News | 13 December 2022

Hospital visits made easier for family by bike

Biking has offered the Beech family freedom in Wellington by helping their daughter to experience the world with a paediatric brain tumour and helping father Jarrod recover from prostate cancer.

Woman cycling with her child in a cargo bike.

To Caroline and Jarrod, the world changed for their family when they saw their daughter’s reaction to being on a bike. 

Their daughter Elliot has a brain tumour, which has led to physical challenges, so they wanted to try different ways of being active that would be comfortable for Elliot while they were on holiday, says Caroline.

“We hired a cargo bike on our trip and just went biking around the waterfront. Elliot couldn’t walk more than 100 metres, then suddenly she was able to get to more places. Our eldest daughter was able to ride and scooter around, and then Elliot was able to join.

“We were able to do things together as a family.”

Family cycling together on e-bikes and a cargo bike.

Now, biking is an integral part of their daily lives. They first purchased an e-bike five years ago and a cargo bike two years ago and haven’t looked back since, says Caroline.

“I use my bike to get to work and as much as possible. We use it to go grocery shopping, we pick kids up from school activities, we go to birthday parties and the local park. Our car is known as the ‘wet weather bike’, and even if it’s raining, I’ll cycle everywhere on my bike!”

It makes their daily tasks easier, faster, and cheaper, says Caroline. 

“We live in Highbury, so the e-bike helps us tackle the hills. We have gone far throughout the city just by being on a bike. We have even gone as far as Ngā Ūranga Gorge to pick up firewood with our bikes! 

“We visit Wellington Hospital a lot for Elliot’s appointments too and the new bike lane makes it feel safer for us to get there. The improvements planned through Aro Valley would mean we would have a connected journey from home, so we can get there even faster – it’ll be a game changer.”

Woman putting a helmet on a child.

Jarrod admits that until a few years ago he wasn’t a regular cyclist and challenged himself to get better at riding. He was the first one to start using an e-bike in his family.

Last year, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had to have surgery. Riding his bike became a way to get to appointments quickly but also help him recover, he says.

“I had to build my core strength back up, and biking kept me fit and strong. It was a key part in my recovery.”

Both Jarrod and Caroline are excited for the infrastructure planned for Wellington, and to start seeing a change in how people move around the city.

Caroline says, “It’s come a long way. I used to cycle around the Hawkes Bay all the time when I was growing up but when I first came to Wellington to study, there was no infrastructure at all and it was terrifying. The roads were far too narrow, so I never tried until now. It's amazing how much it's changed.”

 
Family standing and smiling for a photo with their bikes.

Caroline believes that seeing more people on bikes will give others confidence to try it out, especially those who want to bike with their children.

“You get more respect than you think by being in a cargo bike with a child on board. People do give you more space. 

“I take pride in the fact that we go as much as possible by bike with the kids. It gives people permission to do so. People may think it’s unsafe, but if you see others do it then you’re more likely to give it a go. There are more and more families using bikes every day. Incorporating it into our daily lives is really quite neat, and it just means that you can actually do stuff together as a family, which you otherwise might not have been able to do.”