The Government is muscling in on Green Party turf by
promising an extra $100 million over four years for urban
Its initiative has been announced from the top today by Prime
Minister John Key, who early in 2009 allocated $50 million -
since topped up by a further $8m - towards a national
cycleway being built in regional sections, to create jobs and
assist economic development.
The new money for urban bikeways - to be drawn from the
Government's consolidated fund - will be in addition to
between $45 million and $103m already announced for the next
three years for walking and cycling from road fuel taxes.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said the extra funding
followed recognition by National that cycleways in New
Zealand's largest cities were fragmented and offered varied
levels of service.
He said that was despite the health benefits offered from
commuting by bike, and the pressure it took off other
"Many people cite safety concerns and a lack of
infrastructure as reasons for not cycling so we're going to
begin building cycleways to a standard that delivers real
incentives for commuters to make a change," Mr Brownlee said.
"Building more comprehensive cycling networks will require
new infrastructure to connect existing routes and expand the
network into wider urban areas.
"This funding package also strongly complements other aspects
of the Government's ambitious transport infrastructure
programme, which is designed to ensure people and freight can
reach their destinations quickly and safely."
The minister said an urban cycleway investment panel would
include government and local body officials sitting with
representatives of organisations yet to be nominated, in time
for draft terms of reference to be presented to the Cabinet
by October 31.
His officials estimate that $10 million will be allocated for
this financial year, to be followed by respective annual
instalments of $35m, $30m and $25m.
The announcement follows a Green Party proposal for $100m to
be spend on walking and cycling improvements for each of the
next three years, before ramping up to $130m by 2024-25.
The Automobile Association predicts more money for bikeways
will offer benefits for all road users, saying existing
facilities are not well connected, resulting in "dangerous
pinch points when traffic converges."
Spokesman Mike Noon said safe cycling infrastructure
encouraging more people into the saddle would ease congestion
as well as "most importantly reducing the risk of cycling
crashes and injuries."