Drawing of Bicycling Advocate James Schwartz by Michael Rubbo
Riding an upright bicycle (or sit-up bicycle) is the key to spreading urban bicycling. That’s what Mike Rubbo believes anyway, and we here at The Urban Country have to agree that the style of bicycle one chooses is as important as anything else to making urban utility bicycling attractive to everyday people.
Mr. Rubbo, a renown documentary filmmaker is spreading his message about sit-up bicycles through his art exhibit that he is calling “Nothing But Bikes – Beauty in Utility”, opening on July 4th at the Tap gallery in Sydney, Australia and running until July 17th.
The art show will feature about 50 works of art by Rubbo himself – including the above drawing of yours truly along and other urban bicycling advocates that have crossed paths with Mr. Rubbo.
The manifesto for Nothing But Bikes describes the goal of the show and explains what inspired Rubbo to create an art show dedicated to urban bicycling:
“The bike is a very cool presentational device for the human body.
Historically, the nude has had a revered place in art. The human figure on the bike, especially bikes of the stately sort, deserves it’s place as well.
I want to position the sit-up bike in the public mind as a creator of grace and beauty as well as a sensible transport provider.
I want people to go from thinking, “what a wonderful sight, that person gilding along there on the sit-up bike,” to, “that looks like it feels great. I should try that.”
Once the urge to try is strong enough, the fear with which compulsory helmets have cloaked Australian cycling, will to some degree slip away and be replaced by more positive feelings.
The cycle chic movement paved the way for me, photographing riders, as it does, to reveal elegance and grace in movement.
It began in Copenhagen with Mikael Colville-Andersen’s now famous blog, Copenhagen Cycle Chic, and has since spread around the word with 34 other national cycle chic blogs now publishing photos of graceful riding.”
I first met Mr. Rubbo in 2009 when I watched a YouTube film through Copenhagenize.com that Mike had made about bike sharing in Australia. While watching the video, I was astonished to see a photo of myself on a BIXI bicycle in Montreal that I had taken of myself when I first tried BIXI in July 2009 after paddling to Montreal in my kayak.
Intrigued that my photo was in Mr. Rubbo’s film, I contacted him through e-mail and have enjoyed a wonderful friendship with this man of many talents for the past 2 years. We try to help each other out using our respective expertise through a premise that Mike likes to call “progressives helping other progressives”, or “phop”.
Beyond Rubbo’s artistic talent, his art show has a certain significance due to it being situated in a country dominated by racing bicycle culture. Australia is also clouded by an egregious mandatory helmet law that hampers its ability to spread a sit-up bicycle culture similar to what we see in many European countries.
Here are a few samples of Rubbo’s art where he captures the elegance of sit-up cycling and attempts to inspire others to join the world of everyday urban bicycling:
If you reside in Australia, then check out his show at the Tap Gallery in Sydney between July 4th and July 17th. If you can’t make it, then visit his Flickr page, or the Facebook page and help promote this exhibition of bicycle art.
- The Sit-Up Cycling Revolution (Dec 2009)
- Australia Got it Wrong – Time to Roll Back the Clock? (Nov 2009)
- Protesting Helmet Legislation in Australia (July 2010)
- Billboard Hijacking To Promote Urban Bicycling (March 2011)