Proposed cycle trail route causes concern

Clutha Gold Trail Charitable Trust chairman Murray Paterson at the cycle trail's Lawrence...
Clutha Gold Trail Charitable Trust chairman Murray Paterson at the cycle trail's Lawrence terminus. Community board members have questioned the proposed route of the trail extension through the town. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON
Concerns have been raised about the proposed route of a cycle trail extension through Lawrence.

During its recent meeting, members of Lawrence-Tuapeka Community Board questioned the wisdom of bypassing the town's central business district as part of the Clutha Gold Trail's planned extension from Lawrence to Waihola during the next two years.

It was feared the move could hamper the efforts of retailers to cash in on an expected increase of trail users visiting the town, as it became a waypoint on the route, rather than a terminus.

Trail trust chairman Murray Paterson told the Otago Daily Times on Wednesday those fears were unfounded.

"The final route is yet to be confirmed, subject to landowner approval which we're working through now. Having said that, the route currently proposed does bypass the town's main street, but for very good reasons of practicality and safety."

Mr Paterson said few trails elsewhere fed directly through town centres, typically bypassing them or terminating on the boundary.

"As trail operators we have a responsibility to our riders. Generally speaking, funnelling dozens of bikes through the middle of town down a highway or footpath is not the best option for safety or rider experience."

Riders seeking food, shopping or accommodation were free to make their own way into town centres, he said.

"It's just not proved to be a problem elsewhere."

Lawrence Mint owner Alisa Dacy said she was "disappointed" by the likely bypass of her Ross Place chocolate and cake shop.

"I can understand the safety aspects, but there were a few retailers along here who were thinking of opening up the rear of their shops to take advantage of cyclists coming through. But I suppose as long as there's clear signage pointing to town those who want to will still come."

Following the community board meeting, chairman Garry McCorkindale contacted trail officials to raise the board's concerns.

He said that discussion had been "constructive".

"I've made the suggestion that the route could usefully go down the main street from a retail perspective, and listened to what the trust had to say.

"Like any bypass project, be it road or cycle trail, the town centre tends to hate a bypass, and can lose revenue as a result. But I believe Lawrence has enough going on to attract visitors in on its own merits."

Mr Paterson invited board members to make their own judgement of the trail's current layout.

He hoped a provisional route map would be available by November.


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