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St James cycle trail lives up to promise of great ride

St James cycle trail lives up to promise of great ride

The opening of the first completed Great Ride of Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail, near the tourist town of Hanmer Springs, was welcomed by the Green Party today.

The 64 kilometre cycle trail passes through the backcountry of the St James Conservation Area, which is home to matagouri scrublands and at least 5 different species of iconic tussock grass.

“I look forward to taking my mountain bike out on this fantastic trail,” said Green Party cycling spokesperson, Kevin Hague.

The Green Party is working jointly with the Government to realise a shared vision for a national cycle network. The Government recognises the Green Party's particular expertise in active and sustainable transport, especially cycling.

“Nga Haerenga provides a sustainable and healthy way to appreciate our valuable conservation lands, and has the potential to reinforce our clean, green brand,” said Mr Hague.

“The long-term vision is a network of cycling routes and tracks throughout the country that can be used by tourists and recreational riders, and also by people going to work or the supermarket, and kids riding to school,” said Mr Hague.

“The Prime Minister and I have previously acknowledged that quiet, back-country links into and around towns and cities will need to be part of the network, which could add thousands of additional kilometres and substantial benefits with relatively little extra cost,” Mr Hague said.

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.

“In the case of the St. James Cycle Trail, the town of Hanmer Springs seems well-positioned to take advantage of the economic boost, just as Ohakune has been with the trail we opened earlier this year. The Department of Conservation also gets the opportunity to generate revenue for conservation purposes. It’s all win-win.

“I look forward to the opening of many more kilometres of trails in the coming months,” added Mr Hague.

ENDS

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