying for cyclists’ interests, when their peak representative group did not, and maybe explaining why next year members like myself should continue our BV membership instead of taking up with the PTUA? (Who did speak publicly against the ban.)

At any rate, it is good news that Minister Kosky has announced a review of the ban. Now we just need to make sure that there really are people at that review representing cyclists — because we sure can’t rely on Bicycle Victoria for that.

  1. 7 Responses to “Are Bicycle Victoria incompetent or merely complacent?”

  2. Are Bicycle Victoria incompetent or merely complacent? A little from column A… And a little from column B. Thanks to BintheBikeBan folks for awesome work over the last few weeks. Lets keep it up – its not quite over yet.

    By Geoff on Jan 23, 2008

  3. Bicycle Victoria actually told me (and I quote): ‘we don’t represent your interests in this issue’.

    They informed me that they are only pushing for bike cages as this is the only area they see a benefit in and do not represent any other combination of bikes and trains.

    By Bradley on Jan 24, 2008

  4. What good is a secure bike cage going to do me? I need my bike to get to work at the other end!

    If V/Line would get rid of that obsolete silver box piece of crap train they insist on running for the first afternoon peak hour service from Melbourne to Geelong, 90% of their problem would be solved right there. That is the only train I have been on, in over two years of daily bike + train commuting, where bikes cause any kind of problem, simply because there is nowhere at all to put them anywhere on that train.

    By Rob on Jan 24, 2008

  5. BV are obviously used to putting on lovely, fun events and producing maps, both of which generates lots of lovel, positive PR.

    However, now that cycling is a serious commuter option I don’t think BV realise that we the cycling community expect them to be a little more serious…

    Come on BV – show us that you are more than just nice window dressing.

    By Kerry on Jan 25, 2008

  6. “I joined BV some months ago”. Obviously grounds for Brianna to start, what seems quite obviously like making stuff up to try and validate a predisposed assumption.
    Amongst those of us who have been around for a little longer than 5 minutes, it is known that these scenarios are not a whine-fest for instant gratification. Campaigns, especially against an organisation such as Dept of Infrastructure who have a long history of not only being arrogant but most usually ignorant of the ‘real world’, are a marathon.
    BV most certainly mishandled, and probably misjudged people’s anger over this one (only 100 people being affected?!?!) but they do have to keep the longterm relationships with these pricks, because we need them (DoI, to do their job) more than they need us.
    Listen again to the RRR interview. It sounds alot like a BV staffer (put in a bad situation) agreeing with riders and yet again confirming the one thing that is wrong with BV is… drum roll please… Harry Barber.
    PS many are rolling out the ‘BV only do events’ line. Partly true, but then again what do other state org’s do? What is Amy’s Ride?
    Moral: Target Harry, not BV.

    By ChrisW on Jan 26, 2008

  7. “Obviously grounds for Brianna to start, what seems quite obviously like making stuff up to try and validate a predisposed assumption.”

    As Dr Spock would say, fascinating.

    This discussion has stemmed from what people have been informed by BV. And hasn’t BV, DOI and Lynne Kosky done a lovely job of clarifying the matter?

    No, they haven’t and hence why people are openly questioning the decision and motives for over a month.

    As you have singled out a individual for apparently “making stuff up”, isn’t it the pot calling the kettle black when at the end of your comment by applying the very same subjective perspection and singling out Harry Barber for criticism?

    Sure everyone’s got a story or several about Mr Barber, but how about applying insight and intelligence to the matter and viewing BV’s disconnect with the cycling community as a long-running dysfunction that many people involved with BV have knowingly been complicit in, not just one person. Sure Mr Barber is a interesting individual, but he didn’t do it all himself.

    By ChrisS on Jan 28, 2008

  8. I think BV got it right. I don’t support it on country trains but I do on suburban lines. This ban only affects a handful of people and it’s selfish and inconveniences others. Think about someone other than yourself for a change.

    By Mr Commuter on Feb 7, 2008

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