Covid-19: More families using local cycleways during lockdown

Getting back to basics and enjoying the simplicity of life are just some of the things Aucklanders are doing to avoid cabin fever during the lockdown period.

Good weather during the two weeks of lockdown has encouraged more families to head outdoors in their bubble, making the most of the walking and cycling in their neighbourhood.

Although the number of people who would ordinarily be cycling to commute has decreased, Auckland Transport (AT) has seen an increase in recreational use, with some locations experiencing a 100% increase in use compared to the same period last year.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is pleased to hear that Aucklanders are getting out on their bikes.

“Cycling is a great way to stay fit and active during the lockdown,” he says.  “Just remember to stay local while you’re riding and only bike with your bubble — keep up physical distancing of 2m from everyone else so we can break the chain of Covid-19 transmission.”

With the long-weekend starting tomorrow, AT expects more families will take the opportunity to enjoy the extra days off outside.

“Stay local and ride a bike or go for a walk close to home – that’s what we’ve been told to do,” says AT Chief Executive Shane Ellison.

“It’s great to see and hear that a lot of families are doing just that by making the most of the cycleways and shared paths in their own neighbourhood,”

“There are also very few cars on the road which is perfect for our not so confident bike riders out there, or simply kids learning the road rules – over the past two weeks I’ve enjoyed being able to teach my five-year-old son how to ride a bike,” he says.

“However, we do want everyone to remain vigilant as there are still people driving for essential trips. Make sure you wear helmets and always check for vehicles. If you’re heading out for a walk, remember to look out for people on bikes and try to stick to the footpath where you can while maintaining distancing.”

Barb Cuthbert, chair of the advocacy organisation Bike Auckland, says “the boom in local biking and walking comes as people revel in the peace of quieter streets, the sound of birdsong, and the healthy feeling of supportive, caring communities, as we all rediscover how walkable and bikeable our neighbourhoods can be. We’d love drivers to keep their speeds slow and eyes alert for all the people out enjoying walking and biking in their bubble.”

Northcote Point resident, Helen Higgins, says has seen an increase in the number of families with children out on their bikes in her neighbourhood, particularly along the cycleway on Queen Street.

“We’re lucky to have a safe cycleway close to where we live in Northcote Point and we enjoy getting out on our bikes in our family bubble – it’s what we did before the lockdown and we’ll continue to do so once we’re out of it. It would be great to see more people doing the same.

“I’m a mum to two young boys, so going for a bike ride is definitely a great way to break the boredom.”

North Shore Ward Councillor Chris Darby is also delighted to see neighbourhoods teeming with locals on bikes and says “parents are wobbling their way along with their more proficient cyclist children, many having  got on a bike for the first time since their childhoods. Long may this continue after the lockdown period”.

AT continues to invest $37 million in cycling projects across Auckland which include the Tamaki Drive, Victoria Street and Karangahape Road Enhancements. A total of 3.8 million cycle trips were recorded for the year of March 2019 to February 2020, a 4.1% increase on the previous 12 months.

Watch for tips on how to safely use a shared path

Visit  https://at.govt.nz/cycling-walking/ for cycling tips and safety.