How cycling can help your business.

18 Aug 2015

The Smart Transport Forum introduced us to future ideas around the shape that transport could take to be people focussed, make roads safer, be more efficient, and encourage people to more actively commute. Cycling is one of the solutions

There are a number of companies leading the cycling charge (Bicycle Junction, Bird On A Wire, Quikes and House of Dumplings to name a few) and they’ve been joined by a new bike sharing initiative that recently launched in Christchurch to help connect the city.

Two trendy urban food operators that are reaping the benefits of biking their tasty morsels around the cities, are Bird On A Wire (Auckland) and House of Dumplings (Wellington), despite these cities not being seen as overly bike friendly.  Challenging geography and weather are out stripped by cost saving and fitter employees, who are gaining respect from their customers.

Vicky Ha, owner of House of Dumplings, shrugs off any question of her delivery riders cowering from the elements but says that Wellington’s wind is very stubborn.

“Put a rain jacket on if it is raining,” Vicky says. “In Wellington the wind can also stop our bikes going in directions that we would like - like going sideways or even backwards.”

Sophie Gilmour, Co-owner of Bird On A Wire, says that while the weather is (reasonably) accommodating in Auckland, the streets aren’t quite as much. “Downtown Auckland streets are not very accommodating to bikes.” She does agree with Vicky that each business faces a unique set of challenges.  “There are loads of hills in the city, which puts pressure on our lunch runners’ fitness levels!”

Sophie says the difference to Bird On A Wire  using bicycle deliveries was notable immediately, including financial gains.

“Our lunch runners previously always drove to the workplaces they visited, parked the car and carried lunch trays inside. Since we got the bike we’ve been able to add another run from our Elliott Street store in the city without having to worry about parking or walking between sites with a heavy tray.”

Our beautiful capital has some secret benefits as well, including making sure your food is still hot. “You would not find a faster way than bikes when delivering dumplings within the CBD,” says Vicky, “especially using shortcuts and no car zones”.

The benefits of cycling can have a positive impact on employees and not only the bottom line.

Daniel Mikkelsen, owner of Wellington’s Bicycle Junction, wants to inspire more people to cycle for leisure and active employees are, on the whole, more productive. He says that there are some barriers to cycling but they can all be easily overcome.

“For various reasons people don’t realise they could be doing it. It simply doesn’t occur to them as an option. For many people fitness is the holdback,  for others still it’s that they’ve never been exposed to cycling by their families or peer groups and therefore have never considered it as a viable way to get from A to B.”

Daniel says a large part of inspiring people is exposing them to new options.

“We try to involve or expose non-cyclists to cycling in all its forms by creating events like tweed rides, free Friday night rickshaw rides and flat shifts by cargo bike, with the purpose of breaking the ice with newcomers to transport cycling.

“From electric to cargo to folding bike, we try to show as many ways you can do stuff by bike as possible and have a good time.”

Deb King, owner of Raglan’s Quikes, believes there needs to be a paradigm shift in our attitudes toward cycling and is working hard to have a more positive influence through Quikes.  

“Quikes wants to complement the existing bike fleet of two and three wheeled regular bikes, recumbent, electrical assist and work bikes by offering people a real choice and experience. It wants to support the local economy by having mirco assembly points and have people bike instead of drive for journeys less than 5km.”

“There needs to be an overhaul,” Deb continues. “We need to see the bigger picture. Stats show that when there are more cycle-centred towns, your house price improves and the area becomes socially positive.”

Safety is paramount in this and Daniel, from Bicycle Junction, understands that it can be difficult to encourage employees to cycle to work, citing concerns around his children and how they can crossover into adulthood. “I have three kids five and under. For the first time last week I let my two oldest boys ride on the road with me. It greatly limited where I felt safe riding with them. For my kids to be able to ride safely from home through Newtown and into the city would be a personal priority and one that I’m pretty sure is shared by many parents.”

Sophie says Bird on a Wire’s lunch runners have to ride on the footpath which, while it’s great for advertising, isn’t the safest option.

“We would love to see dedicated cycling lanes in the inner city.”

The SBN’s Bike 2050 project looks at further investment in national transport infrastructure that will embrace transport diversity within our cities. To find out more or get involved, contact Rachel Brown on Rachel@sustainable.org.nz

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