Did you know that you can make biking better just by riding your bike? Sounds too easy, right? Here are ten ideas for making biking better in your town. So choose your own adventure and pedal for good.

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

Ride Your Bike

Does one person riding a bike make a difference?

YES! Even though it sounds odd, it is called safety in numbers. It makes bikers more visible (people see what they expect to see), and it creates political leverage or ‘social license’. And it actually encourages more people to bike.
“It’s a virtuous cycle, the likelihood that an individual cyclist will be struck by a motorist falls with increasing rate of bicycling in a community. And the safer cycling is perceived to be, the more people are prepared to cycle.” Dr Julie Hatfield, University of NSW Injury Specialist.

Make it known

Let it be known!

Humans have a bit of herd mentality going on, and tend to prefer doing things that are seen as ‘normal’.  They may feel encouraged to give it a go simply by seeing other people do it. If you ride in everyday clothes your transport choice may be invisible, so how can you let people know you bike?  You could carry your helmet into a shop, mentio how you got to your meeting, or ask nicely for bike parking.

Report Problems

Councils can’t fix what they don’t know about.

Most councils have a problem reporting system and are measured for how quickly they deal with the problems reported to them.  And they have good people working there who want to do the right thing. Perhaps those good people aren’t riding bikes where you ride and won’t know there is a problem unless you tell them.  So do them, yourself, and the rest of us a favour – report the problem! It could be asking for something to change (better ramp access, bike parking installation) or for something to be fixed (glass on the path, traffic light sensors not picking up bikes, poor signage etc).  Remember: If you don’t ask – you don’t get.

Ask

Ask for Bike Parking

You are reading this because you ride a bike and it’s pretty normal to you.  But for a lot of people riding a bike is not normal, in fact they are pretty sure no one actually rides bikes.  That is true of some businesses especially. And when they think that their customers don’t ride bikes they will not be particularly supportive of biking infrastructure like bike lanes or bike parking.  So how do you change that? Simply by letting them know that you are a customer and  you ride a bike; and that you really value businesses choosing to be bike friendly. And you can let them know that you want everyone know how great they are by inviting them to sign up as a Bikes Welcome Business.  

Have your say

Make submissions on cycling projects.  

Consultation is king.  No council wants to get caught up in inference that their public consultation has not been good enough.  So they will ask the public for their opinion. Give yours. Give it even if all you have to say is ‘yep, looks good’.  That might not seem like valuable input, but bear in mind that the Society for the Prevention of the Future will be submitting in droves and you can help add some balance and rationality to the consultation inputs.

Get with the plan

Make submissions to your council’s Long Term Plan, Annual Plan and District Plan.  

While we are on the topic of submissions, there is real value in finding out what the council have planned, seeing where biking fits into it, and having your say.  Even if the consultation questions for your annual or long term plan don’t include anything about active transport, you can still have your say. Find out what the council’s cycling strategy is and where it is documented (search their website).  Then make references to it, and comment on progress and goal/plan alignment. Long Term plans are a good time to try and get spending brought forward or prioritised for specific projects like network connectivity planning. The annual plan and long term plan submissions are a time when the council ‘take the temperature’ of the public and find out where their priorities lie.  Let them know yours. When it comes to District Plans, this is where you can make sure end of trip facilities and access for walking and cycling are considered in private developments, here’s how

Advocate

Join your local advocacy group

Back to the herd thing…. We humans tend to be more effective working in teams.  Joining forces with your local advocacy group will help you find out what is going on for biking in your area and have your say.  Find your local group here.

Support CAN

Join and Support CAN

CAN is New Zealand’s national network of cycling advocates. They work with government, local authorities, businesses and the community on behalf of cyclists, for a better cycling environment. CAN aims to: Promote the benefits of cycling, Improve safety for cyclists, Encourage the creation of a good cycling environment, Promote cycle tourism, Advocate for integrated cycle planning, Increase the number of cyclists on our roads. Joining up will help support their work and that is good for everyone who bikes.

Be a champion

Become a Bikes Welcome Local Champion

If you want better biking in your town it will help to have businesses on side.  One way you could help achieve that is by bringing Bikes Welcome to your town. Find out more about that here.

Speak Up

Follow and speak up on government policies and actions pertaining to biking

The latest example of this was the Global Policy Statement for Transport.  Joining CAN and/or your local advocacy organisation will help you keep abreast of what is going on.  Bikes Welcome and CAN provide updates on their Facebook pages so you can see what is happening and how to have your say.

Riding your bike is good.  In fact it is great. And it is all any of us want really.  But if you want riding your bike to be better, safer and more ‘normal’ then take it a step further and choose some other ways of making biking better in your town.
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