News that work on the Kaiti to Wainui cycleway can now proceed has been welcomed by cycling advocates.
Councillor Manu Caddie said he was very pleased that after 20 years a cycleway and walkway had finally found enough political support to get prioritised in the roading programme.
“It is really shameful that the project’s staunchest supporter Muriel Jones died before her dream was realised” said Mr Caddie. “There are a few people who have worked for a long time to see this happen and who never gave up – Richard Coates, Kathy Sheldrake and Phil Evans have carried the torch the last leg and the people of Gisborne have supported cycleway development with huge volumes of submissions over recent years.”
Mr Caddie said it was time for Gisborne to take the next step and develop a much bolder vision for commuter cycling corridors throughout the city.
“We need to make this a cycling centric city – while logging truck size and numbers are going to keep increasing the trade off has to be serious investment in safe routes for cyclists and pedestrians” said Mr Caddie.
“Painted lines are a token gesture, we need dedicated cycleways that make it quick and easy for cyclists to get around this flat, small city with a great climate. Anyone standing for election in the city ward needs to get their heads around how we will be improving the transit experience for cyclists and walkers.”
Mr Caddie said the bulk of Council funds spent to date on cycling and walkways had gone into the recreational infrastructure but he wanted to see more attention paid to routes around the city for commuters.
“People should not have to fear for their lives when they ride a bike. Gisborne used to have 20,000 cyclists in the 1960s, we can get back to those sort of numbers relatively quickly if the infrastructure makes it easier rather than harder to leave the car at home for the majority of city residents.”
Funds for the Kaiti to Wainui cycleway will come from Regional Roading Funds after an assessment of costs to improve roads for heavy vehicles between Tolaga Bay and Matawhero found that only $1.5 million of $9 million available will need to be used for that project. The cycleway is the second highest priority project in the regional roading programme and an application to NZTA will be submitted in the next month and construction is expected to be completed this financial year.
The project had been set to proceed three years ago but changes to the NZTA funding priorities set by the Minister of Transport meant further delays as cycleways are now considered a low priority by central government. The current Government Policy Statement for transport commits 50 times more on seven new highways than the total budget for cycling and walking infrastructure.
Mr Caddie said he expected a few supporters of the cycleway to attend the Regional Transport Committee meeting at Lawson Field Theatre on Thursday afternoon where a paper noting the news is on the agenda.