It is now 8 months since the $50,000,000 National Cycleway initiative was announced at the job summit. A few proposals have been put forward for cycleways in different parts of the conservation estate, and a lot of them are in the boonies. I think it is great that they’re being funded, put out to tender and getting built.
These are the first projects:
Waikato River Trail, Central North Island Rail Trail, Mount Ruapehu to Wanganui, St James Trail, Hokianga to Opua/Russell, Hauraki Plains Trail and Southland Around the Mountain Rail Trail.
I for one will love to ride the track in Southland especially, putting the bike on the car onto the ferry and making a holiday out of it.
But at the end of that $50,000,000 over 3 years what will we have? A disjointed collection of tracks and trails that won’t link up into a national cycleway. It’s a start, but it ain’t the full fluffy.
Here is what I think the National Cycleway could be:
Iconic tracks through different parts of the conservation estate as per above, plus the Otago Rail Trail,
Lesser known existing tracks being joined up and extended. (Like the one along the Manawatu River in Palmerston North),
Commuter cycleways through the big cities and towns, existing (like the coastal routes in Napier and New Plymouth) and new (like the Great Harbour Way) in Wellington,
Existing quiet country roads,
The odd bit of new cycleway linking quiet country roads where there is a gap (like linking Florida and Gladstone Roads with a new cycle bridge across the Ohau River – east of Levin),
new and existing campgrounds,
spur routes for interesting diversions and routes leading into country towns.
You could see that most of the necessary infrastructure, especially the quiet country roads, already exists.
So if I was in government I’d find a little bit of extra money to signpost the route from Cape Reinga to Bluff. It doesn’t have to be all that fancy. There just needs to be some consistent signage with the national Cycleway route being obvious, and an appropriate easy to understand grammar. It’s not rocket science, and we could copy how the Europeans do it. For instance the standard route marker, and a spur route marker:
Add some destination signs, i.e. Opua 24km, Bluff 1465km and pick the quiet country roads right and you’ve got the whole network marked up on the ground in a few short months. Then the cycleway will exist and it can be ridden and just be improved upon with new infrastructure and smart rerouting over the subsequent years.