Our vision is for a shared cycle/walkway to be an alternative means of getting to and from school, but also as a wider community asset – a safe place for people to participate in recreation. We have initially focused on a three km radius from school to begin with and haven’t decided where the cycle/walk way would start, or what it would look like – as that needs to be a community decision – as does whether the community is supportive of the idea or not.
The idea for this really began when my daughter and I walked to school for a “bike or walk to school day” and I noticed many parents drove their children to school with the child’s bike in the back. Asking around, I found many parents felt it was too dangerous for their children to bike or walk to school. I remember at this time, there was an older boy cycling to school, and he stopped because he felt it was too scary. I thought how great it would be to expand the footpath around Te Pahu more so children could cycle to school off road. I happened to talk to another parent about this and she had been thinking along similar lines but felt we didn’t need a ‘footpath’ in Te Pahu, but a shared cycle/walk way and our idea grew from there.
We have done quite a large amount of research into this so far – talking to many others who have done similar things for their school (Horsham Downs) or people involved in cycleways, such as the South Waikato River Trails. We have spoken to the then Mayor – Alan Livingstone, and WDC staff for whom this is their area of work, along with Waikato Regional Council as well. Of course we also came and spoke to the Principal of Te Pahu School about it and wanted to get the school and students involved, along with the wider community. We had an information stand at the mid winter market last year and came and spoke about the idea at the Residents and Ratepayers Assn meeting year before last. We also attended a recent Waipa Cycling Strategy workshop, which was very useful in putting our idea in front of the right people.
We have also had some support from Sarah Gibbs at Community Waikato and she has suggested some steps forward for us – the first being setting up a Charitable Trust to specifically drive the project and finding more people to help. Also doing a survey among the school and wider community – as we are fully aware the roads around Te Pahu get used for recreation (cycling, running, walking the dog) as well as a means of getting to school and beyond.
Obviously there would need to be quite a lot of community support to get this off the ground as the Council would never fully fund this, but we see the community of Te Pahu as a place where lots of amazing people with amazing skills live, that might love to support this idea anyway. : )
Nardene, Sue and Liz