Hauraki Herald - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS -

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

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