Aotearoa Bike Challenge
February 12 2018 by Ronnie Baker
February is Aotearoa Bike Challenge month – The New Zealand Transport Agency's mission to encourage more people to travel by bike. Head to www.lovetoride.co.nz to get involved.
The Queenstown Trails Trust has joined forces with some local organisations to host fun events in February to support the challenge. There's the Family Fun Day at Jardine Park, an evening of bike related story telling at Fluid, cycle speed dating and the Queenstown Park Station Ride to name a few.
The underlying driver is to get more people on bikes, and off our congested roads.
The congestion issue (and the pollution issue) is shared, we all contribute to it and are all part of the solution. As frustration increases, why not get on the bike and have some fun on the way to work. There are many perceived barriers to cycle commuting or cycling anywhere; the weather, it's too far, I have too many things to carry, I have to pick the kids up from school, there are no showers at work or anywhere to store a bike, the roads are too dangerous... Somehow, other parts of the world have overcome these – think Denmark. Imagine how much less traffic there might be on our roads if many of the unnecessary journeys in cars were made by bike? This isn't a 'someone else will do it, so I don't have to' scenario.
It's a bit of a catch-22. On one hand, we need to make space for cyclists on our roads – both physically and mentally, before potential cycle commuters will feel safe enough to start commuting by bike. On the other, a mind-set shift and the infrastructure improvements required won't take place until we reach critical mass of cycle commuters within our community
So where do we start? Getting out there and just doing it. By getting involved in improving our transport situation. By talking to and supporting those who are working towards making a difference. By understanding the far reaching benefits of cycling – reducing congestion, saving money, combatting stress and increasing health. The Queenstown Integrated Transport Strategy highlights that a fundamental change in thinking and approach is required. Not just by the planners and 'thinkers' but by ALL of us as residents of this stunning town.
Biking forms a key part of an effective integrated transport network and generates more social and connected communities. This is evident in Queenstown, where we are lucky enough to have several active groups who understand that facilitating, promoting and encouraging biking in whatever shape or form enriches our social landscape. Seeing the community pull together for recent events such as the McGazza Fest just shows the strength of our biking community.
The Queenstown Trails Trust is in the solution space. We are steadily working towards building commuter connections that will remove some of the barriers to cycling. As our network grows, the efficiency of traveling by bike increases. So whether you ride for fitness, fun or just to get somewhere faster than the traffic, more people on bikes in our region is beneficial. Our town is hurtling towards its 100% theoretical vehicle capacity in 2026 – but maybe, just maybe we can help push that number backwards, one bike ride at a time.