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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Biking to work too dangerous - cycling advocate

Cycling campaigners say fewer people are cycling to work because the practice is becoming more dangerous and difficult.
Figures from the 2006 Census show 38,000 people routinely bike to work, down from 41,000 five years ago and 51,000 10 years ago.
The Cycling Advocates Network says people are afraid to cycle because there are too many cars on the road, travelling too fast.
It says a large increase in funding for projects to encourage cycling is needed.
Gary Moller comments:
What a child learns when young, he or she will be very likely to continue as an adult; even if there has been a long break. On the other hand; if a child does not participate in an activity and learn the basic skills, then he or she is unlikely to take up that, or similar activities later on.
Girls are by far the least likely to take up an outdoors activity later on - lack of basic skills, soft bodies, gender bias and stereotyping, fear of sunlight, fear of bugs and fear of strangers lurking the bushes see to that.
My little boy is the only child in the Central Wellington City suburb of Brooklyn to ride a bicycle to school which I feel very sad about.
This is the trend that is happening now and it is showing in activities like cycling. The majority of young adults have had little or no practice riding a bike. Riding on roads nowadays requires a high level of skill from Day One on the road and few youngsters are learning these. It is therefore no surprise that total numbers of cyclists is on the decline.


Thebaron said...

Unless a child has keen cycling parents it is unusual for a him or her to have the opportunity to learn basic cycling skills. Writing as a geriatric who came back to cycling at the age of 60 after a break of forty years, it was no problem, because between the ages of seven and nineteen I had used a bike daily as a means of transport. Most of my contemporaries could dismantle a bike down to the ball-bearings and we find it very strange that cyclists nowadays regularly send their bikes in to be "serviced" at a cycle shop.

Gary Moller said...

I started with Meccano and progressed to my bike and then later to pulling apart the motor of my 1965 Vauxhal Viva HA.

Society is changing in many ways and some I am not entirely comfortable with including the way kids are being raised - raised to be afraid of nature and this shows with declining participation in healthy outdoors activities. Activity is going into the safe indoors; hence the boom in fitness centres.

Anonymous said...

I am not quite sure what you mean by girls soft bodies but I don't think that all the comments made about cycling are true. I for one did not ride a bike as a child as I was brought up on a farm and rode horses. We were tough kids and did the same physical work as my brother. I have learn't to ride a bike as an adult along with many of my friends. I think the generalisations you make may be true about the girls that you know, however the girls that I know spent all their time in activity and still do. Even now in my 40's I can benchpress 120 kgs and I think that you would be hard pushed to find many cyclists male or female who can do that.

Gary Moller said...

Carol, You are one of a dying breed of Kiwi and my kind of woman. I am refering to the kids growing up today who never expereince anywhere near the kind of upbringing you and I had.
The sad fact is that few of these young girls will ever take up cycing and other outdoors activities as adults. The nearest they will get to cycling is riding an exercycle in an airconditioned gym.
It is said that NZ now has more gyms per capita than any other country. How sad is that!

Anonymous said...

I the same way that modern cars are no longer home servicable, the modern bicycle requires servicing that is way beyond most home mechanics... To tell the truth it's way beyond the abilities of most bike mechanics too!

Disc brakes, suspension, tubeless tyres, 9 and 10 speed cassettes, carbon fibre, and major design changes in bottom brackets, headsets, etc every 5 years, all requiring new tools, mean that it's not like rebuilding the old bsa 26", healing 10 speed, or even a mid 90's hardtail mountain bike!

as far as riding on the road goes, there are over twice as many cars on the roads now as there was 20 years ago, but they are the same roads, and those are made much more dangerous with "trafic calming" islands etc.

it's not all about upbringing or perception, cycling on the roads now really is more dangerous

and in nz, helmet laws have also reduced the number of people using bikes for transport

Anonymous said...

As a kid, I rode my bike to school along the same roads every day for years, without incident. A few months back I rode that same road for the first time in 30 years - and nearly got killed twice by idiotic motorists in the space of two kilometers. I'm sorry, but there is no way in hell I would let my own kids ride their bikes to school today.

Gary Moller said...

I share your concerns as a parent.
Have a read some time and let me have your thoughts.
It is an attempt to deal with these safety issues that we never had to worry about as kids.

If you had problems, think about the adult who is trying to ride on the streets for the first time in their life. Better to start young, I reckon.

Wayne said...

auckland is vastly under represented nationally by population with the no of cyclists that commute here, i say close of the motorways and let the bikes rule during rush hour.
but looking at the traffic in auckland and the agressive driving that goes on, its not surprising how few brave the traffic on their bikes, there are exceptions like the western cylceway along the north western motorway where cylists can safely get in and out of the city, when i moved to auckland i took one look at the traffic and never bothered to ship my bike up from wellington, as i said there are exceptions but there are a lot of areas i wouldnt attempt to commute to and from, its fearful enough just driving in a car sometimes.