The Mangapurua Cycle Trail

28 08 2011

As part of the Mountains to the Sea Cycle Trail the Mangapurua Cycle Trail links the Whanganui River at the Bridge to Nowhere to the Ruatiti, Orautahu, Raetihi part of the World. There’s a big slip down near the river end blocking the trail, but I didn’t get that far anyway. I had a short, couple hour ride from the eastern end. This is a short trip report, and is the first of two from short sections I did of the new Mountains to the Sea Cycle Trail.

The Nga Haerenga sign is starting to appear on road signs as the National Cycleway is getting built out. So this is near the start of the eastern end of the track. The trail from Horopito and ultimately from Ohakune, goes over the very quiet public roads, and even the time driving through Orautahu and Rautiti is quite long. It’d be quite an effort to ride a bike over the hilly and windy road sections to get here. There is camping at the Ruatiti Domain if you have taken a day to ride from Ohakune.

From the carpark at the start of the track it is all uphill. The track is open to walkers, cyclists and, by permit, quad bikes. I was lucky enough not to see or hear any of them, but they have caused a bit of mud and churn on the track. In fact I didn’t see another soul for the whole time I was on the track. Either side of the track is private land.

At one point if the weather is clear the views to Ruapehu and Tongariro are magnificent. Here is the view to Ruapehu.

I only had to get off and walk through the gungiest mud twice on the ascent. The surface is a mix of gravel and stones and quad bike churned sticky mud, which isn’t that deep. After rain I think it is probably a bit harder. After reaching the end of the private land the Taheke Conservation Area is reached and the long uphill grind is over.

The surface on the DOC lands is a bit better and it flattens out through the Conservation Area. The riding through here was bloody lovely and I could ride at speed amongst the kereru.

There was also a few patches of mud. Sloppy enough to lose traction in and go sideways, but nothing too bad.

On the other side of the Conservation Area there’s a sign to say Whanganui National Park and the track starts to descend. I had a bit of a look-see and turned around. The flat parts were once again glorious, and the long climb I had done on the way in turned into a quick downhill where I didn’t have to pedal much to get back to my car.

This was my first experience of a so-called National Cycleway, apart from the day before on the Ohakune Old Coach Road (but that will be another post). I only rode for a little over 2 hours and I had a whole lot of healthy fun, but the Rimutaka Rail Trail it ain’t. The Mangapurua Track was as rough as guts. It’s definitely fat tyres only, and it would be quite a feat to ride the trail with full panniers. It’s never going to appeal to masses of people like the Otago Central Rail Trail does. And I still think the idea of the National Cycleway should be that you could ride from Cape Reinga to Bluff with a set of panniers (if not a bike trailer) and have a great adventure without being run over by a truck, but if this is indicative of much of the trails then it is more like a collection of fun mountain biking routes.

You couldn’t take kids on this trail. Many weekend cyclists would find the uphill section at the start long and muddy and almost unrideable. My 250W electric motor and a granny gear made it rideable, just. Mountain bikers would enjoy it (but it’s probably too wussy for them if they like gnarly single-track). There’s only camping options along the way. It’s great that it exists and can be ridden by bikes, but what is the Tourism Ministry’s game plan here? Only hardy souls are going to be able to ride it, and hardy souls could make their own fun without the flash marketing.


Pedestrians count for nought in Johnsonville

26 08 2011

This post is inspired by Auckland Transport Blog‘s post Why are we so mean to pedestrians? which asks the question why are pedestrian crossings often missing from traffic light controlled intersections. A couple slightly annoyed traffic engineers tried to defend the practice, but I think it pretty much boils down to pedestrians being disrespected.

This post is also inspired by my earlier posts about crap cycling infrastructure in Johnsonville – The Johnsonville Shambles and Fixing the Fraser Ave, Johnsonville Deathtrap. You can see from the photos below that nothing has got any better for cyclists and it’s really crap for pedestrians too.

If you are walking from Newlands and up Fraser Ave, then you can play Frogger at the intersection here. You can use the little island in the foreground, but there is no footpath on Fraser Ave if you get across the road.

And here’s a magic truck who thinks hazard lights makes him not get in the way of pedestrians.

But here is the reason for this post. There’s no pedestrian crossing on the south side of the Johnsonville and Broderick Road intersection. There are businesses on both sides of the road. You have to cross three signals to get from one corner to the other. Usually I try to cross the road between the two petrol stations, because the cars entering and exiting the petrol stations don’t give a damn about pedestrians either. And you see pedestrians crossing the road quite dangerously closer to the lights. I think the situation is substandard.

I’m sure that traffic engineers would  have a whinge and say that adding a pedestrian phase on the south side of the intersection would make traffic back up onto the motorway exit, but it does that anyway. The reason is that there are too many cars.

So WCC why are pedestrians disrespected in Johnsonville? And why has still nothing been done to improve cycle safety on Johnsonville Road, the main cycle route between Wellington and Porirua?

If there isn’t enough depth amongst the traffic engineering staff I offer to redesign the whole route through J’ville with best practice for peds and cyclists, and I’ll do it for nix. Just get in touch.

