An extra $6.9 million of funding for Tauranga's cycle network has been welcomed by cycling advocates with one describing it as beyond his "wildest dreams".
The funding announcement made by Prime Minister John Key and Tauranga MP and Transport Minister Simon Bridges yesterday took the city's total spending on cycleways to $14.6 million.
The controversial Omokoroa to Tauranga cycleway will receive $1.5m from the Urban Cycleways Fund and $2.4m from the National Land Transport Fund as well as $3.8m from local government, including development contributions, Mr Bridges said.
Tauranga's urban cycle network connections will receive $2.3m from the Urban Cycleways Fund and $710,000 from the National Land Transport Fund with $3.9m coming from local government.
Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby said the announcement was a positive step that will support all three organisations to jointly fast-track the delivery of high quality cycling facilities across the sub-region.
"It's really exciting for all our communities," Mr Crosby said.
"The Urban Cycleways programme and Transport Agency's funding support, Western Bay District Council's commitment and the overwhelming support from the Tauranga community means we will also be able to participate in connecting Omokoroa to Tauranga through a 16km long scenic cycleway," he said.
Tauranga City Council last month approved its contribution of $500,000 towards the Omokoroa to Tauranga cycleway which it previously refused to fund in February.
In May, Tauranga Round Table pledged $100,000 towards the cycleway if the council agreed to stump up with the remaining cost.
Bay of Plenty Community Trails Trust's Kevin Kerr, who organised a cycle rally in protest against the council's initial decision not to fund the trail, was overwhelmed with the Government's announcement and said it was the community support which drove it.
"In my wildest dreams I never envisioned something so big to happen like that," Mr Kerr said.
"For us as a cycle trust, to have the community behind us pushing the councils with the backing of local MPs Simon Bridges and Todd Muller, it shows the power of people and what communities and councils can achieve together."
Mr Bridges said it would encourage more people to ride "to work, school and everywhere in between".
Councillor Bev Edlin said the cycleways could be enjoyed not only by Bay and New Zealand residents but also by international tourists.
"We'll get a lot more people coming in from overseas so that they can enjoy seeing our country in a beautiful and different way," she said.
Toi Te Ora Public Health Service medical officer of health and cycling advocate Phil Shoemack said there was no downside to building a "true network for cyclists". "The predominant health benefits and also the improved safety benefits will both come from less congestion on the roads."