Interesting Bike Stuff in Palmerston North

As I mentioned last week, about six months ago I visited Palmerston North for a meeting of the Active Modes Infrastructure Group. Although I’ve made a couple of other visits there for work trips, I hadn’t had the chance to look around the city by bike since I was there for the 2WALKandCYCLE Conference back in mid-2018.

There’s a lot of great cycling routes around Palmy these days…

In the meantime, a lot has certainly happened cycle-wise in Palmy, so we took the opportunity to have a riding tour around the city checking out some of the latest developments.

Separators between the cycleway and parked cars

Palmerston North was one of several cities to receive “Innovating Streets” funding from NZTA and used some of it to create a protected cycleway along Main St and Pioneer Highway. Unfortunately, the original interim separators of colourful planter boxes caused some controversy amongst locals (including rather ironic complaints that motorists were running into them…), so they have since been replaced with more standard low separators and flexi-posts.

One way to protect from passing traffic near kerb buildouts

The Mangaone Stream winds its way through the north and west of the city and this green corridor lends itself nicely to a gravel trail along the adjacent stopbanks.

Not a wide path, but pretty smooth

At some of the road crossings, there is an option to use an underpass below the road bridges, although some of the corners are certainly at the tighter end of things…

Definitely a bit of a challenge on these corners…

There is also a shared pathway that runs out along the Pioneer Highway towards Longhurst; unfortunately this was the scene of a tragic incident in 2019 when a toddler was killed by someone motorcycling along the path.

I’m still not sure if the “no motorcycles” sign is being fully adhered to…

Once at the Manawatū River, there are lovely sealed trails running along both sides of the river corridor.

Lots of space to ride by the river

One of the recent jewels in the crown is the He Ara Kotahi bridge and pathway that now links the north bank of the river with Massey University and Linton Military Camp. This provides a valuable connection for recreational and commuter users alike.

The stylish He Ara Kotahi bridge across the Manawatū

The bridge is a pretty amazing design (especially when lit up at night) and even won the 2021 “On the Go” award for Built Excellence (walking and cycling).

The Turitea Stream bridge heading towards Linton

The trail towards Linton features another bridge across the Turitea Stream and there is also a great viewing platform at the site of the former Turitea Pā further up.

A great place to stop and look back down the river

Another thing I quite liked along the pathways was the use of pavement markings to provide directions to various different destinations.

Which way would you like to go?

The shared pathways also had nice inclusive messages…

Simple and effective…

Another feature I noticed around Palmerston North was a variety of creative bike parking styles. From portable container-style ones…

Covered bike parking as well

…to ones highlighting how many bikes could fit in a car park…

The efficiency of bike parking on display

…to a simple “lock and key” format.

A cute design

Palmerston North has rolled out more cycleways, although they continue to face challenges it seems any time that these involve removal of car parking or a traffic lane. For a flat city so well suited to cycling, it is a little bit odd that cycleways are still a slow burner in Palmy. But things are still continuing to happen across the city bit by bit…

Have you biked in Palmy? What did you think?

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