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Backtrack to river route

A super cycleway/walkway along the Taruheru River, all the way from Bright Street to the Campion Bridge, is back on the cards after Gisborne District Council decided it would prefer that option to one that would run along Aberdeen Road and Stout Street.

Mayor Meng Foon, who said he had walked every yard of the proposed route, gained almost unanimous support from other councillors for a resolution asking the chief executive to explore and report on the option. It would reverse a previous decision favouring a route along Aberdeen Road and Stout Street.

The Mayor said he had walked every metre of the 3km route and took councillors on a step-by-step walk through it using detailed maps and pictures.

“This provides us with a huge opportunity for a cycle highway right through the middle of our city,” he said.

No other river in New Zealand had the attributes Gisborne’s had of going right through the spine of the city. The council should strive for a cycleway at least four metres wide running all the way from Wainui, he said.

Ample land availableThere was ample land available, 70 percent of which was owned by the council. The council could acquire other land that might be needed. There was the further prospect of eventually going through Gisborne Park golf course to the Oneroa cycle/walkway, creating a circle.

This route connected more schools and recreation places than Aberdeen Road and Stout Street. When he discussed funding with NZTA representatives, they said it seemed like a “no-brainer”. Cars travelled too fast in Stout Street.

School-time traffic difficult for walkers/cyclists“Have you ever tried to cross Aberdeen Road and Lytton Road at school time? It is impossible,” he said.

It was also impossible for children to cross Roebuck Road to Aberdeen Road. There were examples of routes going under bridges at Peel Street and Gladstone Road. Children at Riverdale School would be able to safely go to school without having to go on the road, which was fantastic. The very busy Stout Street-Lytton Road roundabout was terrible for children.

So, his “stroke of genius” was to go under the bridge to Lytton High School. A developer was interested in an arrangement to make land available. Pat Seymour said a cycleway would need to be a reasonable width to allow cyclists to travel both ways.

Funding not absoluteRehette Stoltz said she was heartened to be told at the regional transport meeting that NZTA funding would be available for this option. But chief executive Judy Campbell questioned that absolute assurance. Until they put that in a letter, it was not absolute. They were saying it was within the realms of consideration.

Almost all councillors supported the change. Andy Cranston said he was 100 percent behind this after seeing the success of the Oneroa path. There were difficulties around the Aberdeen Road gym, but it was doable, and there were difficulties in Aberdeen Road. It had huge tourist possibilities, he said.

Brian Wilson said the success of getting people cycling depended on making it safe. Activities like bikes in school were a waste of time unless people were given a safe place to cycle.

Amber Dunn was enthusiastic to see a scenic route connecting all the way to the Adventure Playground. It would be both family and adult-friendly. Larry Foster was “really supportive” and said it could be extended to the Waipaoa River.

Councillors on happy pills: HaismanThe only speaker against the idea was Roger Haisman, who said councillors had been taking happy pills. The Taruheru River was a “smelly, tidal waterway”. The idea that there would be thousands of cyclists was “cuckoo-land” . . . cyclists could cycle anywhere they liked in Gisborne now.

The rural community who had lived on third-world roads for the past 20 years would be “very pleased” to see millions spent on cycleways in the city.

A section of the Oneroa Walkway.