For many years all around New Zealand (and many other parts of the world), rates of walking and cycling have been steadily declining. This is despite increasing fuel prices, and increasing rates of diseases related to inactivity.
In 2010, Hastings District Council (HDC) submitted a proposal to the New Zealand Transport Agency 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 by helping us to be a little less car dependent, our home would become a better place to live for everyone. Children would have more freedom, and neighbours would be more sociable.
Hastings was awarded $4.0m, 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.
The programme was branded as “iWay” in January 2011.
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.
Napier joins iWay in 2015.
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) was also involved in pathway building. Thanks to National Cycleway funding in 2008/09 it was able to build the bulk of the region’s off road lime sand trail network.
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 alongside the existing Rotary paths and HBRC trails which come under the banner of the national cycle trails network.
Since 2014 Hawke’s Bay has had a Regional Cycling Governance Group. In 2015 its Regional Cycle Plan was adopted by all five Hawke’s Bay councils, the HB District Health Board, Hawke’s Bay Tourism, cycle advocates, and the Rotary Pathways Trust, which still funds off road paths in Napier.