Life in the Bike Lane, brought to you by Bike Waikato, showcases how bikes fit into the everyday lives of people in the Waikato.
When Robin McIntyre chose to buy an e-bike instead of a new car, the decision changed her life.
Robin lives in Nawton and is part of the managerial team at Scottech, a company that specialises in meteorological equipment. Everyday the 51 year old rides to work on her e-bike, which is a 10-kilometre round trip.
Three years ago, Robin’s car blew a gasket and needed to be replaced. Robin, “a true greenie”, had to make the tough decision between buying an EV or buying an e-bike. Finances won the battle, and an e-bike was purchased. Robin decided to get a “Magnum Metro”.
While the environmental and financial benefits of cycling were some of the initial motivators behind her purchase, an additional, more significant benefit was discovered.
Robin, who suffers from both depression and anxiety, found that cycling drastically improved her mental health.
“It’s actually the best for my mental health. I didn’t expect that. I thought, you know, like everyone else, it would be miserable getting out and biking in the cold and rain. But actually, I would rather go out in the cold and the rain than sit in either my car bubble, work bubble or home bubble.”
Robin loves the fresh air she gets from cycling to work each day and her bike has now become her main form of transport. Workmates have also commented on how cycling has positively changed Robin’s mood.
A vintage Volkswagen is kept in Robin’s garage for the times when a bike is not suitable. Longer trips across the city are still undertaken on her e-bike though. An example of this is Robin riding from her home in Nawton to a friend’s house in Rototuna this past weekend.
Robin is also a big travel fan. Pre-Covid Robin would travel to India every couple of years to see friends. Due to her interest in India, Robin has recently started to learn Hindi. Robin noted that her interest in traveling was a guilty pleasure, because of the environmental impacts that are caused by it. She said, “If you bike, you’re kind of offsetting that. So, that’s something.”
When asked about some of the challenges of biking, Robin said that her biggest gripe was with bad roading design.
“Whenever there is a conflict between a car and a cyclist, the car driver might get angry with the cyclist and the cyclist might get angry with the car driver. What we should get angry with is the roading design because it should protect us from those conflicts, and it doesn’t.”
Robin is an incredibly positive minded biker despite this. She has never had an accident with a car during her years of cycling. She joked that; “Maybe I remind people of their mums and they don’t want to run me over.”
Robin believes that one of the biggest misconceptions of cycling is that it is hard. Instead, she thinks overcoming the mental barrier of going out and doing it is the true obstacle.
“For me, making it a habit was a good thing. Now I don’t even think twice about jumping on my bike in the morning. It’s just what I do.”
Robin wants anyone thinking of taking up cycling to know that being seen is the most important thing you can do.
“Make sure you’re seen, get some fluro, get some bike lights and use them. People don’t want to run you off the road if they can see you.”
Robin encourages the adoption of cycling as a form of commute because of the benefits it brings to the environment, congestion and personal finance. However, for Robin, the mental health gains of cycling are paramount.
Words and Photos by Benjamin Wilson.
Benjamin is a Hamilton based photographer, chef, and journalism student. As well as being an avid environmentalist and cyclist. He believes firmly that cycling has a big part to play in the future of transport.