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Workers gearing up for biking battle

For immediate release
Date 12 February 2008
Workers gearing up for biking battle


Thousands of workers from across the country will by vying for prizes and two-wheeled bragging rights in the weeks ahead as more than 500 teams gear up for the annual Bike Wise Battle, from 18 February to 2 March.

Teams will compete against others from similar-sized workplaces to see who can get the highest percentage of staff on their bikes. The battle is a highlight of Bike Wise Week, a nationwide campaign aimed at getting more Kiwis on their bikes.

The latest data from the Ministry of Transport’s Household Travel Survey shows that while there are 1.3 million cyclists in New Zealand, only a small proportion use a bike for transport, with cycling accounting for just two percent of journeys to work.

The draft update of the New Zealand Transport Strategy has proposed a target of 30 percent of all urban trips to be by bike or on foot by 2040 - almost double the current figure of 17 percent.

Transport Minister Annette King said the Bike Wise Battle was part of an ongoing effort to make progress towards that target and increase the use of active, healthy transport modes like cycling.

“Cycling is a great form of aerobic exercise, it costs significantly less than motorised travel, and it is good for the environment. For shorter trips to work or the shops, it’s often quicker than driving, especially during peak times when traffic delays are common and parking spaces are expensive and hard to find.”

Land Transport NZ Acting Chief Executive Noel Lee said the Bike Wise Battle is all about having fun competing as a team.

“Keen cyclists encourage colleagues who may not have cycled for years or at all to hop on a bike and give it a go. A number of last year’s participants now cycle regularly to work or ride in their spare time for fun.”

The 2007 Bike Wise Battle saw more than 10,000 cyclists in 513 teams clocking up 816,682 kilometres, enough to circle the earth 20 times. It’s anticipated that this year’s battle will be even more hotly contested.

Mr Lee said one of the aims of the Bike Wise Battle is to show employers the value in becoming more cycle-friendly.

“Employers want staff who are healthy and alert, and cycling is an excellent way to get the blood flowing and arrive at work alert and ready to go.

“Reducing their organisation’s impact on the environment is also attractive to many employers, and encouraging staff to ride rather than drive is one of the simplest ways to do that.

“It’s also a great team-building exercise. While the battle is happening, results are published on the Bike Wise website, so teams can see how they are stacking up against the competition. The desire to out-do a rival company, or even another department of the same company, can be a great motivator.”

Teams can sign on any time, even after the battle has started. Registration is free, and can be done online at www.bikewise.co.nz

Bike Wise is funded by Land Transport NZ and the Ministry of Health. Bike Wise Battle national prizes and incentives are sponsored by Avanti, SPARC and Ground Effect Clothing.

ENDS

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