Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Staying Alive

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    People should get vehicles like this:

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4218 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Not.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • Stephanie, in reply to BenWilson,

    It has been and it will. But the irony is that also means that lead acid batteries are improving and being driven down in cost, and they’re still the battery of choice in electric bikes, for the vast majority that are actually being used. ie in China.

    Not sure how long ago your EV ventures were Ben but I've just bought an electric bike and spent a fair bit of time looking at the various brands available here - all had lithium ion batteries, all were made in China. Maybe they are still too expensive for many Chinese, but seem to be what importers are providing here in NZ. One advantage is the power output profile - reasonably steady until the battery is nearly empty then a sudden drop in power, rather than a steadily decreasing output as the battery is used. This means I (ok, husband) can bike from work at sea level to our house at 180m-ish with plenty of charge to make getting up the hill a breeze even with pre-schooler on the kid seat. I reckon this makes commuting Wellington/Hutt distances completely acheivable, though the acid test (so to speak) on whether it's a good option long term will be how long a useful life the battery has. Heh, and I'm just plain loving the rush.

    Lower Hutt • Since Dec 2007 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Sad to see the hatey comments on this article about a cyclist injured in Chch. How many deaths and injuries will it take for NZ to decide we have to do better for cyclists?

    The wife of the injured man has started this FB page.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Stephanie,

    I came off sounding like I'm down on electric bikes. I'm not - they have their place, and one of mine served me very well. I know there are higher end bikes than I used, but the prices put me off quite a lot. Also, I was never using it for commuting myself - I work from home. Two of mine would have served for any commute less than 15km unless it was all uphill, so long as it could be recharged at work. I frequently took my son for rides up to 20km.

    I'm not convinced you could commute in work clothes easily on any bike with less than a 300 watt motor. Which is more than is legal, I understand. Practically, you'd get away with it. If you're going to change clothes, then the advantage over a simpler pushbike is pretty much around how daunting you find the exertion of the commute. If you're elderly or haven't ridden for a while (this was my situation), or have to be careful about your heart rate, then they're a good thing.

    But I got a normal pushbike to compare with, and found that the exertion overall wasn't much less, and my range went up hugely - both bikes weren't good for much more than an hour, so any ride longer than that wasn't feasible. After all three bikes sitting side by side in the garage for 6 months I realized I simply wasn't using the electrics any more - I'd become accustomed to pushbiking again, and the convenience of not having to ever think about the battery, or any other points of failure, meant I sold the EVs. I actually made money on both of them, amusingly.

    What kind of bike did you get?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8027 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Sacha,

    too hard? #notfrickengoodenough

    Hell, GetAcross successfully invoked civil disobedience on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, to put pedestrian-friendliness on the agenda.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3907 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to DeepRed,

    I'd say it might take community-led action unless enough of the politicians get their shit together.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lilith __,

    Sad to see the hatey comments

    Reaping the leadership we tolerate.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Sacha,

    it might take community-led action unless enough of the politicians get their shit together.

    I think unless we agitate, nothing will change, except more cyclists will die. The Dutch got there by mass protests.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • Stephanie, in reply to BenWilson,

    I'm not convinced you could commute in work clothes easily on any bike with less than a 300 watt motor. Which is more than is legal, I understand.

    You are probably right about the clothes - but motors up to 300W are legal in NZ. We haven't had a chance to test how many times we can get up and down the hill before a recharge is needed - stated range for my bike (an Ezee Sprint with a 300W motor) is 50-80km with pedalling but the hills will reduce that and we don't yet know by how much. I plan to cycle some days into Wellington for work and am looking forward to thumbing my nose at the prevailing northerly as I head for the Hutt Valley, and then sail up the hill with said nose in the air. That's the plan, long may it live.

    But yes, they are expensive - we swallowed hard before buying one. OTOH, less expensive than almost any car...

    Lower Hutt • Since Dec 2007 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    50-80km with pedalling but the hills will reduce that and we don't yet know by how much.

    I'd be interested to hear, when you get a better idea. It's really hard to get a straight answer on mileage because "with pedaling" is inspecific. But more importantly, your weight/load is a huge factor, when you hit the hills, and what grade those hills are. My gut feeling is your bike will be sufficient to the task if you charge it at work. The road to the Hutt is flat for most of the way, isn't it? Nice scenic ride too.

