A National MP is urging transport officials to add some pedal to metal when building a new highway between Manawatu and Tararua.
The lack of foresight by the NZTA to include a separate cycling and walking path in its current highway design is a blow to businesses in both Tararua and Manawatu, Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott said.
"Cycling is a fantastic way for people to experience New Zealand and cycle tourism is a growing field. For our local cyclists, it would be a commutable and comfortable 18km daily distance, using the new Manawatu Tararua Highway," Scott said.
"The Waikanae extension is a fantastic example of the positive outcome cycleways bring to an area. We should consider the significant economic and social benefits that cycling and walking infrastructure would deliver to the region."
Scott urged people to lodge a submission by 4pm today (December 13) with the Tararua District and Manawatu District Councils and the Palmerston North City Council.
Details on the consultation process and the submission form can be found on the council websites.
"This highway is a vitally important piece of infrastructure and we need to get it right," Scott said.
"The new route would open up the ridges and could become an iconic section of the New Zealand Cycle Trails. This is a tourism opportunity for both Woodville and Ashhurst and we should take it. "
Scott said there has been a lot of research globally on the safety concerns of on-road cycle lanes or bike lanes simply painted on the road and he believes the best way to keep cyclists and hikers safe is to have a separate bike path.
"Separate cycle and walk ways attract people to use them," he said.
"Therefore, I have written to both the Transport Minister, Phil Twyford, and the Associate Minister for Transport, Julie-Anne Genter, to express my support for a separate cycle and walk way to be included in the planning process."
Scott agreed no one wanted to delay the construction of the new road but he didn't believe people should settle for a mediocre outcome either.
"Infrastructure of this magnitude will deliver long term and meaningful benefits from both a safety and economic perspective."