Hitching a ride to work sounds an unorthodox way to relieve pressure on Tauranga's congested roads, but council hopeful Sheldon Nesdale showed it could be done.

Nesdale, 41, stood on Matua's Levers Rd, held a 'Devonport Road' sign, stuck out his thumb and smiled at passing motorists.

He said it took only a few minutes and 45 cars before a woman responded - picking him up and dropping him off a minute's walk from his downtown office.

Nesdale, a candidate for the byelection to fill the council seat left vacant by the death of Gail McIntosh, has drawn up a list of 32 ways to fix Tauranga's traffic congestion.


He usually cycles to work but in the process of brainstorming his list he realised hitching to work was like ride-sharing without the software.

Sheldon Nesdale thumbed a lift to work to prove hitching could reduce traffic on Tauranga's busy roads. Photo / George Novak
Sheldon Nesdale thumbed a lift to work to prove hitching could reduce traffic on Tauranga's busy roads. Photo / George Novak

''I wanted to show it could be done,'' he said after last week's successful trial.

He enjoyed the experience and believed that if people regularly hitched to work, motorists would get used to seeing them and be more inclined to stop.

''I got so many smiles, it was awesome.''

Nesdale thought it was safe to hitch to work in the downtown because of the time of the day and that people were readily identifiable by being smartly dressed in office attire.

Of all the times of the day to hitch, he believed the morning commuter trip would suit anyone of any gender. ''Business professionals are streaming past - you get a vibe off the person who stops to offer you a lift.''

He said it was virtually door-to-door and there were no parking issues. ''I didn't even have to lock up my bike.''

The top three ideas on his list to fix traffic congestion were taking a different route, travelling at a different time of the day, and travelling by a different mode such as cycling, taking the bus and car sharing.

Nesdale urged people to think about getting an electric bike because they were fast, door-to-door and cost nothing to park. ''You don't even break a sweat on the way in.''

His advice to employers was to create a transport plan for staff, financially reward people who biked to work with a daily allowance as part of a health and well-being programme, offer flexible working hours, provide priority car parks or free parking for car-sharing vehicles and offer a guaranteed lift home for car sharers in emergencies.

Nesdale's ideas for the city council included dedicated bus lanes, invite a bike-for-hire/bicycle-sharing company into the CBD, allow cars with two or more occupants to use bus lanes, price carparks to discourage all-day parking, toll new expressways and change the law to allow children to ride on footpaths.

He did not support a park-and-ride at Baypark because it did not offer a viable alternative to driving solo in a car.

Sheldon Nesdale's Tauranga transport targets for his first 18 months as a councillor
- Increase walking and cycling to school by 50 per cent.
- Establish transport plans for 80 per cent of schools and large employers.
- Reduce single-occupant car journeys by 5 per cent.
- Increase commuter cycling by 50 per cent.