Give a Wellingtonian in Tāmaki a discount e-bike and see what happens… Guest poster Isabella has been buzzing around astride a Smartmotion E-City courtesy of Big Street Bikers. She has some reckons about Auckland for us Aucklanders, so strap in.
Hey Auckland, let me (a Wellingtonian) tell you some Facts about your town.
- You have mini towns scattered all over the city. With excellent restaurants and bars, and cool places to buy stuff, and neat breweries and cideries and theatres and bookshops and places where people work and play and learn and meet, just randomly scattered all over.
- All this is spread over a lot of hills (and yes this is Wellington speaking). Hills and gullies and promontories and some pretty complicated geography. (What’s the plural of “isthmus”?) So getting A to B is usually up and down and hither and yon and up and down some more.
- You have a lot of horrible stroads, and scary arterials. Baby wannabe motorways everywhere, and heavily-trafficked overbuilt intersections with multiple lanes and turning lanes and nary a scrap of bike infrastructure (and sad withered little footpaths).
In this 20-year cycling person’s opinion…
All this makes Tāmaki a brilliant place to have an e-bike.
Like this one (I called it Leccy for our all-too-brief time together)
“Yes but I already have a bike (or two) and am awesome.”
You may be a biking person already, a two-wheeled tiger in Tāmaki’s urban jungle. Rrroaarr! So here’s a question. When you’re somewhere and considering your options for where to go next – perhaps a Friday night between post-work drinks and finding some dinner, or figuring out where to have a business meeting with someone who works in another mini-town. Maybe you’re planning weekend brunch or a beer and meeting a friend and a bit of shopping. You’re planning by bike, because you’re a tiger. But how much are you subconsciously limiting yourself in deference to all them hilly bits between Auckland’s cool places?
What if those hills really didn’t mean much? How much would your everyday horizon expand?
And if you’re in a hurry in the city, and you decide to do battle with the main roads, how much do you and your brain just suck up the toxic cortisol from being close-passed off every red light because Driver Steve behind you is Very Important And You’re In His Way?
Wouldn’t it feel more serene if you could zoom off the lights with a little burst of power and then comfortably sit in the middle of the lane, under leg power yet taking your rightful place as a road vehicle? (If you want to pass, Steve, good luck to you; I’m doing 30k up here.)
This, Tiger, is the quietly life-changing experience of an e-bike.
“But I don’t want to be a tiger in the jungle, I’d rather chill while I’m getting around”
So maybe, dear Auckland reader, you’re someone more like me.
You’re someone who’d like to bike around but would rather not do battle with four-plus lanes of oversize shiny urban assault vehicles converging on each other. Which means you stay off the ridgelines that are the city’s only flattish ways to get around (roll on the K Road upgrades please!). Well, good for you. This is really rather sensible.
Thing is, in this biker’s Auckland experience the more chilled out routes of the non-main drags invariably mean more upsing and downsing. While being away from the ridgelines means one is less likely to experience the cold sweat of mortal terror, one definitely gets more of the sweaty sweat of hard work.
So, chilled out person, an e-bike is for you too. It means you arrive with a gentle glow, rather than having to fan yourself and do the stealthy sweat-patch check. And, when your back-streets routes inevitably intersect with some of the larger roads and you have to do a hill start at pace to get across, you can lay down a burst of speed that would ordinarily require thighs like a Tour de France sprinter – except you have leccy power!
The final word must go to the grocery shopping. I did none of this, but I towed my week’s luggage between Britomart and Morningside and I can testify its weight was easily equivalent to a good hefty grocery shop. I don’t know about your knees, but my almost-38-year old ones wouldn’t want to haul potatoes, wine, cans of beans, washing powder, dishwash et al without a spot of leccy power.
Going to the shop it’s power off, and you’re on a nicely-riding Proper Bicycle, zooming along under muscle power in the grand 200-year-old tradition (but with nice modern stuff like disc brakes). Homebound, it’s power on and you work harder – but not so hard you think about starting to save for a knee replacement.
All up, the e-bike made me feel I could do the city by bike, but with more power, less anxiety and without getting sweaty in my favourite jumper. I could go forth and conquer Auckland!
Power yourself up
And to buy one: Big Street Bikers are doing crazily good ride to own deals, from only $30 per week. So go check them out at their solar powered Rechargery pronto. I found them incredibly helpful and obliging, allround enthusiastic about more Kiwis e-biking. If you’re a smart business (or want to make your employer be one), e-bikes offerings for businesses (a nice twofer with the new NZTA / Sustainable Business Council guide for businesses to help their staff get e-bikes).
And for when you’re off the machine, Big Street also have exciting bike-parking plans for all of us who get around on bikes.