A post from CAA member Geoff.
We always love to blog posts from members and you can remain anonymous if you prefer. It doesn’t matter what the post is about as long as it is vaguely cycling related. 500 words is all we ask for and maybe some nice photos.
For the last four years I’ve been cycling to work on a daily basis and in this article I’ll share some of my experiences and thoughts on cycle commuting in Auckland. My commute is from Onehunga into the CBD and return – a round trip of about 30 km.
I’m sure the audience of this blog understand the benefits of cycle commuting and it certainly does tick a number of boxes. Saving money over other transport options is one obvious point but it is likely that it will save you time as well – especially if you use road transport and live within 16 km of your destination. Auckland Council predicts that the average speed in peak hour traffic will reduce from 16 km/Hr (measured in 2010) to 7 km/Hr (in 2021) and finally to walking pace (5 km/Hr in 2041).
On my bicycle, I generally average between 18 and 20 km per hour so I’m definitely winning there. The health benefits are another obvious reason one should consider cycling to work, but they go far and beyond a healthy heart and stable waistline.
A study undertaken at Vrije University in Amsterdam has determined that those who exercise regularly are more likely to be happier, less stressed, more motivated, focused and satisfied than those who don’t exercise. And research at the University of California has determined that aerobic activity, such as cycling, grows new brain cells (neurons) in the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memory) and improves problem solving abilities. Who would’ve thunk that?
It doesn’t work for everyone of course. You can’t cross the Harbour Bridge and you need space to securely park your bike as well as access to lockers and showers. And there are the downsides as well: exposure to the elements and exhaust fumes, traffic lights that can’t be triggered, road markings and metal covers that are slippery in the wet – and the occasional inconsiderate bus driver or motorist. The latter are all tolerable as long as they don’t occur on a daily basis.
One of the best resources for any cycling commuter is the Auckland Transport web site . The cycle maps clearly identify dedicated cycle paths, bus lanes and roads that are safer and quieter for commuting. By using the maps, I’ve identified a good compromise between the shortest time and the safest path to get to work.
The other good resource is the link to the 2013 Road Code for Cyclists. This is an 80 page downloadable PDF that provides valuable information for those new to cycling and should be included with every new kids bike. It also has information that more experienced riders would appreciate, for example, what about doing a “hook turn” instead of getting stuck in the right lane while turning right at a controlled intersection. The code also lists the applicable road rules for cyclists and it’s good to know your responsibilities, as well as those of others.
Finally you need the gear and my bike is well set up for the daily drive. Racks and paniers ensure that I can fit in work clothes, my compendium and lunch and removes the sweaty back syndrome of a backpack in warmer weather. Long mudguards keep the road gunk off me and my bike which means a cleaner ride and less maintenance for the gears and chain.
LED lights and a dynamo hub means that there is no need to worry about batteries, and the lights are on whenever the wheels are turning. High tech equipment and clothing is getter better and cheaper every year so there’s more incentive than ever to ditch the car/bus or train in favour of the most efficient form of transport.