Opinion: Shared pathway for expressway project

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ASSET: Part of the Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway shared pathway in Paraparaumu.

By David Haxton

Well done to everyone who have been championing for a shared pathway to be part of the Peka Peka to Otaki Expressway project.

The NZ Transport Agency, noting public interest in a shared pathway, has come out saying some form of pathway will be ready for use once the expressway has been built.

Originally the agency had indicated plans to create a cycleway along the state highway, between Peka Peka and Otaki, when it was transferred into a local road after the expressway was built.

The agency plans to consult with the community on options in May, which will be very interesting to see, especially the nature and exact location.

In my opinion a shared pathway not only serves as another important part of the district's social fabric but provides a safe, relaxed and enjoyable environment away from trucks, cars and motorcycles.

The pathway would also create an attractive pathway linkage between Otaki right through to Paekakariki that could appeal to people.

And there would be some economic benefits to be had with users making side excursions to shops, restaurants or places like the Nga Manu Nature Reserve.

A large number of university students from Wellington recently got the train to Paraparaumu and then rode bikes along part of the pathway to Waikanae, where they went on a bird-spotting tour around the Waikanae estuary led by Michael Peryer, before heading back along the pathway to check out the Tuatara brewery in Paraparaumu. They had an awesome time.

Yes there will be costs associated with a new pathway construction but in the whole scheme of things it's an opportunity to be grasped.

And it seemed a bit odd that the Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway had a shared pathway factored into it but the Peka Peka to Otaki Expressway didn't.

I've been for a few runs and mountain bike rides on parts of the Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway shared pathway and it has been good to see people out and about on it.

My only gripe is that it doesn't have an asphalt or concrete top which would make it easier for road bikes, which have skinny tyres, or for people using wheelchairs.

The gold standard of walking/cycling shared pathways is the one along Marine Parade, Paraparaumu Beach, which is made out of concrete.

It has also been good to get a close-up of the huge amount of work that has gone into creating wetlands, planted banks and drainage areas alongside the expressway.

I also enjoyed going over the Rongomau footbridge at Raumati South which is mightily impressive not only from how it looks, but from a construction point of view.

The shared pathway also offers lots of new linkages to various parts of Raumati, Paraparaumu and Waikanae.

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