Palmerston North boasts ‘bike-i-city’
‘Bike-i-city’. However that’s defined, Palmerston North has it.
According to recent research from Nielsen, more than 9000 Palmy-nauts over the age of 10 are likely to take up cycling in the next six months. That’s 21 per cent higher than the national average, and ranks the city third equal with Tauranga behind Wellington – with nearly 15 per cent of its population claiming to be potential cyclists, and Dunedin with just over 14 per cent.
At 12.7per cent, we’re ahead of Christchurch at just over, and Invercargill at just under, 12 per cent.
Now whether that means 9,000 of us are getting bikes for Christmas, Santa only knows, but cycling advocate Destination Manawatu’s Lance Bickford says he’s not surprised by the city’s high showing.
‘‘We’re a city of a reasonable size where cycling can be an option. We have a high proportion of immigrants who come from all over the planet, and for many of those societies, cycling is a key mode of transport.’’
By and large, Lance says Palmerston North is a great cycle city, but can always do better. The city to Ashhurst cycleway he says is fantastic, and the opportunity to link Linton and Feilding by cycleways is exciting.
‘‘There are challenges in cycling around the city compared to other places ... and roundabouts are not ideal... but we have the opportunity to be a leader if we really want to.’’
Making the most of the city’s cycle-ability is not just about bike lanes but about attitude. ‘‘Simply leaving it up to council isn’t good enough. Everyone must take responsibility for making this a great place to ride a bike’’
City councillor Rachel Bowen remains upbeat about cycling even though she broke an elbow after being knocked off her electric powered bike last week.
Cut off in the cycle lane by a turning vehicle, the accident reinforced for Rachel what it was like to be a biking commuter.
‘‘Drivers do need to be more aware,’’ Rachel says. ‘‘Where people feel safe, they will cycle. There is safety in numbers, so we need more people to cycle.’’
Nationally, the survey figures show that 407,000 New Zealanders are prepared to hit the pedals by mid-year.
Biking is set to boom.