TRANSPORT – SBN’s BikeNow! helps catalyse Tauranga cycleway rethink

31 January 2017

Tauranga has one of the most extensive cycleway networks in the country. But only 1 in 100 commuters are using it. SBN’s BikeNow! set out to change that.

In November an American tourist died in a road accident while on a cycle tour in Tauranga. The incident helped highlight safety concerns that could deter people from using the city’s extensive cycle network.

Nearly one in five roads (18.2%) in Tauranga now includes a cycleway. It’s the highest percentage in the country. New urban cycle routes and a 19km route from Omokoroa to the city centre are currently underway with the help of new government money. They are due for completion next year.

But so far commuter usage has been disappointing. It is currently at just over one per cent, down from 2.6% in 2006. To help get things moving, SBN arranged a meeting. This brought together BikeNow! project partners the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), engineers AECOM and Fulton Hogan. It included other SBN member businesses, representatives from Sport Bay of Plenty and a recreational cycling group.

Glen Crowther is SBN’s Bay of Plenty regional coordinator. “We knew it was possible to get more people using the cycleways, as this is happening all over the country,” he says. “It became apparent that many businesses in Tauranga felt it was unsafe for staff to cycle to work. There was a need for safer cycleways if we were going to change that.”

The group then had a series of meetings with SBN members and Tauranga City Council, Western BOP District Council and BOP Regional Council. In response, Tauranga City Council has decided to review its cycleway plans. It is looking at a range of new options, including more extensive use of separated cycleways on main routes. These physically divide cyclists and pedestrians from vehicles on the main roadway. Crucially, the council is also keen to ensure good community engagement. This will work towards ensuring people living in the city get the cycleway system they want, and will use.

For its part NZTA is reviewing its cycleway designs on the major Baypark to Bayfair motorway project, at Mount Maunganui. The cycleways on that project form a key link in the Tauranga City Cycleway network being created,

Glen says: “We are hopeful that this reinvigorated process will work well for everyone involved. It started as a regional project to get more of our members cycling to work. It has led to a truly collaborative project. The focus now is on cycleway safety, community engagement and integrated transport planning.”

For more information on sustainable business in the Bay of Plenty, contact glen@sustainable.org.nz

For more information on the BikeNow! project nationwide, contact phil@sustainable.org.nz