Frocks on Bikes is delighted to welcome to town New York’s transport revolutionary Janette Sadik-Khan, with a frockalicious bike tour along central Auckland’s scenic paths and shopping streets on Saturday 24th May.
New York City’s former Department of Transportation Commissioner worked miracles during her tenure under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Her team transformed many of NYC’s ‘mean streets’ to increasingly friendly shared spaces with innovations such as a pedestrian mall in Times Square, and more than 480km of new bike lanes. Now, as Transportation Principal at Bloomberg Associates (alongside her former boss), she is inspiring other cities to create “complete streets” with space for everyone, whether they are on foot, on bike, in buses or cars, and Frocks on Bikes are thrilled to be able to share their experiences of cycling in Auckland with Sadik-Khan.
Frocks on Bikes, which began in Wellington in 2008 and now has 13 “frock flocks” across New Zealand and Australia, celebrates the casual chic and cheerful freedom of women on bicycles. “Our philosophy is you can ride however often you want, at whatever speed you like, in whatever you love to wear – yes, even a frock!” says Auckland Frocks on Bikes co-ordinator Nic Williams.
“The research is clear: the more women out and about on two wheels, the safer your city for everyone. Women on bicycles are a “indicator species” for a healthy urban environment. The sight of women on bikes sends a message that cycling is fun and that roads are for sharing, which encourages even more people.”
Safety is not the only benefit. New York studies show that bike-friendly streets are great for retail and real estate: Manhattan’s 9th Ave retailers experienced sales increases of 49% after a protected bike lane went in. Potential bike lanes on Auckland’s shopping streets such as Karangahape and Ponsonby Roads are guaranteed to have the same positive retail impact. With baskets and panniers typical on the springy, upright commuter bikes we like to ride, Frockers are well-placed to shop, shop, shop.
And then there’s our health. European studies show that women (and men) who cycle for just 30 minutes a day sleep better, look healthier, think better, concentrate more, live longer, save more money and lower their risks of heart disease and cancer. The best part? Most of this research is based on studies of moderate cycling, the kind of cruisy, pleasant cycling that Frocks on Bikes loves best.
However, says Williams, yet more research concludes that to get more women out cycling, streets must be transformed into bike-friendly avenues. Frocks on Bikes are looking forward to rolling along some of central Auckland’s magnificent ridgeline roads with Janette Sadik-Khan, and hearing her thoughts on how our city can improve our streets for all the people who use them.
Itinerary for Saturday 24 May
2.30pm: Q&A at The Cloud, Queens Wharf, with Janette Sadik-Khan, Mayor Len Brown, Ludo Campbell-Reid and Frocks on Bikes members
3.00pm: Frocks on Bikes ride begins
Dress Code: Frocks or your normal, everyday clothes!
RSVP to: Nic Williams – email@example.com or Ph 021 110 7148
Auckland Council, who is hosting Sadik-Kahn will also have a video recording of her free talk on Monday 26th May (now at full capacity) – posted to the Auckland Conversations website.
WHAT THE FROCK?! Frock-busting the big myths about cycling in Auckland:
Too rainy? We can count on one hand the number of times we’ve gotten drenched while out cycling in Auckland. (The former North Shore City Council did the numbers: if you rode to work every day of the year, you’d only get wet on a dozen of those days.)
Too hilly? Looks are deceiving! Most Auckland roads are pleasantly manageable. We ride at our own speed and barely break a sweat tootling up College Hill in first gear. We arrive at our destination with a fetching blush to our cheeks.
Too inconvenient? We love our lycra-clad sport-cycling brothers and sisters, but we have no need for a shower and a change of clothes by the time we get to work. The point of Frocking is to be able to ride from A to B in your fabulous everyday clothes. Plus, we can always find a park (and we don’t have to pay for it).
Not safe? While Auckland’s roads can definitely do with improvements, there’s interesting driver psychology in play when more women are cycling in “ordinary” clothes. A UK study showed drivers are more likely to slow down around female urban cyclists (or at least a bloke wearing a long, blonde wig!), and give them a wider berth when passing. This heightened attention to courtesy pays off for everyone on the road.
In other words, there has been never been a better time to ride.