Bayfair residents are planning a protest ahead of the demolition of the Matapihi to Bayfair underpass.
The underpass, which runs under State Highway 2, is set to be demolished within the next four weeks and there is no plans for it to be replaced.
The Bayfair Underpass Alliance has formed to ensure the current pedestrian underpass is maintained at the Bayfair roundabout on the Baylink Project.
The group has a protest planned for this Sunday.
One of the Bayfair Underpass Alliance members Philip Brown asks the question, ‘have you thought about how people are going to cross the roundabout after it goes?’
While the underpass may be something some residents use every once in a while when they are in the area, a lot of residents and cyclists still use it as their main way of cross the state highway.
“A lot of people still have to cross that road,” says Philip.
“Lots of cyclists go through there on the way to Downtown Tauranga. So we, the Bayfair Underpass Alliance, is primarily about keeping the existing underpass to keep the message simple.
“What we want to do is to get a show of support so we can film it and use it to show the general public, in particular the government, that there are a lot of people that don’t agree with the decision to not have an underpass.
“We are hoping for lots of people on bikes to have a nice cycle through the underpass and film it,” says Philip.
He doesn’t know how many people are planning on turning up on Sunday, but says the biggest problem is that nobody knows it is happening.
“Well, very few know it is happening. For some reason it’s just dropped under the radar and the biggest problem is trying to tell people what’s happening because most don’t know and then when they find out about it, they turn around and go that’s a no-brainer, why are they doing that, it’s stupid.
“So we’ve got to get enough people saying it’s stupid and turn up on the day to give us support to send a message to the government.
“The message is simple, don’t get rid of the existing underpass, keep this existing underpass. We want a safe crossing and it’s also part of our cycle network.
“Cycling or e-biking is the way of the future to help our transportation problems, not to solve them, but to help them.
“We don’t want cyclists and cars to mix on a busy roundabout, that’s not the desired outcome. It’s dangerous.”
Philip says the NZTA’s solution is to cross the roundabout by stopping all the lanes of traffic coming in, which is eight lanes of traffic.
“While you walk across the roads, across the roundabout and across the roads on the other side, which means you hold up cars for an enormous amount of time.
“So nothing really works there unless they keep the existing underpass or obviously build a new one, but we are keeping the message simple, which is keep the existing underpass.”
He says the existing underpass could be kept where it is and there is a possibility they’d just have to make it a little bit longer.
“There are options, but we’re getting a blank wall from NZTA who are pointing the finger directly to the central government or to Phil Twyford’s office saying can it, can the underpass and don’t build a replacement.”
For the protest this Sunday August 25, there will be a children and families part to kick it all off.
“We are going to put hands through the underpass, paint them on the walls. We have called it ‘hands through the underpass.’
“About half an hour later, we want people on bikes to just start turning up and parking their bikes on Mataphihi Road, just to show their support of the underpass.
“Bring along placards, signs, everything, so we make a good visual newsworthy event.
“Then we’ll finish off with a bike procession through the underpass out through the Bayfair carpark and up to Arataki Park.”
Philip says he hopes people will support this protest and this cause because the more support they get, the more chance they have of changing people’s minds.
The Bayfair underpass protest will take place on Sunday August 25 from 1.30pm.
For more information or to join in on the protest, visit the event page on Facebook, or click here: