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Published: 2003-02-17 00:00:00

More than 30 Environment Waikato staff are donning their lycra shorts and pumping their tyres to take part in the Bikewise Business Battle Challenge this week.

The keen cyclists are riding to work and cycling for recreation to beat other councils and businesses in the number of kilometres they cover over the next week. The challenge started on Saturday and includes work and recreational cycling until February 23.

A team from Hamilton City Council is also taking part. Environment Waikato organiser, Land Transport Planner Iain China said many of the staff taking part were regular cyclists, but others had dragged out old bikes or borrowed their children’s bikes to take part in the challenge.

They are also taking part in the ECCA Energywise Councils cycling challenge.

There are 17 different business sector categories, with trophies and prizes awarded to the organisation within each sector whose employees cycle the greatest average distance during the week.

Iain used to cycle to work in London but now finds that his home is just that little too far to bike each day. He is taking part this week though by cycling during lunchtime and in the evenings.

“Many people live a lot closer to where they work and could find cycling to be a lot healthier and less stressful than driving in each day. It’s also a lot easier to find somewhere to park!

Bikewise organisers say regular cyclists are as healthy as non-cyclists 10 years younger. Biking reduces blood pressure, absorption of cholesterol, and risk of heart disease. It also results in a stronger heart and a stronger immune system, as well as relieving stress, fatigue and tension.

The cyclists are keeping a travel diary of their journeys, which they intend to use to seek improvements for cyclists, such as secure cycle parking and safer routes across busy roads.