“No-one bikes into town, it’s not practical…”

With the news the other day that cycle numbers in Christchurch are continuing to climb, it was inevitable that the naysayers would jump onto social media and grumble about how cycling is not at all practical for a certain ABC or XYZ trip. Exhibit A:

The response above was great, and I’m increasingly seeing such replies to the “negative Nellies” (if not replying myself…). A similar theme comes up often in discussions about the new central city rebuild; apparently cars are not welcome there any more, but no-one would even dream of biking or bussing there to shop either; hence no-one comes into town…

So it was particularly interesting to have a look around town this weekend, with many people coming in to check out the new Riverside Market. And come in they did – the place was humming…

The streets are alive…

I was in town to catch up with my son for lunch and then do a spot of shopping. Waiting at our meeting place by the Bridge of Remembrance on Sunday, I had a permanent smile on my face seeing how many people were out and about. And what also caught my eye was just how many bikes were around the place as well. Young, old, families; it seemed all sorts of people were there with their bikes – the new cycle-friendly connections to and through town are clearly starting to have an effect.

Clearly not just adults biking into town

All those bikes easily overwhelmed the available bike parking supply nearby; I ended up just resting my bike on its kickstand, locked to itself next to a bike-rack full of other bikes. Others were attached to poles, trees, fences – whatever they could find really. Memo to Council: gonna need more bike parking! The interesting thing to note too was how many bikes had baskets or panniers attached to them…

Lots of panniers and baskets here…

My son was about 20 minutes late; much of that due to (a) being stuck in traffic driving in, and then (b) making his way up to the top of the car parking building to find a space. As I casually pointed to my bike parked 5m away from us on The Terraces, even he acknowledged that driving wasn’t the smartest thing to do on a day like this; he doesn’t currently have a bike but bussing in at least suddenly made more sense.

Apparently people biking don’t spend money because: where could they carry everything? Well the first thing we did was go and find some lunch. Food and drink is of course a staple part of the central city business scene and it’s pretty easy to “carry” because you are the ultimate receptacle; no bags required.

Spot the bikes… people parked wherever they could

After lunch and a wander around, we parted ways and I went and did some retail shopping in town too. Just a few bits and pieces that had been building up on my list; some DVDs, replacement slippers, and a few household accessories. Now if I had been checking out a new fridge or microwave I might have had to make different transport plans – but how often does one buy these? So just one of my panniers was more than sufficient to bring home my bounty. Of course, if you need to carry more, there are plenty of ways to do so by bike these days.

Plenty of room in there for all my purchases

So, homeward bound, with about $145 spent in town (and there were a couple of things on my list I didn’t get to cross off – next time…). I’m sure that many of the myriad others I saw biking around town also parted with money in various ways, doing their bit to boost the local economy. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea (heck, I don’t bike for every trip into town) but a lot of times cycling is a perfectly practical way to make the journeys you need.

How often do you use your bike for shopping and hospitality trips?

9 thoughts on ““No-one bikes into town, it’s not practical…””

  1. For me just about every trip I make under 5km is by bike. And given that I work less than 5km from home that makes for 95% of my trips. It’s just so practical…door to door and I never have to worry about parking. I get so stressed if I have to take a car to town and deal with traffic.

  2. ” Now if I had been checking out a new fridge or microwave I might have had to make different transport plans ”

    is there anywhere within the four avenues that you can do that ?

    Those days are long gone. These days it is all about checking it out online, then having it delivered. If you want to view it in person, or do the deal in person, then it is possible to get there by bike, but the majority of appliance retailers are in big box centres, most of which are pretty cycle unfriendly to get to for the average family. That is why weekend traffic is so horrendous these days. People have to drive to the Briscoes sales, which are so special they happen every weekend. Car-centric transport planning restricts the choice for leisurely weekend travel for window-shopping , browsing and purchasing.

    1. Funnily enough, there is a Briscoes within the Four Avenues, and one of the main reasons this is the store in that category that I am most likely to go to is because it is semi-easily accessible by bike.

  3. I would count myself as a previously reluctant cyclist. I wanted to bike to places, but being in the traffic scared me considerably. Thanks to the cycle ways and my ebike, I can confidently cycle from Ferrymead to the city and back. Whilst there my partner and I will spend money on food and drink and if small purchases are made they are placed in our pannier bags. Biking has become a fun and joyous activity again and my cycling confidence is growing too, as with the ebike I know I can get quickly through intersections.

  4. I tow a trail, over the last few years I have found towing the trailer makes you more visible to car drivers. Don’t know if it’s the size or the flag getting blown in the wind, but I still tow it. Whether shopping or just out riding I feel safe knowing I can be seen.

    1. Many drivers will have no problems lethally endangering adult “cyclists” (case in point: I pointed out to a driver yesterday that could have killed me when passing me closely in a curve in which I had taken the lane for about 5 seconds due to the narrowness of the curve and to increase my visibility, and their response was that that would have served me right for impeding traffic), but they may hesitate if they think there might be a child in the trailer.

  5. The quarryman’s trail opening up has been an absolute gamechanger for me in terms of biking my son (now 9) in and out of town. We bike in at least once/twice a month and usually go to the cinema, get food somewhere, go to Turanga. We definitely spend money in town as a result of the bike trails. We were also at the new market – they do need some bike parking near there. We get the groceries using a bike trailer once a fortnight too. Most of out trip 5-6km and under – we use the bikes. We’ve always only needed one car as a result and even that we could do away with if there were easier options for hiring one on the rare occasions we really need it.

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