Don't put your bike away when the clouds are grey! For the cost of a couple of tanks of petrol, you can keep cycling comfortably through the seasons. Here are some thoughts on utility biking in the rain-
Water'll hit you from three directions- the rain from above, water splashed up from your tyres, and your own body -sweat and evaporation. So you'll need rainwear, good shoes, and mudguards for your bike.
Most cyclists in wet climates use a good rain jacket combined with over-trousers. The jacket is usually a rainshell without lining, so it can be used on mild days. Both should be waterproof, windproof and breathable. Often, the jacket or coat you use for tramping will be fine. Wear removable layers underneath - rain means humidity, so another option is to stay in a low gear and cycle slowly, to avoid getting to your job or your Mum's in a sweat. The alternative to jacket & overtrouses is a rain cape, which goes right over the bike from handlebars to your neck. Whichever you choose, get the best gear you can afford; think of all the petrol you'll be saving!
Normal good waterproof shoes should be adequate, but don't forget that rain will flow down those waterproof trousers over your shoes, while your tyres spray them from beneath, so they need to be up to the job. Boots can be a good option.
A good set of mudguards are a must for your bike. Bikes vary so much in gearing and suspension, it's often best to ask at your local bike shop about fitting. Think about whether you want removable or permanent guards.
To keep your stuff dry, waterproof panniers on a luggage rack are ideal, providing refuge for your schoolbooks and laptop in even the heaviest downpour. In a pinch, a plastic or ziplock bag wrapped round your delicate items and popped inside your basket, pannier or backpack will protect them. Hi-viz backpack covers can adding rain protection if you have to carry your luggage on your back.
Don't forget that people using cars in rain have their visibility badly reduced, so switching on your lights and donning hi-visibility clothing, even during the daytime, is a good idea. Keep your normal road position, about a meter from the kerb, and reduce your own speed so you can keep watch for puddles and slick metal plates in the road- your brakes & tyre grip will likely be affected by the rain so allow longer stopping distances.
Finally, cycling in damp weather with light rain can be OK, but heavy rain is another story; even the best rainproof clothing will struggle in a heavy downpour. Sometimes the bus is best!
Prompted by this photograph taken by BNB's Jacqui Irwin of an increasingly popular bike rack in Nelson, we thought we'd ask for your help and try to find the best and the worst places to park your bike in Nelson.
Bike racks come in a wide range of designs, some more bike friendly than others, particularly when it comes to avoiding damage to your wheels, brake rotors or your frame. Some are better positioned than others with respect to convenience to a shop/business etc. or being under cover and in a secure environment for example.
Where are you happy to park you precious two wheels and where do you avoid ? Does the availability of good cycle parking affect where you shop/go for coffee etc. ? Why not send us your pick of the good, the bad and the ugly.
For those that missed out on the presentation by Chris Allison on our ageing population that followed our film tonight, the slides from the presentation are below:
The first slide shows the age-group changes in the Nelson-Tasman region between the 2006 and the 2013 census. The higher or lower the coloured bar (against a specific age group), the faster that age group is growing or shrinking. So we can see that we are losing people under 50, and gaining people over 50, at a rate of knots, especially compared to the NZ average. Some of this pattern is common to many areas outside Auckland, but for a while now our region in particular has been drawing more mature people from elsewhere in NZ.
The second slide is a general illustration of the pathways along which we can age - essentially we can age well (retain a high level of physical and psychological functioning) as represented by the blue line, or we can start to lose that health and functioning at various points along the ageing process - the brown line. For the most part that loss can occur through accidents, through inheriting genes that dispose us to illness, or through the onset of illnesses - especially ongoing or chronic illness. Accidents are often unavoidable, as are the genes we inherit, but many chronic diseases are termed ‘lifestyle diseases’ because they are more or less likely depending on our lifestyle - especially our diet, level of exercise, and smoking and drinking habits.
Slide three is why our ageing population - greater numbers of older people, and those people on average living much longer - is such a challenge for our health funding. What tends to happen is that people with chronic diseases get these at mid or later life, and the longer they live with these diseases the more expense there is for the health system. So the extra 20 years of life (dying at 90 instead of 70) won’t cost the health system very much more if we’re in good health, but it costs a lot more if that’s an extra 20 years of ill health.
Most of us start out with a level of good heath and resilience - a kind of ‘health capital’, and we can either add to that capital by taking care with our lifestyle (diet, exercise, smoking, drinking etc) or use that capital up by not investing (neglecting diet, exercise, etc). Eventually living off our early health capital means it runs out and we end up in health debt (illness), and when lots of us end up in health debt the the health system ends up in real economic debt trying to ‘bail us out’ with treatment. Not sustainable. Slide four is about the beginning of a high level focus on the extent of that challenge.
At present our health system is quite ‘hands-off’ in that it essentially waits for us to become sick and then aims to fix us. Given that treatment may be more difficult to access in years to come, because of the pressures the health system is expected to face, it’s in our interests to work on our own ‘health capital’ however we can. Exercise is a big component of investing in our health capital, and some of the common illnesses that exercise helps to prevent, or helps to manage or to slow, are listed in slide five. More is being discovered about the benefits of exercise all the time, so it’s a good investment!
The final slide gives the NZ physical activity guidelines for those over 65 (see http://www.health.govt.nz/publication/guidelines-physical-activity-older-people-aged-65-years-and-over for more info) and these are essentially the same for the general population. Cycling covers quite a bit of these activity requirements, and it’s more likely you’ll do it if you can make it part of a regular routine. Even better is to make sure there is some social component!
Some welcome improvements to St. Vincent Street are now almost complete:
Can their really be any excuse for not knowing that the cycle way is there when coming in and out of these driveways ?
Unfortunately, while St. Vincent Street is receiving a lot of attention, it is important to bear in mind that people (often children) are hit by motorists in driveways far too regularly in Nelson. Motorists must take care when crossing cycleways/footpaths wherever they are, not just on St. Vincent Street.
Coming to a smart phone near you ! The Active Transport Toolkit is a smart phone app developed here in Nelson in conjunction with Bicycle Nelson Bays and designed to encourage and support active transport. Cyclists (and pedestrians at a later stage) are being sought to be part of a Beta test program. The app is currently only available for Android (iOS version and a web version will be coming soon) but if you do have a late model Android smart phone with GPS we'd like to hear from you.
If you'd like to know more please contact us.