When looking at our travel, driving the car is the most-used option and our first instinct is to pick up the car keys. Work-related travel accounts for about one-third of all household driving time and it is estimated 90% of people travelling to work in cars are single occupants.
Workplaces are an ideal setting to change attitudes and behaviour towards active and sustainable travel due to the amount of time we spend at work and commuting. Travel that includes physical activity can reflect positively on the health and wellbeing of the community, workplace and employee. It also has financial, environmental and the economic benefits.
New Zealand research shows that many car trips are short (a 2km trip takes only 20 minutes to walk):
- 17% (one-sixth) of driver trip chains* are less than 2km long.
- 43% of driver trips chains are less than 5km long.
- 48% of driver trips chains are less than 6km long.
- 53% of driver trip chains are less than 7km long.
- 65% of drive trip chains are less than 10km long
3 Ministry of Transport, Household Travel Survey, 2003–2009 (sourced from: Lynley Povey, L.Povey@transport.govt.nz, 3 February 2010).
*A trip chain is the whole journey a person takes, starting and ending at home.
Good employers know the importance of a healthy and motivated workforce and research has shown the flow-on effects of active and sustainable travel in the workplace are:
- Improved environment and lower carbon emissions.
- Financial savings for individuals.
- Reduced parking pressures and traffic congestion.
- Motivated workforce with higher productivity.
- Higher morale and engagement with less absenteeism.
- Healthier employees = healthier families = healthier communities.
- Improved corporate image due to staff wellbeing.
- Commitment to social responsibility in the community.
Recently, Let’s Go completed a survey of New Plymouth active travellers, asking them what they like about their active commute. The results were positive, with people saying they enjoyed the fresh air, time to think, the chance to relax, and being out and about on shared pathways.
How does it work?
Let’s Go is here to support organisations who want to help staff be more physically active and choose sustainable transport.
There is a range of activities that can help your workplace:
- Find a champion in the workplace who is passionate about active and sustainable travel.
- Invite management to lead the change in the business.
- Encourage public transport and ridesharing for business trips or with people who live near each other.
- Improve bicycle parking, lockers and showers – NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has a great guide for assessing your workplace.
- Provide incentives at your workplace to use public transport – talk to Let’s Go about the Taranaki Regional Council public transport workplace incentive plan.
- Manage car parking and use of fleet vehicles more efficiently.
- Facilitate teleworking and web or video conferencing with Zoom or Skype.
- Download your NZTA travel plan starter pack today
- Cycling, walking and commuting challenges for staff like the Fresh Air Challenge in September and the Aotearoa Bike Challenge in February.
- Stay connected to Let’s Go and sign up to the workplace newsletter.
NPDC workplace travel
New Plymouth District Council began its active and sustainable travel initiatives more than 10 years ago. In that time, NPDC has implemented a number of positive changes in the workplace to encourage staff to increase their daily physical activity:
- Bringing in a suggested 1km walking policy to meetings – it takes a healthy person about 10 minutes to walk 1km.
- Developing a workplace travel plan.
- The Mayor promoting cycling and starting the Mayoral Bike Ride.
- Increasing the amount of secure bike storage at NPDC sites.
- Ensuring shower and change rooms are available for staff use.
- Providing bike riding lessons for those who wish to improve their skills.
- Providing an e-bike fleet for staff to use during the work day to attend meetings up to 5km away, and for use at lunch for errands and exercise.
- Participating in workplace challenges and celebrating successes.
- Encouraging a workplace culture around health and wellbeing.
Aotearoa Bike Challenge
Join the Aotearoa Bike Challenge supported by Love to Ride, NZ Government, NZ Transport Agency and NPDC to encourage your staff to experience the fun of riding a bike or e-bike. This is a national competition with both national and local prizes that runs in February.
Staff are encouraged to jump on their bike anytime and ride anywhere during the month of February. Compete against other organisations of your size throughout New Zealand. In 2019, Vivian Medical Centre won an e-bike for their staff to use on their commutes.
Fresh Air Challenge
This September take part in the Taranaki Fresh Air Challenge. Join other local organisations in motivating staff to get out in the fresh air and change the way we get around.
This is a fantastic way to get staff moving and fit in time for summer. Your organisation can have an internal challenge with staff and compete against businesses of similar size in the region. Great prizes and spot prizes are up for grabs at the end of the challenge.