Monthly Archives: January 2013

Car vs House – Fatality in Merriwa

I was collecting these car vs house stories as I was flabbergasted about how so many cars manage to be driven into people’s places of residence in Perth. I have no idea if this is a prevalent thing in other Australian cities but it is shocking to me how often it happens here. It got to the point where I gave up because if I kept sharing them, my blog would be full of them and not have enough proper cycling content.

This one is worth mentioning though because it involves a fatality and serious charges by the Police (finally). 

Some of the article text from PerthNow: 

A WOMAN has been charged after crashing a Toyota Hilux into a home in Merriwa in the early hours of this morning, killing a sleeping eight-month-old baby inside.


It will be alleged that at 2:30am, the 35-year-old woman’s vehicle mounted the median strip, ploughed through a wooden fence and into the wall of Nate Dunbar’s bedroom in the Tug Cove home his family lives in.


Emergency services tried desperately to save the baby boy, but tragically he died from his injuries.


The Quinns Rock woman has been charged with dangerous driving occasioning death. She is due to appear in Joondalup Magistrates Court on February 11.


RIP Nate, my thoughts go out to his family. 

Unfortunately this isn’t a ‘freak’ occurrence, drivers attempting to demolish houses with their motor vehicles happens quite frequently. Those who escape unscathed are lucky. Perth’s luck ran out on this one though. 

The major factor in all of these cases appears to be alcohol (although the Police are still investigating in this case so I can’t say one way or the other whether alcohol was involved).

The driver was walking at the scene and was taken to hospital but is in a stable condition. As cars get more and more safety features built in, the mortal threat to the driver seems to be diminishing. This isn’t the case for those innocent people outside of the car. 

There is something seriously wrong with our thinking here. Why do people continue to drink and drive? Is it because they don’t see an alternative? Is it because they think driving is a right, not a privilege? 

I hope we see some serious sentencing for this woman. Perhaps making an example of her would help curb reckless behaviour for Perth drivers. Perhaps it won’t, it might be something that is just deeply ingrained into our driving culture. 

I need to go for a ride to cheer myself up.


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Posted by on January 26, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Route Planning: Google Maps Blowout!

Google cycling directions are still in beta for Perth, and this is what happened when we discovered a couple of bugs on our ride from Thornlie to Atwell which I wrote about in ‘Bike and Train: Half the Pain’.

It was a problem for me because I was not familiar at all with the area we would be cycling through, and because Google’s satellite images for Perth are so old that many don’t accurately represent the roads on the ground. If there isn’t a road on the satellite image, but the shadow of a road is there, it is usually safe to assume one has been built.

Well it wasn’t a safe bet this time!

gps track

Problem number 1 – a crucial part of Meriton Blvd has not been built yet, so we were forced to go back out to Nicholson Road.

Problem number 2 – Fraser Road stops when it gets to Jandakot Regional Park. There is a sandy track in it’s place, which is not really navigable for road bikes – it’s like a fire trail. We followed a track we thought was the right one, but it wasn’t. We ended up taking a rather large detour to get back on track.

I reported the bugs to Google and received an automated acknowledgement e-mail. The reporting process was pretty simple, you picked an option “ie the road was closed’ and pick the point at which this was a problem from a list.

The Meriton Boulevard problem was quickly resolved by Google, they send you an e-mail that says:

“Your Google Maps problem report has been reviewed, and you were right!”

Despite submitting the report at the beginning of December, I only just got confirmation that Google Maps have accepted my report regarding Fraser Road. I am not sure how they verified my report, but it seems that they have.

Google maps isn’t a great way to navigate even in the car sometimes, but I think the problems are amplified by the cycling directions because they try to route you through quiet roads. Turns out it would have been better to use more major roads as they have since been re-done and were two empty lanes with bike lanes along some of them as well.

The lesson here I guess is to use Google Maps with caution!

