Rotorua is set to retain its status as ‘New Zealand’s favourite place to cycle’, after the Prime Minister announced a $1.5 million funding injection for local cycling projects.
The funding boost, announced today as part of the Government’s $296 million Urban Cycleway Programme (UCP), will go towards developing Rotorua’s $5.52m Cy-Way project, a network of 23.7km cycling and walking paths that will connect the central city and forest mountain bike trails.
Construction is expected to begin as early as this year, following funding approvals for the remainder of the cost, which will be shared by Rotorua Lakes Council and the NZ Transport Agency.
The Transport Agency and Rotorua Lakes Council have welcomed the UCP funding boost, which means the Cy-Way will be completed in just three years rather than the 10 years the organisations initially planned.
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.”
“Rotorua is a much loved destination for cyclists who love the Redwoods and other recreational facilities and was recently voted New Zealand’s favourite place to cycle.
“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 district.”
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick says the UCP investment means Council can achieve some important projects well ahead of what we had originally planned, providing high quality cycling facilities that will link schools, workplaces and our suburbs.
“Our planned cycleway projects will improve our city and our infrastructure and make the city a safer place to get around for both locals and visitors.”
Cycling – both on and off-road – has become a key component of Rotorua’s economic development and the Cy-Way programme funding will see the development of more than 23kms of shared paths, linking the local urban and central city areas, the Mayor says.
Key routes will include a link from Western Heights and Koutu to the inner city, a circuit from Western Heights through Pukehangi, Sunnybrook and Utuhina to the central city and connections to the lakefront and through the city centre, in turn connecting to the existing network including the eastern suburbs and links to mountainbike trails in Whakarewarewa forest.
“Cycling is one thing that is helping us to refresh ourselves, alongside our traditional offerings and industries,” Mayor Chadwick says. “We’ve already got some great cycling facilities here and we’re working on developments like the Green Corridor which will add to that.
“This funding will allow us to progress that work much faster, towards our vision to be a truly cycle friendly city. That’s what we’re aiming for, as part of our unique offering, both for people who live here and for visitors.
“It’s great to see that the focus of this particular programme of work is on increasing and improving our urban cycling network – locals will be the major benefactors. If we want more locals to cycle, we need to make it safe for them to do that,” she says.
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.
It will see $296 million invested across 41 projects in 15 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)