Maybe it's his long legs - but Whanganui's Nick Pyle has always biked and never owned a car.

He said cars ruined cities, with their crowding and pollution.

In The Netherlands street where he grew up children played soccer and cars were seldom seen. Now the street is clogged with cars.

"The side street where we used to play soccer is rows of cars on both sides, and just enough room in the middle for a car to get through."


He admits to having owned a Vespa motor scooter once, but has mostly cycled to school and work, and brought groceries home in pannier bags.

He hasn't needed a vehicle much for shifting, or wanted a car when on holiday.

"I liked to go to one place with a good environment and go for walks. I was more a tramper than a cyclist, certainly on holiday."

Now 89, Mr Pyle bought an electric bike two months ago - in deference to his health.

"My heartbeat is a bit irregular sometimes and I thought I had better take it easy."

He uses the new bike about every second day and finds it much easier than total pedal power. Its battery takes an hour to charge after a trip to town, and he keeps it charged constantly.

Having lived in Whanganui for 25 years he knows which moves are dangerous for cyclists.

One of them is the transition from Victoria Ave to St John's Hill.


"I get off my bike and study the road first. Then I walk across and get back on my bike. There are a few places in town where you really have to be careful," he said.

He agrees with historian and sociologist Lewis Mumford, who said public transport and private foot were the best means of transport in cities.

"Cars, cars, cars everywhere ruins the organisation of the cities. The cities are built for cars now. They aren't built for people any more."

Cars create pollution, he said, and bikes create less pollution.

"Bikes are okay up to a point. They still create a lot of old tyres and other rubbish, but it's better than cars."