Traffic Officer Herbert MacIntosh prepares to mount his bicycle (1895). Standish & Preece.
In 1895 there were no cars and motor-cycles for traffic officers. He is shown surrounded by his brothers and sisters.
Do you have any photographs of cycling in Canterbury? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.
Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.
In 1879 pioneer cycling enthusiasts formed the Pioneer Bicycle Club to foster ‘the new and exciting sport of bicycle racing’ and to cater for sportsmen from all around the South Island interested in cycling. In 1889 the club amalgamated with the Canterbury Amateur Athletic Club, also founded in 1879, to form the Pioneer Amateur Bicycle & Athletic Club. In 1933 the name of the club reverted to the Pioneer Amateur Sports Club. The club was disbanded in 1968 and the club building on Gloucester Street was eventually demolished to make way for the then new Central Library.
Do you have any photographs of penny farthings in Christchurch or the Pioneer Amateur Sports Club? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.
Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.
A friend of mine has just started riding a bike around Christchurch. She is a very tentative cyclist but I’m so proud of her for getting on her new bike and giving it a go. So far her forays along bike paths have been positive ones and I hope she comes to love cycling as much as I do.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to share what I know about cycle commuting in Christchurch with her, but also with other wannabe cyclists who are thinking about trying to rack up some kilometres this month in the friendly competition that is the Aotearoa Bike Challenge. (Registering on the website is quick and easy and if you download one of the recommended apps to your phone it’ll record your cycle journeys automagically! Also there are prizes!)
Tips for newbie Christchurch cyclists
If you’ve never done it before, riding a bike can be a bit intimidating but the more you do it, and the more you learn, the more confident you’ll be. Here are some things it might help you to know:
Cyclists are friendly folk – We love encouraging new cyclists and there are numerous clubs and groups that would love nothing better than to encourage you towards freewheeling greatness. Try:
Frocks on bikes (for those that like to cycle in a leisurely fashion, usually in a frock. Frocks on bikes organises regular group rides, often around popular events)
Plan your route – If you’re nervous about busy roads and intersections plan your route so you can avoid them. And if you feel like a particular intersection or bit of road is dicey, there’s no shame in pulling over and being a pedestrian for a bit. I do it all the time!
Cycle lane etiquette – If you’re a slowpoke like me you’ll want to keep to the left of a cycle lane so it’s easier for faster cyclists to overtake you on the right. If you’re speedy calling out a cheery “coming up/overtaking on your right” as you approach is helpful for avoiding any collisions. A bell is a useful piece of kit for cyclists of all speeds as it’s great for getting the attention of pedestrians on shared pathways (or those who absentmindedly wander into a cycle lane). To me a bell always sounds more friendly than “OI!”.
Do wear a helmet – Because them’s the rules. And if you’re in an accident you’ll appreciate not being concussed (I speak from experience). And yes, it’s still the rules if you’re cycling on the footpath (but don’t cycle on the footpath unless it’s designated a shared pathway). Correct deployment of your helmet is firmly strapped on your head… not dangling off your handlebars.
Do wear whatever else you want though – There is no cycling uniform and I have successfully biked in everything from heels to jelly shoes (and even a veil once – it was Halloween). Short or floaty skirts can be problematic (especially when windy) but a snug pair of shorts underneath or the coin and a rubber band trick (or a peg) can successfully keep things “under wraps”.
Things to know about cycling infrastructure
There are a lot of cycling initiatives and changes to infrastructure happening in Christchurch and some of these can be a bit confusing or mysterious if you’ve never come across them before. Here’s what you need to know:
Sharrows – If you’ve seen road markings that incorporate a bicycle icon and a chevron shape then you’ve seen a “sharrow” (share arrow). These are used on slow or quiet streets and indicate that cyclists should bike towards the middle of the road. But do move across to the left if a motorist wants to come through.
How to make lights go – You may notice at or on the approach to an intersection a section of road that looks like the surface has been sliced into, often in the form of a box or rectangle. Underneath the road surface is a sensor that can detect bicycles and in some instances this may be the only way to trigger the lights. If you feel like you’ve been waiting an age for the lights to change, look down or around you. You may be a little too far ahead, behind or to the side to be registering as a cyclist.
