A cycle ferry across the Manawatu?

22 05 2010

Back in January I went on a nice ride between Shannon and Foxton, and wrote about it on my blog as the Heart of Horowhenua which I also mulled cycle routes between Foxton, Shannon, Levin and Palmerston North. I came up with a plan that crossed the Manawatu River north of Koputaroa. A bridge over a big river is big expense, and unlikely to every get built, but I’ve nicked this picture which is mentioned in the comments of this story on the Fietsberaad website.

It is across a canal between Brugge and Dramme, in Belgium.

This makes a route that takes the back roads through the Horowhenua and Manawatu linking Levin and Palmerston North much cheaper. It can use the backroads, and the levee banks of the river and the Mutaroa Floodway. At the river crossings there is one of these little ferries, which need no staff. There are just 3 wheels to turn, one on each side to get the ferry back when it is on the opposite side, and one on the ferry itself. Lighting could be solar lighting, so they could be used at night, and suddenly there are safe and pleasant, commuter and travel routes through Horowhenua and the Manawatu. They might even breathe a bit of economic life into the region if Wellingtonians and Palmerstonians ventured out for the day or the weekend.

Prime Minister Key’s vision for the national cycleway may have stalled (although, in fairness, there is funding for three of the chosen routes in this years budget, so it’s not completely stalled) but some of us still have the dream of a real signposted national cycleway from Cape Reinga to Bluff.




8 responses

22 05 2010
David Hembrow

Nice though it is, I’m not too sure why the Fietsberaad highlighted that ferry. These human powered bicycle / foot ferries are quite common in the Netherlands. There are at least dozens of them, if not over a hundred. If you want to see how they work, there are videos on youtube.

23 05 2010
Nigel Prentice

NZ rivers are seriously flood prone, unlike this canal. And what will this design look like after the “safety engineering police” have finished. Anyone remember travelling on the outside of the Wellington Cable Car as a kid?

23 05 2010

Yeah Nigel, just before a flood it will have to be temporarily removed, but I’m sure it can be allowed for in the design. A life-ring, and some solar lighting at the approaches, and on board, and it’d work.

24 05 2010
Nigel Prentice

Mathew, I’m sorry if I poured too much cold water (sic) on the idea. Just go and look at the pedestrian/cycle bridge designs on http://www.aucklandtrains.co.nz under the cycling section – SH20 (opened) and Wairau (concept). Phew, see what I mean.
Notwithstanding, the scenery surrounding this ferry is truly beautiful looking. It is somewhat humbling to realise that NZ doesn’t have all the greatest cycling backdrops, but oh, if we could just get safely to the great scenery we have. So how are we going to cross this river?

24 05 2010

Nigel, no offence taken whatsoever. Even if my pipe-dreams of getting the cycle routes through the Horowhenua turned into reality, then they’d be a lot less used than a suburban Auckland bike bridge. The Manawatu is a big river, and any bridge would be substantial, and would cost millions. Riding on the SH1 or even the 56 or 57 doesn’t strike me as either safe or fun, and there are all these quiet rural roads, and the tops of the levee banks, that if they were linked they up would make for beautiful touring and commuter routes. (Foxton, Shannon and Levin are not far from each other really) Car ferries, like back in Australia on the Murray River, or above Maclean on the Clarence, cross substantial rivers too. I’m sure they could be made safe and practical and much cheaper than a bridge. They’d also be a bit of a tourist draw in themselves, and would encourage people to ride from Levin to Foxton for the day. Now not many people, apart from myself (and maybe I’m odd), would consider that as something fun to do. Put in a cycle ferry and people might come for the ride just to have a go.

4 04 2011
Micro-ferries for Porirua Harbour « Wellington Region Cycleways

[…] A recent post on Human Transit about Vancouver’s micro-ferries got me thinking. (False Creek Ferries’ website) I do think Wellington’s water transport options are underdeveloped suggesting here about ferry services to Evan’s Bay and the Miramar Peninsula, and for a cycleway to Palmie a cycle ferry across the Manawatu. […]

5 06 2011
Paul Nankivell

Hi, We are in the process of building a cycle ferry here in Mapua, to provide a connecting service for the Tasman Cycle Loop, across the Mapua channel to Rabbit Island. We do not have a great distance to cover but are faced with strong tidal currents. A bridge is out of the question and chain or cable type ferrys wont work either, so we are providing a covered barge powered by two outboard motors. It will have a full time skipper and operate to a timetable until the numbers are such that we could cross on demand.

7 06 2011
Crossing the Manawatu Safely « Wellington Region Cycleways

[…] It seems like a perfect spot to put in a cyclists bridge, or one of these (as highlighted in this post of mine): […]

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