I’ve only posted one entry before on the Horowhenua called The Foxton Cycleway, about riding from Foxton to Foxton Beach and then up the beach to Himatangi. A nice way to spend a day.
I got excited, a little bit anyways, about the Horowhenua Council’s March 2009 Walking and Cycling Strategy document. It’s quite a good document as far as these things go, and Horowhenua is a small council, so it’s punching above it’s weight. The timing was pretty bad though. It came out just before the government’s announcement of the National Cycleway, so it needs a review in light of that. It’s got some great ideas in it. Great ideas are easy to find in these kind of documents. For instance I’m still hoping for the QE Park Commuter Cycleway, proposed in 2006. Or look at Wellington City Council’s Open Space Access Plan from 2004 for lots of good ideas but not matched by funding.
Horowhenua District Council’s best ideas in the document were:
A round Lake Horowhenua circuit bikeway, just west of Levin.
Queen Street East and Queen Street West cycle lanes through Levin, that link up the lake to Gladstone Road.
Moving the Levin train station to closer to the centre of town.
And Horizon Regional Council’s idea to put a cycle lane on top of the levee bank of the Moutoa Floodway.
So here is a copy of the map from the document. It’s hard to make much out in this minimal view. It’s better to look at the pdf.
The number 1 requirement for the Horowhenua part of the National Cycleway is a north south connection without going along Highways 1, 56 or 57. I reckon the two next important requirements are linking up the 3 main towns Foxton, Shannon and Levin with safe cycle routes, and then linking to the Te Araroa walkways. And after that making the routes interesting for locals and visitors by linking up the most scenic and interesting bits, like Lake Horowhenua, Lake Papaitonga, the reserves on the Ohau river, and the beaches.
Because, and this’ll surprise all those toff nosed Wellingtonians, it’s got some damn nice bike riding in the Horowhenua. If ever the Palmie to Wellington train runs more than once a day, you could do a lot worse than taking the train to Shannon, riding out to Foxton and Foxton Beach and then riding down to Levin and catching the train back to Palmie or Wellington or wherever you started from.
Today I went exploring. Taking the bike to Shannon on the back of the car, and then exploring the routes to and from Foxton.
The end result is that I am going to propose my idea of what the Horowhenua section of the National Cycleway could be.
I started at the Shannon railway station and rode up the side of the main street to the start of the Shannon to Foxton Road. This is quite a main road, but the Saturday traffic was pretty thin. I didn’t feel unsafe at all.
The road crosses the Manawatu River on a safe, and wide bridge. I could stop and take pictures without fear of being run down by a truck.
Springs Road runs west til it hits the Manawatu levee. (and where it does, I propose a bridge across, but more on that later.) I turned into Whirokino Road and there is a long straight of dirt road:
Eventually it hits State Highway 1, just north of the cyclist endangering Manawatu River bridge. You can ride under the highway and get onto the cycle lane that parallels the Moutoa Trestle that takes the highway over the floodway. It’s called the Ken Everett Cycleway. (No not that Kennie Everett)
Another cyclist, one of the lycra brigade, was using the cycleway too.
Here’s the southbound entrance to the cycleway, a bit overgrown, but still usable.
This is the levee bank on the north side of the floodway west of the State Highway. This would actually be the most advantageous part of the levee bank to develop into a cycleway. It would cut out the need to ride along a section of the SH1 between the floodway and Foxton. The cycleway on the levee bank east of the highway would not be of as much use since both Whirokino and Ridge Roads are fine and safe low traffic routes.
So instead of riding this, I rode up the side of the highway. I wasn’t really in any danger, as there was a wide verge to ride on, but I was still mindful that tonnes of metal were flying past only a few feet from my shoulder at 100 km/hr, so I felt like I easily could have been the prelude to a Six Feet Under episode.
Foxton is an interesting little town, with lots of murals like in Sheffield, Tasmania, plus some small but interesting museums. It is one of the older towns in this part of the country and used to be a busy port and had a railway line before just about anywhere else in NZ. It was a flax processing and exporting town, as late as 1973.
Down near the landfill on Stewart Street here’s where the levee bank gets to town:
I took Purcell Street to leave town to get to Ridge Road, which was quite a nice way out of town through a little valley. I turned right onto Kere Kere Road which then crossed the Moutoa Floodway again. Here is where the proposed cycleway would go. Although, as I said before, this bit isn’t that advantageous to build:
The road turns into a dirt road. And then it gets back to Springs Road and I headed back to Shannon (and went on to Mangaone since I wasn’t quite done):
MY IDEAS FOR THE HOROWHENUA SECTION OF THE NATIONAL CYCLEWAY
(From north to south or from Himatangi Beach to Manakau)
Firstly I think there should be 3 connections into Horowhenua for the National Cycleway. 2 in the north, where 1 comes in from Palmerston North, and 1 from Tangimoana, and 1 connection south to Kapiti. I don’t really know the route to Palmie, but presumably goes from Shannon to Opiki and into Palmie on the Pioneer Highway somehow.
From Himatangi Beach to Foxton: the main route should be the beach from Himatangi Beach to Foxton Beach, like in my post on the Foxton Cycleway. An alternative for those not wanting to ride on the beach, high tide and crap weather is on Wylie Road. From Foxton Beach to Foxton there’s a path for schoolkids to ride their bikes, and that should be the main route.
From Foxton to Levin: There should be a new path on the levee bank from Stewart Street around to the SH1. If the Moutoa Floodway levee bank cycleway gets built it should go along it as far as Kere Kere Road. An alternative route is the extant Ken Everett cycleway and Whirokino Road. Then those two routes join and the main national cycle route should go along Springs Road and into Shannon.Where those two routes join a new bridge could be built across the Manawatu to link to the end of Paiaka Road. This is optional (it’d be expensive), and should be an alternative route, but it’d be a great shortcut (and it’d make cycling from Levin to Foxton safer).
From Shannon a branch route should be signposted to Mangaone and the walking track trail ends above Mangaone. Maybe the route to Palmerston North goes north from Shannon.
From Shannon to Levin: The Shannon-Buckley Road heads west out of town, and could either link up to the end of Paiaka Road (and that possible bridge) or use the track next to the railway line. Some easement would have to be negotiated with landholders here.
The route from Paiaka Road is through Koputaroa, home to two angels and two inquisitive sheep. The idea would be then to link up Koputaroa Road and Kawiu Road (possibly along Heatherlea West Road, a new easement, and Te Whanga Road).
Kawiu Road would lead to the round Lake Horowhenua track, and then the Queen Street West cycle lanes would lead to the centre of Levin.
From Levin to Manakau: The route here would follow the hills. From the Queen Street East cycle lane it would head up to Gladstone Road, and then I propose that Gladstone Road, Kimberley Road and Florida Road be linked with a new bridge across the Ohau River. There is camping for cyclists at the Kimberley Reserve. Then somehow with new easements and acquisitions Florida Road, Tangimoana Road, Kuku East Road and the North Manukau Road somehow get linked up and eventually get linked to the South Manukau Road. Perhaps some of this will have to go along the SH1, but on separate cycle paths away from the highway at least. From South Manukau Road through to Otaki the Waitohu Valley Road would be a decent enough route.
Surely these are more than just the scribblings of a madman: