An Easter basket of bike-reads – goodies from all over

Apr 04, 2015
An Easter basket of bike-reads – goodies from all over

Jolisa

Pick up a copy of this month’s Metro magazine to read Greg Bruce’s story about SkyPath (article not online). Greg bravely ventures under the bridge to meet the vocal few who aren’t keen on pedestrians and cyclists going trip-trap over their heads and past their front doors.  Those opposed to SkyPath get the most page space, as they dig themselves ever deeper into a hole on the wrong side of history, but there’s also a lovely pic of Skypath champs Bevan Woodward, Kirsten Shouler, and Christine Rose, an interview with Bevan, and a strong sense that this thing will happen.

It’s also a good time, one year on, to revisit Gemma Gracewood’s great piece from the Metro archives about New York City’s bike boom and what it means for Auckland.

Which raises the question: what’s changed in the last year in NYC? Lots – check out Bicycling magazine’s Top 50 Bike Friendly Cities for a sense of how rapidly NYC is becoming a city so nice people bike it twice.

And what’s changed for cycling in Auckland in that same year? Well, we have the Grafton Gully Cycleway, rapidly adopted not just by cyclists but by university folk on foot. The freshening up of the NW Cycleway between Waterview and Te Atatu. And gorgeous new greenways in Mt Roskill, among other things. Also the Beach Road separated bike lane… although some people are still getting the hang of that one.

Pic via Facebook
Pic via Facebook

Notably, our “bike-friendly” mayor has gone awfully silent about well, pretty much everything. But on the bright side, we have the makings of a new bike champion at Auckland Transport, who brings the prospect of some dramatic changes over the next three years.

Once again, we ask the question Gemma asked a year ago: is Auckland finally ready to change gear?

Related reading: Metro ed Simon Wilson’s 20 point plan for getting Auckland moving, from May 2014. Print it out, pin it on the wall and tick it off as it happens. (We’re keen on that advisory group composed entirely of young women – add in some mums and kids while you’re at it).

From other parts of the world… you’ll enjoy this gorgeous meditation by NYC bike-blogger-philosopher The Invisible Visible Man on how cyclists adapt to the particular rhythms of a city’s streets. Is it a good thing, or a bad thing, he asks – or just a thing? Here’s a snippet:

There’s a pleasure, after two-and-a-half years and at least 10,000 miles of New York City cycling, to having learned to recognise – and anticipate – so many of the city’s moods. The sudden surges in traffic in various places; traffic’s unexplained disappearance in others; the surge in grumpiness among drivers in certain conditions: all reflect, I know rationally, a multitude of individual decisions. But they can feel so concerted and sudden that they almost feel like the actions of New York City herself. A cyclist riding through the city has to undertake a kind of dance with her, getting in step and learning how she moves.

It’s a wonderfully chewy post, from a blog to keep an eye on and read regularly. The archive is just the thing to dig into over a long weekend. See also this recent essay on the evolution of bike lanes, and how they’re sort of like aeroplanes – no, really!

Meanwhile, Lovely Bicycle (lovely name!) features the thoughts and images of a writer-photographer who shuttles between Boston and Northern Ireland with a variety of bikes. She has an eye for the unusual, as in this recent post “Toward the Self-Evident“, which captures how a visit to an impermanent art installation set her thinking about the very point of bicycles. It’s an atmospheric piece:

I emerge from the housing estate, but the hill goes on and on. I stop to take a breather and turn around to look behind me. The weather is turning bad. The same haze that ruined the morning’s solar eclipse has returned, now hovering in the background, threatening to settle over everything and obscure the view. In the distance the city centre resembles an architectural mockup – rows of toy houses, toy steeples, toy parks, toy bridges across a painted-on river. How did they make that toy mist look so realistic?

And also: why am I here again?

Read on, with a nice cup of Irish Breakfast, and then delve deep into the archives which contain all sorts of treasure, inspiration and provocation.

It’s eye-opening to see how everyone else experiences the world on bikes. Which brings me to Brandon Kidd’s Tokyo by Bike, a fascinating blog about, yes, the role of bikes in Japan’s biggest city. Having experienced Tokyo from the inside out, which involved developing a nimble sidestep to negotiate grannies on bikes on footpaths, I loved this post on Japan’s cycling seniors, especially the pics of all the different kind of bikes that make cycling accessible one’s whole life long. Look at this shopping trike!

Ding ding! Off to the shops.
Ding ding! Off to the shops.

Honestly, don’t get me started on the fantastic range of bike options that are absolutely standard – and absolutely affordable – in Japan. The mamachari, for example, which is essentially the family station wagon.

Pic via Tokyobybike.com
Pic via Tokyobybike.com

Or this model, handy for older sorts, and young traditionalists: a bike designed for riding while wearing a kimono.

kimono-bike

And I reckon Aucklanders will find a lot to think about in this post about the way bikes and trains work together to make Tokyo’s suburbs (each a handy bike-village in itself) a seamless part of the city at large: “How Suburban Tokyo Promotes Cycling (Without Even Trying)“.

Easily bikeable train stations also mean easy biking from one "village" to the next. Pic via TokyobyBike.com
Easily bikeable train stations also mean easy biking from one “village” to the next. Pic via TokyobyBike.com

Here’s a question: can we imagine Auckland similarly, as a City of Bike-Burbs? Especially once we start linking public transport more effectively, with better bike-parking at local train and bus stations; bike-racks on buses; bike-cars on trains; a bike-share programme and a harbour crossing of our own, where couldn’t we get to on a bike?

Something to dream on, anyway, while cycling round the city over the long weekend. Happy Easter!

 

 

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