Christchurch Go By Bike Day
160 muffins, 13L of coffee, 2 loaves of sourdough, and over 200 smiles served on bikes.
Written by: Catarina Gutierrez
Go-By-Bike Day is a national day in February, bike month in New Zealand/Aotearoa, where people are encouraged to ditch their cars and ride their bikes to work/school. Christchurch has hosted a few in the past, to varying degrees of success, and this was my first attempt at co-organising with some amazingly dedicated and passionate people.
“Small by Wellington standards, but good to see a good number of happy Christchurch cyclists stopping in.” said a local rider on Facebook. I couldn’t help feel proud of the Cantabrians on bikes that decided to brave the rain that morning and show up. Free food and drinks goes a long way!
In 8 days, I gathered the troops to pull off a last-minute breakfast around Go-By-Bike Day. Action Bicycle Club’s owners Charlotte Bebbington and Ken Ching really stepped up to help bring bikes, photography and spot prizes! They provided a variety of bikes to the event, including awesome e-bikes with ability to serve drinks, food and carry heavy loads. I can always bring them my crazy bike event ideas and they give me just the encouragement to DO IT!
Ed Tanner from The Sailor’s Son is my go-to coffee guy. He is opening a cafe and coffee school next to Action Bicycle Club this year and I knew he’d be keen to serve some brew. He even gave away an aeropress to one lucky rider who hit the 8:30 giveaway time on the dot!
Molly Van Hart from Life in Vacant Spaces was also key in helping locate a site for the event in little to no time. She also has an awesome flatmate Emily who loves baking muffins!
By the end of the day, I secured almost all the goods — coffee, breakfast, location, date, time, and promotional materials.
On the corner of St. Asaph Street (a brand-new protected cycleway!) and Colombo St, the team held up posters and encouraged riders to pull over. It’s amazing what a few spirited people, chalk and poster signs can accomplish.
Music was playing, coffee was flowing and people arrived in swells. A few early-risers met us at 7am and the rest hit the 7:30, 8:00 and 8:30AM peak hours on the dot. A few stragglers were running late for meetings or too pre-occupied with work to stop. I get it — you’re busy. I hope you can stop next time.
The variety of riders was exciting! I know this isn’t surprising to some but when people on bike are labelled constantly, it’s good to see first-hand who’s out there. I encourage any councillor to sit on the corners we were at and have a look. Children (on and off their parent’s bikes), lycra, frocks, and I’d venture to guess there were more women riding — a positive sign of good cycling infrastructure in any city. Good work everyone!
I get major bike envy and I particularly love these events to spy what other people are riding. I love a good, old Raleigh or Morrison or a bespoke feature on different looking bikes. I find myself striking up conversations with new people by asking, “Where’d you get your bike?”. People LOVE talking about their bike. They shine with pride at the gift from a loved-one or special find in the rubbish or online. It’s also a fun way to catch up with people you always see on their bikes, but never time for more than a quick hello or ring of the bell.
Now that we have some momentum, we’re eager to host more events like this. It’s Bike Month after all!