Bicycle Network Tasmania has welcomed Labor’s call for the north-west coastal pathway to be fast-tracked as new bike paths help build employment as well as a healthier community.
The north-west coastal pathway is an ideal stimulus project as it could contribute to employment while helping locals stay healthy and get around.
Since the start of COVID-19 restrictions, bicycle shops have reported more people buying new bikes and fixing old bikes, and we’re seeing more people of all ages out riding.
Bicycle Network has called on all levels of government to provide funding for bike paths as part of their COVID-19 responses in our six-month Pedalling to a Better Normal plan.
With international borders shut, more Australians will be looking to spend time in Tasmania and the coastal pathway would just add to the state’s attractions.
In Victoria, multi-day paths like the Murray to Mountains and Great Victorian Rail Trails attract thousands of riders every year, supporting local accommodation, food, arts and tourism businesses.
The added benefit for locals is that the pathway would also provide a transport link between towns, helping them ride to work, school and shops, to save money and stay healthy.
Some 85,000 people live between Wynyard and Latrobe, which is the pathway’s proposed 110 km route.
Labor today called on state and federal governments to fund the sections of the pathway that still need funding pledges as the north-west has been hit harder than other areas of Tasmania by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The outbreak in the north west and the associated extended lockdown period means the impacts have been deeper and will be felt for longer than in other parts of the state,” Leader Rebecca White said.
“The project would provide short-term construction jobs, and long-term economic development opportunities in tourism and small business creation. It would also deliver improved health, liveability and transport outcomes for people in the north west.
“Local, state and federal governments have committed to funding four sections of the pathway, but Labor is calling for additional investment to fast track completion of the entire pathway,” Ms White said.
The state government has already made an extra funding commitment to the pathway, with its announcement last month it would provide $12 million in funding to fix erosion along the Wynyard to Cooee section.
Sections of the pathway between Ulverstone and Burnie are still not funded, and design is not straightforward like other sections of the pathway, further hampering moves to get on with the project.
The Cradle Coast Authority is overseeing construction of about 21 km of new path this year and next year. Construction began on the 3.6 km Latrobe to Ambleside section earlier this year and other sections due from completion in 2020 and 2021 include Sulphur Creek to Penguin, Leith to Don, West Ulverstone, and Turners Beach to Leith.