CAA doesn’t actually build any cycleways – we support others who do. And one of our core values is linking groups – departments, funders, local authorities and community organisations – to encourage them to see the mutual benefits of a great cycle network.
Many of the community groups in particular already have great visions for their particular area – and increasingly, nobody needs to tell them the value of cycling. One of those great groups we recently got into contact with is the Whau River Catchment Trust / Friends of the Whau. They are a group based, unsurprisingly, around improving the natural environment – and people’s appreciation of – the Whau River in West Auckland.
The Whau is the great estuary / river wending its way towards the Waitemata between what used to be Auckland City and Waitakere City. Like much of Auckland’s waterways and coastlines, it has a lot of modification and damage to its tributiary streams and the coastline itself. While most of it is held in public land, it is very hard to access and enjoy – almost impossible so without a boat. The trust, and their ‘Friends of the Whau’ volunteer arm, have made it their goal to improve the natural health of the area, and enable people to enjoy it.
And boy, one of the projects that they have created has really caught our attention:
Based on the Greenways philosophy – walk & cycleways connecting our parks and open spaces in a safe and people-friendly manner – they have created a scheme that would result in a path along the western coastline of the Whau from Olympic Park in eastern New Lynn up to SH16 in Te Atatu.
Think “Twin Streams along the Coast”, following the shore for about 15 km.
Of course we couldn’t but offer our whole-hearted support. We are happy to report that in our first meeting, we hit it off well with their people, and are already discussing ways to help them push the first pilot projects for the Greenways scheme. In fact, there may even be a chance to extend it further north, and not let the idea stop at the motorway – why not let Te Atatu Pensinula enjoy that link along the coast as well?
Projects like Whau West Greenways will take time to become reality – but unlike on our roads, where every cycleway seems to be a battle, a “zero-sum” game (at least in some people’s minds), on these projects, we all get to win right from the start.
From locals who can suddenly appreciate (and care for) the environment in their “back yard”, to school children and commuters getting a new way to avoid driving, to a new route for recreational outings by foot or bike on a pleasant days.