Christchurch man cycles 700km every month as part of bike advocacy push

Don Babe is encouraging the community to get on their bikes, starting with his grandson, Max Dwyer.

Don Babe cycles more than 180 kilometres to work every week, and even more on the weekend.

Each month the 59-year-old Cantabrian rides more than 700km on his daily commute from his rural property near Lincoln to Merivale, where he works as an accountant.

He can not remember the last time he took his car to work.

Babe has dedicated himself to encouraging others to do the same, maintaining a vision from Spokes Canterbury that by 2020 Christchurch will be considered one of the top five cycle cities in the world.

For that role, his role as chairman of the Christchurch-Little River Rail Trail Trust and treasurer of Cycling Action Network, he was recognised at the Kiwibank Local Hero awards along with 37 other Cantabrians.

Babe said he chaired both groups to create cycling environments that can be enjoyed safety by all.

"Cycling is the answer to so many of the world's problems," he said.

Babe said he had lost nearly 8kg since he started cycling and had had to eat twice as much just to stop losing weight.

"The last time I was this weight, I was about 14."

Babe said he had "bad experiences" on the road about once a month, but he waved out to and thanked courteous people at least twice a day, so it was a good trade off.

Cyclists, motorists and pedestrians were all from the same pool of mostly great Christchurch citizens and even inconsiderate drivers rarely mean any harm, he said.

His daily commute by bike takes about 50 minutes. Babe said when when he drove, the journey was about 40 minutes by the time he navigated traffic, found a park and walked to the office.

For the additional 10 minutes, he was able to get plenty of exercise.

More important to the father of three were the environmental benefits.

Babe and his wife planned to visit Australia's Great Barrier Reef this year so he would be able to describe it to his three grandchildren before climate change caused further damage to the coral.

- Stuff

Christchurch major cycle routes construction begins

John Kirk Anderson

The first phase of construction in Christchurch's major cycle routes programme is under way.

Work has begun on Matai St East, Riccarton, to join existing cycleways between Teacher's College and Hagley Park.

Christchurch City Council spokesman Ross Pringle said it was the "first meaningful piece of construction" since the programme to build 13 major cycle routes over the next five years was approved.

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The Matai St East project would form the "missing link" on the Uni-Cycle route, which would run through Canterbury University, Riccarton Bush, Christchurch Boys' High School and Christchurch Girls' High School.

The route was named by Lisa Beardsley, who is the personal assistant to the Assistant Vice-Chancellor Maori at Canterbury University.

She submitted the idea for the name having seen students unicycle around campus.

Work to build the 400-metre separated cycleway is expected to take three months to complete, at a cost of $1.6 million.

It would include improvement to the intersection of Fendalton Rd and Harper and Deans avenues, and have a signal-controlled crossing from Deans Ave to Hagley park.

The Uni-Cycle route was one of four chosen for first completion. Others link Northlands Mall to the central city, Halswell to the southern suburbs, and Ferrymead to the central city.

- Stuff