In 2006, while rummaging in the surplus items bin in the bike shop in Ellerslie, I found a pair of standard black lycra bike shorts. Up until that point I had never contemplated wearing special clothes for cycling. I'd been in Auckland less than a year, and hadn't needed anything so fussy back home in Christchurch. But I had a daily 10km commute to Auckland University, and... I suddenly found myself bike-short-curious. There must be some reason why people wore the things, and I could afford $10 to find out what that was.
The next day I discovered just how glorious it is to cycle in lycra. So light, and padded in all the right places. I can't guarantee they're for everyone, but if you have any distance to travel, I can highly recommend you give them a try.
Now back in Christchurch, I have three cycling modes:
1. Travelling to work, I wear cycle shorts and a jersey with out company logo on it. Ankle socks and sneakers. In the winter, I add gloves and a hi-vis windbreaker, and sometimes a skullcap under my helmet. I don't have far to go, but since I shower at work I need to change clothes anyway, so I might as well wear cycling gear.
2. Travelling home, I usually don't bother changing, and just ride in whatever I'm wearing. Likewise for any other short trip.
3. If travelling more than 10km, I wear similar gear to mode 1, but replace my slightly-embarrassing cycling shorts with super-embarrassing mankini bib shorts. Bib shorts are also great, but I do not bother to recommend them to anybody else. Bib shorts are something you have to choose for yourself. Mine are extra styley, because they're a size too big for me, and hence awkwardly baggy in places. But they feel so good after the second hour.
I don't cycle competitively, and I hate having to look through all the cycling jerseys in shops to find the ones that don't have advertising on them, and have reasonable numbers of pockets.
If I've got into the habit of wearing cycling clothes, I'm still basically of the view that they're unnecessary extras for people who happen to feel like wearing them. I dislike the trend to treat cycling as a sport, because it isn't for me, nor for most cyclists.
That the song was evocative and contemplative seemed to indicate that he was not merely after the nostalgia dollar.
Unless there's money in the sensation of nostalgia itself, in which case he's made a very canny move.
Chris Anderson gave an interesting Long Now talk recently (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/salt-seminars-about-long-term/id186908455).
Among other things, he discussed how a small factory of multi-purpose robots can build affordable one-off customised items that are impossible in huge, labour-intensive Chinese factories, which need to produce thousands of the same item before they break even.
Obviously Chinese companies can build robots too (and they do), but it may mean that there's less value in going where the cheapest human labour is, and more in building close to the customer. China may have emerged as the world's greatest industrial power just in time for the end of the industrial revolution.
Give or take half a century.
I am looking forward to it.
Can anyone recommend background reading on the New Zealand economy? I've lived in it for a few decades, and have a range of minimally-informed opinions about it, but I've never actually studied any economics. It is quite conceivable that I have developed some odd notions, based on mis-remembered educational films from the 1970s, and I should like to have a slightly better grounding before I turn up.
I mean, we still basically slaughter wild birds and sea-lions, preserve them in their own fat, and exchange them for obsidian tools and kumara, right? And we'll be discussing how to make our way in the new horticultural world order? Where does the aluminium smelter come into it?
Tell me that “it feels awesome” isn’t at least some of the reason you ride a pushbike at all.
I once saw a guy coasting down Queen Street at high speed in rush hour, through red lights, wearing no helmet and a full neck brace. My immediate thoughts did not run to admiring his freedom and potential as he reached into his bicycle with his ki.
There's a time and a place for releasing your mind and embracing the euphoric thrill of speed. I would submit that that time and place is not Queen Street in rush hour.
I feel no compulsion to be “better” than drivers just so I don’t offend their sensibilities
That certainly wouldn't be a good enough reason. For my part I try to obey the rules as closely as possible on the basis that drivers are thick and can't cope with my behaving unpredictably.
When I'm not on the road I might rephrase that to "distracted" or "unfamiliar with cyclists", but in the moment I'm working with "thick".
It's your call for your own safety of course, but I find there's no need to run a red light if I get in the queue a few cars back from the intersection. I'll indicate right as if changing lane even if I'm not, to account for any imaginary lanes the driver behind me might be perceiving, and I try to get in there good and early so people behind me have the option of changing lanes if they don't want to wait.
I'm sure people find it weird, but there's no mistaking that I want the lane nor any doubt about whether I'm leaving room to pass. If they still want to make an issue of it, it'll at least be on the basis that they think I'm a cock rather than their not knowing what I was doing.
Roads are designed for vehicles and vehicles are designed for roads.
The mix of vehicles on the road has changed over time.
Many roads in our central cities were designed for horses and carts. Should motorists be fined for driving faster than a steady trot where the roads clearly weren't designed for that speed?
Up until relatively recently there were far more cyclists on the road than motorists. Would you have told motorists in the 1930s that they should suck it up and accept that the roads are designed for cyclists?
and this revenue were to be channeled directly towards the creation of dedicated cycleways, the problems could be alleviated.
“For every problem there is a solution which is simple, clean and wrong.” - Mencken
I know dedicated cycleways everywhere seems like a solution, but it's not sufficient. Cycleways have their place, and they're very pleasant where they're available, but it's impossible to build a network that completely separates cyclists, pedestrians and motorists and still connects every part of a city with more than a handful of buildings.
In practice, we can't avoid some interaction. Cyclists can't spend all their time on cycleways any more than motorists can travel everywhere on motorways. That doesn't mean they're not sometimes useful, they're just not a panacea.
I believe the safety recommendation for cyclists turning right is to perform a hook turn rather than move fully into a lane as you suggest. Not sure if it’s a road rule as such or just a safety recommendation for cyclists.
It's listed in the Road Code as a "different way" to turn right, with no particular recommendation regarding when to use it.
The problem is that the rush-hour traffic was proceeding at walking pace.
Fair enough. I don't believe I've ever been through there in rush hour, and I wouldn't advocate occupying the lane in absolutely every situation.
When I was living in Auckland I was fascinated by the cavalier attitude drivers had to opening car doors into traffic. Given how narrow many of the major roads are (compared with Christchurch) I'd have thought people would be more careful regardless of cyclists, lest their doors be swiped by passing cars. My theory is that people learn to subconsciously listen for approaching cars, and time their door-opening more carefully than they realise. Which doesn't work for relatively quiet bicycles.
On the other hand, Auckland drivers were – in my anecdotal experience –remarkably relaxed about sharing the lane when I demonstrated an intention to occupy it. This usually causes Christchurch drivers to tootle their horns with vigour. I figure Auckland drivers are trained to let people in by motorway driving. Christchurch drivers seem to be generally hazy about what a motorway even is.
Over the years I've got increasingly relaxed about occupying the lane while cycling whenever I judge that there's no room for anybody to safely pass me. I used Tamaki Drive only a couple of times during my time in Auckland, but at that bottleneck I'd make sure I was far enough out to be clear that passing me wasn't an option.
Which is not to blame the cyclist. Getting in the way of cars runs against our normal instincts for safety and politeness, and I understand perfectly why most people are reluctant to do it. But I've had many more unpleasant incidents on the road when I was too timid than when I was too bold.