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Bikes for short commutes ‘walking the talk’

Thursday 28 September, 2017

Bikes for short commutes ‘walking the talk’

Reducing car dependency and ‘walking the talk’ are key reasons behind two new arrivals at a regional healthcare provider.

Bikes being used for transport to-and-from meetings in Tauranga are a case of practicing what you preach said the Bay of Plenty District Health Board’s (BOPDHB) Integrated Healthcare Manager Sarah Davey.

“As a health service, we promote walking and biking for their positive health benefits for individuals, the population and the environment,” said Sarah, who was behind the scheme. “We are walking the talk by promoting the use of bikes by our own staff.”

The bikes, one e-bike and one normal bike, are being used by staff at the Planning and Funding team based in 2nd Avenue. They are part of a DHB trial.

“Our goal is to reduce the number of short (under 10kms) sole occupancy car journeys around town for meetings – so back and forth from the hospital, to the City Council and some of our providers for example.”

“The trial will inform DHB decisions on expanding the use of bikes for other staff,” added Sarah, who encouraged other organisations and businesses to consider trialling a similar scheme.

Measurable benefits of the trial include:

· Health: increased daily activity and mental wellbeing for staff.
· Environmental: lower carbon emissions and environmental pollution through reduced car dependency.
· Healthcare cost: reduced transport costs, fuel and car maintenance.
· Time: reduction in time wasted by staff securing parking.
· Image: Increased credibility when partnering and negotiating for Health in All Policies
· Contribution to other sectors: supporting Tauranga City Council to reduce car dependency

General Manager Planning and Funding Simon Everitt said the idea was already proving popular and had the support of BOPDHB Chief Executive Helen Mason.

“I’d like to commend our staff for initiating this trial,” said Simon. “In the first two weeks I have used the bike three times and I'm aware of four others who have also been using the bikes. We will be keeping track of their use and we think we’ll find we’re using our two vehicles considerably less, especially once summer arrives.”

Tauranga has one of the highest car usage rates in the country and this contributes to traffic congestion, parking problems, air pollution and health issues (i.e. through reduced physical activity).

The move comes as Tauranga City Council seeks feedback from the public on how to make the city safer and easier for people to ride their bikes. The results of the consultation, which closes on Sunday 5 November, will be incorporated into the Tauranga Cycle Plan.


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