Every time you head out is a chance to make your A to B car-free and get a little more exercise, family time, thinking time, or cash in your pocket. Mix up car trips with other options like walking, biking, public transport or car share. A little planning will set you up for healthier, cheaper, lower emissions journeys.
Why it matters
Choosing low-emissions transport is one of the best ways we can take climate action.
Transport is responsible for almost half of New Zealand's energy-related emissions, mostly from our petrol and diesel cars. Our emissions from transport have doubled since 1990. So how you choose to get around makes a real difference for climate change.
Kiwis make more than a billion short (under 2km) car trips every year. If every household avoided two of these each week, we'd save 100,000 tonnes of emissions.
Try car free commuting
Join a community of New Zealand organisations taking climate action by reducing their car use.
Our car-free commuting toolkit has posters, images for social media, email signatures and a quiz – all of which you can use in your workplace and on your website or social media to tell your colleagues and customers how you’re taking climate-friendly action.
Get there on foot
Walking releases feel-good endorphins, increases muscle tone, keeps the weight off, lowers stress levels, and reduces the risk of disease. About a third of vehicle trips in New Zealand are less than 2km — which most people could knock off with a half hour walk.
Getting around by walking isn't for everyone, but the more people that do it, the better it'll be for our roads — and our climate.
Jump on the bike
Cycling is a climate-friendly option that's good for the mind and body. Two thirds of our vehicle trips are less than 6km, which can be done in about 25 minutes by bike (or 10 minutes by e-bike) — and that's your exercise done for the day.
People who commute by bike have the highest wellbeing of all the transport options. It's also getting easier, safer and more accessible. According to Waka Kotahi, there are now around 3,400km of cycleways across Aotearoa1.
1Source: NZTA(external link)
Tips to get more out of travel time
Does time in the car feel like time wasted? Get more out of the time you spend getting from A to B when you choose an alternative.
- Family time: Walk the school run to hear what’s going on with your kids. Bike or scoot to improve their road sense and confidence.
- Down time: Take public transport for more time to read, study, listen to podcasts or catch up on emails.
- Fitness time: Biking or jogging to work could save time spent in the gym – or inspire a whole new fitness challenge. Ever done a triathlon?
- Connection time: Carpool or take public transport to connect with colleagues and people in your community.
- Free time: Organise a carpool to take kids to activities. It means more free time for you, and more chat time for your kids.
Go by bus or train
Catching public transport, like the bus or train, is a great way to cut down on emissions. The more people on board, the lower the carbon footprint of the trip. If 100,000 people used the bus for a 20km ride, we'd save roughly the equivalent of the emissions of 5,000 petrol or diesel cars each year2.
It also lets you do things you can't do in a car, like read a book, fire off an email, or play games online.
Ditch the second car
You could free up a lot of cash flow if your household could manage with one less car.
More than half of New Zealand households have access to two or more cars — that's a lot of money parked on the driveway. After purchase price and finance, there's fuel, insurance, maintenance, tyres, warrant of fitness, vehicle licence and parking. And of course the value of most vehicles depreciates over time.
If you can mix and match alternative transport options, that's money saved for you, and emissions saved for the climate.
Closest things to owning a car
Electric bikeDon’t let hills, wind or shopping slow you down. Most people can easily make 25km/h on an e-bike and barely break a sweat.
Car share or rentalSeveral main centres have short hop or round-trip options. For a particular job like a roadie, ski trip or moving flat, hire just the car you need – like an estate, an SUV or a van.