Cityhop, NZ’s first car share loves sharing stories of eco-warriors around the country. This blog shares the story of Nathaniel Benefield, the sustainable transport co-ordinator at New Plymouth District Council, winner of the best and most liveable community in 2008
Says Nathaniel, “Not many jobs require a bike to be a pre-requisite, but I want to walk the talk so my bike is my main mode of transport.” So how did he end up encouraging New Plymouth people to change their driving habits?
“I thought science looked interesting and studied botany at Massey and then ecology at Otago,” says Nathaniel. “Then I went overseas, for 12 years, in that time I developed an interest in photojournalism and got work for a boradhseet paper in the UK.”
“The defining hallmarks of our present global society are to me, out of control consumerism and rampant materialism and it really is concerns me . It was one of the reasons I bought my family back to NZ.
“Since then, I have gone back to extramural study in ecology and conservation. My present job gives me a great opportunity to apply the key principles of conservation in generating practical transport solutions for our district.”
So what do I do?
“My job is about reducing the number of vehicle trips made around New Plymouth. In the absence of strong decisive government action to address our national car addiction my role is to encourage behaviour change by providing incentives for sustainable travel. This can be done through travel planning for schools and business; community based sustainable transport projects and programmes, community events and so on.
“I actually think my job is one that involve a team. To re-sort the hierachy of our streets we need a dedicated team of travel planners, engineers, urban designers and more working together for a common outcome – civilised shared road spaces for all users.
Nathaniel has been instrumental in bringing car share to New Plymouth. Imagine if more cities had people like Nathaniel, enthusiastically encouraging a change of thinking and driving behaviour.