Bid to get employees on bikes

By Christine Allen

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Shane Jansen cycles from Onerahi every morning and hopes Whangarei can become a cycling city. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Shane Jansen cycles from Onerahi every morning and hopes Whangarei can become a cycling city. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Can pedal power increase your profit margins?

One Northland social enterprise says it can and is aiming to get Whangarei employees on their bikes - making it a cycling city and keeping bicycles out of the scrap heap.

Terry Jones from Kawakawa is promoting a number of initiatives through the RideCycle enterprise.

Working with cycling advocates in the district, such as Whare Bike and Bike Northland, he wants companies to sign up to a bike-to-work scheme and is also in talks with NorthTec to develop a 20-week bicycle mechanics course.

He has plans for a bicycle hire operation based in the city too, which could involve renting bikes for the new cycle loop way, which opens on September 13.

At a presentation at Whangarei District Council last week, Mr Jones outlined the social enterprise which would reduce the number of bikes going to the dump, mending them in a Whangarei workshop and passing them on to the community.

"We want to give bikes to people who cannot afford their own transport.

"There are people who could need to get to work or education."

Mr Jones said companies could benefit from taking up bike-to-work schemes.

"Active staff are motivated staff. The exercise would be great for productivity too."

He said tax breaks were available, as well as ACC discounts for companies with staff wellness policies.

RideCycle would apply for community funding.

"We need around $35,000 to get this going."

Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai supported the concept of RideCycle but said it was too early to say whether council staff would be cycling to work just yet.

She said the opening of the walkway loop around the Town Basin, and its final link, the foot/cycle bridge across the Waiarohia Stream, would add to other improvements and extensions of paths and tracks in Whangarei, making it safer and more practical for people to opt to walk, cycle or scooter around the district.

While Whangarei District Council is tasked with providing roading infrastructure, cycling commuter Shane Jansen from Onerahi says motorists and cyclists need to create a social infrastructure to back it up.

It takes Mr Jansen 25 minutes to cycle from his home to the hospital, where he works.

He said he felt safe when cycling through Whangarei, as he was a regular on the roads and usually encountered the same motorists, although some motorists were impatient and occasionally unsafe when overtaking him.

"The message of sharing the road with cyclists is an important one.

"I would love to see better etiquette, especially in urban Whangarei."

He said he hoped Whangarei could develop into a city where his two children could one day cycle into town safely.

- Northern Advocate

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