My mum, Barbara Grace, has had a lot of time to think about what would make Auckland a great place to cycle. When we immigrated to NZ in 1982 she brought her bike and since then hasn’t stopped cycling for transport around town. Today she has three bikes – her folding Brompton, her bike for performing with the Velociteers (New Zealand’s only synchronised cycling performance group ) and her electric bike which is her new pride and joy. She rarely uses her car as she also has a convenient bus stop right outside her house and a goldcard!
It wasn’t that long ago people used to say to her “I know you, you are the lady that cycles around Ponsonby” – she was recognised because so few people were on bikes. She has been waiting a long time for Aucklanders to appreciate the benefits of cycling and for the roads to feel safe for everyone. She’s had a few scary moments herself – most recently knocked off by a guy who “just didn’t see her” as he turned out of a side street into her path (despite being “high viz” as she was lit up like a Christmas tree).
So my mum has been following with particular interest the recent debate about cycle safety following the tragic fatality in Parnell early in January. I think she nailed it with her most recent letter to the NZ Herald that was published last week.
Thank you NZ Herald for having a week of bike related stuff. So many opinions from the daft to the very useful.
This is what I know:
- A small but significant proportion of all road users don’t obey the rules and are ill-disciplined and arrogant. Trying to work out whether motorists or cyclists are worse is impossible and pointless. An important difference is that its the motorists who kill and injure on a regular basis.
- Cyclists contribute as much as anyone to road maintenance etc. and provide a positive cost/benefit.
- Because the number of cyclists is increasing all the time (hooray!) we need to get our act together and have bells and lights and show more respect to pedestrians.
- Every year cycle tourists from overseas, leave NZ shaken and horrified at the way they were treated on the road, this is no help at all to our tourism industry.
- In spite of the problems, cycling in Auckland is the most efficient and enjoyable way to get around the city.