Cycling is enjoying a renaissance in New Zealand, and it’s becoming more and more obvious every year. About a third of us – that’s more than 1.5 million people – are now cyclists and one fifth are regular riders.
The press release below went out in 2009 via the BikeWise team with our name on it. It's great to be working with and supporting BikeWise.
I also recommend Cycling fallacies.
Cycling is enjoying a renaissance in New Zealand, and it’s becoming more and more obvious every year. About a third of us – that’s more than 1.2 million people – are now cyclists and one fifth are regular riders.
In fact our passion for pedalling has grown so much that Bike Wise Week has burgeoned into Bike Wise Month. During February people all over the country will ride to work on Go By Bike Day, or with their mayor as part of their local Mayoral Challenge.
Thousands of businesses will compete for the title of most cycle-friendly workplace and at least 500 events will be held across the country to celebrate cycling.
So if you haven’t yet joined the growing two-wheeled throng, Bike Wise Month might be just the time to give it a go. You’d be in good company and might be surprised at how much you enjoy it.
Still hesitating? Let’s dispel a few urban myths around cycling that may be keeping you from discovering a new passion; one that will keep you fit, protect the planet and save you a pile of cash.
Myth: Cycling is unsafe
Cycling is not risk free by any means but there are plenty of common sense rules you can follow to help keep safe while biking. Being a couch potato is actually a bigger risk to your health. More than a third of New Zealanders don’t get enough exercise and physical inactivity contributes to 12 percent of all deaths (about 2,600 each year).
Cycling can be built into busy lifestyles more easily than any other form of exercise, so it’s a cheap and practical way to get active.
Myth: Cycling is strenuous and hard work
Cycling is only as strenuous as you want it to be. Most people ride because they find it a pleasure. It’s a fun way of getting around that brings a sense of personal freedom and accomplishment. Fitness levels increase rapidly after just a short period of regular riding, making hills and headwinds less of a hassle than most people fear.
Cycling is also great for kids because it gives them independence and mobility, which are vital for their fitness and intellectual development.
Ebikes flatten hills and beat headwinds.
Myth: If I ride to work, I might get soaked
Statistically, if you ride for a couple of hours a day every day, you’re likely to get rained on just 20 times in one year. On those days you might get a wee bit wet, but a helmet and some inexpensive biking gear will easily keep you dry. In fact, you’ll probably arrive at work less wet than the guy in the next cubicle who had to dash across the car park with just an umbrella!
Myth: Cycling’s not practical and it’s quicker by car
For shorter trips, going by car is only marginally quicker, if at all. Most car journeys involve just one person with no luggage and are for less than 6km. In fact a staggering one third of vehicle trips are for less than 2km. Those are ideal distances for cycling. By the time you’ve sat in traffic and driven around the block looking for a park, you could probably have got where you were going by bike – and parking your cycle is free and easy.
Myth: Motorists and cyclists don’t get on
This isn’t true at all. Most cyclists are also motorists, and a third of motorists are also cyclists. This means there’s a good level of understanding between the groups with each willing to share the road and treat the other with respect. Road raging drivers and cyclists are the small exception to the rule that get all the attention.
Myth: Cycling means lycra, leg-shaving and looking awful
Having to wear lycra and shave your legs to cycle is another misconception. Plenty of cyclists don’t bother with either. Cycle helmets may not be the fashion statement of the year, but they’re so common they don’t look out of place.
While nobody expects you to look stunning while riding you may end up more attractive anyway. Just a few weeks of regular cycling and you’ll reduce your body fat, improve your fitness, tone your thighs and feel fantastic.
Myth: One person using a bike won’t make any real difference
Oh yes you will! Not only are cars bad for the environment, but they also come with some hefty costs to the country. Most roading expenses result from cars doing trips that could easily be cycled and providing for cycling is far cheaper than building new roads.
Global warming and scarcity of resources can be tackled by lots of small actions added together, and each person on a bike means one less in a car. That so many Kiwis are cycling where they can is already having a positive impact on the environment and the economy. And those cyclists are all individuals just like you, but with more disposable income because they don’t have to pay for as much petrol!
So there you have it. Cycling makes good sense, despite what you may have heard. To find out how you can give cycling a go during Bike Wise Month check out www.bikewise.co.nz.
Myth: cyclists should be forced to use cycle lanes
Build attractive bike lanes and people will love them.
Myth: cycling is unhealthy because of exposure to pollution from motor vehicles
Car drivers breathe in more traffic pollution than cyclists or people using public transport, new research shows.
The study found that cyclists on roads are exposed to 25 per cent more carbon monoxide than cyclists just two metres from the road.
Researchers at Canterbury University, NIWA and Auckland University conducted 30 runs in Christchurch and 20 in Auckland, using monitoring equipment.
The research found carbon monoxide levels in cars were more than 50 per cent higher than those experienced by cyclists, more than 80 per cent higher than bus passengers and nearly 400 per cent higher than train passengers. More here.
Myth: cyclists don't pay road tax or ACC
From Cycling in Christchurch website: Cycling has been in the media a bit lately and once again a familiar chorus has sprung up. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking funding for cycleways, whether to wear hi-vis clothing, or a high-profile cycle crash, inevitably someone in the blogosphere, Facebook, or letters to the editor pipes up and claims that “cyclists don’t pay”. More specifically, the complaints usually boil down to two things:
- Cyclists don’t pay petrol taxes, registration, or road user charges; therefore they have no legitimate right to use the road, nor to claim any special provision for cycling (in fact they should be grateful for what they do get given gratis)
- Cyclists also don’t pay ACC levies like motorists; thus they get free medical treatment too when they crash