Sydney Cycling is Awesome
My name is Carlijn Kerdijk. I have been living in Australia for the past 5 years. Bicycles have been part of my life for as long as I can remember, they are such a natural part of my life that I don’t even consider myself a cyclist - it’s just part of who I am. The Rolling Fix have asked me to write an article or two, apparently my lense of European habits is beneficial to the Australian Culture.
To start things off I’m sharing a pretty common conversation around Cycling in Sydney, a conversation I will always have time for.
‘As a Dutchie, you must hate cycling in Sydney?’ is probably the second most often thing I hear as soon as the first words have left my mouth in a conversation. The most often asked question is of course ‘Sorry, what did you say your name was?’ My reply to both of these questions surprises the one asking, as it is not what they expect to hear from me. ‘You pronounce my name like a Car and a Line put together and no, I love cycling in Sydney!’ I’ll leave them in silence for a few seconds because I just like their reaction, but not too long because that silence is the perfect moment for me to go and start my rant about why I love cycling in Sydney so much!
Quickly I start off by telling this person about the amazing community that makes Sydney cycling so good. ‘I got to meet so many new people through cycling! In my four years here I have met more interesting people through riding bikes than all my other social endeavours combined’ Being a new resident in a city often means you do not have many friends and familiar faces to chat to. I can say from experience that it can get very lonely when you don’t have a friendly interaction with another human being each day. But every time I get out on my bike to go somewhere, I am stopping in front of traffic lights, lining up with other cyclist and I often finding myself having a conversation with someone next to me in those few minutes. ‘Bit sweaty riding up that hill today, isn’t it?’, ‘Wow, your bike looks amazing. Is it new?’ or ‘I really wish I had an e-bike right now. Would save me sweating up these hills’ It is a way to get interaction with new people, only if it is for just that one minute. In my years here, I have never had another cyclist say a nasty thing back to me or ignore me. After that short moment of interaction, I bet you that both of you ride off in your own direction with a smile on your face. The sense of community and camaraderie amongst Sydney cyclists is just something I’d never experienced in the Netherlands and makes it the number one reason why I love cycling in Sydney.
Now I’ve hit the bedazzled person with the first and most important fact of why cycling is so good, it is time for strike two. One that will make their jaws drop and roll their eyes. ‘Even though I don’t have scientific research, I bet you that 76% of the time cycling is a faster way of getting you from your home to work than driving or taking public transport. Especially if your commute is less than 10km!’ To support my statement I ask them to open Google Maps and put in their home and work address. It often ends up looking something like this:
Or if your commute would be a bit longer from or to the suburbs/city:
I can hear them think ‘the car is definitely the fastest way’, so I strike them with ‘How often does a bus go on time in Sydney? How often have you missed a train by a minute for then having to wait another 15min? And most importantly, how often have actually not been stuck in traffic on your way to work by car?’ Google maps is a great way and definitely something I use to figure out how long it will take me roughly. But I need to insert a warning here. You probably end up being even faster than what the app says half of the time because Google isn’t the smartest, despite what you’ve heard. The app will lead you along the shortest route, which is often on bigger roads. But those side streets and parallel roads is where the real commute is at. No waiting behind cars in traffic or traffic lights to interrupt your lovely ride. No cranky bus passengers with loud music coming out of their headphones. Just you, your bicycle and the other friendly bicycle commuters that will wave to you and smile at you.
With a smile on my face because two points of why I love cycling in Sydney have been delivered to this person that didn’t know what he or she was getting themselves into when asking that initial question. Time for me to deliver the last point and let them go their own way with a new found desire to ride their bikes to places.
‘So now you’ve seen that riding is very social compared to sitting alone in your car on your way to work and that riding isn’t all that much slower than taking public transport, I wonder if you have ever thought about the amount of exercise you get during your day in the office?’ This is the moment I hope I’m not speaking with a gardener, nurse or anyone that doesn’t sit down for eight hours behind a computer. Riding as mode of transport is a way to wake up in the morning. The heat in summer will help you sweat out those toxins from your weekend drinks and in winter the cold will wake you up on the grey mornings. ‘Your gym pass doesn’t get used often with this busy life you're living, am I right? So why not just spend that money on a bike and get your exercise in while also saving time on travel because hey, we just learned the bike was faster!’
And that’s where I tell myself I have to leave it at. I have taken up enough time of this person that just asked me if I hated cycling in Sydney and expected a simple ‘yes’. Hopefully though, this person now agrees with me that cycling in Sydney is so much more than what you read in the newspaper or see on those commercial tv shows. Either way, I had another lovely five minutes raving about the cycling in Sydney!