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Rediscovering the joys of walking and cycling

24 February 2005

Rediscovering the joys of walking and cycling

Mike Ward, Green Sports and Leisure and Associate Transport Spokesperson, has welcomed the launch today of New Zealand's first national walking and cycling strategy, developed jointly by the Government and the Greens.

"New Zealanders need to rediscover the delights of walking and cycling," said Mr Ward. "If more and more us choose the pavement and the pedal over the motorcar, we can save money, improve our health, and protect the environment.

"During the 1990s, the number of New Zealanders cycling and walking decreased markedly. That's a trend the Greens and the Government are seeking to reverse."

In 2002, the Greens provided the Government with support for an increase of land transport funding, provided that some of it was ring-fenced for public transport, alternatives to roading, and walking and cycling. The walking and cycling strategy provides a framework for the way money is spent in the future.

"This collaboration is a sign that the culture of our transport sector is changing. It is also a sign of how effective the working partnership between Greens and Government has been."

The Government has also announced $1.15 million in additional funding today for national walking and cycling initiatives.

"We're heartened by the expansion of walking and cycling initiatives, including the very successful Bike Wise programme. This funding recognises the very real gains to health and the environment that cycling brings. Not so long ago, there were concerns about whether Bike Wise would continue. Now it's going from strength to strength."

Mr Ward said New Zealanders' reliance on cars had been very damaging for our health, our environment, and our society.

"Because of our dependence on cars, more of us are going to die young or suffer nasty complications that come with cardiovascular disease and Type II diabetes or the unpleasant respiratory diseases that are aggravated by vehicle emissions. There is a simple way to overcome this fate: to rediscover the joys of walking and cycling.

"Changing the transport culture in New Zealand is going to be vastly less expensive than perpetuating the status quo and dealing with the consequences of ever more-congested communities, and out of control climate change. If walking and cycling are to make it into the consciousness and lifestyles of all New Zealanders then we must be prepared to significantly invest in them."

ENDS

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