1956 - 2014
Advocate and Bicycle Network Catering Manager, 1991-1995
A tribute written by her good friend Paul McKay
I met with the head of a cycling advocacy organisation in Beijing recently. He was an urban planner by trade and mused that Melbourne’s cycling infrastructure and culture must have been planned for. I pondered then about all of the different plans we have had over the decades and their importance. I wonder if its more about the people making and implementing them. Ann Pentelow was one of these people and she was a giant in the early history of cycling in Victoria.
Ann had a varied and amazing career that included roles as a planner then executive officer for the State Bicycle Committee and the Catering Manager for Bicycle Victoria.
Ann was one of the first female engineers and one of the first traffic engineers in Melbourne and was the executive officer for the Victorian State Bicycle Committee. She organised the first ‘information centre’ grant from the the State Government which meant Bicycle Victoria was able to hire its first CEO.
The grant meant we could grow, develop income streams and we soon became one of the largest and most influential bicycle NGOs in the world. This grant persists in a different form to this day. She worked to establish State Government support for councils to complete bike strategies. This got many councils started. The process has proved a boom for cycling and persists to this day.
She had one of the best intellects I have ever met – and she was a really,warm and gorgeous person if you were her friend – and she would also fight ferociously for us and our cause at Bicycle Victoria.
When Ann Pentelow, joined Bicycle Victoria (as it was then named) in 1991, it wasn’t a job she applied for. Ann helped with a ferry crossing across Western Port Bay on the 1990 GVBR and we could see that glint in her eye. So we enticed her to a part time job with us on lower pay, more stress and requiring huge commitment and endless hours. We did this with the cunning attractions of not really knowing what we were doing nor if it was even possible – a wonderfully attractive offer to Ann’s sense of adventure and spirit of community.
We didn’t have a specific job at the time but had worked with Ann over the years and knew she could do anything. A gap appeared in catering so she set about developing the catering systems for the rides throughout Australia and New Zealand. Many of the systems she set up are still in use. Ann was able to feed the participants on the rides but also had a great sense in the importance of food to all of the workers. We were busy stumbling from one crisis to the next and I remember her coming up and just handing me food; previously many of us would go days without food.
When I see people pedalling about, making the most of our bikeways and enjoying the fruits of Ann’s work, I want to tap them on shoulder and have a whisper about the amazing Ann Pentelow.
Ann passed away over the Australia Day long weekend. She leaves behind two sons and her loving husband, Charlie.