Staff take up the challenge for healthy, sustainable bikes

09 February 2017
University of Auckland staff wearing cycling clothes on bicycles; Charlotte Blythe (Engagement Coordinator, Sustainability and Environment); Neil Buller (Project Manager, Property Services); Derek Wye (Maintenance Fitter, Facilities Management); and Russell Baillie (Energy Manager, Facilities Management).
University of Auckland staff get into gear for the Auckland Bike Challenge: (From left to right) Charlotte Blythe (Engagement Coordinator, Sustainability and Environment); Neil Buller (Project Manager, Property Services); Derek Wye (Maintenance Fitter, Facilities Management); and Russell Baillie (Energy Manager, Facilities Management)

Growing numbers of staff across the University are getting on their bikes as part of an Auckland-wide campaign to promote the benefits of pedal power.

As at 14 February, more than 180 people from nearly 40 faculties, departments or service units had got on their bikes as part of the second annual Auckland Bike Challenge, which runs until the end of February.

Throughout February 2016 around 200 staff from 28 departments took part. So, with two weeks to go and already over 14,000 km cycled we are on track to exceed last year’s numbers.

The Auckland Bike Challenge is co-ordinated by Auckland Transport, and is part of a nationwide 'Aotearoa Bike Challenge'. The University is competing against other workplaces to get as many people as possible to experience the joys and benefits of cycling by riding for 10 minutes or more.

This year several faculties and schools have signed up for the first time, including the Faculties of Education and Social Work, Engineering and Law and the Schools of Environment, Architecture and Planning and Graduate Studies. New service divisions such as Libraries and Learning Services and the Research Office have also joined this year.

Many are championing the challenge as part of a wider sustainability and wellness push in their departments.

Adrianna Yiu (who co-chairs the Faculty of Arts sustainability team) has promoted the event via newsletters, emails and intranet articles. “I hope to encourage more staff and students to be active commuters by riding to work and, eventually, growing the cycling community in Auckland,” she says.

“Riding is important not only because it keeps people fit and healthy, but it also helps the environment. By encouraging people to participate we will help people realise these positive benefits and at the same time make riding more fun."

In the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, the Wellness Committee has taken ownership of the challenge. Research Fellow Dr Meagan Barclay, a committee member, says: “Promoting the Auckland Bike Challenge at FMHS seems a great way to encourage staff to ‘get on their bike’ and enjoy the benefits of being outdoors and getting some exercise, whether it is cycling to work or for leisure. 

“We are currently placed second within the university for most new riders and are hoping that some gentle encouragement through the month will get more staff involved.”

The University is doing well in the Large Organisation category (500+ staff), ranked sixth out of 49 teams, with rivals Unitec and Massey University putting up a good challenge. Sign up and take your bike for a ride and we’ll reach our goal of over 200 riders!

The Bike Challenge coincides with a review of cycling facilities in and around university campuses. Tim Sinclair, Planning and Development Manager from Property Services, who is overseeing this project, says the Strategic Cycling Plan has attracted constructive feedback from the university community. “A number of opportunities have been identified. The first capital improvement project to come out of the strategy is to increase the capacity of the Grafton cycling cages, which will soon be able to offer secure cycle parking for over 110 staff and student bikes.” 

To join the University of Auckland team in the Auckland Bike Challenge

1)      Go for a bike ride anytime before the end of February.

2)      Create a profile at and select University of Auckland as your workplace. If your department is registered you can join it or you can add a new department.

3)      Log your rides on the website.

4)      Spread the word! The more we get cycling, the more likely we are to win prizes.


Coffee and Cycling Event

On Tuesday 28 February, from 7:30-10am the Sustainability and Environment team will be hosting an event for cyclists in the Vice-Chancellor’s suite of Old Government House. Enjoy a free hot drink, meet fellow cyclists, learn about the Cycling Strategic Plan and have your say.