Opening keeps cycle trail on track

By Roger Moroney

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Cynthia Bowers and the regional council's chairman Fenton Wilson cut the tape (appropriately an old cycle tube) to declare the new walk and cycle pathway open. Photo / Warren Buckland
Cynthia Bowers and the regional council's chairman Fenton Wilson cut the tape (appropriately an old cycle tube) to declare the new walk and cycle pathway open. Photo / Warren Buckland

The opening of the Black Bridge walk and cycle path near Haumoana was effectively a wrap of the government, council and agencies $5.5 million funding project which has created more than 200km of recreational trails across the Bay.

"Yes it pretty much a wrap - it's put it to bed," Hawke's Bay Regional Council spokesman Drew Broadley said.

However, it did not signal an end to the 12-year-project which was originally sparked by former Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott and initially embraced by Rotary clubs.

Mr Broadley said a cycling governance group had been formed by the Napier, Hastings and Hawke's Bay Regional councils and agencies such as Hawke's Bay Tourism.

Hastings District Council deputy mayor and keen cyclist Cynthia Bowers said: "It is an ongoing thing."

That would include everything from maintenance of the trails, signs, coordination of cycle activities across the region and getting the word out nationally through tourism, she added.

Mrs Bowers said the vision and determination by all involved had created an incredible trails network.

"I hear it a lot from visitors - that what we have here is equal to the Central Otago rail trails.

"It is very important to Hawke's Bay."

Since the trails idea was sparked in 2002 when the councils worked together to help create "Heretaunga Ararau - the land of a hundred pathways".

What began as the Rotary Pathways became known as Hawke's Bay Trails and are in turn part of Nga Haeranga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail project.

There are three distinct sections - the landscapes ride, the water ride and the wineries ride which together form the "Great Ride" of more than 200km.

Funding came from New Zealand Cycle Trails ($2.6 million), Hawke's Bay Regional Council ($2.1 million), Napier and Hastings Rotary Pathway Trusts ($267,000), Napier City Council ($195,000) and the Hastings District Council ($310,000).

The opening of the Black Bridge attachment, which cost about $750,000, now ensured a safe crossing for walkers and cyclists.

"Riding across there in the past could be pretty scary," Mrs Bowers said.

She said the benefits for the region's tourism industry were equal to those of the benefits the trails provided in terms of health and fitness for Bay residents.

"To see people out there walking and cycling is just great and we need to spread the word to get more people out there."

She said work and other demands meant she was not able to get on her bicycle as often as she liked but took to the trails at weekends as often as she could.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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