Extra lights just for you – In the central city there are now some intersections that operate on a different system to work in with the new separated cycle lanes. Instead of following what the main traffic lights indicate, you’ll need to pay attention to the special lights just for cyclists (you’ll know they’re for you because they’ll have a bike symbol). Keep your eyes out for these at spots like the Tuam/Colombo intersection, and by the bus exit of the Bus Interchange.
Hook turn boxes – A hook turn is a handy option at really busy intersections where making a right hand turn in heavy traffic might not be the safest option. If you see a painted box featuring a hooked arrow and a bicycle icon at an intersection this is a good place for cyclists to perform a “hook turn” (although hook turns are allowed at most intersections). A hook turn is when you take a two step approach to a right turn. Staying to the left, a cyclist can go with traffic through a green light then stop in the hook turn box, and then go with traffic through a second green light (or even ahead of it if the road is clear), effectively making a right hand turn in two stages. The NZTA has official instructions on performing hook turns (with pictures) that explain this really well.
Go by bike day is tomorrow. Surely a person doesn’t need more inducement to hit the road, powered by their own legs, enjoying a form of transport that’s good for their fitness and their wallet… but a free coffee and a muffin at the traditional Go By Bike Day Breakfast doesn’t hurt, does it?
This year the location of the breakfast is 597 Colombo St, on a Life in Vacant Spaces lot at the St Asaph St corner and all cyclists can enjoy the aforementioned free breakfast thanks to a range of cycle-friendly sponsors.
I’ve been to several of these events in the past and it’s always a good opportunity for a bit of sly perving of bikes (and associated accessories) as the concentration of other cyclists gives you a really good view of all the different kinds of cycles and cyclists that ride around in Christchurch.
In fact, the whole month of February is a good time to be out on a bike, and not just because the weather is generally pretty good. The Aotearoa Bike Challenge encourages you to get on a bike, even if it’s only for 10 minutes and to try and rack up some mileage. It’s super easy to register, then you log all your rides, can set yourself goals to achieve – “burn off a glass of wine” for instance – and compete against your co-workers.
I am registered and it is strangely addictive. Even relatively short trips of a kilometre or two really do add up if you’re riding every day. Also, there are prizes up for grabs. And if you’re new to the whole cycling thing, they’ve got really helpful tips about riding to work, bike maintenance and other relevant topics.
Tomorrow it’s the annual celebration of commuter cycling known as Go By Bike Day when Kiwis are encouraged to ditch the car or bus and get to where they’re going by the power of pedal alone.
I’ve been a commuter cyclist on and off since I got my first bike (a gold Raleigh 20) at the age of twelve and it is a terrific way to get around the city. Nowdays I often have a passenger as my 2 year-old enjoys the view from his child-seat up front, and the opportunity it affords him to wave at everything from ducks, to dog-walkers, to diggers.
It’s not without its downsides – impatient or inattentive motorists, bad weather, potholes, helmet hair, and lanes that aren’t quite wide enough because of roadworks – all hazards and impediments. But hey, what in life is perfect? Nothing. And there are plenty of reasons why going by bike is a good idea, not just on Wednesday, but every day.
Exercise – If, like me you’re a bit averse to exercise for its own sake, commuting by bike can really help you get moving and active. Commuter cycling has its own motivation built in, “Sure I can stop if I get tired…but I’ll be late for work/school so I’d better keep going”.
Money – It’s hard to argue against the money-saving aspect. No bus fare, parking fees, petrol costs, rego or insurance required. Once you have a bike, helmet, lights, lock and some reflective-wear you’ll spend almost nothing (unless you want to treat yourself to a cookie because you burned so many calories on your way to work).
Freedom of movement – Often people equate the motor vehicle with freedom to come and go as they please. In reality you’re much freer with a bike. You never have to circle the block looking for a park on a bike. If you see something interesting on your way somewhere there’s always a convenient spot to “pull over”. Depending on what kind of bike you have, you can pick it up and carry it places. Take it into a park. On a ferry. Put it on the front of a bus. You can stop, get off, and walk pretty much any time it takes your fancy. You just can’t do that with cars.
