What began as a lunchtime chat about e-bikes has transformed into an award-winning project of national and international interest.

Tauranga City Council was awarded the Bikes at Work and School Award at the 2018 Bikes to the Future Awards this week.

The council was a joint winner with Tairāwhiti Bikes in Schools, for achieving a 20 per cent increase in staff cycling to and from work.

Transportation manager Martin Parkes accepted the award on behalf of the council on Tuesday night, saying it was the result of a team effort.


Last year, the council negotiated a purchase price deal of e-bikes for staff, along with seven e-bikes for the organisation's vehicle fleet.

"Fifty-two staff took up the offer - the chance to purchase an e-bike - which was a number that was quite surprising. We were expected 15 to 20, so 52 was fantastic," Parkes said.

The staff could pay the bikes off in increments.

"For someone to fund $3000 upfront, that's a lot of money but to say 'you can have an e-bike, it will cost you $50 a fortnight ... right out of your salary'. It makes it an achievable goal."

Parkes said the initiative has attracted interested from other councils and organisations throughout New Zealand, Australia, United States and Canada. The interest has been such the council put together an information pack of how they made it work.

The idea was borne from a conversation among staff members over lunch about 10 months ago, Parkes said.

"A number of us started talking about how maybe we could popularise them in the council, and someone said 'why don't we do a staff incentive?' It's really come from that."

The council has a staff pool of about 650 people. Some of those who have bought e-bikes have since sold their cars, Parkes said.


For every bike on the road, it meant one less car, he said.

"You can write these things down and have these strategies, but unless you actually walk that talk, it's a little bit of an empty statement, isn't it?

"We are trying to lead the way."

Awards judges stated they were impressed with the council taking a simple but innovative approach.

The e-bike initiative has set an example for other councils to follow to achieve significant uptake in staff choosing to cycle to work, judges said.