Bicycle NSW just had a meeting with a delegation from the Ministry of Tourism, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. They did not come to muck around.
New friends from Japan in the garden with Francis O’Neill and Sarah Bickford of Bicycle NSW
We didn't have room for them in our tiny (but efficient office) so we gathered in the sunny gardens for their informal presentation about Ehime’s natural assets and impressive bridges, with curious lookers-on pretending to eat their lunches. In Ehime’s tourism ministry, there is an actual division for Cycling Life-style Promotion! The team discussed the future plans in that prefecture, and throughout Japan, for integrated, networked cycleways connecting cities via stunning mountains, plains and islands. There are great resources for planning trips and Cycle Shimanami is an annual event that is definitely worth checking out. The 70km Shimanami-Kaido route is #4 in the CNN world's top cycleways and listed in Lonely Planet's Epic Bike Rides of the World.
Beautiful views of the Seto Inland Sea from the 70km Shimanami-Kaido cycleway.
Image courtesy of Cycling Ehime
In Ehime, they really get cycling, because of its many benefits to health, ichigai (loosely translated as ‘reason to live') and making friends - another reason to live.
We couldn't agree more, and that is why we campaigned so hard for rail trails in NSW, and thanks to your help, won!
They also came to promote cycling's other massive benefit- the economy. 500%. That's the actual conservative estimate of the positive social impact for every dollar spent on bicycle infrastructure. How many investments do you know that are guaranteed that minimum return? This flows back through improvements to health, discretionary spending (through increased foot-traffic), de-congestion and reduced accidents. That staggering figure has not even factored in the environmental impacts of reducing the 25-30% Co2 emissions that come from transport. Motorways conversely come at a massive net social cost.
Our new friends will be taking in a bridge ride and are very interested to hear about NSW bicycle infrastructure and future rail trails.
One of the amazing suspension bridges the 70km Shimanami-Kaido cycleway traverses. Image courtesy of Cycling Ehime