Here’s a guest post from Taylah Mawson taking in her riding experiences – keep them coming, people!
Cycling in Christchurch can be a mission but it can also be an adventure. The routes are forever changing and the cycleways are continually growing. It is a town where you look twice before you turn and check behind you after every second parked car you pass, barely indicate because you need both hands on the handle-bars (if not the brakes) at all times and, if there was a car you needed to indicate to, then it isn’t safe to turn or change lanes – not saying that you shouldn’t be indicating!
Traffic lights for bikes, traffic lights for buses and traffic lights that change too quick. Awesome detectors that register you’re coming and change the lights for you – this is definitely a bike-savvy city in the making.
Pot-holes in the ground and road cones everywhere, “beware merging cyclist” signs merging you in with 3 lanes of traffic, cars that turn on orange lights because it’s the only way to across, cars that run red lights. And everything else to look out for without forgetting that there are traffic lights, not GIVE WAY signs like in the small town I come from, so remembering you have to stop on red (and have to still check on green and not just follow) is something to adapt to.
“Cyclists watch-out for tram rails” signs with a scary picture of someone getting their wheel caught, glass that you have to ride over while you hold your breath and think light thoughts because there is no other option. You lock your bike up for one-minute max while you run into a shop because you don’t wanna risk it.
Then there is the awesomeness of getting the whole road to yourself after all the cars get held up at a stop-go sign, and the crossings for bikes that the lights change for as you approach so you don’t have to unclip… sometimes… do I stop?… do these lights change automatically??
Not knowing what side of Hagley Park you’re on and never being able to go the same way back because half the roads are one way. The fears of getting lost and not even knowing what street you’re in, because they change names halfway through and half of them aren’t even sign-posted, just adds to the thrill of it and you are forever discovering new hidden treasures.
Some people would much rather bus across town for these reasons but yesterday I made it to Sumner, with a few stops along the way to check places out… and back… 42km. From the university to Sumner, via Hagley Park, Central City and Ferry Road – including a hell of a lot of traffic lights and featuring many road cones and construction workers that walk down the footpaths in masses looking like miners leaving the mines. And of course a pit stop at the beach bar for the most impressive hot chocolate I’ve seen in my life – officially a local. Barista: “Is this your weekly exercise, see you same time next week?” Definitely worth the effort and a definite must-do again – despite how cold my toes were and crazy Chch roads (and drivers).
What’s your experience of riding around Christchurch like?