Nelson is now 1 of 4 NZ Model Community Finalists

April 16th 2010

Great news for local walking & cycling enthusiasts with yesterdays press release from the local Nelson City Council.

Over the last year we’ve heard much of the New Zealand Cycle Trail (earlier called the New Zealand Cycleway or NZ’s National Cycleway Project) and the good news here is that what the Council has proposed is definitely hyper-local and includes plenty of associated value to local residents & visitors alike.

Although not directly or specifically mentioning the trail, the release today said;

The Nelson bid details widespread developments including an off-road cycle and pedestrian path on Rocks Road, additional cycling facilities to the Richmond Deviation, the Brook, the Waimea Road/Ridgeway/Suffolk Road, a Poorman’s Stream connection from Isel Park across the main road, and widening the Maitai River shared pathway.

PHOTO CREDIT – isn’t Markus’s shot from Barnicoat one of the best you’ve seen? I happen to think its right up there with the best.

Tell me MTB (Mountain Bike Riders)  isn’t the above picture just perfect for somewhere that you’ d like to be?

Here’s the proclamation – we in Nelson certainly have a growing sense of excitement in local cycling and walking circles about Nelson being selected as one of NZ’s top four  town’s to advance into the final application round………. for up to $7m of NZTA (New Zealand Transport Agency) “Model Communities” funding.

Highly ranked by the NZTA, Nelson will join Taupo, New Plymouth, and Hastings to make final proposals by the end of the month.

Model Communities key for walking & cycling environments

What the Model Communities project is, is a national programme termed “Getting There” -with its  major focus being on a walking and cycling strategy.

Its main aim is to develop walking and cycling environments. locally, that are, for want of a better term, “as safe and simple to use as to travel by car”…… ultimately the goal is to “reduce traffic congestion.”

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has indicated one its main priorities is to encourage more participation from women and children in communities, demographics that research shows have had a lower participation in walking and cycling.

Cycle tourer, tourism business operator and guide Geoff Gabites, is right behind the concept;

”The idea of the north cape to Bluff is a headline grabber; the important thing is to see what outcomes are actually being sought.”

Take the Central Otago Rail Trail for example.

From $20 a night to $250 a night -ostensibly  in the middle of nowhere!

Business Day reported that since attracting backpackers as a basic activity back in 1999, Mr Gabites has certainly seen it grow;

”You could see it changing. Suddenly the dormitory rooms were being divided into doubles with bathrooms, and now we have Kokonga Lodge, $250 a night in the middle of the rail trail. As it has become more comfortable you have broadened the market.”

In what I could only imagine as a particularly exciting time of his term period, local Nelson Mayor Kerry Marshall commented:

“We now find ourselves perched on the edge of something huge. The opportunities this funding could potentially unlock for our community would change the face of Nelson, advancing Council-funded development by light years.”

…and folks I 100% concur here……but onward we go.…..and  in pushing the Nelson case further …….

“We want to give NZTA a strong idea of our unity and absolute commitment to make this work. We need to demonstrate that we already lead the way in making cycling or walking a simple and safe option for all our people, and if the government wants a model community to show the rest of New Zealand how it’s done, Nelson’s that community.”

Success will substantially speed up access to safe walking and cycling

Another stakeholder, Community and Public Health Advisory Committee of the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, had its Chair – Dr John Moore, express his support as well;

“We are keen to do what we can to support this exciting bid. Success will substantially speed up access to safe walking and cycling across the community and enable a more active and healthy lifestyle for many. In addition it supports the Nelson Regional Transport Strategy in its’ public health and traffic congestion aims.”

Full release from Nelson City Council here.

NZ Cycle Trail PDF handout here.

Tourism NZ’s page with maps.

Wikipedia report that;

Ministry of Tourism figures show that so far, only about 2% of all tourists to New Zealand undertake cycling as part of their activities.

But crucial and very important was this telling factoid………

The data did however also indicate that cycling tourists stay more than twice as long as the average tourists, and during their time in the country spend about 1.6 times as much as the average tourist.

And perhaps to point out that we might be missing the boat a bit on this one, they go on to say;

Tourism New Zealand also noted that so far, there was effectively no promotion of New Zealand cycling to overseas tourists, even though it was a significant tourism industry in places like Europe.