Panniers, baskets and trailers, oh my! – It’s never been easier to lug your stuff (and kids) around by bike as there are more options available for customising your ride than ever before. Not sure if a bike trailer is for you? Then try a trailer out for free.
Environmentally friendly – With a bike you supply the fuel. Your legs (or arms – hand-cycles are a thing) propel you, not fossil fuels. You’ll never run out of petrol, (though it is possible to run out of puff).
Sense of achievement – I like knowing that I got from one place to another by the power of My Mighty Legs. Also, the first time I successfully repaired a puncture on my own was one of my proudest moments.
The cool factor – I have a very cool bike. Strangers often compliment me on it. I’d never be able to afford a car that makes people envious but a bike is a much easier (and affordable) proposition. People are also really impressed when you turn up somewhere on a bike, as if you’ve done something superhuman. In some corners it’s considered novel and somewhat daring to have travelled by bicycle. Take my advice and MILK THIS FOR ALL IT’S WORTH.
I boarded the plane at the start of the hols with lists of Books That Must Be Read Now That I have The Time and stepped off QF139 a month later with a suitcase full of Books That Popped Up Quite By Chance. Here’s how it happened:
Even though my hand luggage contained a perfectly good aeroplane read, still the lure of Sydney Airport book store was too great to resist and I emerged with a book that I bought mainly because I love the cover and it has a compelling first sentence: “Arthur Dreyfuss liked big breasts.” It’s Gregoire Delacourt’s latest novel: the first thing you see and it turned out to be a perfect holiday read about looking beneath the surface – for the first thing you see isn’t always what you’d hoped to get.
I met my second holiday read in a bookshop attached to a café in my hometown – Durban. There is a happy sentence if ever there was one. It was a complete impulse buy, written by an author I’d never heard of (turns out it’s her first novel), with tennis (a game I deeply loathe) as a major theme, and about three sisters (I don’t even have one). Yet its siren call sucked me in, all within the space of a single cappuccino. The book is The Carriage House by Louisa Hall. Don’t be put off by the cover of the library copy, it is a great little holiday read.
My third little find was at a local market in a small town on the west coast of South Africa at a second-hand book stall where, to my amazement, I spotted a book that more than one male colleague had recommended to me. (I have no idea why they would do this, as I have never ridden a bicycle in my life!) Gironimo by Tim Moore is the author’s reaction to the Lance Armstrong debacle which motivated Moore to redress the imbalance and do something totally authentic for cycling – ride the notorious 1914 Giro d’Italia (wearing period clothing) on a gearless, wooden-wheeled 1914 road bike:
What unfolds is the tale of one decrepit crock trying to ride another up a thousand lonely hills, then down them with only wine corks for brakes
So, like all good holidays, I started in one place and ended up somewhere completely different. I went with the flow. I was in the zone. And I had a terrific time.
Christchurch and cycling have always gone well together. That winning combination of flat terrain and wide roads makes the Garden City a great place to cycle. With new cycleways rolling out around the city, it’s becoming more and more bike friendly.
Assuming that you have a bike, that is.
Luckily there are options for people who don’t have their own wheels to pootle about on.
Similar to the “Boris Bikes” of London, Spark Bikes offer those in Central Christchurch the opportunity to travel further than their feet can take them, but without the hassles of parking.
The bikes, which come complete with a lock and adjustable helmet, are available at 5 stations around the central city and can be used for 30 minutes, free of charge. Additional time is charged at $4 per hour, or a bike can be borrowed for a full day for $20.
Kind of like a library but with bikes instead of books!
There is an initial $4 charge to register and “borrowing” is managed either via an app or the mobile website, so it’s also quite smartphone dependent. The project is currently in pilot so may extend to more bikes and more stations in the future.
RAD stands for “Recycle A Dunger” and is a not-for-profit initiative that takes donated, unwanted bikes and parts and helps turn them into rideable bikes.
From their shed headquarters (shedquarters?) at 70 Kilmore Street, RAD Bikes provides all the tools, equipment, parts and expertise to help get your bike roadworthy. They also gift recycled bikes to charity organisations.
