Bikenz: Update On National Cycleway

Postby Melissa_Theuriau on Tue 7/Apr/09 8:54am

Cross Roads for National Cycleway
This week is a critical one for the National Cycleway as Cabinet is set to consider and decide on its fate. Cabinet will be considering different options for a cycleway, including benefits and costs and whether it will deliver against the goals of the Job Summit. If it gets the green light, Cabinet will also be deciding where it sits as a priority and funding stakes when compared to the other Summit proposals, not to mention the government’s wider work programme as it looks to set the upcoming Budget. Tantalisingly, we will have to wait until late April when a public announcement of the Government’s decision is expected.

It’s quite incredible to think only five weeks have passed since the concept of a national cycleway sprang out of the Job Summit. At that time the concept was completely un-developed and extremely vulnerable to public and political opinion and will.

BikeNZ, the Cycling Advocates Network, Cycle Touring Operators of NZ, The Hikurangi Foundation, The Kennett Brothers, Living Streets Aotearoa, Mike Barnett Associates, Mountain Bike NZ and Quality Tourism Developments were quick to join forces to support the development of the concept into something that could give confidence to the government and wider public that it was a credible idea worth developing.

This involved forming a collective vision of what a national tourist cycleway that delivered economic benefits and jobs could look like and then engaging with our networks, the Ministry of Tourism, stakeholders in the tourism sector and the media to create a wider understanding and support for the cycleway.

Iconic Rides
The vision developed was for a number of iconic tourist rides around the country inter-connected by a continuous cycleway. The Iconic rides would offer a range of exceptional, yet different off road tourist experiences (geography, scenery, culture etc). They would initially be targeted at an existing strong international and growing domestic market demand of people looking for a softer recreational, social ride and tourist experience. Routes would ideally have gentle gradients with wide smooth surfaces able to be ridden by the majority of people. Overtime, additional iconic rides could be developed targeting different niche market opportunities for more advanced levels of riding either on or off road.

The iconic tourist rides would ideally be multi-day experiences with high level of service as this is where the economic opportunity is for smaller communities along route. The Otago Rail Trail is a good example that illustrates this well.

It is thought that the majority of users would look to ride a section of the cycleway at a time, returning to complete different sections overtime in much the same way people undertake DOC’s Great Walks. The cycleway would be from one end of the country to the other zigzagging across the country on favourable cycling routes to join up with the iconic rides, tourist regions. No preferred route or combination of iconic rides was proposed. A detailed fact sheet is available to download if further information is sought.

Developing a business case
Over the last two weeks our collective activities have focused on supporting the Ministry of Tourism to develop a Cabinet paper on the National cycleway. The paper will inform Cabinet of potential options for a national cycleway, costs and benefits, and ultimately, the government’s decision whether to support further development of a national cycleway concept. Public announcement of their decision is not expected before late April.

Key information we were able to provide to the Ministry included;
  • The vision as outlined above,
  • examples of cycle tourism products and detailed economic data of the cycle tourism market from New Zealand and overseas,
  • costings for constructing various route surfaces,
  • examples of overseas cycle networks,
  • a stock take of regionally significant touring routes using the existing road and off road network, and
  • a stock take of proposed or planned regionally significant off-road routes.
The economic data and information on proposed or planned off-road routes was particularly significant and important to be able to provide as there was little understanding of both at a national level.

The stock take was not an exercise to determine where a cycle tourism route would go, but to provide options and give confidence to the government that either an on-road or off-road cycleway is a practical and achievable goal. This information supplemented information provided by the Department of Conservation and On Track.

Obtaining the economic data and route stock take information relied heavily on our networks and placed considerable demands on people and organisations to provide information in a very short time frame. The response was phenomenal and I would like to thank all those people and organisations throughout the country that submitted information.

Positive support
What has become clear while working on the cycleway is that it has generated an incredible amount of support throughout the country. Over recent weeks we have become aware of many regional cycling and economic development groups coming together to start progressing cycling tourism proposals or to fast track existing plans. Many of those groups have engaged with their local MPs and also notified the Prime Minister of their plans and support for the cycleway proposal.

Our organisations collectively wrote to the Prime Minister thanking him for his strong interest in the cycleway and offered our support to develop a national off-road cycle network. We took the opportunity to highlight the phenomenal level of support shown by many regional development groups and the wider public. We asked that the government provide sufficient and extended funding to ensure New Zealand is able to capitalise on the opportunities and public demand, thereby ensuring the benefits can be truly realised.

Next Steps
The next steps on the national cycleway are very unclear until the government make a decision on whether to support a cycleway, what vision for a cycleway they commit to, and how they intend to progress it. If the cycleway goes ahead, expect to see a period of planning and development to determine how the government will progress the development of the cycleway and what role regional groups will play in this process.

Ultimately we want to ensure that the cycleway realises its full potential and that all cyclists have a voice in the development of a cycleway and that cyclists own the ongoing development of this moving forward.

For further information, please contact
John Willmer
Cycling Development Manager
Ph. 04 5600 332.
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Re: Bikenz: Update On National Cycleway

Postby maxwel on Thu 9/Apr/09 2:04pm

As far as I know, this item was supposed to go to Cabinet on Monday, 6 April 09. But as we found out on that evening's news, Cabinet had spent all day discussing the Auckland supercity proposal. I hear that the National Cycleway item has been deferred by a fortnight. Apparently, there's nothing sinister about Cabinet items being deferred - it happens all the time.
So we'll have to wait a little longer.
Axel Wilke
Cycling Advocates' Network
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Member for: 10 years 3 months

Re: Bikenz: Update On National Cycleway

Postby phunk on Thu 9/Apr/09 2:12pm

Hopefully by then they would have come to their senses and realised that spending taxpayer money on a national cycleway is at best a waste of money!
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Re: Bikenz: Update On National Cycleway

Postby Kazmeistyr on Thu 9/Apr/09 2:16pm

phunk wrote:Hopefully by then they would have come to their senses and realised that spending taxpayer money on a national cycleway is at best a waste of money!

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Re: Bikenz: Update On National Cycleway

Postby footprints on Fri 10/Apr/09 4:16pm

The perception one gains from Bill English, Q + A Sunday 9am, 5/4/09, putting on hold 4000 unemployed New Zealanders having jobs to build a much needed cycle way the length of New Zealand, the Green, if you like, in My Key's idea, is not because of the $50 000 000 cost, in which some commentators have described as conservative, but because Mr English has endorsed this money for himself and the minority of New Zealander's already on extreme incomes.

Who would cycle with the tiny wheels of Bill English and his supporters when we can SOAR with the mighty wheels of John Key and those of us who support this brilliant idea. Go cycleway forever baby...

On behalf of the myriad of cycling tourists, the cycling public and the frustrated motorist's, who need to be mindful when passing touring cyclists, the cycling public and roadies, coming from 100kilometers an hour to 10 kilometers an hour plus, and the truck driver who was unable to do this over the recent past when killing a cycling tourist traveling in the same direction as he was.
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