Feeling wobbly on two wheels? Hamilton City Council has developed special cycling courses for adults to encourage safer biking around the city.
Adult Cycle Education co-ordinators Dianne Rodger and Sean Christian say most people would like to use the bike more often but think it is unsafe. With their cycling courses, they want to give people the confidence to hop on a bike and normalise cycling again.
Christian and Rodger run targeted courses, not classified as "beginner" and "advanced" but according to how people use their bikes. There are park ride courses which mostly go off-road, neighbourhood ride courses exploring the city and surrounding river paths, recreational rides, plus e-bike and women-only courses.
Christian says: "We found this concept works better, as people often think they are too good for a beginner's course, but not good enough for an advanced."
During their courses, Rodger and Christian observed that most adults lack the basic knowledge when it comes to moving around on two wheels.
"When you learn how to drive a car, you get taught. But when you learn how to ride a bike you just go," says Christian.
The most common problem they find is that people are tensed up, and don't know how to brake or where to look when on a bike.
"It is crucial to look where you are going, but also to look around and over your shoulder before crossing busy locations," says Rodger.
It is the basic tips that make a huge difference, they say.
"We always start with explaining the basics, then let the group try it by themselves while we go around looking who needs some one-on-one. When everyone is more confident, we go for a longer ride, so the group can practise what they learned," she says.
Christian says: "It is not so much about what we do, it's how we do it. We let the group try out things they are normally told not to do - like to skid their bike. We also let them ride on different surfaces like concrete and grass."
The cycling course groups normally consist out of roughly 10 to 12 people.
"Most of our participants are females in their 50s and 60s, but adults of any age are welcome," he says.
"Our courses are for everybody. Everyone that participated told us they had learned something from the course and quite often we get told 'I wish someone told me that earlier!'."
Sometimes the cycling is not even the main focus of their course, Rodger says: "The social aspect is often more important than the exercise when our participants make connections and socialise outside of the course."
The next adult bike courses are:
• Thursday, March 11 - Women-only Neighbourhood Ride - from 6pm to 7.30pm at Rototuna Sports Park.
• Monday, March 22 - E-bike skills session - from 9.30am to 11am at Flagstaff Park.
• Tuesday, March 23 - Women-only Park Ride - from 6pm to 7pm at Glenview Park.
• Thursday, March 25 - Women-only Neighbourhood Ride - from 6pm to 7.30pm at Glenview Park.
• Thursday, April 8 - Recreational riders Park Ride - from 5.30pm to 6.30pm at Claudelands.
• Monday, April 12 - E-bike skills - from 9.30am to 11am at Hillcrest Stadium.
• Saturday, April 17 - Recreational riders Park/Neighbourhood ride - from 9.30am to 11.30am at Hayes Common.
• Wednesday, April 21 - Recreational riders Park Ride - from 9.30am to 10.30am at Flagstaff Park.