Cyclists enjoy the Tawa Valley Pathway - Ara Tawa
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says locals are already making good use of the new cycle and walkway, and the double celebration will be an opportunity for others to check it out and see all the improvements at Grasslees Reserve.
“The $4.5 million Tawa Valley Pathway – Ara Tawa, jointly funded by the Council and NZ Transport Agency and developed with the community’s Tawa Valley Pathway Committee, is the Council’s most significant cycling and walking project so far,” she says.
It provides an off-road route from Kenepuru Railway Station in Porirua to Willowbank Park at the south end of Tawa, passing through several other parks, including Grasslees Reserve, on the way.
The fun day will run from 1–4pm at Grasslees Reserve in Davies Street with an official ‘reopening’ by Mayor Wade-Brown at 1.30pm. Activities will include a ‘hunt’ so people can have some fun exploring the new shared pathway on the day – or over the following two weeks – and be in to win a bike or scooter.
There will also be roller blading, a sausage sizzle, spot prizes for children with the wackiest wheels or fanciest feet – and a chance for them to try out some of the new playground equipment, including the city’s first giant ‘mouse wheel’.
The reserve upgrade, funded through a $550,000 grant from the Charles Plimmer Bequest and $90,000 from Council budgets, joins the two halves of the park with a new bridge across Porirua Stream. There are also new park entrances and paths, and a basketball half-court. The dog-exercise area has been fenced along Main Road and two barbecue and picnic areas added.
The Council’s Natural Environment Portfolio Leader, Councillor Helene Ritchie, says natural elements are a feature of the new-look park.
“Most of the playground materials are timber and we’ve used bark and sand rather than artificial surfaces.”
Mayor Wade-Brown says the shared pathway is the first of many strategic routes.
“It is a good idea that came from the local community and fitted perfectly with the Council’s cycling and walking policies,” the Mayor says. “It is a north-south route through the suburb close to local schools, recreational facilities, parks, shops and train stations, which means the pathway can be used recreationally by people wanting to get some exercise, as part of a commute to work, or to get from one part of the neighbourhood to another.
“This is a great project. The Council has identified the need to speed up improvements in cycling so we’ve tripled the budget so other areas of Wellington can enjoy similar benefits to what Tawa is achieving.”
Councillor Andy Foster, who chairs the Council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee, says in time, the Tawa pathway is expected to link with other cycle and walking paths through Porirua and further north to create a longer regional transport and recreational route.
Other on-street improvements in Tawa are also possible in the future to improve connections and make getting to local schools and facilities safer.
A blueprint to guide cycle improvements in the suburb over the next 10 to 20 years is being developed. People can share their thoughts on other things they would eventually like to see improved at a drop-in session at the Tawa Community Centre on Sunday 25 May, 1–4pm, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Cr Foster says similar drop-in sessions are also planned over the next couple of weeks to start developing cycling blueprints for Miramar and the Kilbirnie/Lyall Bay area, and the Transport and Urban Development Committee will soon decide what sort of cycle lane improvements to make along The Parade in Island Bay.
“The Council is committed to making cycling in Wellington safer and easier and this project will be the first of many,” he says.
“It’s going to take time but we are determined to make Wellington a much more cycle friendly city,” he says. “Like many other cities around the world, the numbers of people cycling in Wellington is on the rise.
“We want to encourage that. It helps reduce congestion – which is good for everyone – and makes the city an even better place to live and visit.”
The drop-in sessions planned in the eastern suburbs are on:
- Saturday 17 May, 12 noon–4pm, Rongotai College, 170 Coutts Street
- Tuesday 20 May, 5:30–8:30pm, Miramar Central School, 38 Park Road.