With the arrival of COVID-19 on the world stage and the subsequent lockdown in New Zealand many cycling-related activities and initiatives have come to a halt. Unfortunately, that included the delivery of the cycle skills training we have been doing across the Whangarei District. We hope to begin delivering to students again as soon as alert levels and schools allow us.
In the weeks just before lockdown, we were at Whangarei School delivering Grade 1 training. Judging by the queue to ride the bikes at school every lunchtime the kids loved it!
The 2019/2020 summer has been fantastic for Northland cyclists both recreational and competitive. For the recreational cyclist, the dry weather meant plenty of ideal days for riding, and mountain bike trails were in great condition, the drought ironically helping to keep the weed growth down and the wonderful northland clay dry and grippy instead of slippery. For the more competitive riders, success was had in all disciplines. The Far North Flash Marshmallows had an amazing few weeks touring around the North Island partaking in events on the way. Their season finished in Invercargill at the National Age Group Track Cycling Championships where Geraldene Leefe and Renee Harrison won Bronze. Marsden Wheelers have had members participate in multiple events around the country with some fantastic results. Special mention to some up and coming young riders; Jorgia Swain, Kurt and Trevor Kurtzee, Bree Monahan, and Tiree Robinson. Fiona Southorn won Silver at the Time Trial event at the National Track Championships in March. Emma Foy and her pilot Hannah Van Kampen won the Gold medal and world champion title at the 2020 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships in the Women’s Tandem Pursuit in Canada in February, which they followed up with a Bronze in the Individual Time Trial. And, 5 riders completed the Tour Aotearoa – fantastic effort.
A lot has been happening around Northland in the cycling space. Over in the Kaipara, Dargaville has got a new pump track at Selwyn Park. Deadwood Mountain Bike Park is a privately owned property with some new trails, open by appointment. You can message them through their Facebook page. And cycle trails are being developed around the district; Paparoa Connections, linking Matakohe to Paparoa; Matakohe Cycleway committee is working on linking Ruawai Stopbank to Matakohe, and an informal group is working at Donnelly’s Crossing opening up Old Mill Road. In Whangarei, the Mountainbike club is investigating creating some new trails at Parihaka and applying for funding. Over summer an uphill trail was reopened, Cimbax offering an alternative way up to Spider Junction, and French Connection got its own exit route to prevent riders from meeting riders rapidly descending from Drop Track or Vendetta.
The SH1/Tarewa Road intersection upgrade is designed to improve traffic flow and safety. It will also improve safety for those walking and cycling with a shared path under the new bridge and signalised pedestrian crossings providing important links to Whāngārei Hospital and Northland Polytech and the CBD. Whilst work has stopped during the lockdown, it is hoped that work can recommence in May and is planned for completion later in 2020.
If you have the time make a submission to the Accessible Streets public Consultation. The deadline date for feedback has been extended until 20 May 2020. The purpose of the Accessible Streets package is to increase the safety and accessibility of our footpaths and streets and encourage active modes of transport. It includes changes to safe passing distances, rules around cycling on footpaths, and shared path rules and regulations. You can answer as many or as few questions as you like. The Cycling Action Network, CAN, have put together a submission guide which is very helpful, and the NZTA’s online form to make your submission is here. Every submission helps.
In the meantime, while you are at home in lockdown it is a good opportunity to do a bit of a service and safety check on your bikes and helmets. There are some great online resources, here are a couple of videos with Sarah Walker to help you, Bike Safety check and Helmet check.