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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Everyday cycling


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Owner Review: MonkeyLectric M210 Wheel Light

MonkeyLectric is about making awesome looking, and hopefully visibility enhancing, lights for bicycle wheels.

From their website:

Show your Style! The M210 Monkey Light is a rugged, practical, high performance bicycle light that keeps you visible in all weather conditions. The M210 straps to your spokes and displays brilliant patterns on your spinning bike wheel. Show your style with cutting edge themes designed by our electronic artists.

In all there are 20 themes programmed into the light, which displays them on a strip of 10 LEDs, with patterns forming, and filling your wheel depending on your speed and wheel diameter. The M210 will fit in wheels from 20″ upwards in size. It comes with a warning that the maximum safe speed is 65 kilometres per hour – so this light isn’t for crazy hill descents, or for motorcycles.

I have run the M210 on the front wheel of the Schwinn Le Tour Sport for two months now and so far I have been very happy with it.

I still own the original monkey light and the M210 shows that they have taken on board all the customer feedback they received in the development of this new light.

monkeylectric m210

The main highlights are:

Ruggardization: The M210 looks a lot tougher than the original monkeylight, the circuitry has a thicker plastic coat and the battery compartment is sealed. I have ridden it through Swan River flood waters twice with no ill effects.

Weight distribution: Most of the weight is in the batteries, and having these mounted on the hub means that you don’t get the noticable wobble in the wheel that I had with the original.

User friendliness: The power on/off button is a different colour so it’s easy to know you are pressing the right button when you are on the bike. It is pretty easy to cycle through the designs and the packaging is the instructions – you can keep them tacked up on a wall somewhere for easy reference.

As the M210 is a ‘mini’ version it is not quite as crazily eye-catching as the original Monkeylight which had 32 LEDs (the M232 is the M210’s big brother if you still want that much colour). For my mind the 10 LED strip is a good thing, as with the original monkey light I actually got motorists horning me and yelling stuff at me from their car windows about the light. At times this extra audio feedback was not particularly welcome. There is a very small difference between ‘hey your light is awesome’ and ‘get off the road %#$**!’ when it is yelled out of the window of a passing car at 60kmh.

Now I mainly hear pedestrians say to one another ‘hey that light is pretty cool’ to each other as I ride on past.

I made a video to illustrate what it looks like in real world conditions. The first part of the video is what it looks like to the rider, and the second replicates what it might look like to cars waiting at an intersection.

Overall: For me the M210 is the perfect size and intensity. It looks pretty, adds to side on visibility (hopefully reducing the ‘sorry mate I didn’t see you’ or SMIDSY phenomenon) and the 8-bit preprogrammed patterns are pretty funky. The claimed run time is 40 hours, and I haven’t run the batteries flat yet. I suggest that you get yourself some rechargeable NiMH batteries so that this light remains environmentally friendly though. If you are after a nice bit of bling for your bike then you should consider one, or two of these guys 🙂

If you’re in Australia you can order directly from MonkeyLectric. If you are after something bigger and more eye-catching than the M210, you could always go for the M232, which has a whopping 32 LEDs and 42 themes to pump out brilliant light shows.

Full Disclosure: MonkeyLectric gave me a 50% off deal on the M210 to review on this blog. All other reviews on this blog are written without inducements of any kind from suppliers or manufacturers unless stated otherwise.

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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Reviews


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Perth Cycling Infrastructure: Bike Parking, Perth Arena

I went to the final of the Hopman Cup last night. Everyone seemed to be there to cheer Djockovic & Ivanovic at first, and Djokovic won his game against Verdasco, but Anabel Medina Garrigues fought gamely to defeat Ivanovic and the feeling in the Arena changed a little, with many many people supporting Spain. In fact the Anabel Medina Garrigues vs Ana Ivanovic match lasted for hours and pushed the end time of the match back to the wee hours of the morning.

djokovic at the Hopman Cup final (photo mine lol)

All of the players seemed impressed with the size of the crowd, Anabel and Novac both said they thought the crowd was like being at a Grand Slam. It was pretty much a sell out.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand, bike parking. As the Arena is pretty much brand-spanking-new it reflects some of the ‘newer’ philosophy that people need to be encouraged to walk, cycle and take public transport to big events. That means that there is bike parking provided in the underground car park.

