Back in 2011, after being exposed to renowned Copenhagen based, Dutch architect Gehl, a visionary of Urban pedestrian and cycle friendly design, Amanda launched her own project observing and documenting Perth’s changing pace and style of riding bicycles.
“The cycle culture, which Gehl’s work helped flourish in Europe fascinated me and I was, and still am, envious of this lifestyle. It seems so civilised and simple because it is”, said Amanda, the mastermind of belles, pedals & chains. Her blog, a photo diary of bicycles she comes across in Perth, or anywhere else she and her co-blogger Sascha travel to, features the beautiful, bespoke treadlies people are floundering in urban spaces. It is an ode to the loved, well-made and elegant way of riding a bicycle.
Having been exposed to the European way of all things bike, Amanda noticed the change of culture in Perth, a move from total Lycra dominance to a more diverse look of the cycling landscape. “I suddenly noticed other bikes on the street: fixies, vintage style, people wearing normal clothes, some without helmets. I was like, ‘hang on something is happening here! Could there really be a change in the culture of movement here in Perth where car has always been king?’ I wanted to document that change so that other people could see what was happening on the streets of Perth. I’m a very visual person and Sascha would often comment that I have eyes like a hawk. Maybe that makes me perfect for this project. I would argue that she has become the same as me though.”
The photos of belles, pedals & chains are spontaneous anecdotes of pedal-by bike lovers on their way around town. The posts’ headlines are a testimony to the bloggers eye for detail, highlightling and naming the pictures most defining feature and leaving space for readers appreciation of the art of saving candid moments of everyday life.
The need to capture Perth’s “Europefication” was fuelled by Amanda’s desire to bring a bit of cycle friendliness home. “I really, really, really want to live in a city where riding a bike is normal, like Copenhagen and Amsterdam. I have a Danish bike myself.”
“The blog started out being about Perth but as we travel a lot we introduced photos of other cities. It was a natural progression. I was lucky to have been relocated to Melbourne for nearly six months in 2012 so the blog became very Melbourne centric then. Such an inspiring city.”
“As Perth is so isolated, it’s a great way for people to check in with what’s happening in other cities. That’s really important. I sometimes think we need to be constantly reminded of other places. The blog has become about cities and civilisation in this point in time.”
“The culture has definitely changed and there’s real momentum out there. It was all Lycra and now you see handmade bikes, vintage, fixies and most importantly, a lot more women riding bikes.”
“We need to be doing more work though to encourage the after hours, weekend and short trips by bikes. In Victoria, there’s been lots of work on providing infrastructure in suburbs so that people can get the shift from cars to bikes 24/7. I think we also need to normalise riding a bike so it becomes more mainstream and for all ages. There’s still so much work to do.”
Work which Amanda and her blog are supporting and her commitment doesn’t go unnoticed. “We’ve had lots of messages via our Facebook page or through Instagram that people love the blog and can’t believe it’s based in Perth. I just hope it might help to inspire people to dust off their bike. I also hope we can show that riding a bike can be normal and doesn’t require special clothes, as it’s no big deal and age nor gender should be a barrier. The City of Sydney often use our photos in there bike promotion so maybe we are making a small difference somewhere.”
Although Amanda has been running her blog for four years now those looking for the repeat selfie on her Dutch bike will be disappointed. “Our privacy is pretty important because we want the blog to be about documenting what we see, not what WE do”, said Amanda. “A bit of mystery is also really important. There’s not enough mystery in our lives these days.”