    Nice bike, btw. Stylish, with most of the add-ons you want for commuting.

    That's the plan, long may it live.

    Indeed. The worst that can happen is you'll get fitter. Watch out for cars...

    On that note, I think electric is marginally safer, because you tend to ride it in a less grim way - losing momentum isn't such a concern, and you accelerate faster, so you spend less time in that wobbly state. The bike is stabler because it is heavier. But a flipside to watch out for, get in the habit of checking the brakes - they seemed to wear out faster, probably because they are stopping more load and from higher speeds than other commuter bikes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8027 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Lilith __,

    Sad to see the hatey comments on this article about a cyclist injured in Chch.

    Yes, we've just moved to Christchurch and are cycling a lot more as part of our daily routines (to school and work) than was the case in Wellington. It's nice to see a reasonable network of cycle lanes, but boy, some of those motorists are shockers.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 623 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Yamis,

    IMO if there is an adjacent cycle lane on a footpath it should be illegal to be riding on the road.

    For that to work we'd need to agree on a high minimum standard for such lanes. Using the one dedicated footpath/cycle lane on my commute I'm pretty sure would increase my risk; Tamaki Drive is another terrible example.

    As a car driver it is enough to be worried about other cars, trucks and busses on the road without worrying about cyclists when there are also cyclists riding along the footpath next to you amongst others.

    No, you need to be able to do all these things at the same time. That's pretty fundamental I think.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to James Butler,

    Using the one dedicated footpath/cycle lane on my commute I'm pretty sure would increase my risk; Tamaki Drive is another terrible example.

    I'd almost go so far as to say that the very presence of a lane like that increases your risk, because it makes car drivers angry at cyclists who don't use it. But it's a Catch-22 - the lane clearly is useful to some cyclists, and you're not meant to ride on footpaths that don't have such lanes. On Tamaki Drive there are a lot of cyclists who are just dawdling along looking at the scenery, riding with their children, etc. Good on them, that's what it's really for. But it's useless for anyone using the bike to get from A to B.

    There are some good stretches on the city-bound side, but they peter out in all the worst places.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8027 posts Report Reply

  • Stephanie, in reply to BenWilson,

    But a flipside to watch out for, get in the habit of checking the brakes

    Good tip, will watch.

    Lower Hutt • Since Dec 2007 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    To add a note from a Wellingtonian perspective: the waterfront along Oriental Parade has a similar problems. You can ride on a shared path, where pedestrians wander and safe speed is probably not much above walking at busy times; or you can ride on the road, where there is angle parking and cars back out without warning or cut you off suddenly. The continuation along Evans Bay isn’t much better. On the landward side, at some points it seems less than half a metre wide and it’s choked with gravel and detritus.

    To date, the council’s response has been to put large signs on the footpath asking cyclists to be considerate. (I would love to know why on a similar principle all the road surfaces aren't plastered with signs asking car drivers to be more considerate...).

    I don’t know to what extent people at the council have thought about the way their own design choices created the incentives for cyclist-pedestrian-motorist disharmony. I doubt very much that anything useful will arise from signage though. Human behaviour needs more cues to change.

    I think councils are still struggling with the distinction between cycling as a sight-seeing recreation, and cycling as a normal mode of transport..

    I agree with Ben that the presence of even an unusable cycle lane is likely to lead to resentment of cyclists on the road. Likewise, another problem with riding on the footpath is that it encourages motorists to believe that’s the right and only place for bikes.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2906 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    I think councils are still struggling with the distinction between cycling as a sight-seeing recreation, and cycling as a normal mode of transport.

    I think Councils see cycling as competitive to their (Council, Govt.) revenue model.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2468 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Likewise, another problem with riding on the footpath is that it encourages motorists to believe that’s the right and only place for bikes.

    My lad aged 12 has been happily scootering or walking to school by himself in Wellington for two or three years now, but here in Christchurch I am really struggling with the idea of him cycling by himself as the traffic alarms me. I don't want him to ride on the footpath because of the driveways and what you said, but I'm also not relaxed about him riding on the road because of the cavalier way in which the bike lanes are treated. Current compromise is that I ride with him all the way there and back which does erode my working day somewhat.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 623 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    To date, the council’s response has been to put large signs on the footpath asking cyclists to be considerate.

