COMMENT: I've recently spent a week riding the Rail Trail in Central Otago, and it was absolutely brilliant. The weather was perfect — and given that the week before there'd been rain, snow and freezing temperatures, we were deeply grateful.
The Southern hospitality lived up to its legendary reputation and the accommodation and meals we enjoyed were first class. We go-karted in Cromwell, curled in Naseby and jetboated the Clutha — it was one of the best holidays of my life.
And thank heavens my friend Di had the presence of mind to order e-bikes. I've been a sceptic. Surely, the whole point of getting on a bike is to get some exercise while travelling from A to B. When a friend who'd received one for a Christmas present suggested I too get one a few years ago, I was horrified.
"I'll be just another fat girl on an e-bike!" I said.
But given that Di's the researcher and organiser in our wee group, I went along with it. And I was so glad I did. It meant that even though none of us had cycled for years, we were able to ride 100-odd kilometres a day, without being absolutely knackered at the end of it.
It's fair to say that Dave, our trail guide, was more than a little apprehensive as he watched four middle-aged women wobble off. When you first get on them, they're like temperamental thoroughbreds, ready to bolt on you the moment your attention strays.
But we were cautious and Dave's relief was apparent when he saw us polishing off our beers at the local pub at the end of the first leg.
The e-bikes were amazing and I happily put up with the sneers and contemptuous lip curls from the real bike riders that we passed as we whizzed by them. All those childhood feelings of freedom and limitless opportunities came back to me and I really, really want to get one myself.
I just have to get over the husband's fears for my safety — we may now have bloody expensive cycle lanes in the city, but the attitude of some drivers hasn't changed.
I can completely understand why the new Lime e-scooters have proved such a hit in Auckland and Christchurch. Who doesn't want to replicate the childhood feeling of whizzing along on a scooter, only this time at pace?
However, there are genuine concerns about the fact that these speed machines are sharing space with pedestrians. The company behind them has all sorts of regulations on its app — wear a helmet; don't ride on the footpath; don't ride downhill; don't ride if you're under 18. But basically, anyone with a smartphone can download the app, jump on the scooter and head off at 30km/h and who's going to police them?
There were 14 claims to ACC in the first week and given how many injuries are sustained by conventional scooter riders, I can only imagine how that number is going to rise given the speed at which these things travel.
They're fun, absolutely. They're convenient, for sure. But given that we've evolved into a me-first society, where consideration for other people is utterly secondary to doing what you want, when you want, I really do fear there'll be many more people injured and, as happened in France, killed.
Two-hundred-and-eighty-four people were injured last year and five people killed in scooter and skating accidents in France. The highest proportion of those stats being the elderly who are unable to jump out of the way quickly.
If people cared more about others, if they went at a sedate pace while sharing footpaths with pedestrians, then stropped it out on the cycle lanes or open rides, fine. But I don't trust my fellow citizens to be thinking about my safety over their own pleasure. So I'll be keeping a very watchful eye out — whether on foot or on an e-bike.