Good trails take time


Much ado is being made of the discovery that the cycle trail initiative has progressed more slowly than some would like.

However, as John Key explained, it’s the planning and consenting process which is taking time.

That’s certainly the case with the Alps to the Ocean cycle trail, the last kilometre of which the PM opened when he was in Oamaru last weekend.

But that was the easy kilometre because it was on public land. Much of the remaining 313 kilometres are on private land and getting permission for it to pass through properties takes time.

Almost all affected land owners are happy with the idea in principle. They realise the economic benefits it could bring to the district, that the trail would be an asset for locals too and some see potential business opportunities in feeding, accommodating and entertaining cyclists.

But there are issues of property rights to work through.

The minimum width of land required is 1.5 metres, which isn’t a lot, even when multiplied by the distance which the track will pass through most properties.

But landowners are being asked to surrender part of their properties and lose privacy with – at least at this stage – no compensation.

I haven’t heard of anyone asking that the trail buys the land it will need but there are suggestions that a little rates relief might be in order.

This isn’t a major obstacle, there’s plenty of goodwill on both sides and almost everyone is supportive of the trail. But sorting through the issues and gaining the necessary permission from each property owner can’t be done quickly.

I am confident the trail will go ahead and that the promise of economic development from it will be realised, but good trails take time to get from the drawing board to completion.

Cycleway way to go


The story in yesterday’s ODT on the growing popularity of the Central Otago Rail Trail  wasn’t deliberately timed for the day John Key announced the Budget will include $50 million over the next three years  for the New Zealand Cycleway Project.

But the Rail Trail is a good model for communities wanting to develop bike trails.

Planning is already well advanced for several cycleways in Otago including one around Otago Harbour which would add to Dunedin’s tourist attractions.

The Central Otago experience shows that while building the trail provides an economic boost, the on-going business opportunities feeding, accommodating, entertaining, equipping, servicing bikes and generally looking after the bikers are much more significant.

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