Bike Parking underground Perth Arena

It’s pretty easy to get in there from the ‘old Entertainment Centre overpass’ – after you cross over the rail line, there’s now a little street that runs down the side of the Arena down to the car park.

There were only four bikes down there for a sell out crowd and we were responsible for two of them – though I think some of this is because it hasn’t been promoted!

There is space for about 4 or 5 bikes near Entrance B above ground, and that bike rack filled up as we were waiting in the queue to go in. There were also 4 or so bikes chained up to random objects. I suspect that these people didn’t know there was another bike rack available.

The racks themselves are the ‘corkscrew type’ which they already have in Northbridge. They do look kind of pretty but they are a bit awkward to use when compared to plain old U-racks which are still the most practical bike rack design that I have used.

When it was time to leave the underground car park, hundreds of other people were also leaving in their cars. One of the staff informed us that the ‘in’ ramp had been closed to traffic so we could use that without joining the queue of cars. This was great because my opposite number has a sore knee at the moment and has real trouble riding up inclines at any speed. After we rode up the ‘in’ ramp, we simply crossed the road to the overpass and home via the PSP, bypassing all the traffic jams and avoiding the train station at 2am on a Sunday morning.

I am going to see Pink at the Arena in the very near future so we will see if there are more patrons using the bike parking then.

It is certainly a great improvement on Burswood Dome (where we locked our bikes to the railing of a stairwell last time), and Subiaco Oval (where we usually find a random pole).

So next time you go to see something at Perth Arena, consider cycling there.


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Happy New Year! 2013 to-do list Blackjack

Instead of making new years’ resolutions, I figured it would be better to make a ‘to-do’ list.

1. Build my 9:zero:7 fat bike (have frame, will build!) DONE
fat bike frame

2. Sell at least two bikes

3. Modify my CarryFreedom Y-Large bike trailer to carry my kayak

4. Ride as much of the Munda Biddi Trail as possible

5. DIY laundry renovation

6. Ride the Ocean Ride for MS, raising at least $300

7. Ride Amy’s Gran Fondo (15 September 2013), fundraise at least $500

8. Ride at least 8,000 kilometres for the year

9. Upgrade this blog to remove the ads, hopefully fund the upgrade via proceeds from readers buying via my Affiliate links.

10. Build my shed

11. Sponsor a dog at Swan Animal Haven and take it for weekend outings

12. Fix the muffler on my car

13. Organise some ‘slow rides’ to get out and enjoy bikes with newer riders

14. Keep my bikes clean and well tuned

15. Teach my dog Bender to stay on a kayak for more than 10 minutes in a position that allows me to paddle

16. Try kayaking in the surf

17. Take the dogs camping or road tripping as much as possible

18. Revisit Esperance, WA

19. Kayak to Seal and Penguin Islands at least once

20. Take friends kayaking in the Swan River

21. Ride tandem at least a couple of times

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Posted by on January 2, 2013 in 2013 To Do List


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Owner Review: Schwinn Le Tour Sport Update – Ooops I broke it

My initial review of the Schwinn Le Tour Sport which I bought second hand in July 2012 is located here on my blog.

schwinn le tour

After 2,329 kilometres on the bike I have more to add. Yesterday both the pedals broke. I was not a huge fan of these pedals in the first place, but their flimsy construction is clearly not up to everyday use.

Broken pedal

As they were broken and twisted they immediately became very uncomfortable to ride on, and I believe they also took a bit of a chunk out of the soles of my shoes. They both broke in the same place at more or less the same time.

broken pedal macro

If you buy one of these bikes, and the standard pedals are these things, try and do a deal with the bike shop to swap them out because they aren’t going to last long!

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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Reviews


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