A while ago I wrote a piece called the Heart of the Horowhenua which were some ideas about how I would route cycleways through the district (the Horowhenua district obviously). I reckon there are two natural routes through the district, an east west one which I talk about in detail in A Foxton Beach to Castlepoint Cycleway. And a north-south one that would follow the old wooden railway line south out of Palmy and head towards Kapiti. I wrote about a suggested route south of Levin in “The Power Pole route“.
Then there are two main obstacles: Crossing the Manawatu Safely and the fact that all of the non highway routes generally don’t link up into safe backroads touring. Riding along the SH1, the SH56 and the SH57 isn’t the best way to see the Horowhenua safely. Riding along highways generally is horrible because of the noise and the traffic, and the risk of death. Away from the busy roads such as on the top of a levee bank or on a quiet country road the district is pleasant to ride through. On the highways you may as well turn on a blender, put your ear up to it and juggle some sharp knives.
So yes I unapologetically make a few suggestions about linking up routes that may cross private property. Firstly these are only suggestions. Secondly they’re suggestions for cycleways not the Sandhills Bloody Expressway. Thirdly I’m not saying force any landholder into giving up their land. Negotiation, fair dealing, compensation paid, easements negotiated, etc, etc and remember it is a cycleway, so about 3 or 4 metres wide. Some landholders would benefit from new fencing, a new track across a paddock that their farm vehicles could also use, tree planting, shelter belts or whatever. Also not routing them too close to houses. Close them in lambing season. All common sense can be in play.
At the bottom of my Heart of Horowhenua post I wrote the words “Surely these are more than just the scribblings of a madman” as a caption for my hand drawn map:
My thinking has changed a bit north of the river, but south of the river it’s still pretty much the same. I would have the route go East-West through Levin on Queen St and have a round the lake route around Lake Horowhenua which would join up to the northern half of Kawiu Road, cross State Highway 1, going up the current dead end Te Whanga Road and then join up to Heatherlea Road West and Koputaroa Road, before going up Paiaka Rd.
That prompted (2 years after my initial post) I think a somewhat angry reply from someone named Chris – “I live at the end of Heatherlea West road and tend to suggest your final comment may apply. Heatherlea West road is only a few hundred metres from St Highway one and Koputaroa road. The section of St Highway 1 down to Kawiu road is sufficiently wide for a section of cycleway without the need to put a cycleway right through the middle of two private properties”.
i.e. he or she is calling me a madman. Well if you believe private property rights should always trump the common good, maybe I’d appear to be. Personally I think you’re crazy if you think routing a cycleway down a busy highway with trucks, traffic, noise and fumes is a good idea.
So let’s examine what I meant. Here’s the area in more detail. I wrote SH1 on the State Highway, and you can see Lake Horowhenua in the bottom left corner. It’s the gap between the end of Te Whanga Road and Heatherlea Road West that is the bit in question.
So here is the aerial shot. (I’m using the Walking Access Mapping System by the way for this). I don’t know which house is our commenter’s, and I’m sure it’s a lovely house and they enjoy their peace and quiet (which they wouldn’t lose if there was a cycleway built anywhere nearby).
There are probably a few possible routes that would be possible in negotiation with the property owners, but here is a suggested one:
Or if that doesn’t appeal Te Whanga Road continues as a paper road almost as far Kukutauaki Road.
It’s hardly the most radical of suggestions.
In reality none of my ideas are going to get built, so I wouldn’t fret if I make a suggestion that crosses your land. There is no political will to actually improve people’s lives by improving their recreational opportunities and grant them more access to cross land, and local politicians (yes, even in the Horowhenua) aren’t always the brightest of sparks.
It is a pity we live amongst the unimaginative.