Earlier this week a senior SpokesElf for Santa Claus confirmed that this Xmas the traditional deliveries would be made using sustainable transport. Santa will be using a specially designed electric assist cargo bike.  Read the full story here: Santa gets “on his bike” for Xmas deliveries – Cycle Aware Wellington

Upon reading this news I got to wondering just what would become of Santa’s Reindeer now that he has upgraded to a cargo bike.  I was able to secure an exclusive interview with Rudolph, the spokes-reindeer, who spoke for the first time about the impact of these changes on him and his colleagues.  This is Rudolph’s story as told to me.

“Back in the old days Santa would have made these kind of changes without any consultation at all.  We would have just been told to clear out our stalls, given a few carrots and that would be it.  Thankfully things are changing around the pole.  When Santa first started entertaining the idea of retiring the sleigh we started a process of consultation focus groups with the elves and the reindeer.  Although things were pretty heated at first, Mrs Claus proved herself to be a top-flight mediator and we made good progress.  The Elves were able to see that bikes could be great for business, and provide some real economic opportunities.  We’ve spent the last couple of off-seasons re-skilling and now we are all deployed in new roles.

I can’t say I was too thrilled about the change at first, but actually I’m really loving it.  The pressure of the build up, the deadlines, the distances…. that’s all behind me now and I feel like a young buck again.  He he he, it turns out you can teach an old buck new tricks!  I miss working with the guys everyday, but hey, we keep in touch and go for a training flight once a week.”

So here is what the Reindeer are up to in a ‘post-sleigh’ world:

Dasher and Dancer have always been great at spotting an opportunity – they’ve been developing ‘Neigh Sleigh’, a sleigh sharing program which they believe is complimentary to bike use.  “There are times when a sleigh comes in handy, but who wants the cost of maintaining one all year round?”.

Prancer who has always had an discerning eye for a tasty Christmas treat is planning on bringing ‘Masterchef’ to the North Pole.

Vixen has launched ‘BikeRight’ which she describes as ‘never having to buy another kids bike again’.  Instead parents subscribe to BikeRight and as their kids need a next-size bike, Santa will deliver it, and take the old one away for redeployment.  “It’s about bikes that last, more rewarding jobs for elves and less waste” she stated.  BikeRight now employs all the Elves who were previously assigned to the Sleigh workshop and has a training program for school leavers.

Comet, who was the first to suggest using a GPS in the sleigh, has been moon-lighting as a coder for years now.  He’s launching his own tech start up utilising his extensive knowledge of geography, weather, logistics and GPS technology. He’s not saying much at this point, but rumour has it he is developing an app for bike users.

Cupid has had years of ribbing about his name, but now he’s the first to admit that his social enterprise is all about ‘showing the love’.  He’s creating a network of Bike Friendly business and tourism operators and show that ‘Bikes mean Business’.

Donner and Blitzen were often caught tinkering with any gift with wheels, and were part of the panel that designed Santa’s new bike.  They have developed a successful bicycle mechanic training program and will be kept busy keeping Santa’s stead in top form over the busy season, then will turn their attention to a bicycle recycling program.

And how about Rudolph? “I couldn’t work behind a desk… I’m used to being up front, leading the way”.  He’s started a cycle touring company, utilising his extensive global knowledge to offer some real ‘off the beaten track’ adventures.

There’s no doubt that things are changing at the North Pole.  “We realised the Elves were getting a pretty poor deal.  Working conditions, pay rates, basic Elf-rights… all below the standards expected in a modern society.  So we’re working for change… a living wage, better working conditions, Elf-rights education.  Santa’s pretty supportive, although he’s facing a pretty tough market with lots of cheap imports.  But he’s seen that things need to change, and hey, that’s a start.”

So folks now we can rest easy on Christmas Eve knowing that the Reindeer may have been replaced, but it is not the end of the road for them, and just the beginning of making the North Pole a fairer and smarter place to be.

Image Courtesy of Bicycle Junction

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