Active transport momentum builds
There’s momentum around investment in walking and cycling infrastructure. This has been prompted by local people like Anthony Behrens who has provided compelling evidence about shortcomings in the roading environment for the rapidly growing numbers walking the Te Araroa Trail.
There’s currently a small boom in numbers of not only New Zealanders but also international visitors walking the trail from Bulls through to Levin, passing right through Palmerston North. This creates demand for visitor services and accommodation, but it has also attracted some negative social media comments about the lack of safe places to walk the trail.
A proposal is being developed by the New Zealand Transport Agency, Te Araroa and local mayors to develop a shared pathway for walkers and cyclists from Feilding to Palmerston North. Organisations or individuals who would like to support this are encouraged to make contact with Anthony (Anthony@swampthing.co.nz), city mayor Grant Smith or Manawatu District mayor Margaret Kouvelis. With a high level of community support, this project might be advanced more quickly.
Central government has also recently recognised the benefits of investing in walking and cycling infrastructure. NZTA has published research on the benefits which include more liveable towns and cities, improved conditions for travelling within towns and cities, stronger local economies, reduced costs for councils, less impact on the environment, and healthier and more productive people.
For anyone involved in transport planning there is nothing new in this report, but the critical point is that central government now clearly recognises the benefits, as the recent establishment of the Urban Cycleways Programme demonstrates. The programme provides central government funding to support local council investment in cycleways which are often shared paths benefiting lots of users including walkers, skateboards, scooters and mobility devices.
Research by Massey University on barriers to active transport in Palmerston North highlighted the positive influence of infrastructure with good qual- ity amenity – attractive, safe, and easy to use. The Manawatu River shared path is our iconic facility. He Ara Kotahi, the shared path between the city and Linton, will be a welcome extension as will a shared path between the city and Feilding.
View from the Te Araroa Trail of the Mangaone Stream, at Bunnythorpe. The proposed pathway from Feilding to Palmerston North would bridge this stream, making for a more attractive pathway for cyclists, walkers and the Bunnythorpe community.