The 2022 Aotearoa Bike Challenge saw 32,992 people sign up to ride in the February challenge - another widely successful event for the challenge now in its 6th consecutive year. One of the most successful elements of the challenge, and one of its most crucial pillars, continues to be the power of peer encouragement. It’s a powerful tool to get would-be riders who are in the contemplation stage to give riding a bike a go.
With the help of WSP - design and engineering consultants committed to creating projects with future generations in mind - we were able to launch a tiered encourager prize system. The result was a huge number of people encouraging others to ride! Let’s dive in.
All of our challenges include an element of encouragement. Why? Because, after all, social support / encouragement is a well proven behaviour change technique. Specific to our challenges, we recognise the innate passion that many bike riders have for riding and give them the tools they need to make it fun and easy for them to encourage their friends, family and co-workers to give riding a try.
It’s widely known that peer to peer encouragement is a meaningful lever to shift behaviour and a lot of that comes from seeing ourselves in our peers. We watch them normalising behaviours we’ve been considering or would like to undertake and it gives us that nudge, that reinforcement, to try our own hand. A number of other factors make receiving encouragement from a work peer particularly compelling too. With the Aotearoa Bike Challenge being a workplace challenge, contributing to your workplace's score and being a team player is a persuasive proposition. It also helps when a friend or colleague can offer support unique to your riding situation. Answers to things like: “What route would you recommend I take to get to the office from my place over on the westside of town?” and “What kind of bike would you recommend I buy?”
For the New Zealand challenge, we wanted to take encouragement to that extra level and increase the size of the reward the more encouraging a person undertook. With WSP as sponsors of the Aotearoa Bike Challenge, we wanted to develop an element of the program that would reflect their own commitment to innovative approaches that connect and sustain communities around the world. With this in mind, we launched a tiered encouragement reward system with prizes to be won made possible by our partnership with WSP, cultivating a community of encouragers and harnessing their power!
The first time you logged a ride on the Aotearoa Bike Challenge website, you were asked if someone encouraged you to take that ride. Participants could then pick their encourager name from a drop down list. Easy! From there, our encourager leaderboard displayed a live tally of who the leading encouragers were. The more people you encouraged, the higher the value of the prize to win with the top prize being $1,000 cash. Of course the odds were pretty good at the pointy end, with the tier for that prize being a minimum of 20 people encouraged!
Nationally, 4,721 people encouraged at least one friend or colleague to ride over the 1-month period. That’s almost 18% of everyone who participated in the program encouraging someone else to ride with them! In the end, 23,766 people took part in the program, pedalling 3,999,778 kilometres together and saving 211,291 kgs of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. A hugely successful event and no doubt the powerful persuasion of peer encouragement was a large contributor to this success.
Thanks to WSP and our other sponsors Beca and EECA, as well as our local authority funding partners for working with us and enabling us to make the Aotearoa Bike Challenge another big success.
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