Revitalising Hunter roots, exploring Newcastle's Electric Vehicle identity and transformation
I'm looking forward to getting back to Newcastle on 18 August, 2012, for the Hunter Electric Vehicle Festival (backed by the good folks at Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment and the Festival partners). After all, with Hunter as a middle name and birthplace, I'm kind of obliged to get along and see what sort of EV vibe exists for Novocastrians. I'm well familiar with the area, having grown up at various locations like Stroud, Stockton and Morpeth, studied at Uni, raced MTB up around Killingworth and adventured at various times in the Barringtons.
My regular uni commute (whilst I was studying Health Science at Newcastle Uni) was a longish one, at about 30km, from Duckenfield/ Hinton through East Maitland or Raymond Terrace (see the Google Maps link below for an idea). How I wish one of the Stealth Electric bikes had been around then. The ride to Uni was bearable, but the ride home was usually slow in the last part after a long day. The decision to ride or cage-dwell it would have been much easier with 3kw under me - it would have been fun hitting Cadel Evans time trial averages in Uni clobber and burdened with a laptop+textbooks (+printer on occasions).
Back then (we're talking 90's people) I watched the rail lines running through swampland, providing a much more direct link to the city, without the meandering path taken by the roads at the time. I remember wishing at the time that the rail corridor could be considered for dual-purposes, letting bikes run alongside for a more certain and direct commute.
I've been back recently, catching up with family, and watching as the Hunter goes through its transformation into a new identity, taking on a mixed identity of part quarry, part innovation-centered regional city. I've got a soft spot for Newy, with friends and family still there now. Chances are they're going to be in the near vicinity of our display stand, so forgive me if I get caught between family obligations to reconnect and the chance to talk about either of the models that we'll have along with us for the display. Remember, these bikes are not just for sitting on and twisting a throttle - you get the best out of them by using their potential as Active Transport - something Newcastle blokes might do well to reflect on, with 70% of Hunter men being rated as either overweight or obese. Now that's something to consider tackling at scale.