Govt pledges $100m for cycleways

A National Party promise to spend $100 million over four years on urban cycleways may fast-track major projects in Christchurch, cycling advocates say.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee announced the Government's new spending plan yesterday. It will include an urban cycling investment panel to decide where the money will be spent.

Canterbury cycling advocate Don Babe, the chairman of Spokes Canterbury, said the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and the Christchurch City Council had already committed to spending almost $100m over the next five years on Christchurch's cycling infrastructure.

The council has promised to build 13 routes for a cycleway network in Christchurch over the next five years.

"It is hoped that yesterday's announcement will bring forward the delivery times on these projects," Babe said.

"In particular, the Christchurch Coastal Pathway from Ferrymead to Sumner could be delivered earlier with this support from the Government."

The council committed $9.9m towards the partly-built Coastal Pathway project with additional funding arrangements to be finalised.

Babe said the organisation was looking forward to working with the Government to prioritise spending.

"Spreading the increased spending through urban centres might not produce big changes in all centres; this spending has to be targeted to where it will be leveraged by other local spending to make these projects happen in a short time frame."

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.

Brownlee said building a bigger urban cycling network required new infrastructure to expand and connect the cycleway networks.

"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," Brownlee said.

The Press