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Cyclist's onesie brings out smiles

Darren Fidler_onesie
Redcliffs resident Darren Fidler knows how to turn heads. PHOTO: Supplied, Forget Me Not Photography

Redcliffs resident Darren Fidler knows how to turn heads.

Four mornings a week, he bikes the 12 kilometres from Redcliffs in Christchurch to his workplace in Edgeware wearing a brightly-coloured, animal-themed onesie.

Fidler, an engineering consultant who holds a PhD in mathematics, says the idea of the onesie came from wanting to raise awareness of cyclists in Christchurch, where around 45,000 cycle trips are made each day.

It also helps to make him more visible and safer on the road – 152 cyclists were injured on Christchurch roads in 2013, including three fatalities.

Fidler says there is “a lot of aggression” between motorists and cyclists but it is difficult to get angry at someone dressed in a giraffe costume – and vice versa.

His choice of attire has prompted quite a few beeps and waves over the past three years.

“Mothers and workmen have the biggest reactions – it can be bizarre having a van of workmen tooting and waving at you.”

Fidler recalls an occasion when a car of students pulled up alongside him.

“I looked through the window and saw one of them was wearing a giraffe onesie too. They pulled up the car and the lady in the giraffe onesie started running alongside me while another one of them filmed it.”

Fidler’s exploits have also been immortalised in print. How Does a Giraffe Get to Work?, a children’s book by author Christopher Llewelyn, was published by Scholastic last year.

Llewelyn describes Fidler as a big, funny, kind vegetarian, who does not pay much attention to what people think of him.

“I think a part of him just likes to make people smile.”

Fidler’s wife, Zoe, thought he was “nuts” when he first told her about his idea. “I still think he is a little bit nuts but he brings a smile to people’s faces, mine included.”

Having started as a giraffe and with a festive spell as Santa Claus, Fidler’s onesie of choice is now a bright purple dragon. A custom- made moa onesie is also on his wishlist but a zebra-patterned version is “the dream”. Dressing up to raise awareness of cyclists costs nothing and is a net gain to society, Fidler says.

“I’m trying to get to work, and if I make people smile on the way, that’s all positive.”

By Emile Donovan for The Press