Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic students on their bikes as part of new cycling initiative

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Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic students got out and about on two wheels today as they took part in a new initiative to get students biking to study.

The Rotorua Lakes Council and Waiariki have teamed up, taking nine students for a bike ride around the Springfield area.

Two students bought their own bikes and the council provided the others.

Student advocate at Waiariki Institute of Technology Student Association (Witsa) Janine Frost-Jones said the student council had come up with the initiative, wanting to encourage students to bike and improve the polytechnic's parking situation.

She said the students who took part in the ride today had varying degrees of confidence in biking, ranging from very little, to one student being very confident.

Waiariki student president Virgil Iraia said there had been a bit of a parking issue and since it was coming into spring it was a great opportunity for students to find alternative ways to come to study.

He said when the student council members came up with the initiative, they got hold of someone at the council and it had been "all go from there".

Rotorua Lakes Council sustainable transport officer, transport solutions, Natasja du Plessis said this group bike ride would hopefully be the first of more to come.

She said this first short ride was to check their confidence.

Mrs du Plessis said it was about trying to get students out of vehicles and on bikes.

The initiative also went hand-in-hand with the CyWay link being built in Springfield, encouraging people to use the facilities, and making it safe and easy, she said.

Construction is underway on a shared pathway in Springfield as part of Rotorua Lakes Council's CyWay project, a three-year programme of work incorporating 10 cycleway projects linking Rotorua's suburbs.

The expected completion date is the end of October.

A Waiariki student who attended the ride, Danish Mahajan, said he was studying resource management and was currently doing a research project on how to encourage people to come to Waiariki on bikes.

He said he took part in today's ride because it was nice to be a part of the bike team and to be eco-friendly.

Associate professor and Mr Mahajan's tutor, Craig Morley, said there were a number of reasons it would be beneficial for students.

These included sustainability, better health for students, improving logistical issues with parking, and saving money.

"It's a fun thing to do," he said.

Health benefits of regular cycling:
- Increased cardiovascular fitness
- Increased muscle strength and flexibility
- Improved joint mobility
- Decreased stress levels
- Improved posture and co-ordination
Source: Better Health website

- Rotorua Daily Post

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