The opening of a section of the 200km Cycleway trail from Ohakune to Whanganui gives a hint of what's to come — a network of cycle trails that will connect some of our most picturesque countryside to our towns and cities, the Green Party said today.
The Nga Ara Tuhono Cycleway will pass through the stunning scenery of Tongariro and Whanganui National Parks, include the iconic Bridge to Nowhere and Hapuawhenua Viaduct, and pass by the many marae along the Whanganui River Road.
"The Greens welcome the addition of this great ride to Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand cycleway," said Green Party cycling spokesperson, Kevin Hague.
The Green Party is working jointly with the Government to realise a shared vision for a national cycle network. The Government recognises the Green Party's particular expertise in active modes of transport, especially cycling.
"The long-term vision for this project is for a network of cycling routes and tracks throughout the country that can be used by tourists and recreational riders, but eventually by people also riding to work or the supermarket, and kids riding to school," said Mr Hague.
"The Prime Minister and I have previously acknowledged that quiet, back-country links into and around towns and cities will need to be part of the network. These links also have the potential to add thousands of additional kilometres and substantial benefits to Nga Haerenga with relatively little extra cost," Mr Hague said.
The Cycle Trail project has a highly successful precedent overseas. The UK National Cycle Network (SUSTRANS) was started with seed funding of £43 million in 1995. The Network now consists of over 10,000 miles of signed cycle routes carrying 386 million journeys in 2008. That usage realised £270 million in health savings and offered potential carbon emissions savings of 493,000 tonnes.
"For every £1 spent on the UK's cycle network, they're now realising up to £18-£40 in benefits, particularly where the cycleway runs through urban areas.
"The early enthusiasm for the Cycleway has not ebbed one bit and I anticipate many more hundreds of kilometres of trail to be added to the network in the coming months," added Mr Hague.
More on Nga Haerenga: www.tourism.govt.nz/cycleway