Strange silence on waterfront access
Last week, the invited readers to express their opinions on cyclists and pedestrian conflicts on lakeside walking tracks. Reporter Marjorie Cook has her own thoughts. OPINION
I start this opinion with amea culpa. Sitting in on Beau and Andi Rapley’s cycle tour licence application hearing recently, I misheard Wanaka resident Graham Dickson.
The result is that I incorrectly reported Dickson last week in the Mirror as suggesting the urban parts of Wanaka’s waterfront cycle track be pedestrian-only.
There is certainly a call for parts of the waterfront track to be cycle-free, as attested at the hearing by Upper Clutha Tracks Network coordinator Ruth Harrison, especially Outlet Track.
However, Dickson’s submission was that cycle tour groups should not be permitted on the urban waterfront tracks, particularly the Outlet Track. The tour groups could use the road, he said.
He has no truck against cyclists in general and was not proposing a general ban on cycling between Waterfall Creek and Albert Town.
Whether that ever happens ‘‘is a different kettle of fish’’ and ‘‘not an issue at this time’’, he said.
This is where I respectfully beg to differ. Cycling on the urban sections of the waterfront tracks is an issue – and the first application for commercial cycle tours to cross Wanaka reserves is as good time as any to discuss it.
Unfortunately, the period for submissions was short and not advertised widely enough.
If not for Bike Wanaka sharing the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s notice on its Facebook page, it could easily have been missed. If I had not been at a recent Wanaka Community Board meeting to hear chairwoman Rachel Brown verbally report the dates of the hearing, I might have missed it.
Information did not go online until the day before, shortly after I rang the council to enquire about the venue.
But what really surprised me was there were no submissions on an issue that has attracted plenty of whinging, complaining, bitching and vitriol between cyclists and dog walkers in a local text board.
And I amdisappointed that the Mirror’s invitation last week for reader feedback met with only one response.
Still, those who did have something to say, said it when it mattered, calmly.
They do have watchdog reputations but are unlikely to lash out in anonymous outbursts.
Dickson is a town planner/ engineer/former Wanaka Residents Association chairman and former Wanaka Community Board member.
Denis Nugent is also a town planner with experience as an independent commissioner on resource management and environmental issues.
Bike Wanaka is a club of enthusiastic mountainbikers, whose members build tracks and organise local events.
While the trio of opposers could probably summon a small army if they needed to, where were the dog-hating cyclists and the bikehating dog walkers when their views could have been counted?
If cycling and pedestrian conflicts are already bad, what will it be like to encounter 12 members of a cycle tour group on waterfront reserves, or the Outlet Track twice a day, every day, for the next 10 years; even if the Rapleys don’t think they will actually get people to run two tours a day, and promise to separate the group into two smaller groups of six, five minutes apart, in an attempt to minimise congestion?
I don’t think Dickson and I have ever argued but last week he quite rightly reprimanded me and it felt a bit like a whack on the shins with a pedal. I’ll take it.
But in the bigger picture, I had thought waterfront access was an important issue for this town filled with exercise addicts. Are there a few others out there who need similar whack – perhaps with a rolled up newspaper?
Bikes on track: a section of the Roys Bay lakefront track in Wanaka. Photo: Marjorie Cook/Fairfax NZ