An Auckland woman talks about what she gained from a cycle skills course that focused on skills for urban riding.

A mountain bike lurked in Evotia Tamua's shed, gathering dust until she realised it was the solution to saving money on her journey to work.

This was a few years ago. She's been riding regularly ever since, now on an e-bike once her old bike became uneconomic to repair. As well as reducing costs and saving time, riding a bike has proved to be a joy.

"I was unfit. I still think I am, but I discovered it was a really good way to let off steam and do some problem solving on the way to and from work," she says.

Evotia wanted to learn the differences between the best things for drivers and cyclists to do on the roads. So, she signed up to an Urban Bike Skills course run by Auckland Transport. This course is a tailored version of the Grade 2 courses promoted through BikeReady.

"I learned how to ride a bicycle when I was young — balance, pedalling and turning, but I was never taught the rules of riding a bike on the road. I made assumptions based on having a driver's licence. What was really important to me was learning where I was allowed to ride and what I was supposed to do when riding in traffic."

The course took place over four hours. The instructors ran an initial skills assessment on school netball courts.

"From there, we went out and cycled on the roads, on quiet residential streets. We practised starting and pulling out into the road, doing confident hand signals, and stopping. They covered some really good basics for all the levels of bike riders who were present," says Evotia.

Much of her daily commute is on a cycleway, but she also negotiates busy inner-city streets.

Evotia Tamua, cycle skills training participant.

"On the course, I learned the importance at intersections to stop, turn and look at drivers. Not assuming they've seen me.

"I also took away the importance of choosing routes that have less traffic and fewer pedestrians. I've changed the way I go to certain places, and it's made a world of difference. I don't have that stress of worrying about the traffic as much."

Evotia says the instructors talked through a new skill and then took the group onto the streets to practice. She could ask questions at any time.

"It was informative. They were friendly. There was no pressure to be a super star rider, if there is such a thing. It was at everyone's pace — we didn't go onto the next stage until the last rider was in. It was a very inclusive group exercise."
Evotia Tamua