Traf­fic-free river bridge at­tracts cy­clists in droves

Hamilton News - - Front Page -

“If you build it, they will come.”

This slight vari­a­tion of a quote from the classic Kevin Cost­ner 1989 film Field of Dreams best de­scribes the lat­est sta­tis­tics on us­age of the Ngaru­awahia sec­tion of the Te Awa River Ride.

Since the Novem­ber 2017 open­ing of the Perry Bridge over the Waikato River near Ngaru­awahia, the av­er­age weekly us­age of the cy­cle­way by cy­clists has in­creased 435 per cent from 133 to 711, while the av­er­age weekly num­ber of walk­ers has risen 12 per cent from 348 to 391.

Waikato District Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Gavin Ion says the stats are a re­flec­tion of the na­ture of the project to build the bridge across the Waikato River and com­plete the Ngaru­awahia sec­tion of the Te Awa River Ride.

“Coun­cil col­lab­o­rated with its con­trac­tors, fund­ing part­ners and lo­cal com­mu­nity to en­sure this bridge and cy­cle­way would make a dif­fer­ence to the lo­cal area,” says Mr Ion.

“These num­bers con­firm that this is hap­pen­ing. It means that more peo­ple are keep­ing ac­tive in and around Ngaru­awahia. Whether they be lo­cals or vis­i­tors, it is only great news for the lo­cal com­mu­nity and lo­cal busi­nesses.”

Gen­eral man­ager of the Te Awa River Ride Char­i­ta­ble Trust, Jen­nifer Palmer, says the re­cep­tion to the Ngaru­awahia sec­tion of the cy­cle­way has been in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing.

“We have been ab­so­lutely thrilled to see these num­bers. We’ve known, anec­do­tally, that the Ngaru­awahia sec­tion and Perry Bridge have been ex­traor­di­nar­ily pop­u­lar but this data ex­ceeds our ex­pec­ta­tions,” she says.

Chair of the Te Awa River Ride Char­i­ta­ble Trust, Si­mon Perry, says he is ex­tremely pleased to see the lat­est stats.

“These num­bers con­firm some­thing we’ve al­ways be­lieved to be true; ‘build it and they will come’.

“We’ve seen the same in­creases across other sec­tions of Te Awa — it’s not just more peo­ple on bikes but more busi­ness for the lo­cal cafes, more guests at our ho­tels and B&BS, more bike hire op­er­a­tors — the list goes on and on.

“We’re look­ing for­ward to com­plet­ing the Hamil­ton to Cambridge sec­tion over the next few years and see­ing the vast so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fits that will con­tinue to be gen­er­ated.”

The last word should go to a user of the cy­cle­way, and that is Horotiu School stu­dent, 12-yearold Kayla Pick­ens, who is lov­ing the new bridge and cy­cle­way.

“Be­fore the bridge, we used to bike to the gate to see the progress, turn around and bike back. Now we bike from Ngaru­awahia to The Base on the cy­cle­way.

“We used to do it in the sum­mer hol­i­days all the time, but now it’s usu­ally just once a week in the week­ends. I bike to a meet­ing point by my­self and meet

Photo / Tom Row­land

Since the open­ing of the iconic Perry Bridge near Ngaru­awahia, the av­er­age weekly us­age of the cy­cle­way by cy­clists has in­creased 435 per cent.

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