Two years ago, amid a flurry of green balloons, politicians on bikes and a splash of controversy, Rotorua's Green Corridor officially opened. But what's happened to it since then? Reporter Alice Guy investigates.

The bright green line that weaves its way through Rotorua's inner city was sold to ratepayers as the ideal option for safe, easy transport through town.

Designed to be a bustling pathway for walkers, cyclists, scooters and joggers, Rotorua Lakes Council councillors voted six to five in favour of the concept in December 2014.

The divisive decision became the talk of the town with columnists, politicians, locals and business owners weighing in on the concept.

Advertisement

Then after months of construction hundreds of locals turned out for the official opening of the almost 2km pathway in October 2015.

However two years later, standing on Hinemoa St on a sunny weekday afternoon, it takes a while for a cyclist to show up and even then, they are on the footpath.

Wandering between the businesses it is difficult to find support for the empty pathway which has taken out 50 carparking spaces and cost $442,000. Of that, the council paid $190,000 and the NZ Transport Agency $252,000.

However Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick this week told the Rotorua Daily Post she thought the whole cycleways programme, and that included the Green Corridor, was a "stunning success".

"For me, and for council it was always a long-term project.

"To get more people on to bikes and to create a cycle-friendly city."

A frequently asked questions section of the council website determines the success of the Green Corridor as "the more people using the Green Corridor the better".

Mrs Chadwick said they were definitely seeing an increase in the number of people on bikes and the statistics backed that up.

Counters at four cycleway/shared path locations around Rotorua (Amohau St, Fenton St, Kuirau Park and Ngongotaha) show average daily use by cyclists has increased from 167 in June 2016 to 223 in June 2017 - a 33 per cent increase.

"There are people that need to know where it is and how they can use it," Mrs Chadwick said.

"We can always keep telling the story."

Despite the criticism the council received she stands by what she calls a "pretty symbolic" decision.

"You've always got to put that stake in the ground.

"Now we are well and truly seen as a cycle city, people are biking into work and using it to get to the heart of the city.

"This is a very long journey and I am always up for reviewing anything and getting feedback from the public."

Council strategy group manager Jean-Paul Gaston said there were no plans to change the Green Corridor, but he also welcomed feedback.

"The Green Corridor is part of a bigger picture incorporating inner city revitalisation, sustainability, public wellbeing and public safety, and it was constructed with a focus on the future.

"It was seen as a way to provide another reason and another way for people to come into the inner city and cycleways such as this have, in other parts of the world, provided an economic boost for retailers and other businesses."

Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers chairwoman Glenys Searancke said she and the group do not think the Green Corridor had been a success at all.

"You hardly see anyone using it.

"There are retailers on Hinemoa St who I am sure have suffered a downturn."

When the vote was cast in 2014 Mrs Searancke, then a councillor, voted against the Green Corridor but requested that it be noted the councillors voting against were not necessarily voting against the motion, but against the process.

"I never did see much sense in winding it through the city," she said.

"The whole idea was to connect cyclists biking from Government Gardens through to Kuirau Park and I believe they should have stuck to Haupapa St."