People power drives commuters to work in Welly
WELLINGTON’S Streets Alive active commuting challenge kicked off today, appropriately on national Go By Bike Day.
The commuting challenge pits teams of four against each other in competition to walk, cycle, scoot, rollerblade or skate to and from work for a month.
The Greater Wellington Regional Council created the challenge as part of their Active a2b scheme, which promotes health and wellbeing.
“It would be great to see active travel as the norm in Wellington. Being involved in active travel means people can benefit from improved physical and mental health” says Nicola Chung, the Active a2b Team co-ordinator.
The Regional Council also want to encourage Wellingtonians to consider alternative means of transport.
“Less congestion in suburbs and the city makes Wellington streets safer and more inviting to the community to use for other forms of travel,” Ms Chung says.
Fewer cars on the street also mean less petrol, and less pollution.
“People can save money, and be part of the solution to reducing traffic and carbon emissions.”
Participants got off to an energised start for their first morning’s commute at the Go By Bike Day free breakfast at Queens Wharf.
Cycle Aware Wellington, who work with councils to better provide for cycling as a mode of transport, organised the event.
“Biking is booming in Wellington. Since 2006 the number of people commuting by bikes has doubled.” says Cycle Aware Wellington’s Patrick Morgan.
To encourage safer cycling, a bus and driver were on hand to demonstrate to cyclists where a bus’s blind spots are.
“In Wellington we have shared bus and bike lanes so we’re working with bus drivers to reduce friction,” says Mr Morgan.
The Streets Alive challenge will run for the next four weeks, with teams earning points for every non-vehicle commute they make, with bonus challenges along the way.
Entrants this year have reached 420 people, divided in to office and school teams.
Schools joining the challenge include Wainuiomata High School, Hutt Valley High School, Tawa College, Wellington East Girls’ College, Kapiti College and Paraparaumu College.
The team that clocks up the most kilometres will win membership to Zealandia, a Micro-scooter or breakfast from Wholly Bagels.
Last year, the average distance travelled by participants was 194.6km.
The challenge ends on March 13 with Wellington’s annual Walk To Work Day, which features a free breakfast get-together in Civic Square.
People who missed out on joining the challenge can still sign up as a late entrant until Friday 15 of February.
The wider Active a2b scheme offers tools to inspire people to commute by people power, such as the bike buddies programme, cycle workshops and reflective gear. Over 1,100 people have joined up this year.
Pedal pushers’ pow-wow
Cycling Wellingtonians of all stripes turned out to the event under the sails at Queens Wharf to catch up, compare gear and fill up on complementary coffee and bagels.
Morgan Hanks (left) and Sean Buckley (right) enjoy cycling in the sun.
Barnaby Ward (left) and George Armstrong (right), both 21, show off a pair of foldable electric-assisted bikes they say are perfect for Wellington’s hills.
Bells were an uncommon sight at the event, but those cyclists using them said they helped to prevent collisions with headphone-bound pedestrians in shared spaces.
Images: Sophie Jackman