Earlier this year Anne and I spent a wonderful day cycling the Hauraki Rail Trail from Paeroa to Waikino, and we both appreciate the benefits of cycling within the city when time and weather conditions permit. So I am delighted Hamiltonians will now have the opportunity to enjoy the Western Rail Trail cycleway sooner than previously planned, thanks to $3 million of funding that has been allocated for the purpose from the $333 million Urban Cycleways Programme.
The Western Rail Trail is an important initiative that will help to improve the health of our community. This 2.7km off-road shared path will connect the south-western suburbs of Hamilton with the city centre, Hamilton Girls’ High School and Wintec City Campus, utilising the rail corridor. This will substantially complete Hamilton’s primary network, linking to existing cycling networks in both the CBD and South Western Hamilton.
Hamilton has already built over 150km of its cycling network. Completion of this missing link will make cycling to the CBD and other key locations an attractive transport choice for residents of the south-western suburbs. It will also provide a connection to future sections of the network planned to the north. This new off-road facility will offer a safer option for commuters, many of whom currently use busy on-road routes, and the hundreds of school children who live within 500m of the route. The new trail is expected to attract over 300 users each day.
It’s always pleasing to see central and local government working together for the benefit of our region, and this cycleway is a good example, with $3 million contributed from the Urban Cycleways Fund, $510,000 from the National Land Transport Fund, and an estimated $490,000 from Hamilton City Council.
Hamilton’s new Biking Plan aims to develop a fully-connected, on and off-road cycle network linking schools and major employment areas with the city and suburbs to encourage more people to cycle regularly. Hamilton is perfectly positioned to realise this goal with five National Cycle Trails in the Waikato region, and the superb new Avantidrome near Cambridge.
Wider investment will also be made in new cycleways on Resolution Drive, Northern Rototuna Expressway, Wairere Drive and along Ohaupo Road (SH3). A project will be progressed linking 15 schools between Wairere Drive in the north to Clyde Street in the south. In addition, the Te Awa link from Hamilton to Ngaruawahia, already funded by the Urban Cycleways Fund, will be completed.
I hope this exciting initiative will encourage more Hamiltonians to dust off their bikes, leave the car at home, and enjoy the exercise and some wonderful Waikato scenery along many parts of the trail.