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Hamilton’s biking plans receive major boost

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Plans to connect Hamilton with a series of cycle ways have received a $3 million funding boost through the Government’s Urban Cycleways Fund.

The funding injection, announced today, will go towards developing the $4 million Western Rail Trail, a 2.7km off-road shared path that will connect the south-western suburbs of Hamilton with the city centre, using the rail corridor. 

Construction is expected to begin as early as 2016, following funding approvals for the remainder of the cost, which will be shared by the NZ Transport Agency and Hamilton City Council.

The Transport Agency and Hamilton City Council welcomed today’s funding announcement, saying it will take the city’s total cycle spend up to an estimated $12  million over the next decade. 

Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker says the Western Rail Trail – which will provide links along the city rail line from the south-west suburbs to the central city, Seddon Park, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton Girls High School and Wintec with future potential to connect to Lake Rotoroa and Frankton – is a key project for the city.

“The Western Rail Trail is an exciting project for Hamilton and we are extremely grateful to receive the $3mil from the Urban Cycleway Fund. It means the project can get underway very soon.

“It’s Hamilton’s chance to have its own special rail trail as well as providing an off road link into the central city for commuters.”

“The Hamilton Biking Plan  aims to develop biking networks that link schools and major employment areas with the city and suburbs and encourages more people to bike more often,” says Mayor Hardaker.

“We know that more people want to bike but want that to be safe and off road, whether it’s young children riding to school or people going about their everyday activities.

“Cycleways that are physically separated from cars is a key part of what we want to achieve with the Biking Plan.”

The NZ Transport Agency’s Waikato Bay of Plenty regional director Harry Wilson says making cycling a safer and more attractive transport option is a key priority for the NZ Transport Agency.

“There has been a surge of interest in cycling and cycling safety in New Zealand and we want to support and encourage this,” he said.

“Getting more New Zealanders cycling will relieve congestion during peak travel times, connect people with a greater range of employment, education and social opportunities and contribute to a more environmentally sustainable future for our transport network.”

“Hamilton is perfectly positioned to help realise this goal,” he says. “It has a growing population, there are five National Cycle Trails in the Waikato region, and the nearby key sport cycling destination of Cambridge is right on its doorstep. 

“This UCP funding is great news that will allow the three organisations to jointly fast-track facilities that will encourage people to get on their bike.”

The Western Rail Trail is a key component of Council’s draft Biking Plan, which provides a vision for biking in the city over the next 30 years.

It aims to deliver projects that will create a fully connected biking network that is safe, family-friendly and attractive. The Biking Plan will be considered by the Council later in the year.

Several decisions around roading projects, which include cycleways, are expected to be made at a Council meeting on 30 June.

The Urban Cycleways Programme is designed to take full advantage of all available funding sources, including the National Land Transport Fund and local government, to enable high-quality projects to get underway much sooner than may otherwise have been the case.

The NZ Transport Agency anticipates the total investment in cycling in New Zealand over the next three years will be around $380 million to $400 million, delivering more than 250km of new urban cycleways and greater network connectivity.

To find out more about the Urban Cycleways Programme you can visit the NZ Transport Agency website www.nzta.govt.nz/UCP(external link)

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