In the fifth and final in a series on key election issues for Rotorua, senior reporter

Matthew Martin

finds out what's happening in terms of cycleways around the city.

Love them or hate them, the Rotorua Lakes Council's urban cycleways project is well under way - causing plenty of debate around the district, especially when it comes to the inner city Green Corridor.

The council's transport and waste solutions director, Stavros Michael, who is in overall charge of the CyWay project, said CyWay would see a total of 28km of cycleways built to connect Rotorua's suburbs, and Ngongotaha, to the city.

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The total cost of the project is $5.5 million, with two-thirds of that cost being covered by central government.

Mr Michael said the council was working with a number of community groups to make sure the cycleways were fit for purpose and was also looking for feedback from residents about future plans.

The first project was the Morey St cycleway that linked three local schools to Brent Rd on Rotorua's east side.

Construction was under way on a shared pathway in Springfield that will be followed by Koutu, Fenton Park and Ngongotaha.

Planning is also under way for Ranolf St, Scott St to the forest, and the council is getting ready to link Kuirau Park to the Lakefront.

"Cycleways are a new thing for Rotorua, and for most of New Zealand, and most of the country do not suffer from major congestion problems.

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"But many people are now thinking that getting into the car is not economic sustainability, both from an environment perspective and financial perspective.

"It's not that we are trying to convert everyone to cycling . . . we are also trying to push congestion out into the future. It's future-proofing our roading capacity."

He said the CyWay would complement the existing trails in the Whakarewarewa Forest and the national cycleway, plus link up to Skyline Rotorua's Gravity Park.

"We have 15,000 kids going to school . . . and a lot of congestion around schools every day with parents dropping them all off.

"If we can get 10 per cent of those kids onto bikes and give them the infrastructure where it's safe to ride you basically get healthier kids more accustomed to active modes of transport and reduce environmental impacts, so it's a win-win for everyone."

He said there would always be issues with tension on the roads between drivers, cyclists, walkers and mobility scooters.

"There will always have to be a trade off and they are not easy answers, but we have to look to the future for the benefit of future generations."

Rotorua's mayoral candidates give their thoughts on cycling and cycleways.

Steve Chadwick

CyWay delivers on our Rotorua 2030 goals around improving our environment and sustainable living. The cycling strategy is for all who want to make riding a bike a safe option.

We will link suburbs to main routes and are looking to complete 10 projects across the city. We are working with schools and the community to come up with the best solution.

$3.6 million from government means we can fast track our $5.5 million CyWay network with council contributing $1.9 million.

Our wheels are spinning and there is more to do.

Mark Gould:

I absolutely support council initiatives on cycling in our city.

The urban network will make cycling safer with many of the new features around schools, therefore making it safer for youth to cycle to school.

The central city cycleway has not delivered on its original intentions and has caused more frustration to retailers than could ever have been anticipated. This matter needs urgent review and I would consider making substantial changes to the city cycleway if that was what retailers and inner city users wanted.

I am proud of Rotorua's cycling achievements. We are attracting world class events and our annual bike festival caters for toddlers, families and elite riders in such a way that it's almost impossible not to get involved. It's one of the best community events on the city's calendar.

I am committed to progressing Rotorua's dominance as a world class city to cycle in.

Rob Kent:

My view is that far too much emphasis is being placed on cycleways, particularly cycleways in the wrong places and for the wrong reasons, the Green Corridor routed through the centre of town being a classic example of an embarrassing blunder, in my view.

Perhaps if council had actually listened to the highly paid consultants we would have a thriving cycleway along the Lakefront that people actually wanted to use, instead of a daily reminder of how to waste ratepayer money on ill-researched and rushed follies.

Providing cycleways for children to safely exercise their way to and from school and the parks is what the cycleway programme priority should really be about.

Not living in a cycling obsessive tunnel-vision world pretending that our growing population of retirees are going to take up mountain biking to do their grocery shopping when they can no longer hold a driver's licence.

Frances Louis:

I support cycleways and the healthy approach they imply. Rotorua needs a younger vibrant population with green enthusiasm. However, the council's cycleways concept leaves a lot to be desired.

John Rakei-Clark:

Of course I support cycling, it is great for our health, fun and offers free transport.
It offers great options for our tourism industry, especially with the amazing tracks in Whakarewarewa Forest.

The cycleways are excellent, but in the CBD, however, it is taking up valuable parking space and shop owners are feeling the repercussions of this.

Though I completely agree with the idea of the Green Corridor, I feel it could have been better placed.

Dr Reynold Macpherson:

The council's urban and central city cycleway programme and the promotion of cycling in the district in general deserve support in principle, but now must respond proactively to criticism.

The governance of the CyWay project aims to provide an integrated biking network intended to bring social, health, economic and environmental benefits to our people.

It has blended ratepayers' contributions with funds from external organisations, donors, sponsors and the national government. All good.

However it ignored the consultant's report that recommended that the Lakefront route be used to link Lake Rd to Government Gardens, not the CBD.

This obduracy created a white elephant, lost 56 parking places in the CBD, and created traffic hazards without bringing any benefits to businesses. Equally offensive are the over-the-top pamphlets and expensive advertorials, and an apparent reluctance to have cyclists share footpaths with pedestrians. All not good.

RangiMarie Kingi: Did not respond.

The key to the map of Rotorua's cycleways:
1. Ranolf Link: Options being investigated for separated cycleway from Springfield to inner city, connecting to Green Corridor and Lake Rd.
2. Malfroy School Link: Proposed cycleway separated from traffic, linking to various schools in the area.
3. Devon Link: Proposed connection with central city and between key facilities such as the stadium, conference venues and sports facilities.
4. Springfield: Work underway on shared path from Sophia St, along Old Taupo Rd and down Springfield Rd to Otonga Rd and Hemo intersection upgrade.
5. Inner City Link: Work to start soon linking Kuirau Park cycleway via Lake Rd to Lakefront, inner city, Government Gardens and sulphur reserve.
6. Whakarewarewa Forest Links: Feedback being sought on proposed family friendly links from Fenton St and Tarawera Rd to Redwoods.
7. Ngongotaha Link: Now taking feedback on options developed for off-road shared pathway connecting Ngongotaha to city cycleways.
8. Ngongotaha to Skyline: Community consultation underway on potential options for connection between the Ngongotaha cycleway and Skyline mountain bike park.
9. Morey St/Brent Rd: Two-way separated cycleway being trialled and well used by students with consultation underway on proposed Brent Rd improvements.
10. Ward Ave/McIntyre Reserve: Consulting residents and businesses on proposed link from Fenton St to forest via Ward Ave and through reserve to crossing point on Sala St, linking up to project 6.
- Te Ngae Rd: Biking Facilities along Te Ngae Rd will form part of projects to be undertaken by the New Zealand Transport Agency which has responsibility for state highways.

To find out all about CyWay and to give feedback go to www.cyway.nz or email cycling@rotorualc.nz.