Kirsty Johnston is an investigative reporter at the New Zealand Herald.

'Quaxing' becomes byword in verbal battle over bike

Auckland councillor Dick Quax. Photo / NZ Herald
Auckland councillor Dick Quax. Photo / NZ Herald

An Auckland politician has sparked the invention of a new word named in his "honour" following an online stoush about public transport.

The term "quaxing", named for Howick councillor and former Olympian Dick Quax, began circling following a Twitter argument earlier this year and has now been appropriated by groups as far away as England and Germany.

Its use has become so popular the term was "officially" defined this week on the blog By The Motorway. It means: "to shop, in the western world, by means of walking, cycling or public transit."

Tweets about "quaxing" are usually accompanied by a photo of those undertaking the activity. Hundreds of photos are now attached to the tag.

The Twitter argument which eventually evolved into the trend - spread by cycling and public transport enthusiasts - involved Mr Quax and another tweeter, Bryce Pearce, on January 3.

Responding to a tweet which said the shopping mall Sylvia Park needed better transport options, Mr Quax said "no one in the entire Western world uses the train for their shopping trips...the very idea that people lug home their supermarket shopping on the train is fanciful".




Mr Pearce responded: "I get groceries on my bike."

Mr Quax: "sounds like that would make great Tui ad. "I ride my bike to get my weekly shopping - yeah right".


Soon enough, people were posting pictures of themselves with their groceries on bikes, trains or buses, and the trend was born.

"Shall I be flattered?" Mr Quax asked when told about the trend yesterday.

"I do it myself sometimes, I take a backpack and buy small items, but you can't do your weekly shop on a bike, and that's what I was talking about."

The councillor said he does not get his groceries on the bus, however. He had noted others doing it, and in particular some people not returning their shopping carts from bus stations.

He said Twitter could often prompt "flippant" comments.

Mr Pearce said he felt the hashtag had come to represent a group of people often under-represented - those who didn't cycle in lycra for exercise, but those who used bikes as transport.

"In regular clothes. At mostly slower speeds. Not sweating. They're the people riding to school, work, the shops, friend's houses," he said.

Matt Lowrie , from the Auckland Transport Blog said at first the trend had been bubbling away quietly but had recently taken off.

"I think it's done so as it's a humorous way of pointing out that not everyone needs to drive for every trip which is position many politicians, planners, engineers and businesses have taken," he said.

"The same issues we have are also faced in many other countries which is why it seems to be spreading."

Those taking up the #quaxing tag this week included people in Germany, Canada and England, where it was also declare the new favourite word of the Cork Cycling Campaign.

Examples of Quaxing:





- NZ Herald

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