Plans to connect Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty with a series of cycling paths have received a $3.8 million funding boost through the Government’s Urban Cycleways Fund.
The funding injection, announced by the Prime Minister today, will go towards completing the remaining sections of the Tauranga cycle network, and developing the proposed Omokoroa to Tauranga cycleway, following NZ Transport Agency and council approvals.
The Transport Agency, Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council welcomed the funding announcement, saying it will take the sub-region’s total cycle spend up to an estimated $15 million over the next decade, and help establish cycling as an integral part of the transport network.
Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby says that today’s funding announcement is a positive step that will support all three organisations to jointly fast-track the delivery of high quality cycling facilities across the sub-region.
“Tauranga City Council’s focus for the next three years is on completing the final 60km of the city’s urban cycleway network, which links the city with schools, suburbs and key employment areas,” he says.
“This will involve completing the missing links on 10 key commuter routes and installing cycle lanes and off-road facilities.
“We’ll also be improving intersection safety, bike parking and route signage, and building two overbridges – one over Route K and one connecting the Lakes Development to the Tauriko Business Estate.
“This work will ensure as many people as possible can choose to cycle for commuting and for pleasure.
“The Urban Cycleways programme and Transport Agency’s funding support, Western Bay District Council’s commitment and the overwhelming support from the Tauranga community means we will also be able to participate in connecting Omokoroa to Tauranga through a 16km long scenic cycleway.
“ It’s really exciting for all our communities.”
Mayor Ross Paterson says Western Bay residents sent a strong message through the Long Term Plan that they support investment in cycleways in the district.
“This investment will bring substantial benefits from tourism spending, as well as health and recreation benefits to our communities,” Mayor Paterson says.
“Working in partnership with other agencies is a positive thing as it maximises the value from every dollar the funders provide.”
The 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.”
“This funding boost announced today is great news that will help fast track facilities designed to encourage even more people to get on their bike and travel around the region.
Mr Wilson says the Transport Agency will partner with local authorities to accelerate the delivery of cycling networks and was also working to improve safety, and perceptions of safety, for cyclists.
“This includes safer networks in all main urban centres, improving attitudes towards cycling, and building mutual respect between cyclists and other road users.”
The Government’s 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.
It will see $296 million invested across 41 projects in urban centres over the next three years, to establish cycling as an integral part of the New Zealand transport network.
The 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).