After the summer we've had, it would have been a cruel irony had it rained on the opening of our new local cycleway today. But the gathering clouds held their peace, and about 50 riders, young and old, got to roll through after the Minister of Transport cut the tape.
The new path is an enhancement to the existing SH16 route from Western Springs to Newton Road. It removes an irksome detour along the narrow ups-and-downs of Kingsland's Fourth Avenue. It's six metres wide and smooth and it's almost too easy. The "superhighway", people are calling it.
There were speeches beforehand, and someone actually mentioned the national cycle trail. This isn't it – I think – but it presumably seemed polite to give it a nod in the presence of the minister and the member for Auckland Central. Essentially, NZTA stepped in after the Auckland City Council agreed that completing the cycleway was a good idea, but it didn't have the $3 million budget. We locals have been watching it take shape for months now.
It was nice to meet Christopher Dempsey and several other Public Address readers, and Mark Bracey, the chair of Cycle Action Auckland, whose advocacy is really bearing fruit. Work has already begun on a feasibility study for the proposed final stretch of the path – under Newton Road, to Upper Queen Street, then along Grafton Gully to Wellesley and Princes streets, by the university. That'll be good.
And when CAA gets its walking and cycle path across the harbour bridge, well, that'll be the revolution.
Nikki Kaye and Steven Joyce, heading over for the speeches.
Parked up for the ride-through.
Getting read to roll
This seems a good time to mention Cycling in Auckland, which bills itself as "A cycle-pedia by regular people who ride bicycles". It's targeted at new cyclists, and includes a what to wear section for people who just can't do lycra.
And PA reader Dale Griffiths has a recommendation for recreational cyclcsts:
Cross the old Mangere Bridge from Onehunga and turn right. Ride along either Kiwi Esplanade or the footpath alongside the harbour and follow you nose (if the tide is in, there are many wading bird on the grass shorefront). Through Ambury Park and out the otherside past the enclosures to the Watercare walkway that loops at the Greenwood Road carpark or, jump onto Greenwood Road and ride left down to Island Road. On Island Road about 50 metres along on the left the path restarts, go through the gate and ride. If you cross the bridge at Oruarangi Creek the pathway continues out to the back of the Ihumatao Stonefields. Lots of birds including a number of Kotare (KIngfishers) and little skinks sunning themselves on the boardwalks last Monday.
Toilets at Kiwi Esplanade, Ambury Park and Oruarangi Road for those with small kids. Take water.
In another (but not mutually exclusive) recreational sector, the nice people from Marchfest, Nelson's "hip harvest hop festival",which takes place on Saturday at Founders park in Nelson, have two double passes to give away to Public Address readers in Nelson – first come, first served. Click Reply and put "Marchfest" in the subject line of your email.
Of note at this year's fest -- in keeping with the theme of "creation", eleven new craft beers specially commissioned from local brewers, a musical lineup featuring Don McGlashan and a new emphasis on local cuisine and slow food.