As a child they're often our first symbol of freedom and learning to ride one - training wheels off - is a memory that stays with us long after we transition into a busy adult in a 4-wheeled box.

However, the way we structure our urban environments has often made me wonder if the average adult has a place for bicycles in their hearts anymore. As traffic congestion worsens, there has been a growing movement in the West to get more bicycles onto our streets, but at the same time there has been an alarming jump in the number of cyclist deaths, especially at the hands of impatient motorists. This trend hasn't provoked nearly the levels of outrage or concern in the community that would reassure me of the growing acceptance of bicycle commuters as a legitimate form of traffic.

There's been a readers comments debate raging in the editorial section of our local rag for the last week or so now, since a proposal was put forward to legislate for minimum safe passing distances. The howls of derision raining down from motorists about the 'latte swilling lycra clad cyclists' taking up too much space paints a sorry picture. Although there are both cyclists and motorists who flout traffic laws, anyone who cycles regularly will have a hundred stories under their belts of motorists who drive with reckless disregard for cyclists, poorly designed cycle routes, cycle paths that abruptly vanish, cars parked in designated cycle lanes, people opening their doors into the path of oncoming cyclists, being cut off - or if you're very unlucky cut down by oblivious and often hostile drivers. Some of the 'bad cyclists' traffic habits that angry motorists rail against in the readers comments section of the local newspaper are in fact a learned response to many of these problems. Having never been too far separated from my bike since I learned to ride one, I have myself experienced almost every one of these scenarios (aside from being cut down, though I have had a minor collision with a car before). I heard a comment (about cars vs bikes) from a police officer many years ago that still resonates;

 'it doesn't matter if you're at fault or if they are, it's the person on the bike is who going to come off worse'

Still, I imagine most people behind the wheel or planning cycle paths must have at least a couple of childhood memories involving an instragram-style nostalgia filter over an evening adventuring on a bicycle; skinned knees, insect bites and mud-covered shoes. There must be some long forgotten fondness in the backs of their minds for their first trike?
The roving toddler trike gangs of rural NZ
Rebels, all of us. Rebels.

I remember every single bike I've owned - from my first tricycle to my current Dutch-style bike, bought when I was living in Paris back in 2005 (and couldn't bear to part with when it came time to pack up my life in the UK seven years it somehow squeezed its way into one of my shipper crates). I still use it regularly, though not as often as I should.

Daily resolutions to cycle to work generally fall by the wayside sometime between my 6am alarm and when I finally crawl out of bed (anything from 2 to 42 minutes later), suddenly out of time to tackle the 10k distance, take the obligatory shower, pack what I plan to wear and prepare my lunch (yes I could take care of most of this the evening before, but while devising solutions is one of my strong points, enforcing them unfortunately isn't).

Despite my lamentations over the fate of cyclists, these are my experiences based on a life lived in a few different countries and urban centres, and I actually think Darwin has a pretty good cycle network -  for its population anyway. Though it doesn't compare to the cycle-loving nations of the Netherlands or Belgium, it is still a generally pleasant city to ride around for the most part, even if it does mean adding some extra distance to a commute to avoid the roads. Around the Nightcliff foreshore, not far from where I live, there's a large and fully separated path running alongside the coast. Full of runners, walkers and cyclists, cycling with sea air and coastal views is a great way to unwind at the end of the day, and a nice 5km loop from start to finish.

This path can be followed all the way down the coastal road (Dick Ward Drive) right up to Myilly Point - via Mindil Beach (I would often cycle this route to uni before they closed down that campus). Now that the wet season is here, it's unlikely I'll be making the journey into work by bike for a while longer. Afternoon storms pick up quickly and can dump a deluge in no time flat. So for now that resolution is one for the dry season.

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