Three cycling stories on Radio NZ Sunday programme: Hastings, utitlity cycling, mamachari

Ideas: The Recycling of Cycling Culture

Ideas explores the growing trend towards utility cycling - that's cycling which is neither primarily for sport or recreation but simply an every-day mode of transport.

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule talks about plans to turn Hastings into a model cycle-friendly city; Jason Penny of Island Bay's Mamachari Bikes which is importing secondhand Japanese bicycles by the container load, tells Ideas he hopes the bicycles will inspire people to adopt a Japanese-style approach to using bicycles for every-day use, and historian Iain Boal takes the long view and talks about the rise and fall and rise of utility cycling.

Listen here:


Lawrence Yule, Hastings District Mayor talked about how Hastings wants step change in
New Plymouth and Hastings have won Model Community funding from NZ Transport Agency to get more people walking and cycling, more often.

Emphasis is on trips to work and school, not sport cycling

Hastings will:
improve arterial routes
link regional centres Clive, Havelock North, Flaxmere and Hastings
fit bike racks on buses
improve secure bike storage
win hearts and minds
work with Bikes In Schools e.g. St Mary's School; and recreational clubs for road and mtb
improve street lighting
achieve step change in walking and cycling
aim to increase walking and cycling mode share from 9% to 20% by 2020
take barriers away such as safety concerns
address peak oil issues
build on local sustainable programmes

Iain Boal, author The Green Machine - A Brief, illustrated history of the bicycle in a planetary perspective

See Iain talk at

Cycling is an essential part of the transport mix

A little history:
first bicycles were toys for rich men
golden age of cycling was 1890s, as mass production lowered costs
19thC cities were hippo-centred: manure, carcasses and urine.

Bicycles were indeed a green machine
Cyclists led the movement for better roads, as they needed smooth surfaces
So bikers paved the way for cars
Cycling boomed in 1880s: safety bicycle had smaller wheels and rear wheel drive
Linked to suffragettes and rational dress

1920s – 1970s: car displaced bike as status symbol
Hitler crushed German cycling union
Utility cycling was dowdy, working class, marginalised and symbol of failure
Transport planners cleared the streets to make way for the speed of cars

1970s: bike sales spiked during oil crisis,
Earth Day 1970,
freeway construction stopped, starting with San Francisco in 1960s
The push back against automobilisation began

21st C: Velocity conference in Copenhagen focuses on cycling's role to solve many problems such as congestion, pollution and creating liveable streets

Car free places:Copenhagen district Christiania bans cars and has popularised cargo bikes and trikes
Blackrock, Nevada, no cars for 1 week, at Burning Man festival

Leading places for everyday cyclingBogota has advanced provision for foot and bike
Sao Paulo

Los Angeles
New York: great cycle path the length of Manhaten west side



These places are pushing back the dominance of cars and reclaiming public space.

In most places cycling has not reached critical mass, yet, because car culture dominates
Current planning for bikes is half-baked. Putting bike lanes on roads near the door zone is not enough.

In most places cycling is a statement of identity.
Not so in Amsterdam and Copenhagen: people do it because it makes sense.

Although I use a toothbrush, I am not a toothbrushist.”
We need to arrange the world so that the bike is the obvious choice.

Although the growth in cycling is steady and encouraging, globally it is matched by increase in motoring esp in developing countries such as India and China. The drive towards speed and circulation is happening all over again.

Interviewer Jeremy Rose asked if cars will become the new smoking.
Response: we should and will, but it will take generations

We are in the long twilight of automobilisation.

But compared to horses, cars seemed green at first.
One day it wil seem criminal to drive. Smoke, filth, effect on human habitability.
Speeds above 15-20 mph destroy habitable urban space

Jason Penny, importer and retailer of second-hand Japanese bicycles and shop in Island Bay, Wellington

These are similar to Dutch-style bikes
They are set up for commuting with mudguards, carriers, kickstands, simple gears and flat pedals.
No need to roll trousers up or use pants clip
Flat pedals suit high heels

3 or 8 speed options to cope with moderate hills
single speed ok for mild hills or flat places
In Japan these bikes are ridden by both men and women

Interviewer asked why Jason was importing bikes: to make a quick buck?
Response: it's the worst way to make a quick buck!

Jason was motivated by 2009 Copenhagen talks, Age of Stupid movie and the need to respond to dangerous clmate change.

Why do people want low-tech bikes?
Other bikes are designed for sport. But not everyone wants a sports bike or wants to wear lycra.

Mamachari bikes are easy and inexpensive.
Fashion has jumped onto the bike as a symbol of being environmentally friendly
Auckland cycle style fashion show
Wellington clothes shop Servce Depot features mamachari

Women are leading the charge for commuter bikes
Bike industry and shops typically dominated by men.

Men seek speed and gadgets
Women prefer comfort, to look elegant, and attractive bikes

People want to simplify their lives
We should do what we can
Most trips are less than 5km so we can switch many of these to the bike:
no congestion
no parking worries
no need to waste money on building parking space


Groups audience: