Hawkes Bay Coastal Ride

29 12 2010

On a recent hot day I had a chance to ride from Havelock North to Napier and back along the Tuki Tuki River and the coastal path. It has been developed by the Hawkes Bay Rotarians (click for maps and info) since 2002, and is to be expanded as part of the National Cycleway plans.

Along the Tuki Tuki river the path follows the top of a levee bank. The views are over orchards, pumpkin patches and vines. It’s all a bit horticultural if you like that sort of thing.

The number of gates on the cycleway are a problem. Gates are just about always a barrier to cycling, and how is someone in a hand trike, a velomobile or a recumbent going to get around them. Kissing gates are a right royal pain in the buttocks on a bicycle. The bits between Clive and River Road was chock-a-block full of gates. Some with warning signs about how cows may be frisky (which is a bit of a clue to what they get up to around Napier way when it’s not Art Deco weekend). I got a bit sick of all the gates.

Closer to Napier the kissing gates disappear and ‘motor vehicle restriction points’ are used, and as pointed out by the Bicycle Canberra blog (a barrier to cycling) are not entirely safe for cyclists, but better than an annoying gate.

There are no road crossings the whole way from River Road to Ahuriri which is great, the rivers are crossed on footpaths of the road bridges, and the worst the path gets is running alongside the noisy road, but those bits are short. Most of it is out of the noise cone of the road, which is how it should be. It is all alongside the rivers or the sea (or the fertiliser factory)

The path surface is pretty good quality of very fine packed gravel, and even thin tyres I think could ride on it, and maybe even on a wet day.

Closer to Napier the cycleway turns into concrete, and is quite wide and good quality.

Past the Port the path turns into boardwalk, which can get a bit busy with pedestrians on a sunny day.

And always remember to have a front wheel on your bicycle.

and on the way back to Havelock North after a hot sunny ride looking at Te Mata Peak in the distance, it does occur to me that it might be a great idea to plant a whole lot of trees alongside the paths, to offer the sun-kissed cyclist a little bit of shade, and a break from the wind.

The paths provide mostly an enjoyable day, but probably not a reason to go out of your way to visit Hawkes Bay unless you go up for other reasons like a hike to the gannetry, or a visit to the National Aquarium.


The Kaiwharawhara Shambles

27 12 2010

My favourite bicycle blogger would have to be Freewheeler’s Crap Cycling and Walking in Waltham Forest. He likes to point out the disappointment of living in a borough of London where it is dominated by cars and there is no political will amongst the rubbish local politicians to make it any better (although they do tell everyone how wonderful things are, but on the ground it is far from the truth) He shows how rubbish it is in London and contrasts it with good bicycle infrastructure in the Netherlands. I like the way he says it how it is without fear. So I’m going to take a leaf out of his book and say that the bicycle infrastructure on the Hutt Road is absolute rubbish.

I’m not talking about how rubbish for cyclists the Hutt Road is between Ngauranga and Petone, which I have done before here and here. I’m talking about these bits in Kaiwharawhara where the bike path is on the footpath between the road and rows of parked cars and the various businesses. The bikepath, which is at best painted on, is in constant conflict between the parked cars and their door zones and all the vehicle movements across the path.

There’s been some recent green paint work, which is a step in the right direction in controlling cars but it effectively halves the width of the cycleway which is a bit dumb.

Then there are lamp posts in the middle of the path. Always good that one. And here a cyclist is giving up on the path after getting around the truck blocking it, and he’s going to cycle on the road.

Here’s a car blocking the path, but perhaps legally as they’re just leaving the Spotlight carpark and turning into Hutt Road.

And here’s one who was breaking the law:

and this truck (FBY573 in case you can’t read it) had their hazard lights on, which makes it all ok:

My opinion of the highly compromised Hutt Rd bike infrastructure is that it is an absolute shambles. And whilst it seems no expense will be spared on the Motorway any money spent on bike infrastructure seems a long way off. In fact the whole of the north side of Wellington is a bit of a shambles. If you arrived from the South Island on the ferry and then tried to walk into the CBD you’d think Wellington was a mess. And Tranz Metro must be really proud of the state of Kaiwharawhara station, which doesn’t even have a shelter on the platforms.

Whilst I live in hope that the Great Harbour Way is on its way (hope springs eternal), between the waterfront and the Interislander terminal a cycleway route needs to be found. And it’s got to not be along Hutt Road. I’ve previously suggested using the Cake Tin Concourse and then linking that through a new route through the rail yards (on a fully fenced, and tree-lined, 4 metre wide cycle path) which would get near the Interislander terminal near the Aotea off-ramp here.

And then heading north it would pass the ferry terminal buildings and then go under the ferry ramp and go along the seafront all the way to Petone.

So how about it, powers that be? Can we have a rebuild of Kaiwharawhara Station so it isn’t an embarassing mess? (And how about a new station on both the Johnsonville line where it branches off the N.I.M.T., and the other lines, near the intersection of Tinakori and Hutt Roads.) and can we have a designated, well built cycle route linking the Interislander and the Cake Tin concourse, linking the waterfront to the Kaiwharawhara seafront and eventually to Petone? The north side of Wellington needs a retrofit. Or are we only going to get spending on motorways that doesn’t benefit cyclists and pedestrians ones bit?

For a city, like Wellington, that has visions of grandeur, and a sense of self-importance (although it should get out a bit  more) it doesn’t mind showing its ugly side to the world.

A precedent for a Kaiwharawhara to Petone boardwalk

15 12 2010

Surely a precedent has been set for the link between Wellington and Petone with the building of Auckland’s boardwalk along the rail line in the Orakei Basin. Is it not time to plan the boardwalk for the sections east of the train lines where it’s not practical to build on the land between Kaiwharawhara, Ngauranga and Petone?

South of Kaiwharawhara a cycle path could be built around the western side of the Interislander terminal, then under the Aotea Quay off ramp, and through the rail yards to the Westpac Stadium concourse and onto the waterfront.

North of Ngauranga the safe bike route should also follow the seaward side of the railway tracks to around the old Beach Station at Petone, because what there is now isn’t safe.

To fund it, as I’ve said before let the developers (are there any of them left?) get their chops on the waterfront land at Ngauranga, and in the airspace over the station and build us a nice waterfront neighbourhood, pedestrianised waterfront with restaurants, hotels, and apartments above. At the moment the decrepit Ngauranga station and the poo-dumping station don’t add up to much at all, other than a lost opportunity.

Let’s see some action on the Great Harbour Way.

Transport Policy Fail

13 12 2010

I found the photo below on the net just under a story about Dublin’s successful bike scheme. Dublin’s and Melbourne’s schemes presently have a similar number of bikes over a roughly equally sized territory and Dublin is renting out its bikes 12 times as much each day as Melbourne is. Dublin is going to increase their scheme ten-fold. The comments on this post of mine contemplated the reason Melbourne’s scheme is a bit of a dud.

This is the response of the Victorian powers that be, to the failure of the scheme. Really. Not looking back on the relative success or failure of mandatory helmet laws and reassessing whether they actually have worked or not (they haven’t), but by making a helmet tardis. I suppose going by the roof this is Southern Cross Station.

I recommend Mike Rubbo’s latest film about the Mayor of Fremantle. There’s hope yet.

I really didn’t need a bike helmet to ride along the safe riverside paths of Brisbane either.

It’s really frustrating living in Australia and New Zealand with its engrained safety nanny attitudes that seem unshakeable. Ready to provide us with more freeways and tunnels than we ever will need, feeding us shit to keep us stupid and treating us like the morons that we all undoubtedly are. It’s official everyone each side of the Tasman wearing a tie, or a bike helmet is a dick. I blame this lot, this lot and especially this lot.

Brisbane’s City Cycle

6 12 2010

Q. What’s a public transport system without hire bicycles?
A. Incomplete

Yep, I think it is as simple as that.

I’m just back from an Australian jolly. Adelaide was looking a little bit untidier than I remembered it, and Brisbane always seems to be a little bit nicer every time I go back. Since my last visit Brisbane’s opened 3 new bridges across the river, the bus (and bicycle) one down by the University of Queensland, the new Go Between Bridge for cars off the end of Hale St, and the Kurilpa Bridge for cyclists and pedestrians near the Gallery of Modern Art. Brisbane City Council is a bit schizophrenic,  on the one hand they’re on a road tunneling binge, with more tunnels than the Faeroe Islands, and on the other hand it is quite innovative for an Australian city in that it is giving cycling some thought.

For instance here’s the standard of bike path near the Regatta Hotel ferry dock. Paved, wide and car-free, just like all city bike paths should be.

And they’ve just introduced City Cycle, which is Brissie’s bike share scheme. I’ve been saying that bike share schemes are brilliant, but I hadn’t actually tried one out. So I thought I better. I packed my helmet all the way from Wellington. I didn’t need it for safety reasons, as I was only following the riverside paths, or I was on quiet roads, but I needed it to keep the ever vigilant idiots who’d tell me to wear a helmet, if I wasn’t, quiet. There’s been a bit of discussion about Melbourne and Brisbane’s schemes and mandatory helmets, so I shalln’t go over it here, other than to say the laws are daft and we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.

My girlfriend and I were getting around by train and ferry, so we rode a CityCat Ferry upriver to the West End and we found our first docking station. The system was really simple. We’d got a 1 day code each and clicked out our bikes. The bikes are really sturdy. They have the low step through frame (so suitable for the elderly too), and a front basket, and 3 gears. The 1st gear is good for small hills, 2nd is comfy, and 3rd is for a little speed. The system is run by advertising revenues, and the advertising is only a little intrusive. (For what it’s worth my girlfriend says there is too much sugar in that brand of ice tea) (And also for what it is worth, what is it with those 2 stroke scooters pulling advertising billboards, riding around in threes in the CBD – why the hell are they allowed to pollute so much for something as useless as a billboard?)

Riverside Drive in West End has been traffic-calmed in the most delightful way, by prohibiting cars from the road altogether. That’s something I’d like to see a lot more of in all Australasian cities. Roads after all, are for bikes, not for cars.

And in Queensland footpaths are also for bikes. It’s not illegal to ride on the footpath in Qld, which is I think is quite a good idea, except for places of high foot traffic. The riverside bike paths can be ridden all the way from UQ to Newstead House, with only a few short hops onto roads.

The Brisbanites are calling the new Kurilpa Bridge (below) the Coathanger and saying it doesn’t get much foot or bike traffic. I say bah humbug to them, it’s great. We were visiting the galleries so we wanted to drop the bikes off at a station somewhere nearby, but they’re not all installed yet, so we crossed over the river on the bridge and went looking for another station.

I didn’t feel like riding in CBD traffic, but I needn’t have worried. George Street has contraflow bike lanes. This is more of the type of bike infrastructure that keeps cyclists safe, rather than helmets. Notice the lack of parked cars. Again roads are for bikes, not cars, so keep the parked cars away from the bike lanes.

And another station, this one on George Street. It is hardly very intrusive into the footpath. If it was, just take car lanes out.

After 3 months subscriber numbers are apparently low. The placement of stations in Brisbane are a lot more useful than the inadequate Melbourne ones, and the BCC does realise that visitors are going to want to ride them, and they will want to ride them along the safe riverside paths. However not all the planned stations are in yet. Eventually they’ll stretch from St. Lucia to near Breakfast Creek. With the excellent ferry services, and what actually is a really excellent bike hire scheme I would contemplate not bothering to get a car if I ever lived in Brisbane again. If I was the BCC or the Queensland Government I would run a trial of sanctioned helmetlessness for City Cycle and promote it well to the locals. It really has the potential to work incredibly well for locals and tourists alike. As an adjunct to a city’s public transport system, and as a great asset that improves people’s lives in an environmentally friendly and safe way it really can’t be beaten. Integrate it into the go-card. And let 14 year olds and up ride it, not just over 18s.

If you live in Brisbane, subscribe.

If you live in another city, ask for such a system.

Durie Hill Elevator

2 12 2010

I wrote a guest post on the Gondola Project about the Durie Hill Elevator in Whanganui.