Having a number of farming friends that I very much like and respect, this letter is not directed against farmers per se but it is most certainly directed at whomever among you are responsible for a local shambles.
The shambles is the 54 hated cross gates and their dangerous concrete judder bars that make the rail trail cycleway between Thames and Paeroa probably the most formidable so called family section in the whole of New Zealand.
This danger has been brought to the attention of pertinent local authorities, principally TCDC, whom it appears have had to deal with one or more difficult landowners.
To remedy this problem affected landowners will be asked if they wish to retain the cross gates. If they are selfish then their accompanying judder bars will be replaced by much safer metal bar grids at considerable cost to ratepayers.
That these many cross gates were a totally needless expense is shown by the numerous cattle races on the Plains that cross sealed roads and their verges which are four to five times wider than the narrow trail. And none of these roads have obstacles across them.
Yet large herds on their way to milking across country roads in 4am darkness are surely more a risk to traffic than are cows from cyclists in broad daylight.
Even a first day farm worker can easily get cows across a few metres wide rail corridor. Indeed, lead cows show their herds exactly where to go. So why these utterly useless cross gates? They are an insult to the abilities of competent farmers.
From a commercial perspective, there is absolutely no doubt that Thames and its villages south are not gaining what they should from the ever growing cycling community. Word of mouth is vital and this section gets the worst comments.
The recent storm surge shows that Hauraki plains land is going to need ever more taxes spent on stop banks - to protect farms, so upsetting the wider community seems rather short sighted to say the least.
Some of the cross gates are particularly annoying such as the ones near Totara. These are not even dairy farms, so have virtually zero farm traffic, so why the cross gates?
The rail corridor is public land paid for by all taxpayers. So good luck with demands of unimpeded rights of way across it should fast rail ever be installed. And only the uninformed would discount such a probability should these lands still be above water.
Cyclist come here expecting a very safe cycle way, consequently we are seeing families with young children, some even carrying babies. Soon we will know which landowners along the corridor care not for the safety of our children.
Derrick Rowe, Thames