Gabriel Gati has been on the Bike Auckland Board for 3 years so we thought it was about time we gave him an introduction. And if you are wondering…all board member roles and co-opted board positions are voluntary.
What is your first memory on a bike?
I have a dreamlike memory of learning to ride on a field of grass somewhere in Aotearoa aged 4 or 5. But I have a super vivid memory of “borrowing” my older brother’s Chrome Supergoose aged about 7 and riding it around Te Aro School. Why? Because the saddle was touching the back tyre (making a cool motorbike sound I thought, but also wearing a hole in the back of the saddle) – big bro was NOT amused.
What type of bike do you ride?
Mainly a Black GT (e-bike) and sometimes a Giant cross-town acoustic.
Cycling for transport, recreation, community; or all three?
Primarily for transport but I am a fan of all three.
Have you always ridden or did something inspire you to make the shift to cycling for transport?
I started riding a bike regularly to get to Auckland Uni for my first degree. It is such a flexible way to get around (on my own timetable and for free) that I loved the freedom of it and have kept it up through my working life too (including in Melbourne, London and Tāmaki Makaurau). My bike helps me with my climate action too – it carries me on 95% of my trips around the city, including to the supermarket, hardware store and picking up dumplings from Eden Noodles.
Where is your favourite place to ride in Auckland? Or in the world?
Separated bike lanes changes the experience of active travel for the better. Knowing people in cars and trucks (including utes) cannot physically threaten my safety allows me (along with my friends and family) to relax and enjoy the journey. K Rd and the Quay Street bike lanes are personal faves for that reason. Further afield, Christchurch is setting the pace… Even further afield, the day I climbed Mont Ventoux was an unforgettable experience – an epic 22km of uphill riding.
What attracted you to joining Bike Auckland’s Board?
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” We all have hopes and dreams for our community. For me, a city that provides quality space for people on bikes improves in almost all aspects – it is a spectacular intervention: travel times fall for ALL traffic, traffic noise drops, commuting becomes one of the best (and cheapest) parts of peoples’ working day, sick days reduce, nature expands into reclaimed spaces and meanwhile, it has the best benefit/cost ratio of any infrastructure you can think of.
Tell us about your career / professional experience that you bring to the Board?
I have worked in law and asset management for sometime now. As Head of Risk for an infrastructure asset manager I am interested in the challenges of urbanisation in cities globally and in Tāmaki Makaurau locally. The Bike Auckland community has worked incredibly hard to develop a strategy which I was privileged to be involved in developing and which I will work hard to bring to life to help our members and the wider (biking and non-biking) community.
What do you think some of the biggest challenges for cycling in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland are?
Our biggest challenges are not the weather or the terrain. We have one of the best climates in the whole world for bike riding in all four seasons.
Technocrats in the 1950s ignored popular opinion and professional advice that recommended continued investment in Auckland’s world class public transport system (especially the tram network).
Instead, they ripped up the tram lines, encircled downtown Auckland with motorways and imposed an auto-centric design across the city and its residents. For 70 years, people have borne the brunt of these poor decisions with crushing congestion and rising fatalities from drivers crashing their vehicles.
Our biggest challenge now is for city leaders to show courage and re-allocate road space back to people on public transport and riding bikes. We know that more bikes on the street means more lives saved and more money for local businesses too. London, Paris, Tokyo, even NY and Sydney are the living proof of the economic and social benefits of encouraging bike culture in cities.
What’s your big, no-limits, dream for Auckland?
A rapid construction of Auckland Transport’s bike network, built right now as low-cost physically separated bike lanes across the city. This includes #LiberateTheLane. The network effect will unlock the city from congestion, save lives and let people (ages 8-80) ride to school, work and the shops. And yes, that includes picking up their building materials from Bunnings.
What suggestions do you have for people who want to really get into cycling like you have?
If not now, then when? Get on your bike, start easy, stay alert and please tell your local representatives (in person and in writing) that you want them to provide a safe space for people on bikes, from bike lanes to bike stands.
And to end, a question that’s not about biking…crunchy or smooth peanut butter?