Illustrator and Auckland Bike Style blogger Katy Wakefield stops chic cyclists on the streets to pick their brains and take a snap of their bike get-up, so we decided to turn the tables and ask a few questions about her own views on cycling in the city.
Why make the Auckland Bike Style blog?
I spent a few years in Europe and the UK, where I fell in love with city cycling. When I moved back to Auckland, I wanted to ride my bike here, but I wasn’t seeing many other people doing it, apart from cyclists in lycra out for training rides. It definitely didn’t seem like a very bike-friendly city. Starting the blog gave me the excuse to find other people who rode bikes here and ask them about their experiences cycling round Auckland, getting their tips and tricks, and this gave me a bit of extra courage to ride too.
Also I’m a fan of cycle chic blogs overseas, they’re fun to look at and a great way of increasing the visibility of urban cyclists, so I hoped the blog might inspire others to get on a bike too by showing that it’s possible, and that you can look good doing it!
How do you choose people to feature?
I look for people with interesting style, whether it’s a great coat, a dress and heels, or unexpected patterned socks with an otherwise formal suit. And often a cool or unusual bike. I was a bit nervous at first about approaching strangers, but my determination to photograph them always won out. Everyone so far has been really keen to take part and support the project.
Tell us about your bike.
It’s a new Bobbin Bramble, which I bought through Lyttelton Bikes. It has 7 speeds and is a sparkly dark olive green. I added a Wald basket, and had it converted to an electric bike with a Lekkie kit. It flies up hills and is a dream to ride.
All your senses are alive – the feel of crisp evening air, catching the fragrance of jasmine from neighbourhood gardens, the thrill of coasting down hills. It feels great to be so connected to your surroundings. Also it’s really practical, you never have to hunt for a carpark or sit in traffic, plus it’s good for the planet.
Why go electric?
It takes the sting out of the hills in a city like Auckland, so you’re only putting in as much effort as you would if you were cycling in a flat city. Being able to wear nice clothes without working up a sweat while riding to a restaurant is really great. Sometimes people ask why not just get a scooter, but an electric bike is emissions free, you never have to buy petrol.
Meandering lazily around the neighbourhood stopping at cafes and shops along the way, then stopping at a fish and chip shop and heading down to Home Bay for sunset.
While riding you…
Hum, daydream, check out architecture and keep a close eye on cars.
What do you like to wear to ride your bike?
Whatever I happen to be wearing that day! There’s no need to wear special clothes on a bike. The only thing you can’t wear is a topknot – there’s no fitting it under a helmet.
Do you think Auckland is / can be a bike friendly city?
I think there are some positive changes being made in the right direction, with the Quay and Nelson Street separated paths. However I think we will really see transformational change when we start building protected cycle lanes down main streets past shops, cafes and businesses – I think this will mean a lot more people choose bikes to get around their neighbourhood.
Most people don’t feel comfortable cycling alongside cars, which is the current situation on most of our roads. Auckland now has some beautiful greenway paths through parks, which are great for leisure and families going for rides, though they can be a bit lonely after dark – protected lanes down main roads will enable people (especially women) to safely use this infrastructure at all hours.
Do you have a bike ride on your bucket list, either in New Zealand or overseas?
Riding in a protected cycle lane down Ponsonby Road one day! Also, I’ve heard there are beautiful cycle paths along the canals in France, which are definitely on my list.