Ode

April 23, 2009

The choice of today’s contribution to poetry month was inspired by news about the cycle way .

 

Ode by Gillian Allnutt comes from All the Poems You Need to Say I Do, edited by Peter Forbes, published by Picador.

 

Ode

 

To depict a (bicycle) first you must come to love (it).

Alexander Block

 

I swear by every rule in the bicycle

owner’s manual

 

that I love you, I, who have repeatedly,

painstakingly,

 

with accompanying declaration of despair,

tried to repair

 

you, to patch things up,

to maintain a workable relationship.

 

I have spent sleepless nights

in pondering your parts – those private

 

and those that all who walk the street

may look at –

 

wondering what makes you tick

over smoothly, or squeak.

 

my trusty steed,

my rusty three-speed,

 

I would feed you the best oats

if oats

 

were applicable.

Only linseed oil

 

will do

to nourish you.

 

I want

So much to paint

 

You,

Midnight blue

 

mudgutter black

And standing as you do, ironic

 

At the rail

Provided by the Council –

 

beautiful

the sun caught in your back wheel –

 

or at home in the hall, remarkable

among other bicycles,

 

your handlebars erect.

Allow me to depict

 

you thus. And though I can’t do justice

to your true opinion of the surface

 

 

of the road –

put into words

 

the nice distinctions that you make

among the different sorts of tarmac –

 

still, I’d like to set the record of our travels straight.

I’d have you know that

 

not with three-in-one

but with my own

 

heart’s spittle I anoint your moving parts.

 

Gillian Allnutt.

 


Cycle network linked over time

April 20, 2009

The original idea of a cycleway the length of New Zealand sounded good but there were lots of questions about if it would be practical and affordable.

Te Araroa , the walkway from Cape Reinga to Bluff,  was suggested as a model but only a relatively few keen and fit trampers are ever going to use much or any of it. A cycleway using parts of the walkway or based on that concept would have had a similarly limited appeal and provided limited opportunities for spin-off businesses.

The current proposal  to be discussed by cabinet today is more practical, less expensive, more accessible for more people, will provide more opportunities for smaller communities to be involved and be based on local initiatives.

Plans for one of these, a cycleway from Queenstown to Bluff , are already well advanced.

Planning consultant Mike Barnett, who researched the Lake Wakatipu-Bluff route on behalf of Venture Southland, said the Ministry of Tourism had found “the practical thing was a network of excellent cycle opportunities in New Zealand which may lead to bigger things later.”

Mr Barnett said the network could be totally inter-linked “in 10 or 20 years’ time”.

Mr Barnett said the Lake Wakatipu-Bluff route could be ready in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, as research had been under way for three years.

Building cycelways will provide employement, but the long term jobs which come in its wake will be even more beneficial.

One of the reasons the Central Otago Rail Trail  has been so successful is that it was a local initiative and locals have been able to use the opportunities it provides for business initiatives.

It has been particularly good at opening doors for women who followed husbands or partners on to farms or into small coutnry towns where employment opportunities were limited. Thanks to the rail trail they’ve been able to create or work in businesses providing food, accomodation, retail  and other activities and have found new outlets for art and crafts.

The cycleway the length of the country sounded good, but a network of cycleways is a much better idea.


Pedal power

February 28, 2009

A dedicated cycleway the length of the nation is a BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal – but it’s one appeals to me.

Cycling is popular but few of our roads are designed to enable cyclists and motor vehicles to share them safely so getting the bikes away from the roads would be better for bikers and motorists.

I’ll be even more enthusiastic about the cycle way if it doesn’t stick too closely to the route followed by the main road but meanders away from the highway between cities to some of the small town and rural byways.

Following the main road doesn’t always give the best scenery – the coastal route which the railway takes from Oamaru to Dunedin is far more attractive than much of State Highway 1 – and as trains don’t usually go up very steep hills it might be easier pedalling too.

The main road north from Oamaru to Christchurch is pretty boring, but a cycle route up the Waitaki Valley, through the Mackenzie Country to Geraldine would take in some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Then it could take the inland route from Geraldine through the Rakaia Gorge, by-passing the monotony of the Canterbury Plains.

Busted Blonde notes the micro-economy which has blossomed along the Central Otago rail trail. It’s created business opportunities in the provision of food and accommodation – raising the standard of both for the benefit of tourists and locals – and the benefits aren’t confined to businesses on or close to the trail.  Most cyclists visit other places on the way to and from the trail and leave some of their money behind.

I am very wary about the government picking winners by propping up private businesses and aware of the risks of using public money for make-work schemes.

If taxpayers’ money is to be used for economic development it must be for projects which will have endure and propser in the long term and I think a cycle way could do that.

It ticks the boxes for a tourist attraction which is clean, green and has health benefits too. And if public money goes in to the infrastructure it will provide opportunities for private investment in the provision of food, accomdation and other goods and services along the way.

It might be a BHAG but I think it’s one that could work.


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