How many points for a cyclist?

Cycling has become more and more popular, thanks to the investment into amazing cycleways and mountain bike tracks; routes are now available to satisfy any riders preference or ability.

Whether you fancy an adventure or leisurely ride along the beachfront, countryside or if your destination is wineries, the options are endless. Even children are catered for with cycle parks and pump tracks and aided by all manner of options to enable them to cycle with a family member; when our grandson was learning to ride we used a Trail-Gator child bike tow so he could come with us on the pathways.

The introduction of e-bikes and pedal assist bikes has added to the popularity of cycling exponentially and reduced barriers enabling us to be a cyclist (or attached to one) from birth to old age.

Cycling is great for the soul and some of the benefits include:

  1. Sharing laughs with friends over coffee and scone at the end of the ride.
  2. Helps to reduce or maintain weight, 400-1000 calories an hour can be burnt depending on the intensity; the longer the ride the more scones you can eat.
  3. Good for your mental health, breathing in fresh air and taking in the amazing sites along the way.
  4. Builds muscles; nothing better than riding behind my husband so I can watch those cycling leg muscles in action, just bliss.
  5. Easy on the body compared to running.
  6. Helps with sleep; Nana naps be may required after the ride.
  7. You can wear outrageous clothes, the brighter the better, be safe be seen!

Other cycling options include commuting to and from work, which can save you time and money and some organisations are now rewarding their employees for commuting as they are increasing their health benefits and reducing the carbon footprint.

Cycling is also a sport in its own right and well as being a significant component of triathlon events. Across the country, every week sees cyclists banking thousands of kilometres whilst training and doing what they love.

It sounds as though the world of cycling is amazing, and it is, but there is also a nasty undertone on our New Zealand roads, so much so, I now feel that every time I put on my cycling kit, I have to engage my protective battle armour to help ward off the danger that may await.

When cycling in town I need my superman extra sensory powers engaged, as it can be extremely challenging with every driveway and intersection being a potential threat. When you are in a car you trust that 99.9 percent of the time the driver at the intersection will see you however as a cyclist I always assume that 99.9 percent they won’t see you so I am constantly trying to make eye contact with the drivers to confirm that I have been seen before proceeding.

Parked cars pose a huge hazard as people invariably forget to make that last check in the side mirror or over their shoulder before opening the door or driving off. Cyclist verses open door results in an instant stop for the bike but not the rider and car verses cyclist never ends well.

I am fortunate to do most of my cycling on the open road in the countryside which comes with less traffic, better views, and challenging hills (although these are not my favourite they are excellent for building fitness) however this riding is also full of danger.

Prejudice

The word is often used to refer to preconceived, usually unfavourable, feelings towards people or a person that is not based on reason or actual experience.

In this instance the prejudice is based on someone riding a bike and often presents as rage towards the cyclist.

I don’t use this word lightly and this post is inspired by an interview I heard on the MoreFM Breakfast Club recently whereby the announcer Lana, who is currently training for the Taupo cycle challenge (160km around Lake Taupo) which requires a lot of hill and distance training, shared a recent attack of abuse she had been subjected to. Whilst training on a quiet country road, she heard a vehicle slowing behind her, this is usually a sign of courtesy for a cyclist as the driver may need to slow for a second to ensure the road is clear and safe to pass, however this was not the case in this instance. The slowing of the vehicle was followed by some laughter and some derogatory comments, which was off putting enough, however it got worse as she then felt the pain of a half full drink container of coke hitting her in the back as the vehicle swerved past her and speed away. Whilst telling the story Lana was laughing so as not to cry, I however shed a tear for her, as being a cyclist I see rage and prejudice on our roads far too often.

What gives people the right to intentionally put others lives in danger? Cyclists have a right to cycle on the road, the NZ road code says we are road users, we can ride two abreast when it is safe do so, it says to ‘take the lane’ at intersections to ensure our safety.

I am a daughter, mother, grandmother, sister, aunty and friend who chooses to cycle for health and friendship; riding a bike should not be a reason to be abused. I am just trying to improve my health and wellbeing.

When someone cycles on the road why should they be treated any different to any other road user, for example a tractor with a speed limit of 40km requires other road users to slow down if it is not safe to pass, however you don’t see people screaming out their windows or throwing things at tractors, or trying to get as close as possible to them or honking their horn in one continuous manner when passing to scare them!

I’m not saying that every cyclist is as conscientious as they could be but this is live and death.

So how many points for a cyclist?

On a recent cycle I asked each of my fellow cyclists to count the number of their immediate family members including parents, in-laws, sisters, brothers, partners/spouse, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. On this particular day the crew included a mix of business owners, government employees from health and corrections, CEO, gardener, caretaker, administrators and retired and our average number was 30, the lowest was 10 and the highest 80.

30 immediate family members!

This number excludes friends, work colleagues, team members, friend of friends, the man down the road that you wave to every morning while he gets his paper.

30 people immediately affected the minute you harm any one of us.

Please keep us safe, dial back the frustration, it only takes a few seconds to wait, take the time, don’t have the weight of 30 loved ones on your shoulders for the rest of your life.

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