The Council has agreed to put in $250,000 this year and $500,000 each year for the following nine years to improve the safety and attractiveness of routes into Wellington City from Porirua and Hutt cities, and around the harbour.
Paul Barker, the Council's Travel and Safety Manager, says it's great news that additional funding has been earmarked for cycling and walking.
"What will happen now is that work will be done to finalise the design of the tracks, determine more accurately the costs and apply for funding assistance to the New Zealand Transport Agency.
The first thing is to work out which of those tracks will be given priority – we won't be doing all of them at once," he says. The costs of the cycle-walkways will be shared between the Council and the Government – the Council has to come up with about half of the total cost.
The idea has developed from the Regional Strategic Cycling Network agreed by Greater Wellington Regional Council last December, and from the city's first-ever walking and cycling plans adopted last November.
"If we want to encourage people to walk and cycle, then it's vital for them to be able to do it safely," Paul says.
Cycling numbers have grown significantly in the last few years – up by about 60 percent in the past 10 years. Walking numbers are much larger, and are already easily the highest in the country.
The Council believes that there is significant potential for commuting, recreation and also for tourism as part of a regional network stretching up to the Kapiti Coast, and connecting with the Hutt River Trail and into the Wairarapa.
This money for the shared tracks is in addition to the more ‘business-as-usual' investment including footpath upgrades, better pedestrian crossings and traffic-light phasing, cycle-friendly stormwater grates and cycle parking hoops.
The Council is also working with cycle hire company ‘Next Bike' towards a launch in Wellington City in October.
There has been a lot of community support for the Tawa-Porirua stream proposal, and the Council recently received a report from Opus detailing the route.
"In the future people will be able to cycle along the banks of the Porirua Stream all year on an all-weather track. It was certainly pretty muddy and difficult to ride last Sunday," Paul says.
He says the proposed Great Harbour Way would run almost 70km from Pencarrow right around Wellington Harbour before finally ending at Owhiro Bay on Wellington's south coast.
"While the allocated funding will not cover the full cost of constructing all of these projects – it may take over 20 years to complete the Great Harbour Way – this funding allows us to take opportunities as they arise."