Issue #937

LWB Issue 937 v2

Get on your bike

by Amanda Robinson, The Lightfoot Initiative

I have 99 problems and my big bum on my bike ain’t one - aka, Why I’m riding in the Aotearoa Bike Challenge.

I thought I was fit until I moved here 12 years ago. But fitness is defined differently here. I also realised that while Queenstowners are fit, they are highly dependent on their cars to get them to that gym, trail or climbing spot. It was a stark contrast to London where I was a daily cycle commuter. Sure, I had to learn some aggressive bike tactics but I made it an art. I loved a tactical approach to the traffic lights, light, balanced, preparing to launch ahead of the pack at traffic lights, and leave the other, more, ahem, ‘professional’-looking cyclists in my dust.

My ego cycled me home many times a week. It was a 40km commute along the A12 passing through the appropriately named Gallows Corner roundabout with 13 lanes feeding into it and no dedicated bike lanes. That big bum of mine was no barrier to cycling through ugly traffic – and I loved it. Now I live in Queenstown and advocate for better bike infrastructure. I commute on the trails now, and on our busy roads. On our roundabouts, by the way, even two lanes require the same blinkered focus as 13 lanes. I also ride for fun at 7 Mile and Coronet, and here’s where the contradiction hits me.

Many of these people, who happily bike black runs, wouldn’t dream of riding on the road. I’m left asking: when will we stop making excuses? Everyone’s an athlete here, yet I rarely see them riding their bikes to get from A to B. They all like the idea but will handwave it away, citing time, safety and ease as barriers. An exception is the Tuesday / Wednesday Roadie bunch (politely slammed on Facebook the other day for hogging the road). I’d love to see that number of bikes on every road, leading the way and showing how cars and bikes can coexist.

The “build infrastructure and they will come” approach is a nice ideal but prohibitively costly. As for ease, it depends on whether you find sitting in standstill traffic “easy”. The quickest way to make our streets bike friendly is to put more bikes on them. Imagine if all parents who could ride a bike modelled that to their kids and showed them how to bike safely in traffic? We’d be talking about a new generation of fitter, happier, more independent young people. Cyclists have a symbiotic relationship with drivers. More numbers equals better awareness.

So this big bum is going to ride as much as possible during the Aotearoa Bike Challenge this February.

Will you join me? Sign up at

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