The Dream Of A Liveable City / by Laura Kebby

I had a conversation yesterday with a friend of mine about the notion of a liveable city. It’s quite a complex thought, really, when you finally start to think about it. What makes a city liveable? Newcastle is a perfect example of these little pockets of activity spread sporadically throughout the corners of our town. And I mean, people love these little pockets, die hard novocastrians pick their favourite little sections. I live on the East End for example, and although this is a fairly new development for me personally, I’ve already fallen in love with this corner of the world. Walking out and smelling the ocean, engaging with the world. But I’ll always have a spot for the West End as well, especially after living in Carrington for so long, Hamilton became a real haunt for me, and now that I’ve discovered Dark Horse Espresso in Wickam, amongst others who call this little corner of our world home, I’ve started to return back to old haunts with new faces. Then you’ve also of course, got Merewether and Bar beach, which is another world entirely. I talk a lot about the space in between because I really enjoy trying to fill in the gaps with most things. But how can we make the connection?

I also love it that the working day is changing and evolving. The conventional office work day is slowly fading away and I personally could not be happier. Bosses and CEO’s are looking towards a much more dynamic work day, where employees are encouraged to conduct their business in a way that suits their specific strengths as opposed to locking people up in cubicles and expecting wonderful results. Lunch hours are being encouraged, as opposed to being frowned upon. Employees put enough pressure on themselves as is, if you’re an effective leader and manager, they will want to work for you, let them have their lunch hour, without being crammed behind a desk eating vending machine sandwiches. Because the beauty of a city like ours is, the fact that the ocean is well within reach. Nothing recharges me personally like a visit to the beach. I’m actually here, typing this up at the beach right now. 

But if you live or work on the West End, how can you make the most of your lunch break, to catch some rays and some of that sweet sweet ocean air. Walking is not viable, because by the time you get there, it’s almost well past the time to turn around and come home, and do not get me started on the parking situation here. That’s a whole other issue, that’s getting me riled up just thinking about it. The words “off street parking” make me go all tingly inside. But anyway, back to the liveable city scenario. Major cities do alternative transportation methods well, very well. In Brisbane for example there are bike stations everywhere, the city is incredibly accessible and the city itself almost seems to encourage exploration. When was the last time you rode a bike? When was the last time you pulled up your socks and jumped on a bike and just… peddled. Here’s a hot tip, biking is back, in a very big way. What, as most things tend to do, resurged as a new found hipster trend with basket clad bicycle kids carting around second hand novels and organic vegetables, happily cruising through the streets to find the best local haunts. Not all of us have the time or the money to do such things. But this doesn't mean you cannot jump on and (literally) roll with, this trend. Seamlessly combining all of the things I’ve been talking about, the redefined working day/lunch break and connecting the little microcosms of our wonderful community, through biking. There’s a great little initiative I discovered, called BYKKO, that’s set to launch in Newcastle tomorrow. 

BYKKO

BYKKO

It’s a bike share initiative, and this is the missing link. This is something that can not only connect those little pockets of wonder scattered around our city, but really give those in the know, a real fighting chance at breaking up the work day with some good old fashioned strenuous activity. For those not so inclined to don the tights regularly and engage in activities that make one exhausted and sweaty (apparently there are endorphins involved with exercise but I am skeptical), these particular bikes come with a little bit of power under the hood… well seat. They are battery assisted bikes which can actually clock up to 25kms an hour without you breaking a sweat. Something I discovered yesterday as I hopped on my merry way and began to pedal, round and round, through the streets of our town. I walked away with not only that song stuck in my head, but the real hope that our city will move towards a much more sustainable future. Encouraging city dwellers to explore life outside of the traditional cubical and seize the day! (Or lunch break at least). The notion of bike share is already well underway overseas and is particularly very popular in Europe. Where it snows. People are biking around, having the time of their lives in blistering winters, why can’t we jump on the band-bike so to speak and enjoy the beautiful surrounds that the Australian climate has to offer.

BYKKO

BYKKO

The first of hopefully many ‘docking’ stations is situated on the corner of Dick and Hall streets in Newcastle West. This initiative is something that I am personally really excited about, and cannot wait to see it take off, as we move towards a much more responsible, and frankly a whole lot more exciting, mode of transportation. 

You can find out more/register here: https://www.facebook.com/BYKKO/
The trial is set to be launched tomorrow, November 30th, by our very own Lord Mayor.