Nash becomes a publicist for the pedalling caper – taxpayers are tapped to help pave the pathways

On yer bikes, readers – and you don’t have to pedal.  You could do it with a company called On Yer Bike Adventures, operating out of Greymouth, which is the sort of option we at Point of Order might consider because no pedal power (it seems) is required.  The company’s  services involve off road quad biking and buggies

Then there’s an outfit called On Yer Bike Winery Tours with the much greater appeal of linking its customers with wine producers and (again getting rid of the need to pedal) hiring out e-bikes.  

But the Government seems to be more inclined to direct your taxes to more physically demanding forms of cycling – and/or walking.     

Cycle trails and cycle and walking tourism are more popular than ever, with nearly two million trips on the country’s Great Rides in one year, Tourism Minister Stuart Nash brayed in a statement prompted by the release of new stats. 

“New analysis of data from the 22 trails which form the Great Rides shows an increase of nearly 700,000 trips in the year to February, compared to 2015,” said Nash.

Having done with the publication of new figures, Nash became an unabashed publicist.

“The Great Rides offer intrepid travellers a low-cost and accessible way to see the best parts of the country by going off-road. The rides are graded from easy to expert, and offer something for riders and walkers of all abilities.

“Cycling and walking these trails is a great way to explore unique scenery and enjoy the best of local culture, architecture, food and wine. Cycle trails are growing in popularity with travellers who want to combine health and fitness activities with leisure and holidays.

“Cycleways and walkways are increasingly helping small regional communities to diversify their local economy. They support more tourism, accommodation and hospitality jobs. I encourage travellers to explore one this summer and support local businesses.”

Nash was especially enthusiastic about publicising the attractions of his home province

When it comes to the popularity of the Great Rides, he noted, the Hawke’s Bay Cycle Trail came out on top with 188,000 cycle trips and 220,000 pedestrian trips.

“It’s not surprising the Hawke’s Bay Cycle Trail was busiest of all. I know how popular it is from my own local cycling. Marine Parade in my home town of Napier is one of the most popular cycling paths in the country.”

He nevertheless pointed out that Hawke’s Bay has plenty of other great trails, including the Tukituki Trail, which will nearly double in length thanks to a $750,000 investment of public funding

“Research shows that pre-COVID, more domestic visitors to Hawke’s Bay used the region’s cycle trails than international tourists, contributing an estimated $10 million-plus to the local economy. That’s an important advantage for Hawke’s Bay as border restrictions to keep us safe from the pandemic have seriously impacted visitor numbers.”

He had other numbers to highlight the fact you don’t actually need a bike to enjoy the tracks into which taxpayers are pumping big bucks.   

“The report analyses data from automated counters on the 22 Great Rides between 1 March 2019 and 28 February 2020.  There are between one and 14 counters per Great Ride. The majority of counters or sensors can distinguish between cyclists and pedestrians, and also can determine the direction of travel.”

  • Over the 12 months from 1 March 2019 to 28 February 2020, there were 1,985,600 trips on the New Zealand Cycle Trail Great Rides, compared to 1,300,000 estimated in 2015.
  • 1,025,000 trips were by pedestrians.
  • 960,200 trips were by cyclists. 

“Pedestrians” refers to walkers, runners and trampers.

“Cyclists” refers to mountain bikers, bikepackers, cycle tourers and any other cyclist.

New Zealand Cycle Trails (NZCT), includes the Great Rides, Heartland Rides and some of the cycle trails in the Urban Cycling Network.

Government funding of up to $2 million a year through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment supports NZCT to employ trail managers and meet some operational costs of the Great Rides. It also helps cover general maintenance and urgent repairs following extreme events, such as flooding.

For the evaluation report online, see: https://www.mbie.govt.nz/dmsdocument/12641-evaluation-of-new-zealand-cycle-trail-counter-data-analysis-2020

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