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Cycling the carbon emissions away

A short cycleway can make a big difference to a business working to cut its carbon emissions significantly. But it can also involve a long history of buck-passing.

Jane Ough, senior veterinarian at South Wairarapa Veterinary Services, and her colleagues are committed to halving their carbon emissions by 2030.

“We calculated our carbon footprint for the 2020-21 year”, she says, “and we’re encouraging staff to walk and cycle to work as over 30 per cent of our emissions come from the commute to work.”

She first proposed the cycleway plan to get staff to work safely to the District Council three years ago, but nothing constructive has happened since. Currently, the safer option is cycling illegally against the traffic or on the pavement along the dangerous part of Main Rd. The dangerous, but legal, option is to cross the main road twice – the second time in a 70km zone, with no pedestrian crossing.

The proposed cycleway would be on the right side of Carterton’s Main St, heading North from Plimsoll Street, in the largely unused street parking lane, then along the verge to at least South Wairarapa Vets – and ideally heading along the verge to Clareville.

All that’s needed is signage to show that it is a cycleway, a line of green paint to define the parking lane as a two-way cycle path, and a crushed lime pathway along the verge.

When Jane Ough presented the idea to the Carterton District Council three years ago her submission was warmly received, but no action was taken because state highways are the responsibility of Waka Kotahi. She then contacted the NZ Transport Agency and was told, a number of emails later, that her request would not be considered until 2024.

Subsequently, the government has made it easier for local councils to trial road changes, including those managed by Waka Kotahi. Jan Ough was advised to contact the Carterton Council again, specifically the Walking and Cycling group headed by Sandra Burles.

A presentation was made to the group, but its current focus is on cycleways to get children safely to school – certainly very important – and the region’s tourist-driven five town cycle trail.

Further contact with Waka Kotahi was suggested, and discussions with the transport agency and council will certainly continue.

The reality, it seems, is that while there’s been a spurt in the number of tourist cycle trails around the country, the same enthusiasm has not extended to safe commuting routes for those wanting to cycle around our towns.

There is, of course, a raft of reasons why people are keen to cycle more. With increasing fuel prices, there’s a growing interest in safe, cost-effective, alternative ways to travel around local communities. There’s also a desire to reduce the use of cars and their impact on climate change.

“Unfortunately, the lack of safe commuter cycleways is a major barrier to more community cycling,” says Jane Ough.

“And despite the urgent need to reduce our emissions, it’s a challenge to encourage staff to cycle when there are no safe routes.”


  1. Absolutely. It is so frustrating that despite all their talk Waka Kotahi is no putting any action behind their words when it comes to safe cycling. Just a lot of hot air.

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Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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