Our Wellington

News | 2 March 2021

Brew staff all set to get more active

Staff at Parrotdog in Lyall Bay are the first to benefit from changes funded through the city’s active transport workplace fund, which aims to get more of us walking, biking and jogging to work.

Image of staff member at Parrotdog with bike and facilities provided by workplace fund

The makers of the award-winning beer have put up a new storage shed for bikes and skateboards, upgraded a shower, installed a maintenance stand with tyre pump, and provided some new lockers to make it easier for more of their staff to actively commute to their Kingsford Smith Street premises.

With the help of the $5800 grant from Wellington City Council’s active transport workplace fund, they are also trialling providing a towel service for a year, with a view to continuing this themselves if it proves worthwhile.

The new repair stand and pump has been put in close to the footpath and an existing bike stand for customers, so the community and biking beach goers can use it too.

They have also embraced the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ ethos in their new bike shed by repurposing some beachy blue and white flooring from the company’s Beervana stand.

Parrotdog co-owner Matt Stevens says at the moment less than 10 percent of the 56 people who work for the brewery, tap room, bar and restaurant regularly bike, skateboard, scooter or get to work on foot, but they are very keen to see those numbers grow.

“When we talked with the team, the biggest obstacles to running or biking more were related to storage and maintenance of bikes, and being able to freshen up before work, so we do expect these changes to make a difference.”

Matt says the transport initiative fits well with other things the company is doing on the energy and waste minimisation front to operate more sustainably, reduce carbon emissions and improve staff health and wellbeing. 

“For us, the new fund was a very motivating factor that generated discussion on what would encourage more of us to change how we get to work.

“Every movement starts with early adopters, so it’s great that the Council can assist a first wave of local businesses to encourage active commuting, it will help raise the bar and encourage others to do the same. Without this funding support, we wouldn’t have been able to make changes like this so quickly.”

Lucy Armstrong, Parrotdog’s retail manager and a member of the company’s sustainability or ‘green’ team, is leading the change project, and says staff have set a goal for the first four weeks of collectively clocking up 100 active transport trips.

“We’re starting small with something we know we’re more than capable of and then looking to ramp it up bit-by-bit,” she says. “People here love a bit of healthy competition and we’re already seeing a big increase in the use of wheels and legs.”

The fund is designed to help local companies reduce some barriers or help inspire their staff to opt for more healthy, sustainable commuting options.

More than 28,000 people already commute on foot or by bike and the Council hopes the fund will be a catalyst for creative and practical ideas that will get even more Wellingtonians making the switch – some that rely on a little bit of financial assistance and some that won’t. 

Road vehicle travel makes up 36 percent of Wellington’s emissions, so changing the way we move is a practical thing we can do that’s good for the planet and the city. Plus, there are lots of other great reasons to consider walking or riding.

Incorporating exercise into the daily commute is one of the most effective ways to make enduring improvements to physical activity levels, health and well-being. It reduces the risk of a range of health issues, from heart disease and depression to type-two diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and obesity.

University of Otago research has shown that New Zealanders who walk or bike to their main activity each day have a 76 percent higher chance of achieving the Ministry of Health physical activity guidelines than those who drive cars.

For busy people, it can be the perfect way to get places and exercise at the same time.

Transport costs are typically the third highest household expense after housing and food, so walking, running or biking some or all the way to work can be a good way to cut costs. With less chance of getting stuck in traffic, it’s also a great way to know exactly how long your daily commute will take.

The 2018 Census showed just over 19 percent of Wellington City residents commute on foot. This is a significantly higher percentage than any of the other big cities, and compares with 5.5 percent nationwide.

The numbers biking is also on the increase. Four percent now bike to work, double the nationwide average, and the second highest of the big cities after Christchurch which has 5.6 percent.

Applications to the fund can be made at any time through the Council’s online funding portal and are considered each month. A total of up to $50,000 is available this financial year.

Applications need to include a comprehensive project plan showing how the initiative will be monitored and evaluated. Businesses applying must also be in the Wellington City area.