Love the Loop but keep to the rules for shared path

Whangarei Report - - OPINION - By Whanga¯ rei Mayor SH­ERYL MAI

Ev­ery­one loves our Hatea Loop/huarahi o te Whai. While the Loop is wide enough to ac­com­mo­date most types of un­pow­ered pedes­trian trans­port, trou­ble starts when the rules for pass­ing, turn­ing and giv­ing way aren’t fol­lowed.

Whanga¯rei isn’t unique in hav­ing a shared-use path; you’ll find these multi-use paths through­out the world in some of the busiest metropoli­tan ar­eas. While all of these paths vary in length, type and fea­tures, they do have one thing in com­mon — the need for con­sid­er­a­tion to­wards all users. Here are some golden rules to loop by:

1. Dog walk­ers

No­body likes to step in dog poo. While most dog own­ers are con­sid­er­ate and pick up af­ter their dogs, there seems to be a grow­ing num­ber who don’t. I have also seen dogs not on their leashes. This is not only against by­law reg­u­la­tions, but it also causes all kinds of trou­ble for fel­low Loop users. Dogs cross­ing paths with bike rid­ers, dogs run­ning up to peo­ple, scar­ing chil­dren, in­tim­i­dat­ing other dogs, chas­ing birds — the list goes on. If you’d like to ex­er­cise your dog off-leash in Whanga¯rei city, then the Hatea Dog Park is the place to go. Keep them leashed and un­der con­trol on the Loop, watch the length of the leash and please be con­sid­er­ate of those who may not be so keen on dogs.

2. Keep left

No mat­ter whether your favourite di­rec­tion is clock­wise or anti-clock­wise, al­ways stay to the left of the path, re­gard­less of your mode of trans­port.

3. Cy­clists

The first rule? Ring your bell. Ob­vi­ously, when rid­ing bi­cy­cles on a shared path, you’re gen­er­ally mov­ing much faster than the pedes­tri­ans around you. A good gen­eral rule of thumb for any­one cy­cling on a shared path, is to be aware of more vul­ner­a­ble users. What does this mean in prac­tice? When com­ing up be­hind a walker or jog­ger (or a group of walk­ers or jog­gers) slow down, ring your bell, call out ‘bike be­hind you, pass­ing on your right’ and pass care­fully to the right. If you’re cy­cling in the even­ing, make sure you’re vis­i­ble; wear re­flec­tive cloth­ing and have a bike light. Re­mem­ber: many walk­ers, jog­gers, dog walk­ers and kids are wear­ing head­phones, so they may not hear you or your bell. Take care, be con­sid­er­ate, and give pedes­tri­ans a wide berth at all times. 4. Walk­ing or bik­ing with kids The Loop is of­ten packed with fam­i­lies en­joy­ing a day out and it’s fan­tas­tic to see this re­source be­ing so well used. When tak­ing your kids cy­cling around the Loop, please re­mind them of the golden rules: give way to pedes­tri­ans, watch your speed, ring your bell and al­ways be con­sid­er­ate of oth­ers. When walk­ing with kids, just keep an eye on them; while the path is gen­er­ally very safe, there is al­ways a risk to small chil­dren around wa­ter. Add cy­clists, dogs and jog­gers to the mix and you’ve got po­ten­tial for some se­ri­ous in­ci­dents.

Com­mon sense is al­ways the best way to go, so take the time to speak with your kids be­fore you set out, give them some Loop guide­lines and you’ll all have a much more re­lax­ing walk/run/ bike/scooter/roller blade ride.

Whanga¯ rei: Love the Loop!

PHOTO / FILE

Don’t leave dog poop on the Loop. And keep your dog on a leash, like this re­spon­si­ble dog owner.

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