All across New Zealand, February is Bike Month. So this time around, it’s all about transportation. How do you get to work? To school? To the store? To the beach?

Thanks and congratulations to all of you who took part in the first month of the OSOF Sustainability Challenge. And welcome to February! This month’s challenge takes place on the roads…

February goal: Drive Less!

All across New Zealand, February is Bike Month. So this time around, it’s all about transportation. How do you get to work? To school? To the store? To the beach? We all know that sustainable transport is a very important component of a sustainable planet, and yet so many of us continue to drive. The most recent census data (from 2013) shows that 68% of adult New Zealanders get to work in a personal vehicle, while only about 12% use sustainable transport options: bike, train, bus or feet. (The remaining 20% either telecommute or don’t work.)

The average New Zealander drives about 28km per day and spends 4 ¾ hours in the car each week. 67% of car trips carry only the driver and no one else. However, a Ministry of Transport Household Travel Survey reported that 43% of car trips are 5km or less, and 17% of car trips are under 2km. And these short trips are where it’s easiest to start changing behaviours.

So for the month of February, find a way to reduce your travel emissions. Obviously, biking isn’t an option for everyone. But sustainable transport isn’t limited to bikes alone. Take the bus, lace up your shoes and walk or find a carpool buddy. Every little bit helps!

The national Go by Bike Day happens usually happen across the regions in February. If you do nothing else this month, ride a bike on this day! Bike shops and organizations around the country will be sponsoring bike-in breakfasts and other events – check your local activities calendar to see if something is happening near you. And if you really want to get into the Bike Month challenge, join the Aotearoa Bike Challenge on your own or with your office and you could win some awesome prizes including an electric bike!

How to participate:

Choose the level below that works for you, and don’t forget to upload a picture of yourself going by bike, bus, skateboard, scooter, carpool, horse or foot! Include the hashtag #OSOFSustainableMe and we could feature you on the Plastic Free New Zealand page!

February Challenge

Beginner: Go car-free at least one day per week. Don’t just decide to stay home once a week, either! Instead, pick a day that you would normally drive, then seek out an alternative that works for you and practice it.

Step it up: How about a car-free week? Alternately, you could pledge to go car-free for at least half of the car trips you would normally take that are less than 5k.

Want more? Don’t drive for any trips under 5k for the month of February. Even more? Try going the entire month without driving or riding in a car.

How does it help?

Private vehicles contribute greatly to global warming. Somewhere between 12-20% of total greenhouse gas emissions come from vehicle travel (estimates vary). And global warming, on the whole, is spelling bad news for our oceans in many different ways from ocean acidification to increasing temperatures to altering ocean currents.

And it’s not just the oceans that are directly affected. People are too. A 2010 Health and Pollution in NZ report estimated that vehicle emissions in New Zealand contribute to social costs of $934 million and cause 256 premature deaths annually. If that’s not a reason to park the car and figure out an alternate way to get to work a few days each week, what is?

Resources: (Please note, this is not an endorsement of these organisations, stores or products from OSOF, just a suggestion of how to get started)

Aotearoa Bike Challenge

Find someone to carpool with

Haven’t ridden your bike in a while? Give it a tune-up!

Bicycling safety

Biking to work for beginners

Learn how to select a safe route and/or use the bike directions feature on Google maps

Check out this biking campaign from Malmo, Sweden that aimed to eliminate ‘ridiculous car trips’ under 5 km.

Contributor: Andrea Greene-Liberatore

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