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Biking to work healthier, less pollution, cheaper

bike to work

Tāmaki Makaurau – Over the past two years, covid has changed the way Kiwis work and live. It has given people the opportunity to re-think the way they move cities. This means choosing to prioritise public transport, walking, cycling, carpooling or ridesharing, and using cars only when it’s really essential.

The pandemic and the lockdowns that emptied roads and streets offered a unique glimpse into carless cities around the world.

Cities in Aotearoa have been built largely with the private vehicle in mind. As those cities have grown, our roads and motorways have become increasingly congested. According to a report commissioned for the Employers and Manufacturers Association, traffic congestion in Auckland could be costing nearly $2 billion a year.

Research by Waka Kotahi shows 78 percent of all commutes in New Zealand are by car and most of those have just one person in the car. Pollution from cars is linked to hundreds of thousands of deaths globally each year.

In Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, the 2021 transport package is set to reduce emissions by 13 percent and increase public transport trips by 91 percent, thanks to initiatives like extending the Northern Busway and putting in more bus lanes, investment in walking and cycleways, and reduced fares for community services card holders.

In Ōtautahi Christchurch, Waka Kotahi are working on adding bus lanes on highways and safer shared paths for walking and cycling. Over the past few years, 13 new cycleways have been built or are being built in the city, and the number of people who cycle to work has been growing steadily.

In Wellington, more than 30 percent of commutes are done by public transport, walking or cycling which is the highest proportion in the country.

Queenstown has had a flat fee of $2 for local bus fares since 2017 to encourage public transport use. More recently, 80kms of cycleways have been announced to connect key communities across Queenstown and make it easier for people to walk, bike or scooter to work.

New Zealand’s first emissions reduction plan is set to be released in May 2022, which will set the direction for climate action for the next 15 years.

Transport makes up nearly half of Aotearoa New Zealand’s energy-related emissions, and transport emissions have doubled since 1990.

Reducing car use is the biggest thing New Zealanders can do at an individual level to reduce emissions. We’re encouraging Kiwis to switch out the car for walking or biking. It’s low emissions, low cost, and low stress.

Cycling is a climate-friendly option that’s good for the mind and body. Two thirds of our vehicle trips are less than 6km, which can be done in about 25 minutes by bike (or 10 minutes by e-bike) and that’s the exercise done for the day.

People who commute by bike have the highest wellbeing of all the transport options. It’s also getting easier, safer and more accessible. According to Waka Kotahi, there are now around 3400km of cycleways across Aotearoa.