action-story | 16th May, 2016

Georgia Hutchinson: “Let’s make cycling a growing thing!”

Georgia Hutchinson is an avid biker. So it’s no wonder that when her industrial design lecturer at RMIT asked the class to choose a team project, Georgia and her team chose to design two public bike systems.

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The first was a pilot project based in the northern suburbs. It consisted of 30 bikes and 7 hubs based out of businesses in the area. The scheme drew a lot of media attention and created discussion around the development of Melbourne’s own public bike plans. The second project was more of a ‘utopian dream’, Georgia said, for how Melbourne’s Public Bike System could develop over the next 30 years.

It’s a process that has given birth to a lot of practical ideas.

“I’m hoping that the projects have given the state government some food for thought,” she said. “A new Melbourne public bike system should be accompanied by an improved, networked public transport system, particularly in the outer suburbs, so that riding your bike can be a feasible part of getting to work.”

Georgia said that creating an integrated public transport network would reduce people’s dependence on cars in the outer suburbs. “I’d love there to be more bike paths and lanes installed. Particularly on some streets like Lygon St in Carlton, I think segregated bike routes from car traffic would bring more bikers to the area.”

Georgia also believes that more signage around bike paths would create awareness of bikers for car traffic. “I think that’d be a catalyst for more people to bike around the city and would allow for cycling to continue to be a growing thing.” Georgia said. “More bikers means both an increase in awareness of bikers and sustainability issues.”

And it doesn’t end there. Georgia’s interest of the environment also extends to the amount of rubbish we send to landfill. She suggests the idea of “emotional sustainability” where instead of products just being sent to the rubbish bin, “users are invited to engage with products so it’s not so easy to simply dispose of them.”

She likens this to her favourite pair of jeans. “I fell off my bike last week, and now they have a hole in them; it doesn’t make them any less important,” she says. “There’s no reason why we can’t encourage people to engage the same way with other products or modes of transportation.”

“Personally,” Georgia explains, “biking gives me greater mobility and a healthier lifestyle. In terms of community building [as well], it’s a great way of being emotionally sustainable.”

It’s the reason she has established the annual Brunswick Free Ride day. Now in its second year, it has drawn 300 bikers together to do a lap around Brunswick and then party together afterwards.

“It’s a great way to be emotionally sustainable, connect to our transport system, form a relationship with fellow bikers, and sustain a community.”

Story by Lily Weinberg