Cyclists want safer tracks

The difference between Tauranga's approach to getting people onto public transport and that of cities like Auckland and Wellington, is the amount the councils are prepared to spend.

“It's bang for your buck,” says Sustainable Business Network Tauranga spokesman Glen Crowther.

“If you invest in more roads, people will drive on them. If you build safer cycleways, people will use them. And if you provide a public transport service that meets people's needs, more people will use the buses.”

And Tauranga is spending less on public transport than any other comparable New Zealand city, he told Tauranga City councillors last week.

Tauranga City Council's public transport spend is about two per cent of its budget on transport, says Glen. Wellington spends 51 per cent or $224 per capita on transport. Auckland spends 21 per cent or $178 per capita. Those were all the figures he could source at the time.

The Transport Blueprint figures record operational expenditure per capita, Tauranga doesn't rate well there either, spending under $200 per person and beaten by Dunedin/Mosgiel, Invercargill, Christchurch, Hamilton Wellington and Auckland.

Glen, speaking in the public forum at the recent city council Transport Committee meeting, says congestion is a key transport issue facing Tauranga.

Even experienced cyclists say they are nervous about cycling on Tauranga's congested streets.

Cyclist types are classified into four types: strong and fearless, enthused and confident, interested but concerned, and, no way no how.

Generally about 60 per cent of cyclists are interested but concerned and they are considered willing, but wary.

Tauranga roads are so congested even the gung-ho pedal through anything cyclists confess to pre-trip nerves, sweats and palpitations says Glen, speaking afterwards.

“It's interesting, even among that group who do cycle, they tell me things like: ‘Well I do bike, but every time I go to bike about ten minutes before, I get quite nervous and sweaty', and ‘I cycle almost every day but my heart rate starts going and I feel a bit anxious before I get out on Cameron Road'.

“These are the kind of stories I hear all the time.”

“To be fair most or our members I think would be pushing into the enthused and confident end of the spectrum compared with the average business.

“I think because a lot of the people we engage with are probably more interested in sustainability and probably more interested in thinking about cycling more keen to push it a bit to get out there on the road.

Tauranga businesses have become aware that while some staff are prepared to cycle there are more who will not, because they see some dangers in using the city's cycleway network as it now stands.

He's recommending the city council upgrade city cycle ways to meet the NZTA guidelines, as Rotorua has done.

“Auckland city council has also done all the work on it and figured it out,” says Glen. They have rolled out cycle ways that meet those standards and they know it actually does work.”