The European Cyclists' Federation (EFC) report - "Jobs and Job
Creation In the European Cycling Sector" - is just the
latest in a spate of reports claiming cycling has the potential to
contribute billions of euros to the European economy.
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New Zealand studies have come up with similar results. Earlier
this year, the University of Auckland's School of Population
published a paper claiming that every dollar invested in
improving Auckland's cycling infrastructure would result in more
than $20 in benefits to the community.
Canterbury of University senior lecturer in traffic engineering
Glen Koorey says the figures are 'very credible" but yet to be
included in the way roading projects are evaluated.
He says the bulk of the economic benefits are in health gains -
both for the cyclists themselves and for the wider community as a
result of a drop in emissions from cars. "And that's important. We
probably kill as many people from emissions deaths as we do from
the more obvious road crashes."
Dr Koorey says New Zealand isn't spending enough on improving
the country's cycling infrastructure. "We're just slowly starting
to recognise the true value of these benefits."
Tandem Café in Havelock North claims inspiration from Hawke's
Bay's cycleways and growing cycling community.
Labour versus dollars
The benefits of the cycling economy aren't limited to gains in
public health and cuts in emissions.
European Cyclists' Federation Fiscal and Economic Policy Officer
Holger Haubold says cycle tourism is one of the fastest growing
parts of Europe's cycle economy and, in part, the growth can be put
down to increased investments in the EuroVelo cycle network.
Mr Haubold says if the modal share of people commuting by
bicycle doubled in Europe it would result in the creation of
400,000 new jobs.
He says the cycling economy creates three times more jobs than
the motoring economy for every million euro of turnover.
Dr Koorey agrees that investment in cycling results in more jobs
than in other forms of transport.
"When you think about it, it makes sense, because a lot of the
cost that goes into a major road is the physical materials
themselves. It might cost you about a hundred times more to build a
kilometre of motorway than, say, to create a kilometre of cycleway.
It doesn't cost a hundred times more design effort to achieve
"So in terms of the people who are designing, implementing and
so forth, you can get a lot more labour for the same amount of
dollars involved with cycle ways."
Black Barn Vineyards manager Francis De Jager says Hawke's Bay
vineywards are reaping the rewards of cycleway tourism.
Pedal profit in Hawke's Bay
British daily The Times recently published an article
"It's not every cycle path that takes you along Dogs**t
River. I kid you not, even if its Maori translation - the Tutaekuri
- does sound a little better. Here we are, cycling from Napier in
New Zealand, first on beachside paths fringed with Norfolk pines,
then turning inland along the banks of the aforementioned
Ed Potton - the journalist that penned that piece - rode along
the Tutaekuri River on one of Takaro Trails' guided tours.
Takaro Trails owner Jenny Ryan says the article was the type of
advertising money can't buy. She set up the business five years ago
after going on a cycle tour in the South of France and says the
business has been going from strength to strength.
"Something radical changed shortly after I set up my website -
which was John Key announcing the New Zealand cycleway project.
"And so here in Hawke's Bay, at the time I first arrived, we had
about 60 km of cycle trail which had been built by the Rotary Club
in association with the Hastings City Council.
"So we had a start but the balance of our tours were being
cycled on country roads. But with the announcement of the New
Zealand Cycle Trail and the Hawke's Bay Regional Council coming on
board with that we now have 200 kilometres of off road trail."
Brian Fisher, who owns FishBikes, a cycle hire company on
Napier's Marine Parade, says the cycle trails are crucial to the
viability of his business.
If there's one thing he would like to see changed, to encourage
more overseas visitors to come to the region, it would be the
introduction of an exemption to the cycle helmet law for people
riding on separated cycle tracks.
He says many European visitors react negatively to being told
they have to wear a helmet.
And he says the Government could give cycling in Hawke's Bay a
huge boost by converting the Napier to Gisborne railway line to a
Hastings deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers is also a fan of converting
the mothballed railway line into a cycle track.
it's a fantastic idea. It would be nice of course to see it
reopened as a railway line: that's not likely to happen, it's not
viable," she said.
"If you see the economic benefit of the Otago Rail Trail to some
of those small towns along the route, it doesn't take a lot to
imagine what it might do for the likes of Wairoa."
Many of Hawke's Bay's cycle trails wend their way through the
region's vineyards. Black Barn Vineyards manager Francis De Jager,
a former professional cyclist, says cyclists make up a growing
number of visitors to the winery.
"Recently, we had a group of 50 people from San Francisco. They
got married at Black Barn, they spent a week in Hawke's Bay doing
activities and cycling was one of them."
Tourism may be a key driver of Hawke's Bay emerging
cycling economy but it's not the only one. In 2010, the New Zealand
Transport Agency (NZTA) gave Hastings a $4 million grant towards
its proposal to become a walking and cycling model community - a
project it dubbed iWay.
Ms Bowers says the funding went towards the creation of 120
kilometres of cycleways and creating predominantly off-road
linkages between places like Flaxmere and Havelock North into
She says one of the aims of the iWay project is to have 20
percent of short trips - trips of less than 5 to 7 kilometres -
undertaken by either cycling or walking by 2020.
The rate has more than doubled from 3 to 8 percent but is still
well short of the project's 20 percent aim.
The potential economic benefits of reaching that target are
likely to be in the tens of millions of dollars if the methodology
of the current spate of reports is to be believed.