One of the things I love about getting around by bike and public transport is the people I bump into along the way: I feel like it gives me a snapshot of the new Auckland. A week ago, while en route to the airport bus, I met this smiley, friendly couple on the Devonport ferry with their bikes…
As we shuffled round the deck dodging hail, Jim and Julie told me all about how they had moved from their family home in Pakuranga to an apartment in Newmarket. Now centrally placed with the train at their doorstep, they spend their weekends exploring Auckland cycle trails accessible by train and ferry. Julie seemed a bit apologetic that they travel for free on their gold cards. But I said that as they were bike ambassadors, no apology needed!
I asked Julie and Jim to tell me a bit more about their freewheeling life:
We have both been cycling for about 20 years, and have always enjoyed the great outdoors. We are social cyclists and like going out for exercise and fresh air. Summer is a particularly nice time to cycle, when it is warm and sunny, but we also cycle in the winter on fine cooler days, so we’ve invested in all the warm gear we need.
We really enjoy a day out cycling. We take our time to look at things of interest along the way, and make a fun day of it, with a picnic lunch or a stop at a café for lunch and coffee.
A big change we’ve noticed since we first started cycling: there are so many more people out cycling now! Safe cycling paths will encourage even more to get out there.
When we were in Europe we were very impressed with the many safe cycleways, with for example large bollards separating the traffic from the cyclists. We’re so pleased to see Auckland making changes for safer cycling, too – we have young grandchildren and would very much like to take them cycling with us, which would only be on safe cycleways.
We’re very excited about the proposed Skypath to be built on the Harbour Bridge. This will greatly extend Auckland’s cycleways, and make for a good day’s ride. We’ll be able to cycle a full circuit from city, to Wynyard Quarter, along Westhaven Promenade to the Harbour Bridge, over to the North Shore, back down to Devonport (an interesting and historic area, and a very good place to cycle) and then catch the ferry back to the city.
Some great all-day cycle trips we’ve enjoyed in Auckland (NB the trains and Fullers boats allow bikes free of charge):
- Around Mangere Estuary to Ambury Farm, down to the water’s edge. The track continues all the way around to Puketutu Island, and there are cycle tracks on the island itself. A very interesting all-day ride.
- Along the Northwestern cycleway beside the motorway, starting at Upper Queen Street, out to Te Atatu, then down through the Central Parks into Henderson. We catch the train back to Auckland.
- Waiheke Island – we cycled to Blackpool, around the Esplanade to Surfdale, across to Oneroa. Bikes go free on the boat.
- Pakuranga Rotary Path, a great ride. We start at Old Panmure Bridge, follow the path along beside the estuary (best when the tide is in), up to Half Moon Bay, then onto the boardwalk to Bucklands Beach. We catch the Half Moon Bay ferry back to Auckland.
It is very exciting to hear how busy and active Cycle Action is. You are doing such a great job pushing for more cycle trails for Auckland – this will open Auckland into an amazing playground.
Aren’t they fabulous ambassadors for the biking life? We talk about a new ‘golden age’ of cycling in Auckland, and the gold-card age of cycling will be a key part of that big picture.
Happy riding, Jim and Julie. We look forward to seeing you out on the new cycleways – with your grandchildren along for the ride!