The first, national Aotearoa Bike Challenge has successfully encouraged more Kiwis to cycle, with more than 14,000 people from over 1000 organisations taking part, including almost 4000 new riders.
During the Challenge participants made more than 150,000 trips by bike, and cycled an impressive 1.99 million kilometres. That’s the same as cycling to the moon 5 times.
The aim of the workplace Challenge, which ran throughout February, was to encourage New Zealanders to ride their bikes for every day trips.
The Aotearoa Bike Challenge is based on the global Love to Ride platform which was brought to New Zealand by the NZ Transport Agency as part of the Government’s commitment to making cycling a safer and more attractive transport choice for New Zealanders.
“Demand for cycling across our towns and cities is high and growing,”, says Transport Agency National Cycling Manager Dougal List. “More Kiwis are seeing the benefits of cycling – it’s great for health and wellbeing, supports thriving communities and enhances quality of life.”
The Government’s Urban Cycleways Programme, launched in 2014, aims to break down the barriers to cycling so that more New Zealanders can get about by bike. “We know that 75% of urban New Zealanders would like to cycle if there were better networks,” says Dougal.
In response to this, central and local government are working together to deliver $333 million of new cycle projects throughout the country by June 2018. This is the single biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history.
“We also recognise that there is work to be done to improve attitudes towards cycling and to grow the confidence of New Zealanders – this is where the Aotearoa Bike Challenge has provided a wonderful opportunity to get more people on bikes, more often,” says Dougal.
To get more Kiwis to give cycling a go, workplaces across the country were encouraged to sign up for the Challenge and to motivate staff to take part.
“The Aotearoa Bike Challenge was a great initiative for our team,” says Antipodes office administrator Stacy Hall. “Cycling is not something a lot of us do but everyone accomplished at least one ride during the Challenge which is fantastic!”
Not having a bike didn’t prove a problem, says Stacy. Antipodes had a couple of bikes at work, and staff also managed to borrow them. “Many of us really got into it – nothing like a little bit of healthy workplace competition,” she says.
“As an employer, we know there are lots of benefits when our team is active. Both for our staff’s overall health and wellness and for the workplace in terms of productivity and motivation,” she says.
“Also, as our company is Carbon Zero certified, it was great to see on the Challenge website the amount of CO2 we were saving from the environment by riding – every little bit counts.”
To give riders an extra incentive a number of prizes were up for grabs. The brand new eBike was won by Sabine Lapointe from Dynamic Rehab in Gisborne and the Panasonic Smart TV was won by Francesco Martoni from Lincoln University in Christchurch. Hundreds of other prizes including cycling gear and movie vouchers were awarded to participants throughout the Challenge.
The best performing organisations, categorised by size, were also selected. The winning organisations were:
1st Place (500+ staff): Tauranga City Council
1st Place (200-499): FIS Global, Christchurch
1st Place (50-199): Wilderness Motorhomes & Smart RV, Auckland and Christchurch
1st Place (20-49): TDG-Auckland
1st Place (7-19): Saecowilson, Rotorua
1st Place (3-6): Eagars Funeral Services, New Plymouth