PM support buoys coastal path backers

Endorsement from Prime Minister John Key has the backers of the Christchurch Coastal Walkway more hopeful than ever they can fund the $20m project.

Work on the multi-way purpose path has started on the Mt Pleasant Walkway from Ferrymead Bridge but the plan is for a 6.5-kilometre run along the coastal edge to Scarborough beach in Sumner.

The pathway was important for the city recreationally and for tourism, Key said at the Christchurch Yacht Club.

''The Coastal Pathway is a great idea and I know that already because my sister Sue told me that, and she's not to be messed with and as you know, she lives just down the road."

Cycleways and walkways were also popular - and worth the Government's investment in regional projects.

''If you look at the $50m we put into the 22 rural cycleways around the country, in January alone there were 97,000 people on them. And they're opening up parts of New Zealand - DOC estates and those sorts of (areas) - that a lot of people otherwise wouldn't have access to.

''The Coastal Walkway group estimates the initiative will benefit $50m over a three year period, based simply on ''transport benefits''.

Chairman Tim Lindley said until now there had been a strong emphasis in the city on a number of ''brilliant'' back-country cycleways but this urban pathway would be more gentle. ''It's something you'd used to get together and go have a coffee.''

Lindley said it had been hard at times to tell charitable funding agencies how the pathway would be designed and when it might be finished. Obstacles out of the group's control include the solution to Peacocks Gallop, the road between Shag Rock and Sumner.

''You've got those massive over-hanging cliffs and what are they going to do? Are they going to start knocking the cliff down and notching them back, will they have to shift the road? Until it's known what the solution is, we can't say when the pathway will go past it and what it will be.''

In whatever form it takes the pathway will be open to anyone from ''old folks on mobility scooters'' to people like Lindley's wife, who had just turned sixty and was keen to go roller-blading on it.

The coastal bays area currently had commuter cyclists but recreational cyclists generally found it too dangerous. ''So, if families and kids want to go biking, then this is a really good place.''

It should also link well to mountain-bike tracks in the hills and other parts of the city, Lindley said.

The Press