Safer cycling key to success of Cycle Trail
November 9, 2009
Safer cycling key to success of the Cycle Trail project
The turning of the first sod in the New Zealand Cycle Trail project will hopefully mark a turning point for central government’s commitment to cycling in New Zealand, said Green Party Cycling spokesperson Kevin Hague today.
“The Cycle Trail network will, over time, become a key piece of infrastructure delivering health, recreation, community development, and environmental benefits well in excess of its costs…if it is done right,” said Mr Hague.
The Green Party is working jointly with the Government to realise the vision for a national cycle network. The Government recognises the Green Party’s particular expertise in active modes of transport, especially cycling.
“The tourism benefits of the Cycle Trail project are obvious. Less obvious are the massive health benefits that will flow from encouraging more New Zealanders to get back on their bicycles, provided they feel safe on their saddles.”
The Cycle Trail project has a highly successful precedent overseas. The UK National Cycle Network (SUSTRANS) was started with seed funding of £43 million in 1995. The Network now consists of over 10,000 miles of signed cycle routes carrying 386 million journeys in 2008. That usage realised £270 million in health savings and offered potential carbon emissions savings of 493,000 tonnes.
“For every £1 spent on the UK’s cycle network, they’re now realising up to £18-£40 in benefits, particularly where the cycleway runs through urban areas,” Mr Hague said.
While the potential economic benefits of a national cycle network are huge, they ultimately depend on cycle safety.
“If visiting overseas cyclists feel unsafe riding on our roads while visiting, their enthusiasm for our cycle trails back home will be muted, at best,” said Mr Hague.