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Get confident and go cycling in Christchurch

Wednesday, November 16, 2016   Posted in: Resources and Information By: Administrator With tags: transport, safety, cycling

Christchurch City Council Newsline: 14th November 2016

Connie Christensen of Go Cycle Christchurch.Sometimes all we need to start riding a bike is a little bit more confidence and a push in the right direction.

So says the woman behind Go Cycle Christchurch, a new initiative designed to help people overcome barriers to cycling as a mode of transport.

Connie Christensen started the project earlier this year with the aim of supporting people who are out of practice or nervous about riding a bike. With a team of 20 volunteers from across Christchurch to call on, the group is able to give advice on suitable cycle routes and if necessary provide a cycling buddy to accompany a newbie on their first ride. 

“The idea is if people want one on one help with finding a safer route that suits their needs we’re here to help. If they want, a Go Cycle volunteer will meet and cycle that route with them at a suitable time. It’s really about confidence. We don’t teach people how to cycle, but we will help them gain confidence cycling on the roads.”

The group has already given help or advice to about 60 people including:

  • a 21-year-old international student who had never been on a bike before,
  • a 60-year-old who hadn’t biked for 40 years but wanted to get back into it for health reasons, and
  • a 32 year old who hadn’t jumped on a bike since she got her driver’s licence as a teenager.

Connie is originally from Denmark but has lived in Christchurch for 11 years. She has put up hundreds of posters promoting Go Cycle Christchurch at cafes and medical centres around the city and has been liaising with Sport Canterbury, Christchurch City Council and cycling advocacy groups.

The initiative is currently her full-time, voluntary job because she believes it will benefit everyone, including motorists, if more people ride a bike instead of taking their car.

She says the recent 30km speed zone for the central city is a huge boon to cyclists because the main barrier to people riding to work is concern about cars travelling too fast or too close to them, or the doors of parked cars opening in front of them.

“There are thousands of people in Christchurch who would quite like to cycle and they have a bike available, but they need a push to get started. We just want them to give this a try. Christchurch is a fantastic place, this is a huge opportunity to get the best out of it for everybody.”

However, she also owns a car and doesn’t expect people to ride their bikes all the time. “Even if people just cycle down to get their Sunday paper or just cycle their kids to school and back that’s a good start. Every single trip matters.”

She organises regular Short Rides for New Cyclists where a group of cyclists can ride recreationally together to gain confidence and share tips, and promotes them on the group’s Facebook page. People wanting advice or help can contact Go Cycle Christchurch via email (GoCycleChristchurch[at]

Check out Go Cycle Christchurch on Facebook.

Connie's tips for safer and more enjoyable cycling include:

  • Use quieter small streets where possible and routes that go through parks.
  • Stay about an arm’s width out from parked cars, use a bell to alert pedestrians and other cyclists.
  • Using a rear cycle carrier for strapping your bag or attaching paniers is useful.
  • Plan a route that uses left turns instead of right turns across busy intersections.
  • If you haven’t used your bike for a while check that it is safe or get it serviced before riding it for the first time.
  • Link in with established cycle paths and routes where possible.
  • If you don’t like the idea of wearing a fluorescent vest, try a cover that fits over your bag or reflective ankle clip.

Healthy Christchurch Champions

  • Canterbury District Health Board
  • Christchurch City Council
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ngai Tahu
  • NZ Police
  • Pegasus Health
  • University of Otago, Christchurch