Claudelands Eastern Rail Trail and its delays

Let’s not lose sight of the economic benefits of more people walking/biking to the improved Claudelands shopping area at the intersection of Te Aroha and Grey Sts. The direct link here is to channel students/locals and recreational cyclists along Te Aroha St. The Eastern rail trail channels people to Claudelands bridge, bypassing many of the active shop fronts, but it is an attractive route for fast commutes on E-bikes, scooters and bicycles with drop-down handlebars. Engineering-wise there is little preventing the establishment of 4 metre-wide cycle paths on the southern side of the eastern rail tracks, with access to a good number of quiet side streets linking to Te Aroha St.

There is a risk of delay in establishing this route, ranging from unenthusiastic locals to the Cosmopolitan Club not wanting to give up its car parking, Kiwi Rail’s processes (see below) and NZTA delaying funding or changing its priorities.

Here are some examples of the delays encountered when partnering with the rail corridor land controller.

Claudelands Rail Bridge was completed in 1883. It included a service foot path, which was not open to the public. Even though there was a demand for a pedestrian crossing, the public waited for a quarter of a century (1908) to legally walk across.

The Western Rail trail was first proposed in ‘Cycling in Hamilton 1988 page 21: Library REF 711,7209931151 HAM’. Three decades later, in April 2017, ‘the $6.7 million Western Rail’ was opened.

Rotokauri Station/Hamilton to Auckland rail – this latest round was fast: a mere two years, but don’t underestimate the effort required to make it happen. This was all driven at the highest levels in Government and Council, which included building strong personal relationships with Kiwi Rail and NZTA. We would all love to see this co-operation happen again; good luck Hamilton City Council!

Category: News

Te Aroha St – add shared use path to Claudelands

The eastern end of Te Aroha St becomes Ruakura Rd, with an existing shared-use path linking to the Wairere Drive shared-use path network. To the west, the Claudelands shops (Te Aroha/Grey intersection) area is now much more people- and bike-friendly. Between these two intersections, Te Aroha St is a 50kmh road with painted on-road cycle lanes. This is fine for confident cyclists, but if we want the social, economic and safety benefits of having more people biking more often, we need to provide an option for people new to biking.

Te Aroha St has wide berms and side streets with low traffic volumes. The idea is to widen foot paths to 3.0m and build raised traffic tables across the entrances to side streets, the exception being Whyte St, which is the default route for traffic using Claudelands Bridge. Care is needed to make sure the street crossings are bike friendly: the focus of people new to biking should be on looking from side to side, and poor kerb cut downs at road crossings force them to focus down just at the time they should be checking for traffic.

For Hamilton to free up its transport network, the key is to increase the number of students walking/biking/scooting/skating to school. In the 1980s Hamilton Boys High School counted 143 school cyclists using the Argyle St entrance (24% of its students at the time). Te Aroha St is the link to the Argyle St school entrance.

Cycling in Hamilton Vol 1: Library Ref NZ 0711.7209931151HAM

Next week I will look at the Eastern Rail Trail option.

Category: News