There were a couple of bits of cycling news yesterday.
The government were yesterday celebrating the success of walking and cycling tourism.
Cycle trails and cycle and walking tourism are more popular than ever, with nearly two million trips on the country’s Great Rides in one year, says Tourism Minister Stuart Nash.
“New analysis of data from the 22 trails which form the Great Rides shows an increase of nearly 700,000 trips in the year to February, compared to 2015,” said Mr Nash.
“The Great Rides offer intrepid travellers a low-cost and accessible way to see the best parts of the country by going off-road. The rides are graded from easy to expert, and offer something for riders and walkers of all abilities.
“Cycling and walking these trails is a great way to explore unique scenery and enjoy the best of local culture, architecture, food and wine. Cycle trails are growing in popularity with travellers who want to combine health and fitness activities with leisure and holidays.
“Cycleways and walkways are increasingly helping small regional communities to diversify their local economy. They support more tourism, accommodation and hospitality jobs. I encourage travellers to explore one this summer and support local businesses.
“Of all the Great Rides, the Hawke’s Bay Cycle Trail came out on top with 188,000 cycle trips and 220,000 pedestrian trips.
“Research shows that pre-COVID, more domestic visitors to Hawke’s Bay used the region’s cycle trails than international tourists, contributing an estimated $10 million-plus to the local economy. That’s an important advantage for Hawke’s Bay as border restrictions to keep us safe from the pandemic have seriously impacted visitor numbers.
“The report analyses data from automated counters on the 22 Great Rides between 1 March 2019 and 28 February 2020. There are between one and 14 counters per Great Ride. The majority of counters or sensors can distinguish between cyclists and pedestrians, and also can determine the direction of travel.
“The highest users of the trails were pedestrians including walkers, runners and trampers, clocking up just over 1 million trips, followed by cyclists with 960,200 trips.
There are a few things that stand out from this for me.
- Once again this shows that people respond to what we build and if we provide good infrastructure and experiences that people will use it. This is something worth remembering when it comes to our urban areas too.
- The comments on the research in Hawkes Bay are fascinating and also helps to highlight that New Zealanders are keen to have more options to ride a bike. It’s something that is also noticeable at this time of year at many of the popular beach towns around the country where people cruising on a bike is much more common sight.
- We sometimes see some odd arguments in the transport sphere from walkers towards cyclists. This shows how important it is that we don’t have pedestrian vs cyclist debates but advocating for improvements for pedestrians and cyclists
Here are the numbers for each of the great rides with the top three being the Hawkes Bay, Queenstown and Tasman’s Great Taste
The Hawkes Bay coming out as the busiest was not too much of a surprise as it’s not a single route but a whole network of them linking to a variety of places – highlighting that it’s a complete network that’s a key factor. Many parts of the network are also useful for local trips. Notably, Queenstown and Tasman are some of the other more developed networks as opposed to being just one or two routes.
Imagine if we built some complete networks in our main urban areas? Though perhaps without sharing the path with cows.
At the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got this article yesterday on the Te Whau pathway where a few residents are trying to stop the project with most of the arguments seemingly about not wanting the pathway near their backyards.
Residents have vowed to keep battling a $69 million shared path in Auckland intended to connect the community with nature.
The New Lynn-based Upper Te Whau Concern Group says it will appeal resource consent granted this month for 10.4 kilometres of the Te Whau Pathway, a 15-kilometre causeway for pedestrians and cyclists.
The group of Koromiko St residents earlier made submissions against the walkway which they feared would be intrusive.
They were worried about security and privacy and were also concerned the path would damage the “ecologically sensitive” area with mangroves and at-risk birdlife.
Thankfully the council don’t seem to be backing down to them.
Rod Sheridan, Auckland Council’s general manager of community facilities, said 368 submissions were received – with 306 supporting the resource consent application, 57 opposing it and four neutral.
The concerns of all submitters were addressed through an independent application process, he said.
“After reviewing the application, independent commissioners have agreed that Auckland Council has either addressed the adverse effects or will do so through the 168 conditions that will guide how works can be undertaken.”
Sheridan said the government funding supports educating people on water quality, caring for rivers and the environment, the ecological corridor, the integrated environmental restoration plan and native plant nurseries.
Te Whau Pathway will be a fantastic addition to the city once it is completed.