The opening of a new South Auckland cycling project designed to improve access for cyclists to public transport hubs has led to an immediate increase in children biking to school.

Previously, students commuting to one of the country’s fastest-growing primary schools were forced to share a busy access road with heavy vehicles and cars – with no dedicated cycle lane.

The new privately funded cycle network at Drury South Crossing, New Zealand’s largest industrial and residential development, has created 9km of urbanised cycle paths that will provide thousands of local residents with safe walking or bike access to Drury Central – one of three new train stations planned for the Drury area.

The project includes the construction of 5km of walking and cycling paths, as well as a 4km shared path from Drury village to Drury South Crossing.

Drury is one of the country’s fastest-growing areas with a population expected to soar by over 60,000 in the next 30 years.

Historically, the large number of heavy vehicles which share the road with children attending their local Ramarama School has prevented safe access to the school for students on cycles.

The opening of the dedicated cycle pathway means primary school students no longer need to use the same road as trucks and cars.

Andrew Baker, Franklin Local Board Chair at Auckland Council, says the new pathway network has been well received by Franklin residents – including local school children many of whom are cycling to school for the first time.

“The new pathways have been developed over the past decade and responds to a local demand for safe walking, cycling and horse riding pathways in the Drury Hills, Waihoehoe, Appleby, Fitzgerald blocks.

“These areas are particularly popular for recreational use as they are mainly flat and offer walking distances of upwards of 30 minutes – providing a range of potential uses for those living in the area.

“Their development also provides an upgraded road network which resolves the safety issues that were associated with the rougher surfaces of rural roads that were used by heavy vehicles at higher speeds.

“As a local resident and cyclist myself, there is a noticeable change in the feeling of safety on the roads now and we are not only seeing more pedestrians using the pathways but for the first time in years we are now seeing school children riding bikes to school,” he says.

Stephen Hughes, CEO of Drury South Crossing, says the new walking and cycle paths, believed to be one of the longest privately funded cycle tracks in the country, will provide safe and convenient access to public transport hubs.

He says with the population of the area expected to grow rapidly within the next decade, it is important to effectively manage the transformation from a rural area to a modern urban environment.

“The objective of the new network of pathways is to allow thousands of local residents the option of walking or cycling to school and work – and being able to do this safely.

“To facilitate this, an improved transport environment has been created with lower speed zones on new urbanised roads replacing the higher speed limits on rural roads.

“One of the key outcomes of this development is an upgraded road and cycle network which reduces the heavy traffic at Ramarama School – an education facility whose rolls are expected to surge as the local population increases in the coming years,” he says.

The 360-hectare, mixed-use Drury South Crossing development is expected to contribute $2.3bn to the economy and employ 6,000 Kiwis when completed in 2027.

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