1925 - 2013

Keith Dunstan

Back to Our history

President, Bicycle Institute of Victoria (Bicycle Network) 1975-78

Many journalists write to bring about change in the world. Keith Dunstan’s words changed the history of bike riding in Melbourne, and became part of cycling folklore. One of the founding fathers of Bicycle Network, Dunstan’s presence in the fledgling Bicycle Institute of Victoria as it was then known, added credibility and standing to the organisation.

In 1976, along with his intrepid cartoonist colleague Jeff Hook, Dunstan rode across the USA as part of the Bikecentennial celebrations.

It would become the inspiration behind the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride and make bike riding part of the popular culture. Dunstan’s reports from the US ride in his Sun News Pictorial column A Place in the Sunattracted millions of readers. As did his later promotion of the Great Vic Bike Ride.

“He was very influential and really made bike riding a normal, fun, sensible thing for everyone to do,” says former Bicycle Network CEO Harry Barber.

Barber says Dunstan was as passionate about riding as he was about writing. Dunstan was an enthusiastic recreational bike rider and commuter who believed that the bicycle should become a means of urban transport for everybody. He was a great supporter and active advocate of bike paths and better traffic regulations.

“He was very generous and humble man and very focussed and determined – the things that really meant something to him he didn’t beat people over the head with – instead he lead by example,” Barber says.

His humour, was present in his conversation as well as on paper, he says. “He had a saying that the most expensive thing about riding was the dry cleaning bill,” Barber adds.

Fellow former Bicycle Network President and Rides Manager Charlie Farren says even when Dunstan was ill he was still cycling, discovering the wonders of the electric bike.

Legend has it that Dunstan started the ‘Not Too Old Bicycle Club’ in Stonnington after a council employee questioned whether or not he was too old to ride.

Farren says Dunstan’s contribution to cycling in Australia is immeasurable.

“He made an incredible contribution to the recognition of cycling as a legitimate mode of transport,” Farren says.

“We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for the role he played in the early days as a role model and champion,” she adds.

Says Barber, “Bicycle Network wouldn’t be what it is today without Keith, he held our saddle while we got our balance.”