Bike Month Interview Series: Bike Babes

For the past three weeks Virgin Mobile has given away 25 premium pushbikes a week through bicycle scavenger hunt, A Fair Ride For All. Each weekday, Virgin hid bikes in secret locations in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane and released clues on where to find them at Today is the final day to win the final bikes of the competition. To win, head to and ‘like’ the final bikes of the competition then keep your eye on the hunt for final clues. To celebrate the initiative, Pedestrian have published weekly interviews with key members of Australia’s cycling community. We’ve already spoken with Bicycle Film Festival’s Josh Capelin and Tour de Cure’s Geoff Coomes and today we finish with Bike Babe Kit Palaskas.

Hi Kit can you tell us a bit about Bike Babes? Bike Babes is a social cycling group that meets every Tuesday and it’s a group to get people who are a little less confident with riding to enjoy it more, learn the bike routes around Sydney and learn how to ride on the roads without being scared. It’s great because it’s in a group setting and we always include things like visiting the pub or picnics just to make it a little more social.

And how have you seen cycling change over the last couple of years in Sydney? I’ve noticed a definite increase in the amount of cyclists in Sydney thanks to initiatives the council have introduced which increase the safety and appeal of cycling in the city. Having said that I do think that there’s still a negative attitude, especially in the relationship between drivers and cyclists, but I definitely think it’s easier to be a cyclist in Sydney these days.

And are you in a City of Sydney cycling ad? Yes I am! I filmed that in the winter. My part of the campaign is going to be released next year.

Oh cool. I’ve only seen the print ads. The City of Sydney is obviously very pro-cycling, what has the city recently done to normalize cycling as a form of transport? This campaign tries to promote cycling through profiling people’s lifestyles and showing people that it’s not just about racing or commuting, it can be quite fun and a really wonderful part of everyday life. Obviously there’s the bike lanes and you might have noticed a lot more bike lock up facilities around the city, and with these ad campaigns they’re trying to make these initiatives more obvious.

Kit’s ride

What’s your favourite Sydney bike route? I quite like the Bourke Street cycleway because it goes from one end of the city to the other but it’s also quite scenic, it’s a really pretty street to ride on. It’s nice to be able to enjoy the scenery without worrying about getting hit by a car. I also like a few streets in Redfern around the back near Martiott Street, anything that’s tree-lined and wide basically.

Statistics indicate that women are particularly reluctant to cycle in the city, what advice do you have for novice city cyclists? The thing to remember is that you’re going to be far safer on the road if you are confident and decisive. So if you’re wavering all over the road and aren’t sure of your own ability, you’re going to be a danger to yourself, to pedestrians and to traffic. With that in mind, the first step is to feel confident in your own ability and do things which make you feel safe. That can mean getting a helmet, installing lights on your bike or wearing really visible clothing. Whatever makes you feel at ease. Again, if you’re hesitant to ride with traffic you can do things like go to Centennial Park and ride around in a controlled environment. Get to know your bike, how to manipulate it, what feels comfortable speed-wise, all those things. From there you can graduate to the backstreets around your neighbourhood just to get used to riding with traffic before you tackle the bigger roads like Cleveland Street or Oxford Street. There’s always safety in number too, so maybe get a more experienced friend to ride with you or join a social group like Bike Babes. We meet at 6:50 at Taylor Square every Tuesday and we’re starting again in the new year.

What do you want to see change with regard to bikes in the next few years? I’d like to see an attitude change in terms of the relationship between riders and drivers. For me that means cross-education, not just cyclists protecting themselves and learning how to deal with cars but the other way around too. We need to educate drivers on how to share the road with cyclists.

WHEN: Every Tuesday, leaving from Taylor Square at 6:50pm
WHERE:: Alternate weeks of Centennial Park laps and routes out of the city limits (Mascot, Marrickville, Bondi etc)
BRING: Lights, helmets, water, coins for pick ‘n’ mix pit stops, and your favourite cycling gear (wear your lycra – especially if it’s of the fruity 80s variety!)