Encouraging physical activity through active environments and transport

Three cyclists on a pathway in Hagley Park strewn with autumn leaves.Community and Public Health works collaboratively with key stakeholders to ensure our urban areas across the region are active environments designed to promote physical activity, by having:

  • sufficient green space;
  • recreational areas and other open spaces (such as skate board parks and walking trails); and
  • access to active transport such as walking, cycling, jogging, using a scooter or public transport.

We actively contribute to local and regional planning strategies and decisions on open and recreational spaces, urban planning, transport, walking and cycling strategies and sustainability issues.

One of the easiest ways to incorporate physical activity into your life is to walk or cycle for everyday transport. Community and Public Health staff promote active transport within the community and in education settings and workplaces, in the following ways:

  • supporting School Travel Plans (South Canterbury only);
  • promoting and developing strategies to encourage safe and user friendly facilities for active transport within the community;
  • ensuring disadvantaged populations have access to safe active transport opportunities; and
  • supporting the development of new recreational cycle trails and commuter cycle ways.

Addressing active transport concerns and issues

Apart from being opportunities for physical activity, active transport also contributes to the health of the population and other benefits to society through:

  • Reduced air pollution.
  • Safer roads and less congestion.
  • Higher street security and crime prevention through more ”eyes on the street”.
  • Enhanced mental wellbeing by greater social capital and incidental social interaction.
  • Greater personal resilience and less dependency on fossil fuels.
  • A more productive workforce with less absenteeism.

Community and Public Health works with a number of partner agencies or is a member of several networks to address active transport concerns:

  • Cycling Advocates Network aims to get more people to cycle more often, and Community and Public Health works closely with each of their regional branches.
  • Disabled Persons Assembly works with us towards a transport network that is accessible to all including people with disabilities, the very young and the elderly.
  • Frocks on Bikes is a national voluntary organisation promoting bike riding as a mainstream activity that does not need special clothing or a great deal of physical fitness.  Community and Public Health founded the local Canterbury group so staff manage and inform subscribers of upcoming rides and bike related activities.
  • Living Streets Aotearoa aims to promote walking as viable, affordable and easy transport, and make Christchurch streets a safer place to walk.
  • Go Cycle Christchurch provides free commuter cycling advice and practical on-road skills.
  • The ICECycles project helps people get access to free bikes and free bike repair. This project was developed by Community and Public Health.
  • Pop Up Fix Up is a group project from RAD that works in disadvantaged communities every 4 to 8 weeks to provide free bike repair.

The BuyCycles project supports people from Corrections and the Mental Health Services to buy a bicycle. This collaborative project with Community Focus Trust and Mental Health Services was developed and continues to be supported by Community and Public Health.

Making sure children get to school safely

Children in the classroom planning for their walkathon.School Travel Plans provide safe options for children travelling to and from school. These are developed in collaboration with school communities and the local council, and have the following benefits:

  • Children are healthier through increased opportunities for physical activity.
  • Increased awareness among parents on the importance of physical exercise for their children.
  • Less cars on the road at peak times and less congestion at the school gate.
  • Children are more aware of the effect of their actions on their environment (pollution reduced, and energy saved).
  • Parental concerns about real and perceived road traffic dangers get addressed.

Staff in the South Canterbury office develop these plans in collaboration with school communities and the Timaru District Council.

Safer trips for kids to and from school

Beehive media release: 24th April 2021

The Government is proposing to make it easier for local communities to set safe speed limits around schools to help kids get to and from school safely, said Transport Minister Michael Wood.

Michael Wood said he receives correspondence from teachers, parents, local councils and MPs asking for safer speeds outside schools.

“Everyone would like for our kids to feel safe while walking and cycling on our streets. Safer speeds around schools will help make walking and cycling to and from school a real option for more of our tamariki.

“Local communities know their streets best and right now it’s not easy for them to set appropriate speed limits. Speed limit changes are currently made through local bylaws or a gazetting process, which is time-consuming and complicated.

“The changes proposed in the draft Setting of Speed Limits Rule 2021, will improve the way Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and regions plan and implement proposed speed management changes with communities.

“This includes making streets outside schools safer by requiring speed limits around urban schools to be reduced to 30km/h, or to a maximum of 40 km/h where appropriate, and to a maximum of 60 km/h around rural schools.

The Setting of Speed Limits Rule 2021 is now open for public consultation. It aims to improve the process for setting speed limits and planning for safety infrastructure on New Zealand roads.



Download or order resources from the Community Health Information Centre.


For further information, contact:

Meg Christie
Ph: +64 3 378 6817
Fax: +64 3 379 6125

Jane Sullivan
Ph: +64 3 687 2600
Fax: +64 3 688 6091

Rosie McGrath
Ph: +64 3 768 1160
Fax: +64 3 768 1169

Learn to ride with Bike Bridge

Bike Bridge is a free programme for former refugee and migrant women at Ngā Puna Wai (Augustine Drive, Aidenfield).

Learn to ride including how to cycle on the road. Participants will also have the opportunity to get a discounted or free bicycle.

Winter sessions will happen the first Wednesday of the month (July to September 2021).

Bikes and helmets provided. No special clothes are required to participate. The project welcomes female volunteers.

Contact Antoine Houle (021 111 7568) or Meg Christie (meg.christie[at]cdhb.health.nz or 027 848 6927) for more information.
Bike Bridge is supported by Community and Public Health.

Campaign encouraging safe e-scooting

Waka Kotahi/ NZ Transport Agency is encouraging the safe use of increasingly popular e-scooters.

The key messages for e-scooter users from the campaign are:

  • Give way to pedestrians and other footpath users.
  • You must not ride at a speed that’s a hazard to themselves or other footpath users.
  • You should always wear a helmet.
  • Be aware that other footpath users can’t see or hear you coming.
  • Keep left if riding on the road – when it is safe to do so.

Plan your journey around Christchurch

The Transport for Christchurch website lets travellers around the city know about major road works and closures – no matter what your mode of transport (car, bus, motorcycle, cycling or walking).

Navigate around the interactive map to identify where road works are located and how they may affect your journey around the city. The interactive map also provides real-time traffic flow information on arterial roads within the city area.

You can plan your bus journey on the MetroInfo website, or find out about detours and timetables.

Page last updated: 03/06/2021

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