Cycling is a popular activity in Southland engaged in by 29% of the region’s population - a higher participation rate than the national average of 24.8% for New Zealand.
In response to growing interest in recreational, commuting and cycle tourism, there has been region-wide consultation over the last year to develop a vision and strategy for cycling in Southland. Venture Southland has facilitated this process at the request of Councils and has contributed to the development of a draft Southland Cycling Strategy.
The strategy aims to develop improved cycling opportunities that benefit Southland communities
This is achieved through:
- improved health through the participation in exercise
- improved liveability through encouraging the community to move around in, congregate and meet people in their neighbourhoods, towns and cities
- encouraging opportunities for outdoor recreation and sport participation that contribute to making Southland a desirable place to live
- the provision of a safe, usable and sustainable transport method as part of an integrated land transport system that meets peoples’ needs and has less impact on the environment
- contributing to economic diversification of the region through the attraction of cycle tourists and provision of cycling-related services.
- supporting the development of cycling skills from learning to ride, to enhancing the cycling skills of elite riders
The Strategy aligns with the New Zealand Government’s actions to provide safe, accessible cycling as a transport mode, and as a recreational and tourism activity that provides health, lifestyle and local economic benefits.
The strategy applies four broad categories of cycling
- commuter cycling,
- recreational cycling,
- cycle tourism and
- competitive and event cycling
It also covers a range of cycling styles
- road cycling,
- off-road trail cycling,
- mountain biking (in its different forms) and
- BMX riding.
Key areas to be focused on in the future
- Supporting improvements in basic infrastructure to encourage more people to cycle
- Supporting the development and promotion of a suite of high quality cycling experiences
- Supporting implementation of programmes to encourage people to cycle and raise safety awareness
- Supporting community cycling activities and participation based events
- Supporting the rejuvenation of competitive cycling events
- Supporting the development of local cycle commissionable tourism products and partnerships
- Providing strong leadership, communication and cooperation
- Working and consulting with key stakeholders
The Strategy going forward
The Strategy will be a guide for local government, agencies, the community, cycling organisations, the tourism industry and business to develop and invest in cycling opportunities in a consistent, collaborative and sustainable way.
Focusing on the specific needs, situations and practicalities in Southland, including the scarcity of funds and resources for cycling infrastructure development, the Strategy will assist the region to identify projects for submission to government funding programmes. As these programmes are already heavily committed,Southland will need to concentrate on strategic cycling developments that will have the most impact for the region.
The Southland Cycling Governance Group, made up of council and community representatives is currently finalising the strategy and prioritizing areas of implementation over the coming years.