I work for Pedal Power, I never wear lycra and I own just one bike.
I know I know. As part of the Pedal Power team, I should don the lycra every morning, get in a quick 30ks before breakfast, ride the kids to school, turn up to work (tan-lined legs all muscly-bulgy), launch into a day of die-hard campaigning, slip in a quick mountain bike session for lunch (using the spare 29-er I keep at work) and take the long route home just because it includes a good hill climb.
Just writing that paragraph leaves me gasping for breath.
So, who am I and what am I doing at Pedal Power?
Well, I believe passionately that everyone should consider cycling as a healthy, environmentally-friendly, economical alternative to petrol-fuelled transport. I think Canberra has the potential to be a truly bike-friendly city. I also think it begins with lots of people getting on their bikes.
I started with Pedal Power about a month ago. That date coincides with a marked increase in the amount of “butt-in-saddle-time”. Yes, motivated by a sense of duty to the cause, I started to ride to work, all 3km of it: downhill all the way there (yippee!) and savagely uphill (my cycling-mad husband calls it a gentle incline) all the way back.
On the first day I had to stop for a rest half way home. On day two I rode all the way home without stopping and, when the fifth ride to work day came around, I raced (yes, RACED) home in record time because I was late to pick the kids up from school. And guess what? I didn’t die.
These days I can ride to work and back with relative ease and, to be honest, I quite enjoy it, even the uphill return journey. I don’t have to wait for the bus or search for a parking space and it costs me virtually nothing.
However, despite my very positive experience of bike riding, I won’t be joining the lycra-clad brigade any time soon and I won’t be cycling any long distances. My bike is a mode of transport with a little exercise thrown in and a way to have fun with my kids.
And guess what? People like me are just the sort of Canberrans who can make a real difference to our city’s cycling infrastructure. It’s the commuters, students, errand-runners, shoppers and parents who – with their short, frequent journeys – can dramatically boost the number of bike users and, subsequently, the need for a more cycle-friendly city.
So, how about it? If you haven’t ridden a bike for a while, find a reason to start pedalling or join me on the commute. Don’t expect me to talk to you on the way home though!
Penni Lewer is Pedal Power’s new Communications Manager. She has a long history working in the not-for-profit sector but these days spends more time searching for lost school hats and lunch boxes. She is married to Paralympian and keen cyclist, Michael Milton. The best thing about that, she says, is not having to pair his socks when they come off the line.