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Hastings’ Illuminati Night Ride: Explosion of colour shines spotlight on cycle safety and fun

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The glow of Aurora Australis wasn’t the only thing lighting up Hastings on Saturday night, with 80 illuminated bicycles taking the streets to promote cycle safety.

Small, tall, fluoro, and even frog bikes were mounted by riders of all ages and abilities participating in Hastings’ first Illuminati Night Ride organised by local community group Bike Hawke’s Bay.

“We thought we might get 20 to 30 people for this first night ride, so to get 80 turn out on a chilly autumn evening was fantastic,” organiser Neill Gordon said.

The ride, supported by the Hastings District Council, promoted safe cycling and having fun. Riders aged 3 to 75 gathered at the Atrium at Tribune from 5pm and rode a 30-minute circuit around the city centre.

Molly Gordon of Napier, closely followed by a visitor from New York, were among 80 cyclists in the first Illuminati Night Ride on Saturday. Photo / Putaanga Waitoa
Molly Gordon of Napier, closely followed by a visitor from New York, were among 80 cyclists in the first Illuminati Night Ride on Saturday. Photo / Putaanga Waitoa

Gordon said onlookers were “quite clearly stunned” to see a shining 200m-long convoy approaching.

“Motorists were universally courteous and respectful – I think they were happy to sit patiently for 30 seconds and enjoy the spectacle as we cycled by.”

Gordon and his team said Hawke’s Bay was an ideal place to ride a bike thanks to its moderate climate, flat topography, network of pathways and on-road bike facilities.

However, they also believed there was still room for improvement.

The group wants to make the region one of the best in the world for biking and works with local authorities, the transport agency, other organisations, and the community to further this vision.

“Bikes are great for health, for air quality, for reducing traffic, and great transport whether it’s summer or winter, night or day. In low light though, cyclists have to light their bikes up for everyone’s safety,” Gordon said.

“Because bikes are such blindingly fabulous things, people sometimes suspect that cyclists will take over the world. That’s why this event is called the Illuminati Night Ride.

“Basically, we cyclists are fessing up to being part of an all-powerful global elite whose goal is nothing short of transforming the planet. Resistance is futile. We are fit and funky, and there’s no stopping our perpetual motion machines.”

Three-wheeled and four-wheeled bikes joined the ride, with these two well-lit tall bikes. Photo / Putaanga Waitoa
Three-wheeled and four-wheeled bikes joined the ride, with these two well-lit tall bikes. Photo / Putaanga Waitoa

It wasn’t just people’s bikes lit up like Christmas trees; many outfits were festooned with lights, bikes were towing light sculptures, and a mobile sound system helped add to the party atmosphere.

NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi provided reflective straps, and the Hastings iWay team donated 25 pairs of bike lights.

A $200 cash prize for the best-decorated bike went to 10-year-old Austin Garside of Frimley Primary School, a Hawke’s Bay BMX Club member, who said he wanted to put the $200 towards the new bike he is saving for.

The event concluded at Brave Brewing, which now offers a 10 per cent discount for any customer arriving by bike. Other prizes given out were a $250 Livall smart helmet, which incorporates indicators and a motion sensor brake light, and a Lezyne light set donated by Evo Cycles Napier.

Gordon said the only incident was when a person riding a bike modified to be unusually tall fell into the library fountain.

“I didn’t have drowning on my risk-management radar, so that was a bit of a surprise, but he wasn’t hurt, only moistened.

“Another rider loaned him a dry jacket, and he was good to go.”

Night bike rides are held regularly, even weekly, in some cities around the world.

Stephen Robinson (left) of Napier based his bike decoration on a chicken. Stephanie (centre) and Aaron Williams went with a festive theme. Photo / Laura Jackson
Stephen Robinson (left) of Napier based his bike decoration on a chicken. Stephanie (centre) and Aaron Williams went with a festive theme. Photo / Laura Jackson



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