Tauranga residents have less confidence in the safety of cycling on the city's roads than they did a year ago, a survey has found.

An annual telephone survey to test how people perceived services delivered by the council saw a 9 per cent drop in satisfaction with cycle safety on roads or cycleways.

The other big year-on-year declines were an 8 per cent reduction in visits to Tauranga's central library and a 10 per cent decrease in water conservation awareness.

"City folks are a bit naive about the vulnerability of cyclists."

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Another big drop was in those who felt informed about what the council was doing. This fell from 54 per cent in 2014 to 40 per cent this year. Cycle safety advocate Iris Thomas said the perception that roads were less safe for cyclists was because roads were becoming more congested. "It makes cyclists feel unsafe."

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Cycle safety advocate Iris Thomas says the perception roads are less safe for cyclists is because roads are becoming busier.
Cycle safety advocate Iris Thomas says the perception roads are less safe for cyclists is because roads are becoming busier.

Ms Thomas said it was a perception but not a fact. "People need to pick their times when they cycle on the road."

She has found drivers were courteous to cyclists provided cyclists were courteous to drivers. It also came back to the basics of hand signals and wearing bright clothing. On a busy road drivers were less likely to notice a cyclist in dull clothing.

Ms Thomas said Tauranga needed more off-the-road cycleways, as opposed to off-road cycleways through reserves. "I cycle along Cameron Rd but not in peak hours."

In peak times drivers' minds were on other things and they tended to be distracted.

Read more:
Council approves controversial Tauranga cycleway
The long road to crash recovery

Cycle BOP co-ordinator Jenny Gibson agrees with the declining sense of safety. She also blamed it on congestion, saying their group did all their cycling on rural Te Puke and Paengaroa roads.

Cyclists could not get a decent speed up when roads were congested. "City folks are a bit naive about the vulnerability of cyclists."

The good news was that she had seen an increase in the tolerance shown by drivers. "They have become more aware of cyclists ..."

Tauranga Road Cycling Club president Greg Taylor said he understood why people felt unsafe, but it was not a result of what the council did or did not do. The nub of the issue was that motorists did not look very hard.

When he approached a T-intersection on his bike, if a driver failed to make eye contact he stopped or prepared to stop.

His other safety tip was to never assume cyclists had the legal right of way at roundabouts and to treat roundabouts as if the bike was a car and keep to the middle of the road.

Four hundred people took part in the council-commissioned survey involving 80 quick response questions.

Tauranga City Council's customer perceptions survey - the good news:
- 25 per cent fewer people see noise pollution as an issue.
- 10 per cent more satisfied there are enough parks and green spaces.
- 8 per cent rise in satisfaction with the variety of events.
- Awareness of Historic Village up 15 per cent in six years to 96 per cent.