National’s White Elephant

18 08 2011

I should be writing bicycle posts, but I feel like I have to fight a rearguard action against stupidity, so I got out the Microsoft Paint. I got one of those stupid electorate junk mail thingies from Nathan Guy today, and not only was it brazen enough to announce a previously built railway as something that the government is going to fund, but it proudly announced it was going to piss $2.2 billion dollars up the wall building a Road of National’s Stupidity from Wellington Airport to Levin, including Transmission Gully.

Someone needs to stand up and say it: Transmission Gully is the biggest stinking pile of transport planning poo ever. It has a BCR of 30 cents in the dollar. i.e. only $300 million dollars of economic benefits for every billion dollars spent. And that is if it ever delivered on budget, which it won’t be. And a lot of those benefits would be of a couple saved minutes for Kapiti commuters getting home before dinner. Those kind of economic benefits shouldn’t even be measured, as those people made the mistake of  buying or renting in Kapiti and working in Wellington which is miles away, and why do we owe them extravagant sums for their bad decisions?

Can anyone tell me why a Pukerua Bay bypass and more frequent service on the Kapiti Line isn’t a better idea than spending a billion dollars plus?

Nathan Guy I won’t be voting for you, as you will be wasting money that the country doesn’t even have. Why doesn’t Mr Guy do something useful like creating jobs in Levin and Foxton which are still suffering from the loss of industries years ago? Or how about cleaning up air quality in Kapiti and Horowhenua by banning rural burnoffs?

And if you live in Porirua next time don’t make the mistake of voting in Nick Leggett as Mayor, a booster for the motorway barely out of nappies.

We want spending on safe separated bicycle infrastructure, not motorway boondoggles for mates in the trucking and construction industries. Did anyone hear what the people of Christchurch want for their rebuilt cities when they were asked? Cycleways, light rail and parks. That’s what everyone wants. Funnily enough the people of Christchurch didn’t ask for a stinking big useless motorway.

What we can learn from Catalonia

13 08 2011

Girona is a small city in northern Catalonia. It has a population of 96,000 people, which is just a little larger than Palmerston North.

There’s two lessons we can learn from Catalonia. The first is that bike share works in a small city like Girona. Girona’s system has grown to 160 bicycles available at 10 stations. This could (and should) translate into success for cities like Dunedin, Palmerston North or even the Hutt.

The second lesson is that there is a market for short-term automated secure bicycle parking. See the Bicibox.

They’ve set some up in Barcelona. An annual subscription means that you can use a secure locker for 12 hours without charge, then a small charge ensues. A smartcard gives access to a locker.

I’d be happy to pay a couple dollars each time I used one myself. $2 for all day secure bike parking at the train station sounds pretty good to me.

With so much talk of minimum parking requirements in Auckland lately it might be a good time to suggest that commercial developments in New Zealand should have minimum requirements for casual and secure bike parking.

Imagine a Hop-like Card that lets you get on trains, ferries, buses, trams and urban aerial gondolas, and then lets you ride bike share bikes and lets you securely park your bike which you can recharge with funds online, and the system tells you when the next bus is coming along, where the available bikes are, and where the available secure bike lockers are. It would be great for a national system that did all that.

Also imagine a little transceiver in every car that makes toll payments every time it goes on a motorway to help fund it all.

It’s time for some linked up thinking on transport. Auckland still doesn’t even have transfer fares. Wellington’s ticketing is a mess of train tickets, Snapper cards and Newlands-Mana cards. It’s time to start copying world’s best practice when it comes to transport networks, instead of plodding along ineptly like we’ve always done.

Protecting ourselves from a crazy man

13 08 2011

How do we tell this man we want cyclepaths and light rail lines instead of the Roads of National’s Stupidity? Thanks to the Dom Post’s cartoon which got it spot-on. Tell your friends to vote National and their minister for trucks and motorways out of office this November.

Dunedin could do with extra funding for it’s cycleway plans. Christchurch could rebuild into the city that it wants to be complete with trams. Auckland could do with a modern train network with a central loop, and Wellington needs a safe cycle route to Petone, and better, faster public transport links between Wellington Station and the southern and Miramar Peninsula suburbs. Real leadership is coming from the Mayors and Steven Joyce and John Key don’t know anything about running a modern city.

The 1950s have called and they want the National Party back.

The planned transport spend for the next few years is so unbalanced. Add up the first 6 columns in each year and compare it to the little Walking and Cycling column. Roads are getting over 400 times the funding of that cycling and walking is gonna get. Notice the tall blue columns in each year. That’s just about all unnecessary. That is what Joyce’s ego-trip is going to cost us, and that my friends is over $1,000,000,000.00 a year. A dollar a day per adult New Zealander for one man’s personality problem. Don’t be so blind as him this November.

If you’ve  ever seen Magic Highway 1958 on You Tube then you can see we’ve come a long way since then. Well all of us except for those with their blinkers on.


The Bike Racks of Palmerston North

5 08 2011

One of these bike racks has landed near the Palmy i-Site.They’re all over the Wellington train network too. They must be cheap to install, but does anyone actually like this style of bike rack? Is this the kind of bike racks you get when you don’t ask cyclists what they would like?


I like the idea of the Parkiteer cages being installed around the Victorian rail network more.

This was spotted on the corner of George Street and Main Street West. Very nice.