They say there are two kinds of people in the world: mothers, and their children. Frocks on Bikes will take any excuse for a social ride at a leisurely pace, and Mother’s Day provided the perfect excuse. On Sunday morning, a lovely bunch of people – some of them mothers, all of them children, from Pt Chev and Meadowbank (onya, Lynne!) and Bayswater and beyond – gathered at Blend for a cup of tea and some bike chat… and bike browsing.
The thing about a Frocks on Bikes ride is that it really puts the “hi!’ into “hi-viz”. There’s more than one way to be eye-catching to drivers. Plenty of us have anecdotal evidence of what’s called the Mary Poppins Effect – when you’re sitting up, making eye contact, and dressed like you just stepped off a bandbox, drivers pay attention and are generally kinder. And there’s at least one research study that tends to confirm the effect (“when the (male) experimenter wore a long wig, so that he appeared female from behind, drivers left more space when passing”).
We gathered out front for a photo shoot (this is only half the crew – honestly, assembling cyclists is like herding cats, and just as forgivable, because look how cute!). Lovely to see AT’s own Kathryn King and Jena from Bubs on Bikes, both with their little guys in front seats. And yes, that’s the elegant Maria, on the right, bringing the romance. Just out of shot: Local Board bike champ Pippa Coom and her cool mum Barbara.
Then we set off down Ponsonby Rd. If ever a road yearned for a dedicated bike lane, it’s this one – the arterial spine of a city hub, full of all sorts of fantastic places to stop and shop, and absolutely crawling with bikes even in its current unimproved state. The 40kph speed limit is a great start; imagine an even more pedestrian and bike-friendly version of the road space.
Heading down towards the water via Victoria Park, Franklin Rd is the way to go. Looking forward to AT’s finalised upgrade, which will include smoother footpaths, a separated bike path and a traffic-calming roundabout halfway down. This should make life vastly easier for everyone regularly travelling up and down and across the ridge along both Franklin Rd and Wellington St (including kids from Freeman’s Bay School and their families).
As we rolled down the hill amidst the autumnal splendour of those grand old trees, I had a flashback to riding the same route last year with Janette Sadik-Khan, and realised how much has already changed for biking in Auckland since her visit…
…like the opening of the Westhaven Promenade, a beautiful wide shared path perfect for Sunday riders. (Come back soon, Janette, so we can take you for a trundle along this one too!)
Nobody was working up a sweat, but that’s the point: this is a relaxing ride, with time to say hi to walkers, little kids on scooters and bikes, friendly dogs – and just to take in the spectacular view.
And what a view. The bridge beckons beyond the marina…
…and looms ever closer as we approached our destination for lunch. The Sitting Duck was an especially aptly named location, given that we were indulging in a spot of what’s come to be known as “quaxing“!
True, the spot needs more bike parking, but for now the handy fence makes for an impromptu visual symphony of lines and circles, masts and wheels.
As we enjoyed our lunch, we also looked to the future… imagining the day we can carry on riding up and over that bridge, for dinner and a show in Northcote, or a ramble round the sugar factory, or all the way round to Devonport and then back on the ferry…
Which brings us to the SkyPath resource consent hearings, less than a month away – remember to contact Barb, who’s coordinating Cycle Action’s presentation, to add your story of why SkyPath matters to you. Because look at what the next three years is scheduled to bring… a motherflipping joined-up cycle network!
Roll on Mother’s Day 2018!