Tauranga City Council provided a salary advance to their people to enable them to buy e-bikes, with impressive results.

Leading the way with e-bikes

Martin Parkes

Martin Parkes

In 2017, Council undertook two significant pieces of public engagement about transportation (Tauranga Cycle Plan and Tauranga Transport Survey). Both focused on ways to future-proof the city’s transport network by making it easier for people to move about the city without relying on cars.

About the same time, Council was preparing to relocate more than 400 staff to a new building within the city centre. The executive leadership team recognised that Council needed to show leadership to its staff in the form of practical initiatives regarding alternative transport modes.

Council developed a behaviour change programme to encourage staff to move away from private vehicle use.  The initiatives of the programme included supporting their staff to buy e-bikes. 

Council devised a scheme providing staff with a salary advance to buy discounted e-bikes. 

The project team worked through the implementation challenges to great effect and the up-take by staff of the scheme was more than double what had been anticipated.

“We all need to do something different. Small steps in changing travel behaviour will help create a better city for us all”, Martin Parkes, Manager: Transportation, Tauranga City Council.

  • What they’ve achieved
    • 52 council staff purchased e-bikes through the scheme.  A survey revealed the impact of the change.
    • 58% of respondents reported riding to work 4-5 days a week, with an additional 24% riding 2-3 days a week.
    • 72% were using the e-bike to commute instead of the car.
    • Every survey participant would recommend others try riding an e-bike to work.
    • 92% of participants now use their bikes to commute.
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  • The cost and carbon savings

    Stuart on his first day on his e-bike.

    They are impressive.

    The participant survey found that 12 kilometres was the average commute distance, each way.

    For each staff member replacing a car commute of that distance with an e-bike, the net annual energy cost saving is estimated at approximately $860 and approximately one tonne of carbon (CO2) emissions.

    Multiply that by 40 participants and the collective savings for staff are approximately $34,000 and 40 tonnes!

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  • What made it work
    • Demonstrable support from the executive.
    • The good planning and collaborative partnership with the e-bike supplier laid a strong foundation for the scheme’s success.
    • The project team worked with key departments in the Council to promote the initiative to staff in a variety of ways and to make the process as easy as possible.
    • The supplier input of strong discounts, a range of bike models and the ‘try before you buy’ initiative.
    • Providing ‘how to’ ride an e-bike training sessions.
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In the spotlight


I went from an e-bike sceptic to a convert overnight. I’ve ridden 5,000km in 18 months. I ride three times as often and three times as far as I ever did on my old bike. The city has become smaller, friendlier and more accessible. I ride to work, to meetings, to my night classes at 17th Ave.

From my home in Ōtūmoetai, it’s an easy 15 minutes to the Mount. No queues, no car parking hassles, you feel more alive and you’re saving the world one ride at a time.

My wife bought an e-bike too, having not ridden bikes much, and she now rides to work every day, rain or shine. We’ll zip into town for coffee in the weekends.

The family car only comes out for after-school trips and shopping. E-bikes have changed our lives and we are gleefully, annoyingly evangelical about it.


E-bikes are the way of the future!  The best way to get to work!  Why, you say, I can think of a few reasons....

Speedy – door-to-door it’s often quicker than the car and e-bikes have a great turn of speed, it’s fun!

No stress - I can avoid the car routes by travelling through the countryside or using off road bike lanes, a great way to de-stress at the end of the day.

Exercising - at the same time so you can tick that off for day and get some fresh air.

Power - choosing to have the battery power on or off is a great option depending on how much exertion you want to put in.

Parking - right at your work door. No need to worry about finding a park and paying for one.

I can definitely recommend an e-bike as a great way to travel.

Tauranga City Council

The shift: January 2018

The opportunity: Council’s executive team identified an opportunity to support staff to make smarter transport choices.

The solution: A purchase scheme to help staff buy an e-bike

Uptake: 52 staff took up the opportunity

Outcome: 92% use their e-bikes to commute to work, most on most days

Game changers: Staff engagement, end of journey facilities, and easy sign up process

Core focus: Staff well-being, reduction in road congestion, freed up parking spaces, alignment with corporate sustainability strategy.

Storyteller: Martin Parkes, Manager Transportation