For those of you residing in Auckland, there is currently a biking challenge for this month. It’s just about getting more people on bikes this month in Auckland.
Now that I’m actually back in New Zealand (yeah, I’ve been overseas a lot), I thought I’d sign up. I mean, I like to bike anyway. Compared to fieldwork in China, and sitting in airplanes or airports for hours on end, it’s good to be outside. It’s good to stretch muscles and just eat up the kilometers on the bike.
So on to day one for me. I couldn’t start yesterday because I had kids to drop off at various places. I think it’s typically the need to transport children and run errands that hinders bike use for me.
The real problem for today is that school has started. That means the roads- especially down East Coast Road- are clogged. Cars barely move, or crawl at a slow speed. Not a problem if you’re a cyclist. Once I’m in the cycle lane, I can hit a good pace and just pass everyone else. Once.
The first challenge is the squeeze. This is where there are so many cars on the road they try to use every square-cm of road space to progress. I got squeezed off the road completely twice. Because cycle lanes are part of the road space motorists are willing to use.
The second is the death-on-4-wheels. Yeah, I got hit. A minor collision that could have been worse. A car coming out of Glamorgan on to East Coast didn’t check the cycle lane and pulled out in front of me. Did so well within my stopping distance. I couldn’t swerve to the right because of the queue of cars. Fortunately they spotted me at the last second, and somehow I kept my balance as the front of the car nudged me. I was expecting to be sliding on road-surface, leaving skin behind and lots of pain. Instead, they got language unbecoming of a professional academic.
So much for the cycle lanes keep us safer.
On the plus side, I saved (according to the challenge website) 1.3kg of carbon emissions by biking instead of cycling. Probably more as emissions are higher for vehicles stuck idling or crawling along roads. So if it feels a little cooler today, you know who to thank.
Featured image: Flickr CC, Robert Couse-Baker.