Because of a favourite uncle who was a journalist in Seoul and studied at the Sorbonne, I was inspired to study French in high school and at university. I have forgotten a lot but in my travels and with French friends, the opportunity to practice arises from time to time. And also, the genesis of the name of this blog was born from a discussion that I had with my husband Justin who, while a non-French speaker, is a French-language admirer.
After having our second child, I thought it might be a good idea to introduce another language into our household. I have spoken as much Korean as I could manage with our children when they were babies. I was gratified that both were language-delayed and started to speak English later than most children their age. Despite this, English is still the primary language in our house as I grew up in the US and Justin in Australia. To introduce French into our household, I decided to hire French nannies. Twelve hours a week of French immersion is effective for anyone. The amazingly wonderful thing about all of these women is that they all say, “oui” with confidence when I have asked them “Est-que tu fais du velo?” which means, “Do you bicycle?”
Last year, our nanny needed to pick up and drop off the kids at two separate locations as my son was in childcare while our daughter was at school. As a consequence, for several years I taught our nannies how to ride the Nihola tricycle, which is very different from riding a bicycle.
We would start with a practice run in the courtyard of an office building near us after a few turns in the garage. Next we added the motor, how to acclimate to the width of the cabin and how to corner on three wheels instead of two. Our nanny at the time would be picking up our daughter, Ofelia, from tennis day camp during the school holidays and our son, Julius, from daycare. I accompanied her on the cycleways from Surry Hills to Moore Park, to Darlinghurst and home again for a practice run on the weekend.
When she had ridden a bicycle very early in the mornings to another job earlier this year, she found the traffic aggressive and frightening. Still, she was game which I admired. That is half the battle won, I believe. Wanting to try a bicycle as an effective means of transport, gains my instant respsct. However, to make it more comfortable for her, I chose a route to tennis camp via Campbell Street Cycleway and Bourke Street Cycleway. After we completed our practice run, she thanked me for showing her this protected route. She felt confident enough to ride as a result. And then it hit me. The Cycleways matter enormously.
I feel very confident bicycling around Sydney and feel comfortable riding in traffic. Why? I practice the skills that I learned in a cycling course, offered by the City of Sydney, every day. I take the entire lane when necessary. I ride beyond the door zone. I choose my path before starting my journey. If there is a street which is quieter, I will take it. If there is traffic behind me, I don’t worry about it. Drivers will pass when they have the opportunity. In the meantime, I ride as fast as I am comfortable. I also anticipate by braking sooner rather than later, quickly assessing the traffic around me and envisioning an escape if something should go wrong. I match my eyeshadow to my dresses in case I have an altercation with a driver who might accuse me of being a “lycra-wearing hipster.”
However, I rely on the Cycleways when they are available. For bicyclists who don’t have as much confidence but want to ride into the CBD or around Sydney for transport, the Cycleways play a vital role. How? The following is a short list of their benefits.
1. The Cycleways separate the bicyclists from the cars and provide a safer environment for each.
2. More people on bicycles result in less congestions on the roads.
3. Not everyone owns a car or two, lives in the suburbs and wants to take Sydney’s over-stretched and third-world public transport.
4. Many drivers in Sydney are not aware of how to share the road. It seems that most have forgotten that they are in a metal box that can kill.
5. People who bicycle on Cycleways feel safer and can improve on their cycling skills in a protected environment.
Today’s ensemble: Zara jacket, Oxford trousers, Geox booties, J.Crew infinity scarf and blouse, BBB gloves, Cartier Santos, Witchery sunglasses, Yakkay helmet, Linus Eleanor bag, Nihola tricycle. On Ofelia: J.Crew jacket, Nutcase helmet, Zara Kids scarf, Gap t-shirt, leggings and shorts. On Julius: Giro helmet, Gap Kids jacket, Aldi gloves and scarf, Gap Kids t-shirt and trousers.