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Boost for local cycling and walking

shared paths cycling

Wairoa District’s Council vision of growing cycling and walking in town has received a $1.9 million boost.

Council has successfully attracted the external funding through an application to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Transport Choices 2022 fund.

The funding is for stage one of a proposal that aims to educate future bike riders and provide improved cycleway access.

The project supports a partnership approach with Tiaho Primary School and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngati Kahungunu o Te Wairoa and will develop streets near the schools and linking up with the Mountain bike park and river walkway.

The Transport Choices 2022 fund is based around climate change and reducing vehicle emissions which meant for Wairoa’s application to be considered a fresh out of the box style was needed.

Wairoa’s novel approach begins with a focus on the Tiaho Primary School and its surrounding areas. Through a combination of education and access, Council intends to plant the ‘seed’ to grow cycling and walking through primary school students, staff and parents.

Tiaho Primary School is undergoing development and upgrade works and part of this involves installing a Pump Track within the school grounds. A Pump Track is similar to a small BMX track where children do not pedal, but actually pump their bikes up and down the slopes in a fun way to get around the tracks.

Council is harnessing this new enthusiasm for cycling and to compliment the Pump Track will support the school by helping them get the Bikes in Schools educational programme into the school.

The proposal also takes in Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngati Kahungunu o Te Wairoa which has already lodged an application for implementing the Bikes in Schools programme.

A 400m safe zone around Tiaho and Te Kura is proposed with improvements such as shared paths and protected cycle lanes on the road. This zone includes sections along Clyde Road, Kitchener Street, Black Street and Rutherford Street which all provide access to the two schools to make cycling and walking to and from school a safer and more attractive option than it currently is.

The physical location of the kura means investment in walking and cycling infrastructure around them can easily link up to existing infrastructure and public amenities, increasing the benefits for the whole town.

Wairoa District Council Chief Executive Kitea Tipuna said the approach is mainly centred around education and can be the start of future generations playing a role in changing travel habits and reducing emissions by shifting their mindset now.

“Currently local residents are heavily dependent on the road network to provide the predominant mode of transport. Through this investment we will be able to offer a new alternative which is very positive for our walking and cycling in Wairoa and good for the environment. The rewards may not be huge to start with, but as this approach continues to grow over time, the rewards will be more noticeable.”

The goal of the programme is to support safe, green and healthy school travel while also delivering strategic cycling/micro-mobility networks and creating walkable neighbourhoods.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little praised the Council staff for the innovative approach which was obviously recognised and supported by the funders.

“Linking in with schools is a great way to partner with our community and this project also provides the opportunity to improve our infrastructure and all with external funding at no cost to the ratepayer.

“The concept of starting with our younger generation is great and I look forward to seeing more connected pathways, safe cycling zones for our children and an increase in the use of bikes.

“We want cycling and walking to be an easy, safe and attractive choice for locals and visitors in the Wairoa district and this is a step in the right direction.”

7 December 2022

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