While those of us doing serious work on identifying and promoting opportunities to enhance cycling remain very much out in the cold, it seems any project that touches on the more frivolous side of cycling will be showered with Cycling City money. Cycling City's 'Better by Bike' logo crops up attached to all sorts of events, including for example the New Cut celebrations in May and this weekend's Bristol Do, signifying yet another beneficiary of the funds that were supposed to be spent on 'cycling'.
One of the Cycling City funded elements of the Bristol Do is Rider Spoke, a work by Blast Theory, currently, er, happening down at the Arnolfini. It involves people actually going out on bicycle rides around the city, so really edgy stuff. Of course some of us have been doing that sort of thing for decades, but now, thanks to the munificence of Cycling City, we know that we have in fact been performing a work of art! Now where do I go for my Arts Council grant?
I'm told by people who have participated in Rider Spoke that it's 'great fun' and well worth the nominal £4 charge. I did wander into the Arnolfini yesterday to ask in my querulous way "What's the point of it?" and was told "It's a work of art" which I guess answers the question. Of course they had no idea what the whole thing was costing us (why should they care?) but judging by all the earnest young men with expensive looking laptops and the array of smart bikes for the use of participants I guess Rider Spoke doesn't come cheap.
I've nothing against 'art' per se but I don't see why it can't be funded by the consumers of it, where practical, in the same way as say 'housing' or 'transport' or 'food' is, not to mention most mainstream entertainment. In the case of Rider Spoke a nominal charge is payable anyway so why can't it be based on the real costs? Because people would baulk at paying that much? Perhaps then it doesn't actually represent value for money, in which case is it worth doing?
Another aspect one might ponder is the environmental impact of such 'works of art'. Rider Spoke is currently touring Europe and has recently completed 4 days in Copenhagen and a week in Linz. You can guess that such a tour generates plenty of air travel and the bicycles have to be trucked thousands of miles. Does anybody bother to do an environmental impact assessment for such things? And if they do, might we the paying public be allowed to know what it is?
Anyway here's a Blast Theory video to give their side of the story (although don't expect it to reveal anything as sordid as the public subsidy involved).