William McKay Walkway Greymouth
Photo by Inger Perkins

West Coast commits to stronger focus on walkers and cyclists

The West Coast District Council will be giving more support to its walkers and cyclists, thanks to a Walking Access Commission submission.

Inger Perkins, the commission’s regional field advisor, wrote a detailed submission to the council’s draft West Coast Regional Land Transport Plan. One of her recommendations noted that the plan’s monitoring framework would benefit from measuring the council’s investment in safe and practical cycling routes.

The council agreed, saying “walking and cycling trails and routes can enhance the aesthetics of an area. Providing such infrastructure can make a shift to walking or cycling an attractive option.”

It revised the wording of the draft plan under its outcome for healthy and safe people. The outcome now includes a measurement of on-road and off-road walking and cycling paths and trails. The plan specifies that these paths and trails increase over the next ten years.

The change to the plan was one of seven recommendations that Perkins proposed which the council accepted either in full or in part. Her submission means the Regional Land Transport Plan has a stronger focus on the needs of walkers and cyclists.

“The next decade is important for walkers and cyclists,” says Perkins. “The West Coast, like everywhere in NZ needs to change its transport network for people to bike and walk. We need to do this for people’s health, for their outdoor recreation, to protect and cherish our environment, and because it helps our communities flourish.”

The Walking Access Commission’s regional field advisors from all over the motu have been making similar submissions to councils this year. These submissions are a crucial part of our local government democracy. They can add up to little changes in focus making it easier for cyclists and walkers to get around their local communities in a more environmentally friendly and healthy way, on off-road trails.