    Indeed. There's a sign on the corner of Wheturangi Road and Green Lane saying something like "Cyclists please dismount and cross to use the cycle lane". So if I'm heading east, I stop, dismount, wait for the privilege of crossing twice to get to the lane which I can ride for 100m dodging reversing cars and pedestrians the whole time? Then I want to turn south, and Great South Road has a handy cycle stop box in the right-turn lane. So how am I supposed to get to it, if I'm on the other side of the street? Dismount and cross to the middle I guess... #yeahright

    Going the other way is less of an issue, until you have to merge from the on-footpath cycle lane to the on-road cycle lane at Wheturangi Road, while cars are turning left across your path. I'll stick to the road, thanks, because at least then I'm visible and my progress is predictable.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    Gotta say that one of the things I've been looking foward to about our impending move to Chch is a flatter landscape more conducive to cycling. This thread is rather giving me pause.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2906 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to James Butler,

    Gah, I used to live nearby. I hated Wheturangi Road -- especially the pedestrian crossings with their effective pinch points that came out into the cycle lane, so you'd have to stop or swing into a car's path.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2906 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    It's in the sacred schools pickup and dropoff zone, lot of clout Epsom, it even has it's own motorway lane, arguably.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2468 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to James Butler,

    That sounds like a frustrating death-trap. I know how I'd get to the stop-box. I'd ride on the road to it, amongst the traffic. If I couldn't do that, due to car speeds being too high at the time to allow a cyclist to take the right lane, I'd stay in the left lane, and do a hook turn onto Gt South Rd.

    Current compromise is that I ride with him all the way there and back which does erode my working day somewhat.

    Hard one. It's the most dangerous age - physically competent to go fast, so the footpath is not safe, but with very little practical awareness of traffic. Again, the idea of available courses in defensive cycling spring to mind. Maybe if you take his route with him, and labour to point out the main hazard points and coping strategies, he'll develop good road-sense, so that you'll feel safer letting him go.

    But it's very hard to give advice when my own method of learning to ride on roads was just to do it - parents didn't consider the dangers anywhere near so much, and there were less cars on the road. From the age of 11, I was riding to school solo, and on weekends would often ride up to 10km from home. Once, I foolishly talked a mate into taking the 50km bike route, which passed right by my house, saying it was a loop and would get us home. We lost the route somewhere in Onehunga, at least 20km from home. The other kid was super staunch, poor guy, he was riding a heavy old fixie. His respect for me went up a whole lot when I was able to negotiate our way back to Herne Bay after being lost in South Auckland. I phoned my mum just to tell her why we we'd been away for so many hours, but even then, I insisted that we were fine to get ourselves home, despite being totally lost. And we were.

    Things just aren't like that any more. I'm not lamenting it, just noting that people of my generation or older don't really have a clear model in mind for teaching kids how to use bikes that is actually viable today

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8027 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    As a car driver it is enough to be worried about other cars, trucks and busses on the road without worrying about cyclists when there are also cyclists riding along the footpath next to you amongst others.

    No, you need to be able to do all these things at the same time. That's pretty fundamental I think.

    TXTing is a hell of a lot easier on a bike.

    Pecking order in New Zealand. From most respect given to least. (We divide and attempt to kill rather than conquer)

    Trucks (big)
    Buses
    Trucks (small)
    Ford Falcons
    Holdens
    Black cars
    SUVs
    Politicians
    Pedestrians (Any)
    Cyclists
    Any car smaller than yours

    In the rest of the civilised world

    Pedestrians
    Pregnant women on cycles
    Children on cycles
    Women on cycles
    Men on cycles
    Any car smaller than yours
    Everyone else except...
    Trucks (any) - Thrown off the road for sunday too!!!!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1459 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Lisa Black,

    I'd be pretty surprised if the judge is correct in that reading of the passing on the left rule. For one thing it only applies to drivers.

    Not sure if anyone has pointed this out yet, but the regulations say:

    driver means a person driving a vehicle; and includes the rider of an all terrain vehicle, a motorcycle, a moped, a cycle, a mobility device, or a wheeled recreational device

    Which means that it includes cyclists. The judge's reading is absolutely correct.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

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