In this first edition of Salt of the Earth, we spend a few minutes with Edward Hore - founder and National Director of advocacy group Cycle and keen bike rider. Edward has made, and continues to make, an incredible contribution to cycling. He’s passionate, knowledgeable, funny and deadly serious about making the world a better and safer place for bike riders and motorists alike. We reckon he’s salt of the earth and so we’re delighted to kick off this column chatting with Edward Hore.
BB: Welcome Edward!
Edward: Thanks! It’s good to be here on Bicycle Buyer.
BB: For those readers who don’t know you, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Edward: My background is in IT - I’ve worked as an IT professional for 25 years and I’m still doing that to pay the bills, but nowadays I spend most of my time and energy on keeping Cycle going.
BB: We’ll come back to Cycle in a moment, but first tell us - how did you get into cycling and what turned a pastime into a passion?
Edward: I started riding when I was four years old. My brother put me on a bike and pushed me down a hill. He taught me how to swim the same way - he just threw me in the swimming pool! I guess he threw me into the deep end both times. I started delivering papers by bike. That turned into track racing, which turned into road racing, which almost turned into a career. When I moved countries I carried on racing in Australia, but then work got in the way.
It was 2005, when I was 35 years old, that I jumped back on a bike. I started competing again in 2007 and raced until 2011. For me, cycling was about going as fast as you could. If I was commuting to work I was going as fast as I could. If I was going out for a ride somewhere it was as fast as I could go. I was definitely a sport cyclist.
BB: So, what happened in 2011?
Edward: In 2011 I had a crash where I was dragged by a car for about 30m. I carried on riding and actually raced up a hill the following weekend. Then I found out I had 4 broken ribs, a fractured elbow, fractured collarbone and a whole lot of other injuries. After the accident I was given some really bad advice by a cycling organisation in Victoria. A year later I was wondering why I was given such bad advice and that was when I decided to get involved. I started to do some research.
BB: And that led to you starting Cycle. What exactly is Cycle?
Edward: For two years it was hard to describe what we were. We knew, but we didn’t know how to explain it. The best way to think of Cycle is as a media outlet. We work in cycling advocacy - we work with the bureaucracy, we get interest groups and politicians talking to each other, we organise debates. We do a lot of it via the media - creating public pressure to get stuff done much faster than it normally would be.
BB: So, when people ask you what your job is, what do you say?
Edward: I say I’m a mediator. I communicate across all the stakeholders, working to achieve common goals to get more people riding bikes and have better infrastructure. I spend a lot of time on the phone with people and on social media. The great thing is I’ve got an amazing team at Cycle who do an incredible amount of work to keep things going.
BB: When you look back on the last few years with Cycle, what have you achieved? What are you most proud of?
Edward: We now have a very focused organisation with a very focused team. In terms of what we’ve achieved… we’ve changed the language on mainstream media. You no longer hear about ‘road wars’ - the battle between cyclists and motorists. That language is gone. And if it does appear, those TV shows get flamed on social media.
We’re also working to change the language around ‘hit and run’. That describes an act. We don’t care about the act, we care about the person. We’re working with the media to call is a ‘coward’s run’.
We’ve brought people together - we now work with more than 150 cycling stakeholders. We’ve been able to secure millions of dollars in new infrastructure or repaired infrastructure. It’s made areas so much safer and that’s meant more riders are out there using it.
And we’ve got the ‘Brains Trust’ - a group of intelligent, influential people setting goals and outlines for advocacy in Australia. We’re far more organised in Australia, as far as cycling goes, than any other country.
BB: You have a reputation for being outspoken and I’m sure people have called you all sorts of things, but how would you describe yourself in a few words?
Edward: I do get called a lot of names! But I’d describe myself as focused. Focused and prepared - and well researched. I know the things I need to know and that makes me approachable.
BB: You’re obviously passionate about what you’re doing. What’s your picture of an ideal world? What would it look like?
Edward: My Utopia involves the ability for anyone to get anywhere they want, any way they want… and to feel safe doing so. That requires an incredible amount of new infrastructure. We may not see it for many years, but I do believe it will happen in my lifetime.
In my ideal world we’d live more like the Dutch. I want to go back to community - you live local, work local, shop local, ride local but live in a cohesive society. I’m trying to do that in my own life.
BB: What’s your dream bike - if you could ride anything what would it be?
Edward: My son’s riding my dream bike at the moment - it’s a BMC Impec. But I can’t really give you one single answer on that… can I give you three? My dream bike involves three bikes that I don’t currently have. A nice, beautiful long distance time trial bike - something I can ride for miles and miles and just be left alone with my thoughts. My second dream bike is a bamboo bike- something that’s close to nature, a bike where I can actually feel everything and enjoy the road. My last dream bike is an ebike. So, I can actually do an entire week of shopping and bring it home on a cargo bike.
I’m aspiring to get at least two of those bikes very soon - the bamboo bike and the cargo bike. I don’t think I’ll be doing any time-trialling for a while yet. My fitness level’s definitely not where it was in 2010/2011, but as far as riding for the fun of it goes I definitely want to do more of it. There are currently 20 bikes in our house. There’s only four of us who live here and 7 of those bikes are mine. They’re all different, every one is a different style of bike. And yet I still don’t have enough! I want two more!
BB: Where you would like to visit with your bike?
Edward: Can I give you a double answer on that? The first place is New York City. I’m dying to go and spend two weeks just riding around, getting to know every nook and cranny of NYC. To me it’s a cycling utopia. It’s similar to Melbourne in it’s design - laid out on a reasonably flat piece of land in square blocks and yet they have very few crashes and very few deaths in an area that has so many people living in it. The other place I’d love to go is Copenhagen. I want to go over to the Netherlands and experience the Dutch cycling - that upright and relaxed style.
BB: One final question - if you could put up a billboard anywhere, where would you put it and what would it say?
Edward: I would put one up on a major road in every state of Australia that cyclists use a lot and it would say ‘Every lane is a bike lane’. And it would have a tag on the bottom saying ‘Two abreast is legal’. Because they are two laws that people just do not understand.
BB: Edward, thanks for your time, thanks for your contribution to making this world a better place for all road users… and thanks for being Salt of the Earth!
Edward: My pleasure!