Lots of parents worry about getting their kids to school, but some Waikato rural communities are coming up with a solution – walkways.
Last week Tamahere launched the Violet McKenzie Walkway, which provides a pathway between Camdon Place and Birchwood Lane.
This is good news to Horsham Downs resident Julie Roe, the driving force behind the Osborne Rd walkway, which opened 18 months ago.
“It’s great to see communities getting behind initiatives like this,” she says. “Good on Tamahere, this is a wonderful achievement.”
The Osborne Rd walkway is always in use. “People go for strolls, cycle with their kids, I jog along it with my dogs most days. One girl rode her horse to school. We have a group of boys who are really hardy, and they bike to school every day from the city, in the rain. They love it.”
It began not long after Julie moved to Horsham Downs with her family, about seven years ago.
“I had to drive my daughter to school, and we’re just a kilometre from the school. I hate starting up the car for such a short trip, so I started walking with her but it was incredibly unsafe. There would be about 20 kids tailing along behind us, who would panic at each corner.”
So she approached Waikato District Council, who said it didn’t qualify as a footpath, given it was a rural road in a high-speed environment. But over three years, the community got stuck in and pretty much built the metal track themselves.
They collected sponsored goods and services worth about $20,000 around the neighbourhood and further afield, acquiring surveyors, earthmoving equipment, metal supply and cartage, and even stumped up with public liability insurance before getting on the shovels themselves.
Living Streets Aotearoa, a national organisation which showcases walking innovations and promotes walking-friendly communities, awarded the track the Golden Foot Award for the best New Zealand small walking project.
The council purchased a slice of land for the track as part of its future roading budget, while Hamilton City Council covered the drafting of legal documents and allowed access to a 3km stretch of future road reserve which now provides a safe off-road walking and cycling route linking Horsham Downs to the city.
“It just shows what you can do as a community. And it’s good to see similar walkways popping up around the country,” says Julie.
For more information and pictures of the Violet McKenzie Walkway, visit Tamahere Forum.
Here are some photographs of the Osborne Rd walkway under construction and in use: