Barista coffee bribe to tempt Queenstown commuters out of cars

by Kim Bowden - Jan 31, 2024

A Queenstown organisation advocating for more people to jump on a bike has a calendar of events planned for the month providing added incentive to ditch the car.

The Lightfoot Initiative is once again championing the nationwide Aotearoa Bike Challenge, which kicks into gear from Thursday and continues throughout February.

The challenge targets workplaces as well as individual cyclists, who are able to track kilometres travelled and carbon emissions saved each time they travel using pedal power rather than fossil fuel.

Organisation co-founder Amanda Robinson reckons cycling helps cut congestion, reduce emissions and increase people's wellbeing, but is realistic some need an extra push to commit to the mode shift.

“We’ve tried to eliminate any possible reason not to give biking a go this February," Ms Robinson says in a statement.

"We have safety experts to help show you how, mechanics to help fix your bikes, and even a free coffee and kai on your mid-week bike into work."

For people without a bike, there's even the chance that can be taken care of, thanks to the organisation's OneBike initiative.

"The Aotearoa Bike Challenge is about getting more people riding bikes and making the choice to switch cars for handlebars more often. Just biking even one day a week makes a huge difference for the planet and your people.” 

A full timetable of planned events is available online, and it includes everything from the free barista coffee and kai stations for biking commuters, to bike confidence sessions for pre-schoolers and mountain bike downhill lessons for seniors, to free onsite bike mechanics and e-bike ‘tasters’ for workplaces.

Queenstown Lakes District Council property and infrastructure general manager Tony Avery says the council is providing additional support for the challenge, with a view to helping change people’s mindsets when it comes to how they chose to travel around the district.

“It’s a great initiative to encourage people to get on their bikes and out on the growing network of wonderful trails around the Queenstown Lakes. It’s also the perfect opportunity to try commuting to work by bike, and to challenge others around you to a bit of friendly competition too,” Mr Avery says in the statement.

Last year, the Aotearoa Bike Challenge statistics show 64 Queenstown Lakes locals, who were new or non-riders, were introduced to biking through the challenge.

Overall, almost 500 riders took part in 2023, making more than 5,500 trips in the district, and 50-plus local workplaces competed.

Ms Robinson says this year’s challenge provides more help for workplaces to get their teams involved, and it is a good fit for work places with a growing emphasis on business sustainability goals and the health and wellbeing of their teams.

Points are not only given for biking, but also for encouraging others to bike, and leaderboards are split by organisation size and industry so even the smallest workplaces can still aim for the top spot.

Every ride counts towards the challenge – whether it’s to work or school, or even downhill for fun. Workplaces and individuals can track their distances and carbon emissions saved, and then battle it out for the top spot and prizes.

Registration is via the Aotearoa Bike Challenge site or app - it can connect with Strava too - or any time in February.

Main image (Supplied): One of the first businesses in the district to register for this year’s Aotearoa Bike Challenge -  the Queenstown branch of Beca.

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