I made the same decision last year and reckon the main things to consider are road bike vs mountain bike; brakes; gears and weight of the cycle. There's heaps of educational info online and there are cheap deals on Trademe or at auctions.
If you want to commute you'll soon get sick of mountain bikes because they're too slow. On the other hand if you don't mind going only 25-30km/h and are more into it for recreational rides, a mb might be more versatile. Same with gears - I don't think you really need 16 as long as you have a couple suitable for uphill and a couple of fast ones reliable for downhill or the flat.
I think brakes are important, esp in the wet, so I got a bike with disc brakes.
The lighter the bike, the more expensive, but given this time around I am doing it for exercise as much as transport, I didn't see anything wrong with an older frame. When I started looking I couldn't believe what people pay for the high-end carbon cycles. Someone I used to work with spent $10,000 on his bike (it lived in his office once he got to work).
In terms of height, the seats are adjustable but it may pay to talk to someone at a shop.
I bought a falling-apart $10 bike from an auction and used that for about three months until I realised what I really needed. I got my current bike from a bike shop in a half-price sale. At least in this town you don't have to wait long for a sale. Can't go wrong really.
If that was Critical Mass, in several US cities they have a reputation for being jerks who put off even other cyclists. ...
Exactly who in a motor vehicle is won over by a crowd of cyclists crawling through the CBD, slowing everyone down? Wouldn't it be a better advertisement for cycling to have a run through town where you don't obstruct traffic and actually get somewhere?
I hadn't seen it before so it just looked like a bit of fun. They were actually going at quite a clip, but surely it's not all about the need for speed? And if it's a regular thing it shouldn't be too hard for drivers to avoid. What it illustrated for me was that riding a bike, even on those steep streets in SF (not unlike bits of Wellington) is a perfectly acceptable option for getting around.
I don't really care whether or not a driver "converts" to cycling. At various times during the week I drive, bus, cycle, walk and walk a dog. Each mode of transport has its benefits and involves its sacrifices to other road/track users. I don't think car drivers should be given primary ownership of the CBD. Motor vehicles and pedestrians don't mix too well anyway, as we see on occasion when someone here gets clobbered by a trolley bus.
Someone above mentioned the Golden Gate Bridge being hell to cycle over. But when I went up there it didn't seem to be a problem because pedestrians and cyclists were sharing the wide footpath on the side of the bridge. Might not be super fast for cyclists, but certainly a lot more convenient than having to catch vans over the AHB.
One thing I don't think has been mentioned above but which I enjoy is that cycling is also a lot more social than being in your own car. In Wellington being a cyclist seems to give you membership in a network of people from all walks of life. A bit like being a smoker, except the risk of shortening your lifespan has a different cause.
A couple of years ago I was walking along a street in downtown San Francisco when a convoy of about 200 cyclists went by, bells ringing ghetto blasters roaring. Someone had built a plywood platform on the back of their bike for a huge PA system. Was very impressive. Turned out this was a regular event where cyclists take over the streets.
When it comes to making cities cyclist-friendly there is a lot going on in several cities along the west cost of the US. Maybe given their car-centric urban planning they provide more useful examples for us than old Europe?
I know. They really need to sort out their connectivity there! I think maybe the high hills separating the coastal strip from the Wairarapa valley will prevent it though.
I do like the idea of still being able to go places where you can escape the broadcast technologies and the Internet. In theory.
6 days of trying to figure out what we used to do before...
About three years ago my partner and I rented a place on the Wairarapa Coast to get away from it all for five days. I was surprised how far you can actually drive beyond Martinborough - places where there's no Internet and no TV. The first day was glorious. The weather was great, we got plenty of fresh air and tucked into our supplies. I caught up on some reading the second day but missed being able to look some things up online or check my email. Partner felt the same way. It was real quiet out there.
On the third day we snapped - we loaded the car to return to Wellington. Only problem was the car wouldn't go and there wasn't anyone else inhabiting the other baches on the beach. The NZ Post van driver had already done his daily run. Worse, cellphone coverage was terrible. I was about to make a trek to the nearest farm house when I spotted a couple of guys working on the roof of a place down the road. We hitched a lift to Martinborough in return for a dozen Tuis and arranged to get the car towed back and repaired.
Late that night we got home and logged on. What a relief.
I'm a believer.
In 1988 I was in a university politics class using SPSSX software to analyse election results. I had logged in to the computer using my name. My lecturer was talking to us all, showing how to prove quantitatively that farmers were more likely to vote National and that Maori were more likely to vote Labour. Suddenly a message popped up on the screen saying, "Jason, are you coming to see Paul Kelly tonight."
I was confused and intrigued. The computer wanted to be my friend? My lecturer freaked out and accused me of hacking into the system and causing trouble. It eventually clicked that my computer science (hons) flatmate had somehow sent me a message from the other side of the campus. I tried to explain this to my lecturer, but he just wanted me to fix what I'd interfered with. I had to log out and back away from the screen.
That night my flatmate explained he'd been doing some sort of audit of the network and found me there by chance. Being a bit slow witted I didn't fully appreciate the implications of our campus network being linked to other institutions around the world and what this enabled.
A few years later I got it - and got an email address through Wellington City Council. I had to go to their offices to use it. It was a revolution in terms of communicating with family overseas. It was even more convenient when ISPs and home dial up came along. Reading the overseas news got me a day ahead of the Dom. My partner decided I needed a suit and when I said I couldn't afford it she found one for me off Ebay. Later, when Napster appeared I was happy to wait the couple of hours to download each track.
By 2001 it had got to the point where the Internet was not only a productive work and social tool for me, but also my first choice for time wasting. I was in Hong Kong, playing an online game while waiting for my partner to fly in from London. One of my opponents suddenly typed, "America's under attack, they just bombed the Trade Towers in New York." My partner got home a few hours later but there were some unpleasant hours trying to track down a relative on a flight to New York. The mobile phones weren't working in NYC and I got my information from employees of the Internet company I worked for. We got in touch with the brother in law by email - his flight had been diverted to Canada and he was able to let us know he'd be home in a couple of days. [Sorry about turning this into a 9/11 story]
The Internet has delivered so much more in the last few years - what next?
Alternatively, if Steven has already risked life and limb and survived, we should be alright. That is one brave man risking his life for Public Address Wild Cuisine.
Kyle - with that sort of output, maybe you should get an expert in to check them out. Presume they'll be back next year? Even if you don't like mushrooms, you may be able to trade. My idle offer to give people feijoas has resulted in too many requests to satisfy. I didn't realise feijoa fans were so ... addicted. Peple are even selling them on trademe: http://www.trademe.co.nz/Home-living/Lifestyle/Wine-food/Food/auction-150669304.htm
New Zealand is well positioned to cope with these changes, if we make the right choices. Other countries could face real problems.
Does this mean house prices in NZ are undervalued?
People in China have a right to better themselves, to escape rural poverty and to earn themselves more choices
On a slightly related issue, I think the motivations behind the recent London and Paris protests around the Olympic torch relay deserve a deeper analysis. The comments I'm hearing in news media from overseas sports people and administrators that politics (human rights) should not be mixed with sport (the Olympics) sound spookily like those used in the 1981 Springbok tour era in NZ. I thought the whole debate about being able to separate sport and politics was done and dusted. Apparently not.
I don't think we've yet had the discussion about how bad abuses have to be before we question the appropriateness of various sporting or economic contacts. The timing of the free trade deal is unfortunate in this context.
Gathered, bagged and ready for pickup. There's some real beauties too.