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Hamilton City Council sets an example with electric bikes

An electric bike purchasing scheme approved at today’s Hamilton City Council Growth and Infrastructure Committee meeting is planned to help reduce congestion and carbon emissions, support staff health and set an example for other large employers in the city.

Councillors voted 9-2 to approve the scheme, which will see staff able to purchase electric bikes and pay for them in full via deductions from their salaries. Tauranga City, Waipa District and Bay of Plenty Regional Councils are among councils with similar schemes.

A pre-approved vendor for supply of the bikes will be found through a formal procurement process, with the initial offer being for 100 bikes, subject to staff uptake. The Council expects the scheme to be in place by 1 July 2019.

Other items on today’s agenda focussed on supporting and managing Hamilton’s steady growth, including an ever-increasing visitor spend in the city, improving road safety in the region and approving the structural form of a new bridge across the Waikato River to Peacocke:

Visitor spend tops $1.5 billion.

The Hamilton and Waikato region topped the $1.5 billion mark for visitor expenditure in the last calendar year and secured a 10.4% market share of the lucrative conventions, meetings and business events market.

This data and other key indicators of the economic benefits of domestic and international tourism were presented by Hamilton and Waikato Tourism’s (HWT’s) Chief Executive Jason Dawson.

HWT is supported by Hamilton City Council and six other councils, providing combined annual funding of $1.215M. Councillors were told this funding generates a return on investment of $1,270 in visitor spend per dollar of Council funding, a ratio significantly better than many other regions.

The region is now the fifth largest in New Zealand by visitor spend, and the fourth-largest for conventions and business events. There is still an opportunity for further hotel accommodation in the city but an emerging market for Hamilton is AirBnB, which by the end of 2018 had 535 properties listed in the city, reporting a 66% occupancy rate in December 2018.

Road safety leadership commended

Improving road safety and reducing fatalities was the focus of a presentation to the Committee by Inspector Marcus Lynam, NZ Police’s Waikato District Road Police Manager.

Inspector Lynam said Hamilton City Council was ‘doing a really good job’ and showing leadership in road safety, particularly around speed management, education and engineered and improved infrastructure for pedestrians, people on bikes and at intersections.

Massive increases in population and vehicle movements in the past decade were discussed, Inspector Lynam noting a national population increase of 600,000 people in 10 years and 100,000 more trucks in the last four years. Police are focusing on four key areas to reduce the road toll; seatbelts (25% of fatalities were not wearing a seatbelt), impairment, (with drugs now a greater factor than either fatigue or alcohol), distraction (such as cellphone use), and speed.

Across the policing district there are around 400 seatbelt infringements issued monthly, 210 drink-driving infringements, 200 infringements for cellphone usage and close to 2800 speeding infringements, (not including speed cameras).

Bridge form approved

Committee members approved a structural form for a new bridge across the Waikato River, part of the infrastructure supporting a new neighbourhood in Peacocke in the city’s south. Peacocke is expected to be home for another 9000 Hamiltonians in the next 10 years.

The bridge’s basic form will be a structural steel deck with a Y-shaped central pier, one of four options and the option which provided the best balance between construction costs and ongoing maintenance costs. The bridge will not only provide access for vehicles, pedestrians and people on bikes, it will also provide a crossing for strategic services such as water and wastewater.

More detailed design elements of the bridge will be discussed by the Council in June 2019, with construction expected from late 2020 and a completion date planned for 2023/24.

Other items:

In other items today, the Committee approved a submission to NZ Transport Agency regarding a proposed reduction in the amount of eyesight tests for driver licencing, approved consultation with the community on a Solid Waste Bylaw, and received reports relating to Development Contribution remissions, regional and sub-regional growth planning, policy and bylaw reviews, waste management and an update on the Hamilton-Auckland Start-Up Passenger Rail Service.

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