Cycling advocates are picking Hastings as a cycling tourism mecca to rival Otago's rail trail.
(Photo - CYCLE TOUR: Taking a tour of Hastings' cycle friendly features, Barbara Insull (left), Owen Mata, Shawnae Heremaia, Barbara Cuthbert, and Claudia Wirihana, front. Shawnae and Claudia, from Hastings. Photo / Paul Taylor)
"I think it's quite realistic that within two years all of New Zealand will know about Hastings, and all of New Zealand will want to come and ride here," said Cycle Action Auckland spokeswoman Barbara Cuthbert.
Ms Cuthbert and fellow CAA member Barbara Insull were invited to Hastings to speak to district council staff about encouraging walking and cycling.
They've also been cycling on city streets and cycle trails over the past three days - and given them a rave review.
"It's so flat, there's so little traffic, it's just incredibly beautiful, and that's part of cycling, just taking in your surroundings," Ms Cuthbert said. "What you have here is an asset that is without equal in the country."
Cycling tourism would be a boost for the local economy, she said, as cyclists would also need accommodation, and take time to experience local food and wine.
Ms Cuthbert said effort should be put into promoting what the district had to offer and holding more events encouraging cycling as an everyday activity.
The Hastings District Council will spend $4 million on walking and cycling initiatives over the next three years as part of the Model Communities project.
The project aims to encourage more people to cycle to work, to school, to shops and for fun.
Hastings and New Plymouth both won funding after bidding against 22 other cities.
Ms Insull said it was important the cities used the money well.
"These are the pilots, if they succeed, money might come to other towns in New Zealand," she said.
She wanted to see funds going into promoting cycling and walking, holding biking events, and providing maps of cycle routes.
On-road bike skills training for children was needed as well.
Council sustainable transport engineer Owen Mata hoped council staff would take up the challenge to walk and cycle, and become ambassadors for the project in the community.
"This is a people thing.We can create the infrastructure but we've got to get the whole of Hastings walking and cycling."
Hawke's Bay is also bidding for government cash to build a national cycling velodrome at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park.
From Hawkes Bay Today