This crossed my mind more than once on our trip. We had a little more than three weeks to travel, camp and live in a van as we toured the southern island of New Zealand. I didn’t ride a bike once. And so I wondered: Did my bike miss me as much as I missed her? Because I really, really missed her.
The trip had been planned for many months, and finally it was time. Kaley and I were off to the South Pacific and we had a month to explore. I left my beautiful bike in a safe place and blew her a kiss as I was out the door. From there it was trains, planes, buses and boats – everything but bikes, really.
I can tell you that none of it made me miss my car, or wish that I hadn’t donated her. At all. While I loved sleeping in the van, road tripping to country music with the windows down and experiencing multiple hours on every modern mode of travel that took us around the world (literally), nothing was quite as good as the feeling I get on two wheels.
Nothing was nearly as free.
The bike infrastructure in New Zealand gave me heart flutters. Christchurch recently suffered a massive earthquake, shattering the city and leaving its historic neighborhoods, including the downtown, in shambles. Much to the country’s credit, its using this rebuilding opportunity to make changes to their streets that surpass many cities in the US, including San Diego. I watched in awe as people on bikes traced a network of royal green, protected bike lanes throughout the city, guided by bicycle-only stoplights and signs. It looked like the city said, “Ok. We hear you. We understand you want to bike. We’re going to make easy and safe for you because it will make us a better place for tourists and residents alike, whether they’re in car or on bike. Yeah, this is sounding like a great idea. We make good choices. Our people like us. We’re taking the rest of the year off, because we’re so awesome.”
If there were any point on the trip I’d wanted to ride a bicycle, it was the day I explored downtown Christchurch. I never found bikeshare in New Zealand, but if I had it would have actually been too good to be true so it’s probably for the best.Amidst this sea of bike infrastructure, it was very weird to not pedal anywhere for almost an entire month. It was also very weird to drive on the left side of the road. Pretty equal, I’d say; Not riding my bike was like driving on the left side of the road.
Fiji was stunning. New Zealand was remarkable. And now, I’m happy to be home, riding around my city with my friends and commuting to the places I love. I feel even more inspired to build San Diego into what I know it can be, thanks to the big NZ.