Why you'll want to get a bike (not just because of the roos)

You can take Jesse Zondervan out of the Netherlands, but you can’t take a bike from a Dutchman. Our student blogger discusses his two-wheeled view of Canberra.

In one of the nature reserves between Canberra’s suburbs I walk my newly-acquired bike—with flat tyres—along a dirt road as I find myself being stared at by twenty kangaroos. I stand still to enjoy my first sight of these Australian icons as I try to take out my phone to take a photo. Before I get the chance, the roos decide I’m too weird of an appearance and hop away into the bush.

I’m on my way home with a bike I just purchased. Dutch people can’t do without bikes, so on my first day in Canberra I decided to get one.

I have to walk back through the apparent wilderness of this park to a bus stop for an hour’s drive back to Burton & Garran Hall. I’ve already walked twenty minutes along a road to this park. I know now that I underestimated the wilderness of this city, as I trudge my way over the rocky dirt road back to a bus stop in the sprawling suburb of Waniassa.

The good news is that the buses have bike racks, so I can easily take my bike back on the bus. It’s a simple white Repco with a bike rack. I found it in a heap of bike parts in the Green Shed, which is a recycling initiative selling second-hand bikes: perfect for an exchange student wishing to get around Canberra.

I’m surprised by the abundance of bike paths in Canberra. Both lanes along the road and segregated green cycle lanes supply a cycle infrastructure throughout Canberra. There’s quite a few cycle lanes taking you through nature, such as along Lake Burley Griffin. Cycling on the footpaths is legal, but you do need to wear a helmet (which takes getting used to from a Dutch perspective).

As the year progressed, I buy a little woven bike basket to take my groceries in. During an uncountable number of short trips it has taken me around campus and to the shopping centre. It’s also been my weekly means of transport to a horse riding school, forty minutes down past the lake.

I have to say, the lengthy trip through the wilderness of Canberra’s suburbs was well worth it: I couldn’t have done without my bike. It’s just so easy to go for a quick trip to the shops or to get to lectures in a few minutes.

Check out The Recylery & join the Facebook group of the college where you’ll be living: often there will be people selling their bikes at the end of semester.