Cyclists and walkers will now have a safer way to get around Taupō and Tūrangi, and between Hamilton and Cambridge, with funding for shared paths and Te Awa River Ride, Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter has announced.
"The Te Awa River Ride is the latest part of massive growth in the cycling and walking network in the Waikato, making it so much easier, safer and more fun to get around without a car.
"During lockdown we saw many more families and kids out on their bikes, which shows that when our streets feel safe to cycle, people want to ride," Genter said.
The Hamilton to Cambridge section of the Te Awa River Ride is a 20km shared path, separated from traffic, that connects Hamilton, Tamahere Village, St Peters School, Avantidrome, and Cambridge with a safe, separated cycleway.
When complete, the Hamilton to Cambridge section will form part of the Te Awa River Ride – a 70km path that will generally follow the banks of the Waikato River from Ngaruawahia to Horahora.
Waipā District Council's service delivery group manager Dawn Inglis said the funding allocation highlighted the importance of the asset to the wider Waikato region.
"We're so pleased to have the funding for this fantastic community asset. Connecting Hamilton to Cambridge brings so many social, recreational and economic opportunities as Te Awa River Ride will be accessible all the way from Ngaruawahia.
"Expressions of interest to build the Hamilton to Cambridge cycleway section are now open and will close by the end of August.
"An estimated 110,000 people will use the facility each year – which is likely to increase with the popularity of e-bikes and scooters, making the trip viable for both commuters and for those out for a recreational ride.
Plantings along the cycleway project, with funding from the Waikato River Authority, will help improve the water quality and biodiversity along the banks of the Waikato River.
In Tūrangi, the funding makes it safer to get around with $6.6 million for roughly 30km of pathway and intersection accessibility improvements, and improving waste-water management.
In Taupō, the funding includes $4m for improvements to connect communities and make it easier to walk and cycle – with safe connections between Lake Taupō, residential areas, shops, schools and kindergartens, playgrounds, and recreational areas.
"With reduced council revenues reducing, this work was expected to be deferred indefinitely – but now it can get started right away," Genter said.
"These pathway improvements unlock our cities - meaning more people will have the freedom to bike into town or get to school on their own steam.
"This in turn will help improve air quality and reduce car congestion in the morning, particularly when more kids are cycling to school.
"By investing in walking and cycling infrastructure we are making our towns and cities more attractive, vibrant and people-friendly places to live."
These projects are part of the $220m cycleway package included in the Government's $3 billion 'shovel-ready' infrastructure projects.