How I get around Auckland: An architect's bike ride from Freemans Bay to K' Rd

by Vomle Springford / 09 November, 2017

Christina van Bohemen, architect and president of the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

Going from Freemans Bay to Ironbank on Karangahape Rd

Mode of transport Bicycle

What type of bike do you have?

My bike is a Gazelle Bloom. I admired my Dutch cousin’s bike that I saw in a Facebook photo and he (from Holland) got on TradeMe and found this one for sale second hand in Whangaparaoa. It’s actually a ‘mother’s bike’ (moederfiets in Dutch). It came with children’s seats in front and behind the driver but I don’t have children so the seats were removed.

What do you use your bike for?

It is my primary means of transport. I ride to work, to meetings in the city, and to dinner with friends. Big panniers turn it into a station wagon. They get used for #quaxing and for getting all the beach gear to Kohimarama.

What are the benefits of riding?

It keeps me fit. Given the state of Auckland’s traffic a bike is the fastest way to get around. I like the feeling of independence and it’s also quite social, while you’re waiting at the lights.

What would you say to someone who is nervous about cycling?

I remember the first day I got my bike I rode along Karangahape Road and I did have a moment of panic. However after a couple of days riding around the city I felt quite comfortable.

I suggest people start on cycle paths and quiet streets in order to build up confidence. If you are concerned about being “doored” then take the lane - i.e. claim the space. Cars can slow down behind you or use another lane. You will develop skills at looking along the street face of parked cars watching for movement.

My bike design means I sit very upright. This is good for me looking around and for drivers to see me – more like a pedestrian on wheels.

In truth you have to have your wits about you when riding in the traffic. It's much easier on the slower streets, and a dream in separated cycle lanes so let’s have more of them!

How bike-friendly is Auckland? Biking around Auckland has improved since I started in 2012. Separated bike paths along city streets make for a much more enjoyable experience. There are more and more people biking in the city, which means car drivers are getting more used to sharing the road.

What’s a favourite route/cycleway you like?

I am a very happy beneficiary of the Te Ara i Whiti / the pink path, as I live at one end and work at the other. I love the view over the city and harbour as I head home.

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