Flashback Friday(-ish): “No-one bikes into town, it’s not practical…”

You know that it’s been a busy week when you don’t even find time to get a Flashback Friday out on time – ah well, Saturday morning it is… It is of course starting to get into the silly season ahead of Christmas, and town is certainly already pumping. I was there last night and there were so many people out and about. Apparently all of these people need to make it into town by car, because anything else is not “practical” – you could have fooled me, judging by all the bikes that were floating around. And so it was four years ago as well, when I first observed in this post from Oct 2019 how many people had chosen the biking option. Tonight we have a work Xmas dinner in town, and I’m looking forward to biking there…

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?

3 thoughts on “Flashback Friday(-ish): “No-one bikes into town, it’s not practical…””

  1. I do the majority of my grocery shopping by bike. I can pretty comfortably get $100 worth of groceries into a mix of my pannier, my front basket, and a wee fold-out backpack that I keep in my pannier for this purpose. It’s so convenient to just pop in on my way to work or home, park right at the door, stock up and carry on my merry way.
    Overall, I reckon about 90% of my total retail spending is by bike, around 5% is online on the remaining 5% odd is by the occasional car trip.
    On that note, if a place has terrible bike parking, I’m less likely to go there so those retailers who make no effort are missing out on my custom!

  2. I also generally grocery shop for a 2 person household and fit it all into 2 panniers. Although I probably shop more than once a week. I have a bike trailer but have found it’s unnecessary faff except for bulky loads like potting mix from the garden centre.

    I’m not a purist and still resort to the car for big bulky loads (or pay for delivery!) but these are hardly every day.

    On the broader point, bike racks are well-used wherever there’s a destination, in my observation. Whether it’s the Arts Centre, or Pomeroys, or Pak’n’Save.

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