CAMWEST: Cyclists’ Action Movement West

Feature — Ride to Work Interview

Esteban, how did you get into cycling?

I always rode as a kid. But when I grew up, I didn't really have a good bike, so I stopped. After that, I didn't ride regularly for about 15 years. I never had a reason to, except for a bit of fun.

I knew that my brother rode a fair bit, and I knew bikes were a good transport mode, but I just wasn't sure how I could use bikes. There were questions like 'How sweaty would I get?', 'Where do I park my bike?', 'Which way do I go?', 'How long would it take?'

I eventually got a bike and started riding. I now ride to the train station every day, as well as going for a fun ride on weekends.

What convinced you to give cycle commuting a try?

I talked to friends and my brother, and seemed like a good idea. I did lot of research when I bought my bike, I wanted something that would be fun to ride, but also something that I could use for transport to the train station.

I eventually got sick of driving to the station. The traffic is a nightmare, you spend time looking for a spot, and I hated thinking that I was just going to drive for 10 minutes and waste petrol on a cold engine. On the way out, I'd wait about 5-10 minutes just trying to get out of the car park! I used to get really angry and frustrated.

I thought a bike would be a good idea, and definitively better than this mess. Someone told me about Bicycle NSW's bike lockers, and I signed up.

What's your route to work?

From Winston Hills to Seven Hills station, along Powers Rd, to the end where the station is. In the morning, going to the station, it's all downhill, so I don't get sweaty for work. I take a spare shirt anyway.

Powers Rd is a dead end for cars, but there's a path along the creek that goes straight to the station, saving me about 5 minutes.

Overall, it takes 10 minutes. This is actually shorter than driving, which took about 15 minutes!

How are you finding it?

Great, I now couldn't think of another way of getting to the station. It feels good, even if it's a bit cold. I no longer get so frustrated, and it's actually faster than the car! I just love riding, it's a great way to start the day.

I've had to work out a routine with things like spare clothes, lockers, etc. Once you get organised, it's great.

Where do you park your bike?

At one of Bicycle NSW's lockers at Seven Hills station.

Lockers are great, because people can't see my bike, so I'm not afraid of leaving it there, it's relatively safe. The actual locks in the lockers are pretty good.

At the beginning I had some problems with my first locker with people urinating nearby. I rang and I got another one.

How could cycling facilities be improved?

The lockers system should be expanded. I think it's ridiculous how much money is spent on providing free car parking, compared to the money spent on bike lockers - a much more efficient solution. Bike lockers are a great idea so we should spend more money on them, expand them, and spend more effort thinking through design and location.

Lockers should be cleaned regularly, and should be located in good places, well lit, right close to the station entrance.

Abusive drivers on the road is always a problem. More lanes would be good, especially in the industrial area which has wide roads.

Showers at work would also be great.

How did you feel about cycling before commuting and now?

I love riding my bike now! Before I started I just didn't think about it much . I'm now telling all friends to buy bikes so they can go riding with me. People do want to ride their bikes, and they will if they're given the opportunities to do so.

Any tips for people considering cycling to work?

Just do it!

Get your bike in order. Get a bike you can use for more than one purpose (commuting and fun).

Check out your route on a weekend first, and see how long it takes.

Work out a routine so you don't waste time. Get clothes for cycling, take clean clothes to work, etc.

There is a few little things you have to think about and organise. Once you do that, it's easy.

Develop your confindence riding with car traffic, and ride assertively. Make yourself visible to drivers. Make sure you have good lights on.

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