We know that to make a difference, we have to work together. But how do we change peoples’ minds and more importantly, behaviour?
We grabbed 5 minutes with Martina Kainberger, Platform Services Manager at carsguide.com.au, who took out the coveted title of ‘Top Encourager’ at last year’s Sydney Rides Challenge. The challenge gets suits, creatives, shift workers and other daily commuters on their bikes, as workplaces compete for the biggest number of cycling staff.
How did you get involved in Sydney Rides Challenge and why?
I grew up riding a bike (I’m from Vienna, Austria). I always felt that Australia is not a good place for cycling and that with enough riders getting out there, this could change. So I jumped on the opportunity to get more people interested.
Getting involved in the event was pretty easy. It was a matter of chatting to some of the other regular bike commuters in the office and then taking the idea to HR. After that, it was just a matter of organising the rides and getting people on board.
How did you persuade people to start riding?
Since hardly anyone had a bike, I started organising people for lunch rides at Prince Alfred Park using my own bike – I have an electric one. Some were curious as to how it works and what it feels like. Some people were already riding on weekends or commuting occasionally to work. Some were already pretty social and came along for the fun. Some colleagues said they used to ride when they were young and wanted to see if they still can. And others came because of sheer group pressure and nagging on my part! The hardest group to motivate was upper management who used time constraints as an excuse.
Common excuses were:
- I don’t have a bike
- I am not wearing the right clothes (mostly those wearing skirts)
- I am not fit enough
- It’s too hot outside
- I have too much work
In the end, we organised a barbeque at Prince Alfred Park (called ‘A Burger for a Ride’) and the CEO committed the leadership team to come along and go for a ride as well.
Which 3 tactics worked well for you?
- The incentive that worked best was: “The e-bike is fun and you don’t even sweat”. But generally, once I had a core group of keen people they helped convince others to go.
- What also worked well was just organising lunch at the park and bringing the bike along. Quite a few people enjoyed eating outside, but needed someone to rally them.
- It also helped to be persistent and to keep asking people over and over again. I started using calendar invites to organise people in groups for particular dates which made it harder for them to say no.
What do you think is the best way to encourage others to live more sustainably?
This is a tough question and something I’ve thought about often. I tend to get very frustrated when the topic comes up. Mostly, about my inability to change peoples’ behaviour – such as not using bottled water, not turning of monitors when leaving work or recycling.
I think the key issue is educating people, with parents being an example for their children, as well as schools fostering an environmental conscience, so the kids can tell their parents. I grew up using electricity wisely, collecting aluminium cans for pocket money, recycling, re-using glass jars and so on.
How can we make the ‘big picture’ less abstract and a motivating rather than discouraging force?
Something like family beach cleanup days might work. Making an event fun, while at the same time showing kids how much trash lands in the ocean. We used to be taken to the landfill back home when I was at school, which I remember vividly. Also, state incentives for riding a bike to work.