Walk2work day a success

Walk2Work 2010 saw thousands of people across New Zealand take to the streets, leave their cars at home and Walk2Work with friends, family and colleagues. Each event had its own local flair, with local sponsors supplying a complimentary breakfast snack or free coffee, as well as speakers and spot prizes. Walk2Work Day is part of a Living Streets campaign to get people walking more in their daily lives.

Living Streets Aotearoa coordinated over 20 events across the country in Auckland City, North Shore, Botany, Orewa, Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson, Queenstown Lakes district, Taupo, Waitakere, Wellington, Whakatane, Tasman district (Richmond) and the West Coast (Greymouth).  Walkers were encouraged to share their walking stories and complete a survey on their walking habits.

People of all ages and stages took part in the event, including local businesses and even parents walking their kids to school.  In Dunedin a special commuter train brought people from coastal suburbs part of the way.  The event received an amazing response with many people trying a combination of public transport and walking to work for the first time. 

In 2009, one in six participants who completed a Living Streets survey were first time walkers, proving that New Zealanders are trying to change and improve their lifestyles and commuting habits.  There were also rewards for employers who encouraged and supported workers to get active and use their feet, with the launch of a pilot Summer steps Challenge.  The winning team was Power Rangers from Transpower - a five member team who together walked 149 trips – saving the equivalent of 142 car trips!

Nelson Malbourgh District Health Board Nutrition and Physical Activity programme director Helen Steenbergen said walking, as part of a balanced lifestyle, could help people enjoy a long and healthy life.  “Research shows us that fit employees are more productive and happier employees,” Mrs Steenbergen also said.

West Coast workplaces geared up for Walk2Work day with Walk2work Wednesdays over the month of March.  “A number of West Coast businesses took up the challenge and encouraged staff to walk each Wednesday over the month of March” says Kim Hakes, West Coast Healthy Eating Healthy Action co-coordinator. 

In Richmond, Walk2Work day organiser Judene Edgar said walking could improve our whole community.  “Society has moved away from our roots – we were made to walk. We need to recognise that walking is a valid form of transport,” she said.  “It’s fun, it’s free and it’s easy.

In Christchurch, walkers donned their walking shoes to celebrate a renewed commitment by the council to walking.  “Christchurch is a great city for walking to work, being mostly flat terrain, having a refreshing variety of weathers to suit all walkers, and with an abundance of pleasurable walkways, parks, rivers and streams” says Fiona Whero, Living Streets Networker for the South Island.   “A new Christchurch City Council report by world-renowned urban designer Jan Gehl recommends increasing walkability in the city to make the inner city even more vibrant, so walking to work looks set to become even more exciting in Christchurch” says Fiona.  Check out the reports recommendations at http://www.ccc.govt.nz/cityleisure/projectstoimprovechristchurch/publicspacepubliclifestudy/index.aspx

In Queenstown, the Walk2Work event is part of a larger Car Free Campaign where residents are encouraged to pledge a commitment to walk, cycle or use the bus for one day or more. In Rotorua, council staff promoted a Walk for change campaign to encourage workmates to Walk2work and in Taupo, district council staff explored five different routes on their to Walk2work.

In Auckland, walking human advertising saw over 200 walkers complete a walking survey in Pigeon Park.  In North Shore, over 800 walkers supported an event in Takapuna.  The City’s Mayor, Andrew Williams, was impressed by the commitment of some residents who walked over an hour and a half to join the event.  In Orewa, walkers met on the beach to support Walk2work day.  Many Auckland employers also supported Walk2work Day with workplace events being held at ACC, Barnardos, Botany Mall, Eco Matters, Lynn Mall, Massey Leisure centre and Waitakere council.

In Wellington, the fabulous weather gathered walkers from various locations around the city at Frank Kitts Park. Guest speakers in Wellington included the local mayor Kerry Prendergast, councillors Celia Wade-Brown and Ian MacKinnon, Green Party MP Gareth Hughes and Associate Transport Minister Nathan Guy.  Entertainment was supplied with music from Tessa Rain, health and fitness support from Mish McCormack, a team from City Fitness, and walkers even had a chance to Zumba!  They participated in signing a giant foot and the signatures were presented at parliament steps to Associate Transport Minister Nathan Guy.

Walking to work is a great reason for people to get outside and enjoy their journey, realizing the benefits of fresh air and gentle exercise.

The 2010 event was a resounding success thanks to many local and national sponsors. Living Streets Aotearoa would like to thank: New Zealand Transport Agency, Auckland City Council, North Shore City Council, Taupo District Council, Nelson City Council, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Rodney District Council, Tasman District Council, Canterbury District Health Board, West Coast District Health Board, Dunedin City Council, Wellington City Council and Whakatane District council.

For more information and images please contact:

Caroline Barnes, Walk2work National Coordinator, 021 0310 527

Liz Thomas, Director, Living Streets Aotearoa 021 106 4201 or our check out our website at www.walk2work.org.nz