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Story of a regular Pt Chev bike commuter

Matt Fordham
General news
May 13, 2020

[Editor: The story above is from a Pt Chev Mum of two kids who commutes to the central city by bike most days]


I wish I could say that one day I got up rode to work and that was that; firm bike commuter ever since.  It has been a journey of years, so if you have tried and it didn't work, try again as this time it might.

I grew up in a hilly town and cycling wasn't part of my daily life.  As an adult however I knew it was the right thing to add into my life. With a young family, incidental exercise that didn't have to be done at any other time was appealing, as was not paying for parking.

With this in mind, before I returned from parental leave I tested my commute.  It was great to take the time to see how the roads connected with the cycle paths into the city and how long it took me.  I told myself this was the new future.

North-Western cycleway at the St Lukes off ramp. Image from Bike Auckland.

At the start my husband and I were both working in the same area so had a convoluted system involving taking turns riding an old clunky mountain bike.  One riding into the city while the other wrangled the kid and drove and then swapping duties at the end of the day.  It was a less than perfect arrangement - more exception than rule - and when winter rolled around and I was pregnant again I have to say the enthusiasm dropped off.

Fast forward a couple of years.  Both kids were in the local daycare and we could take turns dropping the kids before biking into the city.  This was a much better arrangement, especially with the investment of an e-bike to flatten the ride up Grafton Gully.  My commute however had changed and now took me off the safety of the cycle paths and I needed to share the road with large trucks.  This freaked me out, there was nowhere easy or safe to stow my bike at work and I had a carpark.  I got lazy. I got back in my car.

About four years into my attempts to become a regular cyclist, the pieces fit much better.

The combination of better-connected cycle paths, excellent end of trip facilities and my progressive investment in the right gear now makes cycling the fastest way to get to work.  I have to confess to a little too much satisfaction when I pass colleagues in their cars, and beat them into the office.   My ebike cost me less than a year's worth of city parking  It felt like a massive investment at the time but the fact that I park, change and hit my desk makes it so easy.  More recently I ditched my horrid backpack and invested in panniers.  One side holds my laptop bag, the other a Kathmandu stuff sack with my work clothes.  I've even been known to pop between city meetings on my bike in my flats.

It's great to see the increase in the numbers of cyclists on the cycle paths and road, of all shapes and sizes.  Some days it feels like the Tour de France with the paths being packed.   I enjoy seeing familiar faces on the bike path.  Even more I enjoy the occasional Bike Clinics or free coffees put on by AT.

I encourage you to give it a go, and then another if it didn't gel the first time.

Artists impression of proposed changes to the North-Western cycleway. The number of cyclists using this route to commute to the city has grown to the point where AT proposes creating a separate path for pedestrians.

[Editor: so far in our current survey of biking in Pt Chev before/during/after COVID-19 lockdown, we've heard from 25 people who are keen to connect with a 'buddy' to help get them started with commuting to work by bike. If you would like such a buddy, or can offer to be one - drop us a line including information on where you commute to, which days, and at which time.]

Matt Fordham

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