On your bike - for the 2019 Aotearoa Bike Challenge

The weather gods are certainly doing their bit to support this year’s Aotearoa Bike Challenge, with stunning sunny days encouraging people to get out of their cars and onto their bikes. The February challenge is part of the New Zealand Transport Agency’s commitment to helping people get around by bike, with a focus on investing in connected cycling networks as part of a wider transport system.

And as a profession with environment and sustainability at its very core, landscape architects are being challenged to walk the talk - or in this case, pedal the publicity. Isthmus, Boffa Miskell and Aitken Taylor are just three of the offices getting involved in the February-long competition.

The Aitken Taylor cyclists are lucky enough to have the spectacular Marlborough countryside to explore on their longer rides.

The Aitken Taylor cyclists are lucky enough to have the spectacular Marlborough countryside to explore on their longer rides.

Isthmus CEO Ralph Johns says: “We really like bikes, and we invite them into the studio with us. We ride them to and from work, we ride them at work, to get to meetings, and we ride them all over the place at weekends.

“We are passionate about creating new cycling infrastructure so that our cities can become more liveable and healthy. The Aotearoa Bike Challenge is a bit of fun; it encourages everyone in the studio to get out on two wheels.”

There are categories for different sized offices so workplace teams compete against others of comparable sizes. Run in conjunction with Love To Ride, competitors in the challenge notched up 161,000 cycle trips last year, totalling an impressive 2.1 million kilometres.

Isthmus' CEO Ralph Johns uses one of central Auckland's cycle paths.

Isthmus' CEO Ralph Johns uses one of central Auckland's cycle paths.

NZTA acting senior manager system design Kevin Reid said the benefits of cycling included healthier people, less congestion and reduced carbon emissions. "Businesses and organisations have a key role to play in encouraging more people to choose a bike as a transport choice,” Reid says. "For employers, having more of your people riding bikes to and from work, or during the day, means a more alert and healthier workforce, and contributes to increased productivity. It's great to see the continued support of so many businesses, who get on board with the Aotearoa Bike Challenge each year."

Boffa Miskell has dozens of keen cyclists on staff, so it’s no surprise that five of the company’s seven offices have entered. Teams from Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Queenstown are competing strongly in their divisions. And the smallest office of the five - Queenstown - has the highest rate of participation, with five out of seven consultants riding.

Den Aitken's route to the office always includes a stop at one of his favourite cafes.

Den Aitken's route to the office always includes a stop at one of his favourite cafes.

Cycling’s well embedded in Aitken Taylor’s office too. Director Den Aitken says signing up for the challenge as a company was about supporting the advocacy component of the initiative - encouraging cycling as a viable and regular mode of transport. Aitken says it’s also brought a touch of camaraderie to the studio too, “which is always welcome.”

The good news is it’s not too late to enter - remember there’s $11,000 worth of prizes up for grabs for various achievements. All it takes to enter is 10 minutes cycling a day. You can register at www.aotearoa.bike. And if you do, send us a photo. Landscape Architecture Aotearoa will be running the stats after the competition’s finished at the end of the month. We’d love to publish your photos so please email to lee@blamethemedia.co.nz

Boffa Miskell's Queenstown office. From left to right - Ralph Henderson (planner), Chris Ferguson (planner), Mathilde Menard (landscape architect) and Megan Ash (landscape architect). This office doesn't just bike to work - they bike at lunchtime, they bike to Friday after-work drinks, they even planned their Christmas Party to be cycle-centric.

Boffa Miskell's Queenstown office. From left to right - Ralph Henderson (planner), Chris Ferguson (planner), Mathilde Menard (landscape architect) and Megan Ash (landscape architect). This office doesn't just bike to work - they bike at lunchtime, they bike to Friday after-work drinks, they even planned their Christmas Party to be cycle-centric.