If you’re in the envious position of having too many bicycles then maybe you’d be interested in exercising a little bicycle altruism?
Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world and access to education and healthcare is a real issue for people who live in remote areas.
a large number of people living in rural communities could not afford to get to a health facility when they needed it. They were totally reliant on volunteer community health workers (CHWs) to travel to them. Most of these CHWs have to walk to visit sick patients. But, if you give them a bike then suddenly they can cover three times the distance!
The plan is to collect 400 adult size mountain bikes and ship them to Northern Madagascar. The collection day is on Saturday 15 August: Bikes need to be dropped off at SB Global Logistics, 11 Syd Bradley Road, Dakota Business Park (next to the Christchurch Airport). If you can’t make it on the collection day: You can drop your bike at an alternative location by Friday 14 August at Limitless Supplements, 22 Stanley St, Sydenham.
If there are surplus bikes these will be donated to ICECycles for local use.
On Tuesday 14 April 2015 we are celebrating Cycle to your Library Day. Cycle to the library and you will get a backpack with reflective strips to carry your books (while stocks last). Show us your bicycle helmet and let us know you cycled to the library.
Cycling is a fast, healthy and cost-effective so why not ride one to your library and celebrate with us.
Many famous minds have talked about bicycles:
Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. H. G. Wells
My fellow cycling librarians would certainly agree. The first librarian I’d like to introduce you to bikes in all weathers.
I ride a Blue Bauer and have been cycling since the age of six. I still enjoy going for a bike ride although do not go as far afield these days. Biking is something I have always done, it keeps you fit and healthy. I keep myself safe on the road by paying attention to traffic, planning and looking ahead.
If you start young you will develop confidence, the more experienced you get the more you are likely to cycle and feel confident on the road. Getting into cycling as a young child as I did around home then taking longer bike rides to the park made it an easy natural process. The most enjoyable thing about biking is it helps me unwind and relax about the day in the evening.
Bicycles are a metaphor for life:
Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use. Charles M. Schulz
Let me introduce you to somebody who I know uses all his gears.
I cycle to work, to meet friends, to the supermarket. As long as I’m not picking up a fridge, I’ll bike there. I used to bike from the Port Hills to Redwood and back every day, but working at Peterborough is luckily a lot closer!
I started cycling primarily because I was frustrated with changes to the bus routes and the many delays, but it also saves money. It’s healthy, cheap, great for the environment, and convenient. I confess to being a fair weather cyclist. This isn’t a big problem in dry Canterbury, however. My advice to keeping yourself safe when cycling is to repeat the cycle safe incantation three times while riding backwards on a full moon Or wear hi-vis and bright lights and remain aware of your surroundings, whichever is easier.
The best way to start out cycling is to stay on quiet roads. Get off and walk across pedestrian crossings if you’re afraid of turning across traffic and never underestimate the importance of a comfy bike seat. The most enjoyable part of cycling is riding with a tail-wind on an off-road bike path with no earthquake damage.
The journey of life is like a man riding a bicycle. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. We know that if he stops moving and does not get off he will fall off. William Golding
Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle. Helen Keller – An inspiration to us all Helen Keller rode a tandem bicycle.
Short of stature, but bike of heart is our last cycling librarian:
I ride a hybrid road/mountain bike. It has front suspension and is rather comfortable to ride. It is probably too big for me but I feel more visible on the road on it. I bike everywhere! – work, university, shops, visiting, bike trails and have done since I was a child but got back into it seriously as a form of transport when I was going out to the university.
Usually I bike up to an hour a day depending on what I have scheduled that day. I would bike everyday – but some days it is almost impossible when the wind gets up and the rain starts tumbling. It is about fitness, as I enjoy it as an alternative to running. As a form of transport it is both kind on the budget and environmentally friendly. Christchurch with its flat terrain is a cycle-friendly city. I’d like to encourage others to get out and join me and to show that it is possible.
