Rotorua Lakes Council staff are putting foot to pedal as they tackle a nationwide biking challenge.

The Aotearoa Bike Challenge is in its second year, starting on February 1.

A New Zealand Transport Agency initiative, The challenge is a national workplace cycling challenge.

Organisations sign up a team, and encourage staff to get on a bike and experience the benefits to their health, workplace productivity and the environment.

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Rachel Doelman, Rotorua Lakes Council sustainable journeys co-ordinator, says the Aotearoa Bike Challenge is a great fit for the staff at the council.

"We have staff who are passionate about biking and enjoy encouraging their workmates to give it a go.

"As an organisation, our main goal is to promote bike riding within our community and our employees are a great place to start – plus there's the added incentive to be the winning workplace."

She says the challenge is about getting people to give biking a go, and from there experience the benefits of riding.

Rachel says Bike Month activities offer some fun, light-hearted ways to try out bike riding. She wants the whole community to get involved.

More than 100 council staff members have signed up online, she says.

Rachel says the council came first in the Bay of Plenty last year and the team is aiming to keep their title.

"I personally enjoy the freedom of biking, along with the minimal maintenance costs and zero fuel costs.

"There is an unspoken friendship between people who ride bikes. It is like we all know it is an awesome way to get around and just want to share the love."

The first Aotearoa Bike Challenge took place in February last year.

More than 14,000 people, including almost 4000 new riders, took part and together rode nearly 2,000,000km.

Registrations for the Challenge will remain open until February 28 and a 10-minute journey by bike is all it takes to participate.

Check out all the Bike Month events planned at www.sportbop.co.nz and to sign up for the Aotearoa Bike Challenge go to www.lovetoride.net/nz.

Top tips for the challenge:
- Helmets: Wearing a helmet is mandatory by law when riding a bike in New Zealand. When putting yours on, make sure it fits properly. It should sit horizontally on your head and should not move about. Two fingers should fit tightly between your chin and the strap.
- Ride with confidence: Don't worry about holding up other traffic. Being more visible and taking a primary position is the best way to stay safe. Only let people past when you feel safe.
- Find the best route: Don't just take the route you would if you were in a car, try looking for routes along bicycle paths or back roads, this will ensure a smooth and enjoyable start and end to your working day, it sure beats the stress of being stuck in traffic.
- Check behind you: Learn to check over your shoulder regularly. Knowing what's behind you means you can make informed decisions to keep yourself safe and be courteous to other road users.