Ac­tive trans­port mo­men­tum builds

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENVIRONMENT - CHRIS­TINE CHEYNE

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.

PHOTO: AN­THONY BEHRENS/SUP­PLIED

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.

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