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More money for cycling needed

More money for cycling needed to tackle obesity epidemic

7 December 2004

National cycling organisation the Cycling Advocates' Network (CAN) today called on national and local government to invest much more heavily in creating a bicycle-friendly environment to help tackle the obesity epidemic.

"It's vital to get New Zealanders to build physical activity back into their daily lives," said CAN chairperson Robert Ibell. "Government at both a local and national level have to invest much more money in developing environments that will encourage people to cycle or walk for everyday journeys."

Welcoming the new report 'Tracking the Obesity Epidemic', launched yesterday by the Ministry of Health, Mr Ibell said "We have very clear evidence of the huge scale of the problem with obesity in New Zealand. Now we need to see government putting resources into tackling the problem, and encouraging active transport is an important part of the solution."

CAN is calling on local councils to increase the proportion of their roading budgets spent on cycling, and is also calling on Land Transport NZ to provide a higher subsidy rate for cycling projects.

"Councils need to make it much easier for people to choose active ways to get around. Right now most councils spend a tiny amount on cycling infrastructure, education and promotion," said Mr Ibell. "If they're concerned about the health of their communities then they've got to take cycling seriously and put much more money into it."

CAN believes a higher subsidy rate for cycling projects will be an incentive for local authorities to increase their level of investment in cycling. "Currently local authorities have to meet half the cost of most cycling projects. A higher level of subsidy for these projects from Land Transport NZ will be important in reversing decades of car-centred planning." said Mr Ibell.

"The cost of building cycling facilities is low compared to regular roading projects, yet the time spent on design and consultation can be relatively high, so there is a disincentive for councils to devote their energy to developing cycling projects." said Mr Ibell. "Offering a higher subsidy rate would help to counteract that."

CAN welcomes central government's intentions to take a 'whole of government' approach to transport issues. "But we're concerned that health issues don't get enough attention in transport planning and funding." said Mr Ibell. "What's good for sustainable transport is often good for health."

ENDS

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