Tauranga City Council 'blindness' towards cycling as transport as opposed to recreation is going to impact new housing developments, and their residents, City Transformation Committee members were warned this week.
Jo Wills, chair of SmartGrowth's environment and sustainability forum, says forum members are ‘really nervous' about expectations people will live and work in Te Tumu, the new suburb planned for Papamoa East - when there is no public transport planning.
“One of our concerns, which seems to not go away, is public transport planning for Te Tumu,” says Jo.
“We really need to plan in a strong public transport network, now. And ensure that we are future proofing the corridors for rail, but in the meantime actually looking at buses to get in and out.
“We are really concerned about people being marooned in hubs currently being developed because they may not have access to a vehicle.
“We are quite concerned car dependency is being built into communities, and we would like to see that being factored out.”
The forum has a strong focus on cycling as transport. Jo says there has been a lot of great work done and planned in Tauranga around cycling as recreation.
“We don't wish to impede that at all, but we have a strong focus on cycling as transport and as a priority form of transport in our cities.”
They see cycling as supporting centre-to-centre public transport, so arrivals at a centre are within walking or cycling distance of services.
“We are looking to see cities developed so you can work, shop, or play within a walkable or cyclable place, and if you live outside of that space you are able to access good public transport to get to and from.,” says Jo.
If city planners want all the people moving into the city, they have to allow outer centres and development areas link into the city.
“So it goes back to public transport networks.”
Investment in public transport networks will reduce congestion on road for those still driving cars, says Jo. Their journeys will be safer, quicker; and they will be able to find car parks more easily.
In reply to a question from councillor Max Mason about whether cyclists would revert to using cars in the rain or in winter, Jo says the issue is not about getting wet, it's about having adequate changing facilities at the destination.
“Cycling in the rain is not an issue. Sitting all day in your office, wet, is,” says Jo.
“If there are adequate and good change facilities at the destination for commuters it is not an issue.”
She pointed to the changing facilities planned for the Harington Street carpark building as an example.