National promises cash for city cyclists

Last updated 22:49 18/08/2014

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The National Party is promising to spend $100 million over four years in new funding on urban cycleways.

National rolled out its big guns to try to whip up some enthusiasm for the new proposal, but the massed ranks of reporters were barely interested.

Prime Minister John Key and Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee visited the Petone foreshore for the announcement this afternoon. 

They attracted a journalistic throng but questions about cycling were over in a flash, then the attention turned to the continuing fallout from the publication of Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics. 

Key's repeated suggestions that the rest of the country would be more interested in cycleways or other initiatives fell on unresponsive ears.

Petone was chosen as the location of today's announcement because work is under way to develop a route for cyclists between there and Ngauranga alongside State Highway 2.

Key also noted the national cycle trail network launched in 2009 had  grown to 2575kmm with 10 trails in the North Island and 12 in the South Island.

As part of today's proposal, National would set up an urban cycling investment panel  to look at where the money would be spent. Members of the panel would come from central and local government and other organisations.

Building more comprehensive cycling networks will require new infrastructure to connect existing routes and expand the network into wider urban areas," Brownlee said.

"And as these connections will be a mix of local roads and state highways, we'll need a strategic approach and collaboration at central and local government level.

"Some councils are well advanced in planning and constructing local cycleways, and we want to ensure we do what we can to complement them and make them capable of being used by the widest number of people possible."

National is proposing to spend $10m in the current financial year, with $35m in 2015/16, $30m in 2016/17 and $25m in 2017/18.

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Brownlee said that as well as the money announced today, up to $30m was available from the National Land Transport Fund for walking and cycling projects this financial year.

Another $103m was being proposed for the next three financial years from 2015/16 for walking and cycling in the draft Government Policy Statement on land transport.

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During the past three years the National Land Transport Programme had provided around $80m for dedicated walking and cycling facilities, along with another $80m that had delivered cycling benefits, such as cycle lanes on new highways, wider shoulders and better marking on local roads.

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