I read with interest the Ask the Mayor article from the 13th Feb. Rachel Reese had a very reasonable list of reasons for needing to use her car most days.
I too had the same list of reasons why I can’t bike to work. I too have multiple places each day that I need to be, potentially 2 different hospital sites plus 2 clinics. I also have to look professional at work and don’t have time to shower after each trip. I have to carry heavy gear at times.
I am on call 1- 2 times a week and need to be able to get to the emergency department within 15-20 mins for the entire 24 hours in case of major incident or trauma, a very clear and reasonable rationale for using my car on those days.
I used all of these reasons, mostly valid, to explain the times I could not bike and simply extrapolated this reasonable argument out to say if I can’t bike sometimes, I can’t bike period.
However I am married to one of the most zealous bike enthusiasts in town and about 18months ago I became a reluctant biker.
I bought an electric bike and use it at least half the week, sometimes more. It allows me to bike to work and only develop a gentle feminine glow, rather than a serious sweat. I don’t need to have another shower at work and trust me I bike wearing just about anything, simply putting bike shorts on beneath my dress. I don’t need extra time. I can get almost anywhere n Nelson in 10 mins flat. With a 20 kilo bike, even with the motor, I am still definitely exercising and improving my fitness , plus I have zero emissions. I charge my bike at most every 2 weeks overnight for a cost of less than 1 dollar.
I don’t have the hassle of parking, there is a bike cage at the hospital that unlike the carpark is never full ( although gratifyingly getting fuller all the time). I have some funky panniers and can do a supermarket shop on the way home with no concern. At the weekends I only use my car when I need to; big shops, ferrying multiple kids, dogs to the beach etc.
Now I can’t bike every day, there are days when I have expensive and delicate equipment to carry that I just can’t risk. I think the key here is that no-one has to pick. It’s not all or nothing, part time biking is just fine. Even one day biking per week makes a huge difference when you add it up.
The biggest obstacle is our mental perception that you are either a car or bike person. I’m clearly both..but I’m pleased to say I’m slowly seeing the light and have to say that the sense of freedom, especially at the end of the long day is quite exhilarating.
If I can do it… surely you can try too.