Cycling with kids in Daily Life, part 2

Tips to help get you biking more often

Route Planning

One of the joys of cycling is that, often, you can take a route that is more direct than if you drove. Pedestrian/cyclist-only options such as alley ways, level crossings, pedestrian over and underpasses and cycle paths mean you can often travel ‘as the crow flies’. This cuts down the time, effort and distance required to get from A to B.

When you are used to driving, it can be quite a revelation to discover these wonderful shortcuts. How do you go about finding them?

Help with route planning:

Cycle Buddies

A cycle buddy is someone with a similar destination who can help you find the best route to take. Local cycling advocacy groups may be able to pair you up with someone else from your area or provide suggested routes on their websites. Alternatively you can ask other cyclists in your neighbourhood, workplace or school.

Google Maps

Enter a destination and choose cycle as your mode of transport. The suggested cycling routes vary in how well they make use of cycling and pedestrian facilities, but are certainly a good place to start.

Journey Planners

Some local bodies offer journey planning websites enabling you to plan your trip by either cycle or public transport. An example is journeyplanner.org.nz. As well as route suggestions you can also see the distance you will be travelling, calories burned, carbon emissions and savings.

Cycling Maps

Some local councils produce cycling maps showing on and off road route recommendations, and cycle paths. You can get them from libraries and i-sites, or council offices. Often not every road is named or included, so you may need local knowledge or a detailed street map.

Signage

In areas with extensive cycling facilities, e.g. Napier/Hastings and Nelson, there are regular information boards that provide route maps, as well as directional signage. When you know the area this is often all you need. If you are less familiar, carry a map (or smartphone) in case of missing signage.

Trial Run

If you are planning to cycle to work or school, try riding your proposed route at an off-peak time. That way you can get a feel for where you are going without time or traffic pressures.

Directional variations

A route that works well heading in one direction might not work so well coming back. Traffic, road width, path placement, and entry/exit points all impact on route choice and may vary according to the direction you are heading. Be open to travelling different routes on your outward and homeward journeys.

Bike Parking facilities

On arrival you will want somewhere to park your trusty stead. Choices may abound, or be limited and require improvisation.

  • Bike racks (when sensibly and safely located – boycott the ones in the bowels of the shopping centre)
  • Trees
  • Lamp posts
  • Fences
  • Down pipes (take care they can be flimsy)
  • Other bikes (if there are enough locked together they may be harder to unravel and steal)

Avoid being told off by avoiding blocking fire exits, gates, driveways, entrances and exits etc. If you are finding the lack of bike parking hampering your cycling aspirations, then consider requesting some, check out bikeswelcome.org for more suggestions.

Cycling in Daily Life FAQ

Q. My school/workplace doesn’t have bike racks, what should I do?

  1. Ask them to put some in! Meantime find a fence or a downpipe that is secure and in a safe position and use that. In a workplace there may be a storeroom or empty cubicle you can use.

Q. I want to cycle to work, how do I manage that?

  1. Depending on the distance, you may wish to check on shower facilities at your work or make arrangements with a nearby gym. A washbasin ‘duck wash’ with a washcloth is also a possibility. I used to carry my clean work clothes and towels to work on a non-cycling day and kept work-shoes, hairdryer and toiletries in the office. Yes, my desk did somewhat resemble a bedroom! Many workplaces now provide bike parking, lockers and showers. This is certainly something to ask for if your workplace are upgrading premises.

Q. I haven’t noticed any children cycling to school, will the school allow it?

  1. Although some schools will put limitations on how old a child must be before they can cycle alone to school, I am not aware of any schools banning it altogether. Schools are required to have school travel plans and advocate the use of active transport modes. Most schools will discourage cycling in the school grounds unless it is part of a school cycling or curriculum initiative.

Teenagers

A frequent complaint of parents is how they have become their children’s taxi service. Kids lead busy lives and you can find yourself needing to be in three places at once. By riding with your kids early on, by the time they are teenagers they will have the skills and confidence to get themselves around. Overseas in countries such as the Netherlands, that is how teens get around, by themselves or in groups, cycling up to 20km to school and back. By working with like minded parents, can you create a cycling cohort in your community?

Parents with Littlies

When you are a parent with young kids it can be tough to find time to stay active. Active transport such as walking and cycling offer you great opportunities to combine exercise, time with your child and errands into one timeframe.

Experience – Doing the Daycare run: We had two hitching points for our trailer so that one of us could drop off and the other could pick up, leaving the trailer at daycare. Other families use a child seat and cycle with an older child to school before dropping the younger at daycare.

Let your bike be your second car

Chances are that a big part of your household income (on average 14%FOOTNOTE: Footnote) is spent on your car(s). Even if you hardly drive, you still need to pay for insurance, registration, and warrant of fitness; plus interest on your car loan. Each car trip adds to the costs of petrol, parking, repairs and maintenance. This adds up, with your car costing between $7,000 to $15,000 a year to runFOOTNOTE: Footnote. Think what you can save if you ditch the second car and use biking, walking and public transport instead – a great way to fund your next holiday!

Tip: You can ease your way into this idea by declaring family ‘car free days’.

What are the benefits?

Free and easy parking

No petrol, bus or train costs

Good for your heart and brain (and mood!)

It can take less time (avoiding traffic jams, parking problems and bus/train delays)

There are no schedule or timetable limitations

It is fun

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