It's timely national Ride2Work Day popped up today - right on the back of some typically lowbrow reporting from a typically lowbrow publication, a.k.a. The Daily Telegraph.
"Is cycling to work really faster than the train? We put Clover Moore's claims to the test," read the headline in their May 10 article featured last week.
"THE (sic) is the city's chief peddler of spin," the article began, penned by authors Miles Godfrey and Ian Walker.
"And Clover Moore's latest bold claim - that cycling into the city is faster than other forms of transport - has been revealed as more public relations guff."
Their experiment that thwarted the Sydney Lord Mayor's "bold claim"? (That being, if you "live within 15 kilometres of a busy city centre, riding a bike is usually quicker than other forms of transport"; the distance was revised to "within five kilometres" in a subsequent press release issued the same day.)
Get two of their employees to go from the busied Sydney locale of Bondi Junction - one by train, the other via bike - to "a Martin Place building" in the CBD. First across the line wins.
In other words, essentially pit one person - Mr Walker - to go from one train station to another - rather than from home to workplace, or 'door-to-door', as you would think would be the case - against an inexperienced cyclist - Mr Godfrey - sardined in Sydney morning peak-hour traffic, leaving at precisely 8:38am last Wednesday.
The result? Despite all the rigged methodology in the world, the "cyclist", Godfrey, arrived only six minutes after Walker.
A whole six minutes! OMG! Holy s&^t!
"I soon located a smug, sweat-free Ian Walker, who had arrived six minutes before me, leaning against the building at Martin Place," wrote Godfrey.
"When you take into account the fact he could walk straight to his desk at 9am - while I took another 20 minutes securing the bike, showering and changing - the claim that cycling is faster than other forms of transport appears flimsy."
Imagine - just for a moment, fellas, if your biased pea-brains can handle it - that you guys had actually done the experiment properly, and started from one of your homes, which would have first involved a walk, bus, or car ride to the train station?
Or Walker had caught the bus instead of the train to work?
Or, as one of your own employees purportedly wrote underneath your apocryphal piece of tabloid journalism, used an experienced, rather than a novice, commuter cyclist?
"I am a Daily Telegraph employee who rides pretty much every day (I'm assuming Miles Godfrey does not) and whilst it is a faster train journey, when you take into consideration the time it takes to walk to the station, wait for the train and then walk from my destination station to the office, its pretty close (and I ride 35km each way)," wrote 'Andrew'.
"I don't have to sit in a train with people coughing and sneezing, I don't have to worry about disruptions to the service, generally I add an extra 20 minutes to the ride as I stop for coffee and a bite to eat, I get to work full of the joy of life, not the misery that comes with being cramped on a train, and I get to do it all again on the way home, with a bunch of like-minded mates.
"Next time you decide to run a similar test, why not involve some of the cyclists in the office, and try setting out from home rather than a train station, then for laughs add a medical at the end of the test, lets see who's laughing then?"
Could it be that even one of your own thinks your experiment has the validity of a rotten egg?
The article also stated: "City of Sydney said it was sticking by its claim that cycling is 'usually quicker than other forms of transport', which it says came from the Travel Time Competitiveness Of Cycling In Sydney study by University of Sydney's Richard Ellison and Stephen Greaves."
"And that's where the spin comes in," writeth its less than esteemed authors.
"The City defined 'other forms of transport' as cars, buses, trains, taxis. While the University of Sydney study showed that cycling is faster than public transport 89 per cent of the time for journeys between two and five kilometres, it showed car and taxis are much faster than cycling on 85 per cent of journeys over the same distance."
And just where are these cars parking when they reach their destination "much faster" than via bike? In front of their office building?
If you're not a high-level executive - or, quite often, even if you are - and you travel to work in the CBD by car, you almost certainly will park at a parking station. Did the study include the time taken to find a parking space, and walk from the parking station to the workstation?
What about the cost of parking? If you were to park at the MLC Centre in Martin Place and take advantage of their 'earlybird' parking rates (entry between 8:00-9:30am, exit 4:00-7:00pm), you'll be charged $39 per day.
How about a taxi fare? According to taxifare.com.au's estimations, a cab ride from Oxford St in Bondi Junction to Martin Place will remove somewhere between $18.76-26.27 from your hip pocket.
In a breakout story, Godfrey gave another serve to Councillor Moore's exorbitant spending on free cycling lessons - ironically, designed to help newbies just like him - where the City of Sydney provides 'Rusty Riders' courses, run almost every Sunday at Sydney Park, and women-only 'Cycling in the City' lessons.
"The free courses cost $1000 per day to run and up to eight courses are being run every month."
What a shocking waste of taxpayer funds!
Godfrey quoted a City of Sydney council spokesman, who defended the cost of the lessons: "Safety is our biggest priority and the course covers safe and responsible riding," he said.
"With more infrastructure being installed and more people riding, it is important all riders know the road rules and have good traffic skills."
Free cycling lessons designed to encourage more people to ride to work and get there safely, live healthier lives, spend less money, and ease traffic congestion...
Mon Dieu! The insanity of it all!
Please, Daily Telegraph, stop embarassing yourselves with this tripe - you've since overtaken 'Warnie' as the new King of Spin.
I'm already taking on Tiffany Cromwell next January in Buninyong; Misters Godfrey and Walker, if you're willing to do this again - and properly, I stress to add - I might as well take on the Tele, too...