February has rolled into view and that means around NZ it’s time for the annual Bike Wise Month, where there is a range of activities all over the country celebrating getting on your bike (or trying it out). And next Wednesday 12th it’s actually “Go By Bike Day”, where there is a focused effort on encouraging people to hop on their bike to get to work, school, etc.
But, like we mentioned last year, there is a distinct lack of “official” promotion for Bike Wise month here in Christchurch. The City Council appears to have given up on doing any promotion of its own, leaving it to a few keen individuals to make things happen. Contrast with elsewhere, where the likes of Auckland Transport, Bay of Plenty, Hastings, Wellington Region, Nelson, and Timaru have various things going on. Auckland and Wellington are even holding their own ciclovía (“car free streets”) events!
Now admittedly cycling is still somewhat of a rare beast in many of these places, and thus even encouraging people to hop on their bike just once during February can be a challenge. It got me thinking about whether in Christchurch cycling has got to the point where it’s actually considered fairly “normal” and hardly worth making a song and dance about. I mean, I’ve never heard of a “Bike Wise month” or “Go By Bike Day” in The Netherlands or Denmark for example – they just get on their bikes all year around.
It would be nice to think that we’ve reached that level of cycling normality here in Christchurch (and I certainly believe the road user behaviour culture here is quite different to, say, in Auckland) but… nah. There’s plenty more we could do to attract the general public to ride more in Christchurch, and only some of it is better infrastructure. In some of those aforementioned European countries, it’s not uncommon to have up to half of the cycling budget going into social marketing and promotion.
So what is on in Christchurch this month if you’d like to celebrate cycling:
- Frocks on Bikes will be having a social ride out to New Brighton this Saturday 8th to view the Sandcastle competition. Meet at 1pm Beverley Park, cnr Stanmore Rd / Avonside Dr, Linwood.
- As Steven has already mentioned, there is an ICEcycles Bike Tune-up workshop coming up, on Sun 16th 1pm at Linwood Community Arts Centre, cnr Worcester St / Stanmore Rd.
- For all the cargo-bike fans, CHOCBAR is back on Sun 30th 1.30pm with a ride around Hagley Park starting near the Museum entrance.
- Well done to Chch Int’l Airport, NZTA, Fletchers, City Care, CDHB and Ngai Tahu for holding their own Go By Bike Day activities this month.
- If you shop at Fresh Choice supermarkets between now and Sun 9th you can also go in the draw to win a new Avanti Explorer bike (one winner per store).
- The Press have also got into the swing of things this month (nice feature in Zest today about Frocks on Bikes). You can go in the draw to win a new Avanti Discovery bike by texting BIKEWISE and your name/address to 3444 by Feb 12th.
(anything else on, please let me know)