Picture this: Monday morning 8:00am, you’re on your way to work, you turn out of your quiet street to get to the main road and you can see bumper to bumper traffic all the way up the road. A 15 minute drive has now turned into 45 minutes+.
New Zealand, especially Auckland, is one of the worst places in the world for traffic wait times. Aucklanders average 80 hours a year sitting in traffic, which is a significant period of unproductive time.
As a digital engineering technician, part of my job is to draft designs which will improve roads, make them safer and more user-friendly. With an increasing number of cycleways being built, many workers in the central city have already started to cycle more frequently to work, and drive less. This reduces time spent in traffic and in some cases, it has been found that office workers who cycle to work, perform better and live longer. This is a result of getting physical exercise, as well as not having to sit in traffic for 30+ minutes each trip.
There are 13 major cycle ways that are either completed or due to be completed over the next couple of years in Christchurch. Each one of these links the outer suburbs with the city centre. These cycle lanes are designed to create a safer, more direct and efficient route to and from the city.
With an ongoing focus of transport designers and engineers working with the councils to create safer routes to get to and from work, cycling is now becoming a much more efficient and preferred way to reach a destination.
For me personally, making the switch from driving to cycling was about the cost savings and physical fitness benefits. I am saving upwards of $40 on fuel each week since I began cycling. City parking costs are also increasing, and the convenient places to park are reducing. Having to pay upwards of $3.50 an hour to park in the city becomes undesirable and unaffordable for many people. At Abley, we're fortunate that our workplace does supply some bookable car parks for staff to use, which is great for those special days when a car is more convenient for various reasons.
If you’re worried about arriving to work in a pool of sweat, take a change of clothes with you. These days, many offices provide shower facilities for their employees. At my workplace, more than half the employees cycle to work and are able to utilise our personalised travel plans, secure bike parking, showers, towels and lockers.
The biggest factor that really encouraged me to begin cycling to work was the ‘Love to Ride’ Aotearoa Bike Challenge, which is an annual competition held in February. This competition encourages employees to cycle to work, instead of driving. Not only did this initiative encourage me to get on my bike, but we had an impressive 38 out of the 46 people who work at our Abley Christchurch office cycle to work during that month. Together, we biked 5,688 kilometers and placed 2nd in New Zealand for workplaces with 20-49 staff. Great work from our Auckland team too, who put in a massive effort to come first in the Auckland region for the 7-19 staff consultants division.
I personally managed to cycle 139 kilometers during the month, not a bad effort for my first time. Competitions like this bring a fun element to cycling, you aren’t just doing it by yourself, it was a real team effort that created an opportunity for fun events and plenty of banter around the offices.
Events that we ran during the month to help clock up the kilometers on our bikes included bike checks at the start of the month to make sure everything was running smoothly, a Christchurch office bike ride to Hagley Park to meet the "Fush" food truck for lunch, an Auckland office bike ride to Wynyard Quarter for lunch, and a social club day at the Christchurch Adventure Park for our mountain bike enthusiasts.
For those who enjoy exercise but struggle to make it to the gym, cycling is a cost efficient, simple way to get your daily fitness in and to travel to work, all while beating the peak hour traffic. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!
Blog written by Harsh Jamba, Digital Engineering Technician