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

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS -

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

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