My safety tip is to be prepared to stop at all times! I make myself visible through wearing bright clothing and riding to be seen. I also use a flashing red light on my backpack even during the day. I am constantly scanning the road and footpaths ahead of me and I try to predict what people are going to do before it happens but as I said – I must be prepared to stop at all times.
The best way to start out cycling is to go out for short trips with family or friends – use designated bike tracks so that you can get used to handling the bike under different circumstances without having to worry about traffic.The best thing about cycling besides arriving safely to my destination is getting out and moving!
Library staff cycling through Christchurch town centre, At the intersection of High, Manchester and Lichfield Streets. 1980s. Flickr Arch-52-PH-07-21
You may be surprised to know librarians have a proud tradition of biking to work. Some of us bike only when it’s a fine day. others are out in all weathers, some travel far, and others just round the corner.
How far is it to your local library? Do you bike to the library or work? Is bicycling part of your life?
World Cup Cricket has us in its grip. Some of us are bowled over; some of us are going in to bat for the team and the rest of us thought we’d just read a novel where the dull thwack of bat against ball forms an integral part of the plot.
If we widen the search to include other team sports, like rugby, there’s Lloyd Jones’ novel about the 1905 All Blacks – The Book of Fame. And soccer/football has Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch in its line-up. But it’s slim pickings. There isn’t even very much in the way of mediocre/rubbish team sport fiction writing, which is weird.
But sports where individuals take part have generated many more novels. Want a novel about running? Award winning Running the Rift is set in Rwanda and is an uplifting book about genocide and running and healing. And if that doesn’t appeal, you can choose from 88 other novels on running, and I include Haruko Murakami’s What I Talk About when I Talk About Running because even when Murakami writes non-fiction, it reads like poetry.
Multitudes of people play (and support) team sports, and just as many people are avid fiction readers. Why then are there so few novels with a team sport theme? Am I missing something here?
Truth to tell, the only cricketing reference that I remember from all my years of reading, is the dull thwack of bat on ball drifting up from the gently sloping lawn in front of the homestead in Mary Wesley’s novel The Camomile Lawn.
Triathlon cycling must be the second of the three Shakespeare witches – gnarled, ugly and capable of doing wicked things to your legs. Perhaps it’s because I feel like one of those ladies when I get off the bike – drooling, hunched, and capable of nothing faster than a painful shuffle.
The cycle leg in a triathlon comes after the swim, and before the run, so it serves as a sort of no-mans land, where you try to drink and eat as much as you can to set you up for the last bit, the run. The fact that you have to be able to do this at 30 km an hour while dodging other cyclists, abandoned water bottles and spectators’ dogs just adds another layer of entertainment. Despite this, I quite enjoy the cycle – I mean, you get to sit down, how good is that? Getting sufficiently fit for such a thing – and the event I’m aiming for, a half-ironman, has a 90km cycle – takes a little while. I confess to being a nervous bicycle rider these days, so a fair amount of training time happens on the stationary trainer in the garden shed, just so I don’t have to deal with disintegrating roads and jostle with Christchurch motorists. Strange then, I used to fearlessly cycle around London as a younger man, but maybe this is wisdom coming from my advancing years.
If you’re on a similar journey to my own, I would point you towards two books mentioned in an earlier blog, Triathlon Science by Joe Friel, and Triathlon For Masters And Beyond by Ian Stokell. They both have good sections devoted to cycling fitness; there are other titles as well that cover much the same ground. As an – ahem – older person, I have to say that stretching is also an important thing, for me anyway. I find that I don’t need to stretch before I start exercising – people, I exercise slow! But if I don’t stretch afterwards, on the following day I feel like I’ve run a marathon. If you find you have the same issues, I can recommend a read of Anatomy, Stretching and Training for Cyclists, edited by Lisa Purcell, and also The Complete Guide to Stretching by Christopher Norris. No doubt a yoga class would help, if only I had the time.
If you need some general reading around cycling and how to do it better, the library provides access to a range of magazines about cycling specific magazines in print and electronic form. You’ll need a valid library card and a password/PIN to access the electronic ones. You can also find more cycling resources on our cycling page.
For more about Colin’s triathlon endeavours and some reading suggestions, check out our other triathlon blog posts.