Residents are being encouraged to put on their helmets and get on their bike as a way to decrease traffic congestion in Tauranga.
Tauranga City Council, as part of its Cycle Action Plan, will be going around locations throughout Tauranga to discuss what can be done to increase cycling and give more options for modes of transport.
Transport manager Martin Parkes says Tauranga's roads are becoming increasingly congested in many areas and cycling is a good alternative option.
“Congestion is worsened by Tauranga's strong dependency on car use, having the highest rate of trips to work made by car of any New Zealand city. One result of this is that more than 60 per cent of Tauranga's carbon dioxide emissions come from vehicles,” he says.
“Cycling is often the fastest way to get around for short journeys. It's a low-cost travel option that offers reliable journey times, it's better for people's health and it's better for the planet.
“As our city grows, every person on a bike is one less person in a car. We are therefore undertaking this project to give people more transport choices, to make sure all types of people feel safe riding a bike and to enable more people to ride a bike to school, tertiary education and work.”
Martin says the cycling facilities currently available tend to be good for experienced cyclists, but not as good for less confident bike riders.
The council is asking for feedback on how it can get more people riding bikes, what puts people off riding bikes and which routes should be improved and prioritised.
“We are wanting to hear from people who ride now, and also from people who don't currently ride a bike but might if it was safer and easier,” says Martin.
The public can come to local events, markets and shopping malls, as well as take part in an online survey or complete a hard copy feedback form with a few questions.
People can map routes using an online mapping tool or on a ‘Have your say' brochure, which will include a map of potential cycling routes around Tauranga.
“The event locations were chosen to provide a good cross section across the whole of the city, as we want to talk to different parts of Tauranga's community and to provide the opportunity for people in all local areas to come and talk with us,” says Martin.
This is the first of a number of projects the council hopes to deliver in the coming years related to encouraging Tauranga's residents to use alternative forms of transport other than a private car.
“We have been really pleased with the positive feedback received during this early engagement. People have voiced their support for the project and are looking forward to the opportunity to have a say in how we can get more people riding bikes around the city.”
The public engagement will start on Monday, September 18.
Some of the dates and locations of the events are:
September 20-21, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology 12-2pm; September 23, New World Brookfield, 10am-2pm; September 24, Papamoa Plaza – Pedal Papamoa, 9-11am; September 30, Bayfair Shopping Centre, 9am-6pm and Greerton Village Cherry Blossom Festival, 10am-2pm; October 5-6, Red Square, Downtown Tauranga, 12-2pm; October 6, Night Out Markets, Bethlehem, 6.30-9pm; October 7, The Little Big Markets, 9am-2pm; October 7, Tauranga Crossing, 10.30am-3pm; October 28, Bethlehem Town Centre, 11am-2pm; October 29, Oropi Sunday Market, 9am-1pm.