Horse travel petition fails to impress mayor

A petition asking for horses to be recognised as an alternative mode of travel in New Zealand is unlikely to gain any traction in Hawke's Bay.

The move, started by Jan Mossman, of Tuakau, near Pukekohe, was seeking support from the Bay's equestrian population.

It would also ask the New Zealand Transport Agency to include ridden and driven horses in its planning, and include the Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand in all discussions regarding walking, cycling and combined access to recreational trails.

Hawke's Bay Trails network had 187km of pathway largely around the Hastings and Napier areas while the iWay network around Hastings city, Havelock North, Flaxmere and Clive had 108km of pathways.

Hastings Deputy Mayor and iWay champion Cynthia Bowers said horses were once a mode of transport for people but today were mainly used for recreation.

"We are trying to reduce the number of motor vehicles on the road by offering walking and cycling options for commuters, for adults to get to work and for young people to get to school.

Other than in rural areas, I don't think that horses are a feasible mode of alternative community transport."

Cr Bowers said it was however important to consider how horses could share some of the trails.

"I know that in England they have trails that are shared with horses.

"My perspective of it in New Zealand and specifically Hawke's Bay is that I am nervous about mixing horses, cyclists and walkers.

"How does a cyclist get past a horse safely without ringing a bell and frightening the horse?

"I might be overly cautious but I just think that it's not probably the most sensible mix of uses."

Cr Bowers said she could understand however that horse riders wanted to access public pathways and to be able to ride safely.

"I think some of the pathways such as the ones along river banks have a little bit of space for horses to use off the pathway or the ability to move off when there are a lot of other users.

"Maybe that is ok but not on the pathways we have on-road.

"I think we would be asking for problems if we were to put another mode of transport in there."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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