Words : Jose Arce & Charlie Coquillard / Pictures: Charlie Coquillard - 20/10/2020
Inner West love
When people from out of Sydney ask me how I can ride in this crazy busy city all day as I do, I tell them the truth; it's super fun.
Sydney is one of those cities where you can tell where you are based purely on the graffiti, or lack thereof, on the walls. Riding from the Inner West to the Northern Beaches feels like looking through a kaleidoscope. You see many colors, different textures, thousands of people, and it all changes with a few pedal strokes.
I live a lifestyle that has me on my bike almost every day of the week. Working as a bike messenger Monday to Friday, and weekends relaxing doing long(er) distance rides.
Weaving through traffic is another form of relaxation for some of us; riding in between cars on main avenues is just as exhilarating as being on a rollercoaster.
I wish everyone had the opportunity to try city riding at least once so that people's perspective on people riding bicycles change from thinking cycling is just a sport, to think of cycling as a lifestyle.
Jose has been living in the Inner West for more than a decade, bike messenger during the day, there was no better person to take us on a journey to some of Sydney's most iconic suburbs.
So why did you move to the inner West, and what made you stay?
"I live in Marrickville because my wife's family lived in the inner West. But really, we moved there because of all the nice brewery, coffee shops, food shops, and mostly because of the small-town vibe.
It uses to be a bit quiet over the last few years, but now the lockout laws have lifted; it's absolutely busy and crazy, especially in Newtown. And as every "cool" suburb in the world, after a while, it becomes gentrified.
I love riding there because you can see art everywhere and it's like you are traveling, it's such an eclectic part of Sydney. The inner West is always in motion; there is no slow time; restaurants are open non-stop, as opposed to the rest of Sydney. They also always change, one day a Thai place will open, then the burger joint will close, only to be replaced by a café, there is new stuff to discover every day! "
Graffitis, pubs, parks, bridges, and busy roads, it hardly gets more vibrant than this. Embark with us on a trip down quirky lane, where everyone mixes regardless of their race, gender, or age.
How do you define Sydney's culture of cycling?
"Cycling in Sydney is huge, I wouldn't say it's a common thing for everyday people like in the Netherland, but the cycling community is big on both sides of the bridge ("The bridge" is the Harbour bridge that split Sydney in two.)
There are tons of events organised by the city; some NGOs help lower-income populations and beginners fix their bikes, and hell, the city even put up free workshops and riding lessons.
Roadies, messenger, commuters, kids, roadies, mountain bikers, food delivery drivers, everyone is represented in the cycling community. The weather plays a significant role, it's sunny for about 340 days a year here, so there is no reason not to ride. "
For this very reason, Sydney is riddled with bike shops. The city has its quota of expensive bike shops; while the inner west stores sell alternative cycling gears and the northern beaches focus more on mountain bike stuff."
On top of the cycling culture, Sydney, like the rest of Australia, has a passion for food and drinks. Cyclists love coffee, but with warm weather for about 8 months of the year, what is a better beverage than beer? The city and especially the inner West is packed with craft breweries and independent brewers. That makes Sydneysiders almost snobbier with their beers than they are with their coffees.
Young Henry's brewery is an institution located in Newtown. Distributed nationwide and enjoyed by millions, in bottles or on tap, we had to go in to taste one of their delicious beverages and mingle with colorful individuals.
What do you think about the infrastructure?
"There is quite a bit of bike lane already, but you still have to ride on some of the main roads, and that's a massive turn off for most beginner cyclists. You can't get from one side of the city to the other without getting on a major artery, and I think that's a big reason why more people don't commute by bike; they're just scared. There are also cars parked in the cycling lanes, doors opening, people crossing, and many of them are shared with pedestrians, which isn't ideal. And if you ride on the road or the footpath instead of the cycling lane because it feels unsafe, you can get a massive fine.
The city is very involved. They have multiple programs like bike to work day, free workshops, free lessons ( https://www.instagram.com/sydneycycleways/ ), but I think the infrastructure still needs a lot of development to make the city bike-friendly to everyone. "
We've created the reflective collection for people like Jose, that needs to be seen with bright colors during the day and with reflective materials at night.
We didn't want to create a bright yellow collection with reflective tape on it, so we focused on the development and created an almost invisible reflective layer that we apply to our garments.
That way, whether you're a bike messenger, a commuter, an early morning, or a late-night rider, you can glide through the city freely and safely.
One last word?
"It truly is great fun to ride in the city. You can see details that you would never notice while driving or taking public transports. Alleyways, tunnels, bridges, stairs, it's super concentrated; you can discover an incredibly diverse world just on your doorstep.
You are never far from home, but you can see the vibe, colors, and people changing from suburbs to suburbs. That's why I love my city. "