In 2010, Hastings District Council (HDC) submitted a proposal to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to become New Zealand’s first “Model Community” – an initiative designed to demonstrate that carefully planned, sustained investment in walking and cycling can have a positive impact on a community.
HDC believed that in helping to make walking and cycling an easier choice and reducing our reliance on cars, our district would become a better place to live for everyone. Children would have more freedom, and neighbours would be more sociable.
Hastings was awarded $4m, supported by a $2.4m local contribution. This investment supported a two-year programme of construction and promotion, including a network of new pathways, community promotion and awareness programmes.
By mid-2012, the network was completed on time and within budget. More than 100km of new pathways were constructed, including four key “arterial” routes that link the communities of Flaxmere, Hastings, Havelock North and Clive. iWay was well on the way to becoming a well-established and widely recognised local movement.
In June 2012, with the declining rates of walking and cycling reversed, NZTA decided to further invest in the future of Hastings with an additional $11m contribution. This was used to increase network links to further improve safety, and to extend our school promotions and educational campaigns.
Work began on Napier’s pathways in 2002, following the formation of the Rotary Pathways Trust, which in partnership with Napier City Council (NCC) and NZTA, started work on the coastal pathway from Bay View to Awatoto.
Both Napier and Hastings councils had already adopted cycle strategies, which laid the framework for on and off-road cycle networks to be developed over time as funding allowed.
We can’t forget the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) who spearheaded the development of Hawke’s Bay Trails. Thanks to national cycleway funding in 2008/09, with help from HBRC, Rotary Pathway Trusts, Napier City Council and Hastings District Council, they created ‘Hawke’s Bay Trails’. With funding they were able to build the bulk of the region’s off-road lime sand trail network, incorporating the wonderful legacy of the Rotary Pathways. In 2012 the trails officially opened, as one of 22 Great Rides in the New Zealand Cycle Trail network. The Hawke’s Bay Trails attract visitors from around NZ and the world to experience our beautiful region and hospitality. For locals the network is also very popular - for social rides, walking, events, commuting - and it connects the villages, towns and cities.
In 2015 a combined HDC-NCC application was successful in obtaining a share of the Government’s current Urban Cycleway Programme funding to further extend the urban walking and cycling facilities in both cities, including a connection between them.
A key element in encouraging more urban cycle use is a recognisable common identity across both cities. iWay is well established and effective, which is why it is being rolled out in Napier.
There’s growing recognition in New Zealand and abroad that cycling benefits society in a number of ways including: lower traffic congestion (due to fewer motor vehicles on the road network), improved health (including mortality and morbidity), reduced vehicle operating costs and improved travel times (related to efficiency in conditions of lower congestion) and reduced pollution (since active transport modes involve no emissions).
To increase the number of trips made by bicycle it will be necessary to attract a large proportion of the general population to cycle. Studies show that a lot of people who do not currently cycle for transport are willing but wary of doing so without physical protection from high-speed or high-volume motor traffic.
Connected routes are needed with provisions that are suited to the surrounding traffic environment.
As well as being perceived to be safe (to attract new users) they must also provide a high level of actual safety (i.e. with low crash rates).
The NZ Cycling Safety Panel (2014) concluded “the number one priority that will do the most towards achieving the ultimate vision and in the shorter term reduce the incidence of cycling crashes, is providing improved cycling infrastructure, particularly in urban areas where the great majority of crashes occur.”
Since 2014, Hawke’s Bay has had a Regional Cycling Governance Group to help guide future developments in this space. In 2015, its Regional Cycle Plan was adopted by all five Hawke’s Bay councils, the HB District Health Board, Hawke’s Bay Tourism and cycle advocates.
So, with the collaboration of all councils, the development of both ‘iWay’ (think urban) and ‘Hawke’s Bay Trails’ (think seaside or countryside), has created an extensive combined shared walking and cycling network in Hawke’s Bay, highly esteemed and emulated by other regions around New Zealand.
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