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The wheels are turning more swiftly for cyclists.

Cycling is booming as a recreational activity.

Hopefully, bikes also become more of a commuting mode of choice.

The pleasure and challenge of the pastime are evident in the headlines this week as the Dunstan Cycle and Walking Trail celebrated its first anniversary.

This "Great Ride" twists, climbs, falls and runs from Pisa Moorings and alongside the gorge to Clyde.

It was always going to be spectacular with its over-the-water clip-ons, its swing bridges and its rocky bluffs.

What has been likewise remarkable has been its popularity — about 80,000 users in the first year, far more than predictions.

It is such that some visitors from around New Zealand have made it the reason for a trip south.

The rest of their holiday follows.

The trail did not just happen.

It took vision and determination and dedicated volunteers behind the scenes as well as hefty funding.

In 2016, $13.5 million from central government, $11.5 million from the Central Lakes Trust and $2 million from the Otago Community Trust were announced to fund 170km of trails joining the "Great Rides" of the region under the auspices of the Central Otago Queenstown Trail Network Trust.

What an outstanding way to start by completing the Lake Dunstan Trail.

All up the region will have a total of 536km of connected trails.

Meanwhile, the not-so-far-away Alps 2 Ocean and Clutha Gold rides have seen substantial increases in numbers, while the trail-blazing Otago Central Rail Trail keeps on keeping on.

Its continued popularity is in part founded on the ease of its gradients and turns.

Many tourist and recreational paths should be designed for the full range of riding abilities.

Border closures have helped boost New Zealanders’ interest in cycle tourism.

And the benefits spread across communities and districts beyond the traditional hot spots.

The advent of Australian visitors will give the trails another big boost next summer.

Meanwhile, the network spreads towards Dunedin with the planned Clutha Gold extension from Lawrence to Waihola and excitement building for the Tunnels Trail from Mosgiel to Dunedin.

Many of the more than 300 submissions to the Dunedin City Council’s draft annual plan — with hearings having started this week — are backing the project.

This is little wonder given the cycleway and walkway could open up transport and recreational opportunities for schoolchildren, commuters and tourists while providing flat access into Dunedin from the South.

The council has proposed accelerating the trail development and making it a priority, putting on hold other planned work.

This approach should be endorsed.

Dunedin’s urban commuter cycleways have received mixed receptions following the expense and minimal use of South Dunedin paths.

The harbourside tracks have been hits, however, with bikers and walkers.

They have widespread support.

The planned track from Mosgiel, using two long-disused tunnels built in the 1870s, will no doubt be popular at weekends.

Despite the revolutionary change brought on the e-bikes — it has made cycling accessible to so many more people and successfully tackles the impediment of Dunedin’s hills — cycle commuting remains sluggish.

Weather and safety remain worries. While winter frosts are rarer these years and while wet days are relatively infrequent, it takes some determination to make cycling to work or school more than just a fair-weather activity.

Cycling is especially prevalent among the professional and educated classes, often those with influence and sometimes disposable income.

It is in vogue with families.

Dunedin has made a play of its need to be attractive to technology workers and creative industry.

The presence of a variety of cycle trails and cycling opportunities is part of that drawcard.

Cycling, as well as its physical and potential environmental benefits, is a wonderful way to enjoy the attractiveness of nature and the outdoors.

When the backdrop is as beautiful as around Dunedin, Central Otago and so many areas in the South, it is little wonder its popularity is climbing.


 

Comments

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The editor obviously doesn't walk on the harbour shared pathway at the weekend, or maybe he is like many of us who walk there regularly and have given up on the weekend because of the dangerous behaviour of entitled cyclists. The harbour side SHARED path is a great idea but poorly designed - it is too narrow. Too many cyclists think it is only for cyclists and ride too fast, giving little warning to walkers.
It is time cyclist started paying their way and contributed to the cost of cycleways and the additional cost to ACC. A bike tax is needed and cycling proficiency test required

How many cycle accidents have there been on the pathway?

Difficult to say, research internationally says they are rarely reported. I know of a couple of walkers who have been injured by careless cyclists. However, the comment was more about the number of cycle accidents generally which have definitely gone up in recent times. There was a bad one only this week and one on Portsmouth Drive fairly recently.

"Paying their way" - that's an old trope long proven false: let it go. As for dangers, everyone needs to do their part in sharing the paths. This includes those walking their dogs on those extendable leads (complete lack of control), and those with earbuds who don't hear the bike bell or shouts until it's too late.
Overall those paths are a brilliant addition to the harbour: suffering slightly being a victim of their own success, but only until everyone gets used to co-existing.

All of the cycle lanes are poorly designed around the city the idiotic one ways at the top of the list.

The peninsula shared cycle way is poorly designed for cyclists. What a stupid design having bikers who normally ride at 30-50kph in with pedestrians and other hazards. Now if faster cyclists ride on the road they get abuse from drivers. There should have been an on road cycle lane in both directions and a pathway for kids, walkers, dogs and prams. The peninsula loop made it to the lonely planet’s top 10 Rides in the world. I bet it’s well off there now.

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