Beckenham top bike suburb

17:51, Jan 16 2014
TRAILER TRIP: Bonnie Davis and her 10-month-old daughter, Bella, use a cycleway in Beckenham.

Beckenham is the bicycle belt of Christchurch when it comes to commuting, according to the 2013 census.

Opawa, Somerfield and Riccarton are not far behind, with at least one in 10 residents opting for an active start to the day.

About 16 per cent of Beckenham's nearly 1000-strong working-age population, who do not work from home or did not have the day off, reported biking to their workplace on census day.

Simon Kingham, a geography professor who lives in Beckenham, is one of them. He cycles to work at the University of Canterbury every day. "It saves my family having a second car. I get about 50 minutes exercise a day and it is much cheaper than going to a gym," he said.

"It is interesting that Opawa, Beckenham and Somerfield are all adjacent to each other. It could be that there is little through-traffic through those areas."

Kingham said cycling rates were not necessarily related to the wealth of an area.


"You would expect people with less money to cycle more, because they cannot afford cars, but cycling does not always work that way. It is a choice thing."

Somerfield resident Bonnie Davis cycles to her part-time job in Richmond a couple of times a week and also takes her young children out and about using a bike trailer.

Davis was not surprised at the data showing a high percentage of cycle-commuters in her area, because "you see people out all the time".

"Hauling kids in and out of the car is hard work and they enjoy [travelling by bike] a lot more. Christchurch is flat and depending on the winds, it is easy to get around."

Kingham said it would be great to see more people commuting by bike and Copenhagen-style separated cycle paths on the radar for Christchurch would help. "The main thing that stops people [biking] is a fear of traffic - they do not feel safe. The council are putting into practice what the research says they should be doing."

Census data shows Christchurch has a 7 per cent bicycle-commuting rate overall compared to the national average of 2.9 per cent, when those who work from home or did not go to work on census day are excluded.

Areas with lower percentages of bicycle commuters include Akaroa Harbour, Diamond Harbour, Temple-ton and Little River.

When walking and jogging are lumped in with cycling, areas such as Addington, Merivale, Mona Vale, Avon Loop, Riccarton and Wharenui come to the fore.

About 30 per cent of working-age residents in the Hagley Park, Akaroa and Cathedral Square areas reported walking or jogging to work on census day - the highest rate across all areas.

The Press