A local Kāpiti Focus Group formed early in 2019 to advocate for a cycleway, walkway and bridleway on the Ōtaki to North of Levin (O2NL) expressway, is urging NZTA and Government to commit to ensuring that plans for the project include a shared pathway.
The group comprises members of Kāpiti Cycling Action (the local branch of Cycle Action Network NZ) and the Kāpiti Equestrian Advocacy Group.
Having been actively involved with the Kāpiti Stride 'n Ride network development alongside the Kāpiti Expressway and currently with the Peka Peka to Ōtaki project, the group says inclusion of a separate pathway will be a "win-win" for all users. It will provide clearer, faster travel through Kāpiti-Horowhenua for distance travellers, quieter, safer routes for local traffic; and a comprehensive network for recreational walkers and riders, from Paekakariki in the south to Foxton in the north.
Confirming the scope and nature of the project will also be a step toward providing certainty for those living on the proposed route.
The group has met with and has received letters of support from MP Nathan Guy, Kāpiti District Mayor K Gurunathan, Otaki Community Board, Energize Ōtaki and Low Carbon Kāpiti; and an expression of interest from members of Horizons Regional Council.
They have also met -along with staff from Kāpiti Coast District Council- with executive and staff of Horowhenua District Council with a view to the two Councils working together to progress the concept.
Contributions on Horowhenua District Council's HITS (Horowhenua Integrated Transport Strategy) community survey indicate strong community support for a safe active travel network including safe walking and riding links between towns and toward the coast; like that in the Kāpiti region, the spine of the network would be the shared pathway alongside the expressway.
"It is essential that provision for the pathway be locked in before the land acquisition process is started, to ensure a sufficiently wide corridor for the pathway, access connections and associated landscaping is available, as was done for the Kāpiti Expressway," said spokesperson Bruce Henderson.
"This is what has made it so popular and has made it an attraction for many visitors to the district. It is in accord with the Government's Active Travel policy and the NZTA National Cycling programme; and similar to what is increasingly being provided with other roading projects throughout the country".
The group has written to the NZTA O2NL project manager seeking confirmation of inclusion of a shared path on the plans for the O2NL, but to date has not received a reply. It plans to approach other local members of parliament to seek a response.