Thursday, 28 December 2017

Rotorua: Summer of STEAM : Biking and Cycling of Times Past

Cycling in Rotorua c.1898 & Today

Rotorua has long been a mecca for the keen cyclist, as early as 1898 Rotorua had a Cyclist's Club and in 1899 a Lady Cyclist's Club.

The following is an excerpt from a news article entitled "An ungallant Town Board" :

"in Strictly reserving the footpaths of the Town to pedestrians ...these callous Boardmen would not listen to the voice of the charmer (who in this case was the Hon. Secretary of the Lady Cyclists Club) charmed she ever so wisely, but turned a deaf ear to all her supplications...the letter placed before the board asked on behalf of lady bikists that they should reconsider it's decision...and allow the fairer sex to use same" As reported in the Thames Star of 8 April 1899. Click here to read the Full Article

The following rendition of a Lady Cyclist is from 1897 and was published in the Christchurch Star.
Papers Past : Advertisements, Column 2, Star, Issue 5793, 10 February 1897

In 1898 the Bellvue House on Fenton Street, advertised their location to be most suitable for cyclists.

With thanks to Papers Past for this advertisement.
New Zealand Herald, 5 November 1898.
The advertisement does not make mention of the condition of the roads in the town however!  These were in construction from c.1890 and the Town Board had also "resolved that notice board printed on calico be erected , warning in English and Maori against 'leading, riding or driving horses, or any animal, along the footpaths. The police were to be asked to prosecute anyone infringing this by-law.' in Gold and geysers by Phil Andrews p.85

"In February 1898 an epic decision was made by the Town Board to lay down bicycle tracks beside the footpaths - the first such scheme in NZ." in The Founding Years by Don Stafford p.317.

Today in Rotorua we have a similar situation with bicycle paths, some of which are shared with pedestrians on the CyWay.

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