Flashback Friday-ish: Cycle paths – important for keeping our aging population fit and well?

It says something about the crazy busy week I’ve just had that even managing to do a regular Flashback Friday on time (let alone any other blogpost) escaped me. So as I finally get some R&R time on the weekend, here is a belated offering. This week’s reheat (originally posted a decade ago by Chrys back in Sep 2012) is inspired by two recent happenings of note: (1) Christchurch City Council’s draft Annual Plan is now out for consultation (due Apr 10) and there are a few cycleways potentially under threat – so have your say! (2) The Ministry of Transport has just released updated data from its ongoing Household Travel Survey (expand “Notes” to see detailed data). While some of the national cycling statistics are fairly flat during the past few years of Covid, lockdowns, etc, one age-group biking continues to grow from strength to strength – the over-60s. All the more reason to encourage ongoing roll-out of cycleways for everyone young and old…

Separated cycle paths are an important part of a cycle network because they can help people get the cycling bug and to build their confidence to cycle and to manage in traffic.

My mother (currently in her mid 70s)  had some major issues with her middle ear for a couple of years.  During that time she wasn’t able to use a bicycle because she had major balance issues.   This problem did eventually improve, but by that stage she didn’t have the confidence to get back on her bike.  After moving to Prebbleton, however, she noticed the separated bike path nearby and decided that if she did fall off the bike or wobble, she would be quite safe on the bike path.  And so she started biking  the 6-7 km to Lincoln for coffee, or to shop or to visit friends.

A couple of trips like this and she realised that she was perfectly capable of biking on the roads, so now on occasions she now also bikes in another direction to Halswell.  These are both distances of 7-8 km which isn’t too bad for someone who was never really a frequent cyclist.

I’m guessing that the exercise and the enjoyment both help to keep my mum healthy and well and it wouldn’t have happened without the existence of a separate cycle path nearby.  I’m guessing that they would also provide children with a safe place to learn to ride their bikes and even for parents to feel safe about transporting their children with them on bicycles.

We have some great facilities such as the Prebbleton-Lincoln cycle path (part of the Little River Rail Trail), The paths through Hagley Park, the Railway cycle path from Riccarton, through Fendalton and Bryndwr etc., and now we can look forward to the development of the Coastal Pathway.  Wouldn’t it be great if these opportunities were available to more people around our City?

Wednesday Wheelies Central City
Never too old to be biking…

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