For the last 40 years Andrew has stayed a safe and enthusiastic bike-rider - all thanks to a hit and run.
Life in the Bike Lane, brought to you by Bike Waikato, showcases how bikes fit in to the everyday lives of people in the Waikato.
Andrew Marshall is a 50-year-old stay-at-home dad and cycling enthusiast from Fairfield. He spends most of his time looking after his three year-old daughter, Amellia.
From the moment Andrew received his first bike, cycling has stayed as a constant in his life. He has owned many bikes, from the cruiser he used during paper runs as a kid, to various mountain and commuting bikes. This includes the handmade carbon fibre racer that he uses today. Andrew is also a current member of the Te Awamutu Sports Cycling Club.
“The independence and self-sufficiency of cycling, yeah, I like that… But I think the biggest thing is the exercise, you can easily get addicted. It used to be that when I had a day or two without riding my bike, I would get grumpy.”
On the days when Andrew cannot get outside on his bike, he rides at home on a roller that is set up in his garage. Usually, he watches movies while he does this. Andrew even uses his bike to encourage Amellia’s appreciation for the outdoors. Twice a week he picks his daughter up from day care in a bike trailer as part of a 4km round trip.
When Andrew was younger, he had a serious accident caused by someone opening a car door in front of him as he was biking down a hill. The driver didn’t help Andrew at all and ended up fleeing the scene. Andrew still has scars from this but has not had any accidents involving a car since.
When I called this lucky during our interview, Andrew replied by saying, “It’s not luck, it’s purely because of my mentality.” Due to his childhood accident and other near misses, Andrew has become a very cautious bike rider. He has kept safe since by assuming all vehicles have the potential of causing an accident.
“If you’re going down the main street and you’ve got a car who should be giving way to everybody, assume they’re not… You just cannot make any assumptions. When you bike like that, you make yourself so much safer.”
Despite Andrew’s cautious mentality towards cycling, he believes the activity is a lot safer than people believe it to be. “I am convinced that if you build the confidence and you’ve got the know-how and you have the right mentality on the road or the footpath even, it’s as safe as driving.”
Andrew thinks “The biggest challenge for new cyclists is it isn’t as cool or normal to commute on a bike, than it is to drive your car.” He is trying to combat this stigma by showing his daughter that biking can be a fun everyday activity. In addition to her time traveling to day care, Amellia has also been to the farmers market, netball games and even up Pirongia in the bike trailer. Plus, she has a bike of her own, for the times when she isn’t a passenger.
For Andrew, cycling is a healthy near-addiction that he enjoys for a plethora of reasons. He only wishes more people would step out of their comfort zones and expand what they consider a “normal” form of transport. It is a firm belief of Andrew’s that having a cautious mentality when cycling is one of the best ways to stay safe.
Words and Photos by Benjamin Wilson.
Benjamin is a Hamilton based photographer, chef, and journalism student. As well as being an avid environmentalist and cyclist. He believes firmly that cycling has a big part to play in the future of transport.