Ben­e­fits of back­ing walk­ing, cy­cling

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENVIRONMENT - CHRIS­TINE CHEYNE Chris­tine Cheyne is from Cy­cle Aware Manawatu and the Massey Univer­sity Plan­ning pro­gramme

The en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of tourism has be­come a grow­ing con­cern for lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, lo­cal gov­ern­ment, and even cen­tral gov­ern­ment. In the May 26 Bud­get there was new fund­ing to help com­mu­ni­ties to deal with the pres­sure cre­ated by boom­ing num­bers of in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors.

With this sig­nif­i­cant growth, and with fu­ture pro­jec­tions ex­pect­ing the an­nual tourist num­bers to equal the to­tal pop­u­la­tion in a few years, there are im­por­tant en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly tourist op­por­tu­ni­ties to be seized.

Along with ‘ Ki­wi­tanga’ – the unique Kiwi char­ac­ter and hospi­tal­ity that is re­ferred to in the Tourism 2025 re­port – the qual­ity of the en­vi­ron­ment is a ma­jor draw­card for in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors.

So it is es­sen­tial to re­duce any neg­a­tive en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts. Cy­cling, as an en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly way of ex­plor­ing a re­gion, is high­lighted in the re­port as one of the key at­trac­tions.

Un­like ad­ja­cent Wellington, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki and Waikato, our wider re­gion does not have a re­gional strat­egy for pro­mot­ing our ex­ist­ing and pro­posed new cy­cle trails. A re­gional walk­ing and cy­cling strat­egy would pro­vide a much­needed boost for ef­forts to pro­mote the unique op­por­tu­ni­ties for walk­ing and cy­cling in our re­gion.

It’s great to see en­thu­si­asm for this from lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. The Bai­nesse & Dis­tricts Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Trust is pro­mot­ing a new city to sea rail trail to con­nect the ex­ist­ing Palmer­ston North to Long­burn shared path with Hi­matangi.

How­ever, it’s chal­leng­ing for a com­mu­nity group to nav­i­gate its way through coun­cil long-term plan­ning pro­cesses and land-trans­port plan­ning, when the stake­hold­ers of the path and the fund­ing sources re­quire it to work across dif­fer­ent or­gan­i­sa­tional bound­aries.

Re­gional walk­ing and cy­cling strate­gies would pro­vide guid­ance and con­nec­tiv­ity across the re­gion. Even greater ben­e­fits come when the strat­egy re­sults from a col­lab­o­ra­tive fo­rum as hap­pened in the Waikato re­gion. This ap­proach gets ev­ery­one talk­ing, un­der­stand­ing dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives, and find­ing so­lu­tions.

PHOTO:WAR­WICK SMITH/ FAIR­FAX NZ

Off road path­ways and cy­cle trails pro­vide more en­joy­able and safer cy­cling ex­pe­ri­ences.

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