This is a Guest Post from Sara Templeton. Sara is the Councillor for the Heathcote ward in Christchurch.
Eighteen months ago I was one of the many ‘interested but concerned’ when it came to cycling. I live in Christchurch; flat, dry and a cycling capital of old. I had biked in the past, but hadn’t been a regular cyclist since university. A middle-aged mum, I was also juggling part time work with organising a family of five.
While most research points to safety concerns as the key reason that people don’t hop on a bike, for me it was different. I knew that cycling was a safe way to commute, statistically speaking, but I was unfit, overweight and the thought of puffing my way to a meeting and arriving hot and sweaty put me off completely.
However, it was exciting to see the Council starting to roll out the Major Cycleways programme, I wanted to lower my carbon footprint and needed to get some exercise in my day. So I did my research and bought an ebike.
I haven’t looked back.
Now working full time in the central city I bike most days and love it. It’s not as easy as it could be though and I currently use sections of on-road cycle lanes as there aren’t any of the major cycle routes built in the south east of the city where I live yet. When it’s built, I’ll use the Heathcote Expressway, which will take me from home to work and take me off the road where I’ve had two very near misses recently.
I have to be a bit more organised, but I bike in my work clothes, just adding layers for the weather and have two sets of lights for winter nights. Since I started my new job in town a year ago I have driven in on average only once a week, generally if unwell or if I have a meeting on further afield.
My original intention had been to use the motor on the way to work and turn it off on the way home, but I’ve ended up using the motor fulltime. However, I was surprised to find that my fitness has still increased and in May this year I started running for the first time. I found that I had enough base fitness that my first run was nearly 3km without stopping and I now regularly run 5-7 km and am training for the Summer Starter 10km run later this month.
My Smartmotion eCity has also been my ‘gateway bike’ and I am now about to purchase a lovely vintage style non-electric bike for weekend rides with the kids and days that I’m not in a hurry. There are also many casual rides with groups like Frocks on Bikes in the city and I’ll be heading along to some of them over summer. The increase in the numbers of people on bikes in the city has been noticeable and and I’m enjoying the smiles and short chats with others as we commute to and from work.
With the new cycleways underway and a push for better public transport in Christchurch I’m hoping that my children will never feel the need to actually own a car and that we will soon have a city that’s as accessible by bike and bus as it has been for cars.