Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the world’s first ever Cyclehack. Cycle Law Scotland look an early decision become a major sponsor of the event which helped generate enough funding to enable the event to take place.
The event ran from Friday to Sunday evening and was, in my view, a stonking success.
The organisers, Sarah, Jo, and Matt did an incredible job of organising and coordinating the event and the ‘hackers’ in attendance matched their efforts by putting their heads together and coming up with some truly inventive ideas.
For those of you who might be wondering what a ‘cyclehack’ is, I will explain the format.
The end goal is for people to collaborate on solving barriers to cycling. For months before the event, the public were encouraged to submit their ‘barriers to cycling’. As we all know, there are plenty of these, ranging from fashion concerns, to safety issues and even simple things like finding people to share a ride with. Cyclehack collected a huge amount of these barriers, and on Friday evening, shared them with the crowd that had come along. Cyclehack in action
The ‘hackers’ present came from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines including graphic designers, programmers, engineers, artists and scientists. They were encouraged to pool their know-how, working together to find solutions to these barriers. The atmosphere was so positive, and it was really interesting to listen to such a variety of cyclists from all walks coming together to improve cycling for everyone.
Over the weekend, they would conceptualise solutions or ‘hacks’ to break down these barriers from all angles.
The organisers put a strong emphasis on the value of prototyping and field testing, which meant that over the weekend the hackers regularly went out and tested their hacks in the real world. You can see a catalogue of the weekend’s hacks here. It’s worth browsing through as there are such a variety of really inventive and useful ideas in there. The progress made over a 48 hour period is a real testament to how hard everyone worked. Their efforts were sustained by a cracking array of really lovely food & drink from a variety of local businesses too.
Invention and hard work was not the only thing inspired by Glasgow’s Cyclehack. In an unexpected development, Cyclehack’s appeal was such that it ‘went global’, with hacks popping up across the globe. Cyclists in Melbourne, Tbilisi and Beirut hacked across their respective time-zones, keeping in touch with Glasgow HQ via social media, and success of these hacks has led other cities planning their own hacks. Belfast has a hack planned for July and a whole host of cities around the world are planning to host a cycle hack next year. The idea has such clear international resonance, and on Sunday evening it was really exciting to feel like we were all part of something bigger.
By the end of the weekend, it’s safe to say that everyone involved agreed that the event was a thorough success. I really hope that the ideas generated can go on to be fully realised, because the benefit to cyclists will be huge. With Cyclehack 2015 already being planned, I’m fully confident that next year can be even better and I’m already excited about what’s going to be hacked next.