Bike park for kids ticks all the boxes

MATTHEW DALLAS - DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 20/05/2014

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A children's bike park is such a perfect fit for Palmerston North it's a wonder we don't have one already.

For a city that prides itself on being cycle- and family-friendly, and a council with its own cycling strategy, a kids' bike park like the successful track on Napier's Marine Parade, which boasts both recreational and road safety benefits, should be a no-brainer.

On Saturday the Standard reported on the progress being made by a group of parents working with Palmerston North City Council to build such an attraction.

Like the Napier venture, it would feature a miniature roading network, with traffic lights, roundabouts and pedestrian crossings, for budding cyclists and scooter riders to cut their teeth - and no doubt the odd knee - on. There isn't a car in sight and parents are kicked to the kerb, either repeatedly yelling "keep to the left!" or, if the full effectiveness of the Napier model is to be replicated, gravitating towards a well-positioned coffee cart.

More than 480 Kiwi kids are hospitalised each year as a result of cycle-related injuries, with boys aged 10-14 typically finding themselves in the most strife. Any activity that instills road awareness and confidence in young cyclists before they hit this at-risk age group is to be applauded.

The local cause has amassed almost 2500 likes on Facebook in under a month and found the council receptive to the idea, as well it should.

The project would tick just about every box pertaining to child health, safety, community engagement and family-focused attractions.

It's surprising a similar idea several years ago did not gain traction, but the success of the Napier park should lay to rest any lingering doubts.

Open for just on 12 months, its impact on road safety cannot yet be determined, but the popularity of the park and the vitality it has brought to a waning section of Marine Parade is the stuff town planners dream about.

A site near the playground at Victoria Esplanade has already been earmarked, an estimated budget of over $200,000 will provide its challenges - particularly if fund-raised by the community as is planned.

Their first port of call should be the NZ Transport Agency, which is familiar with the merits of cycle and walkway projects through its multi-million dollar "model community" initiatives in Hastings and New Plymouth.

ONE MORE THING: It's great to see more than 200 classic Kiwi albums have been converted to digital format for legal download purchases. Now, how about some vinyl re-issues for us old schoolers?

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- Manawatu Standard

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