Up to $100 million will be invested over the next decade into making it easier and safer to ride a bike to work or school in Tauranga.
In a decision welcomed by cycling advocates, Tauranga City councillors unanimously backed speeding up the roll-out of the Tauranga Cycle Plan with a $20m bulk funding injection over the next three years, plus $4m each year thereafter until 2028.
The plan would put kilometres of separated cycle lanes in areas where lots of people could use them to get to work and school: Mount Maunganui and Arataki, the CBD to Greerton and the Bellevue/Matua/Otumoetai area were all priority corridors.
The funding was a big lift from the placeholder budget of $24m the council earmarked for the plan in February and sought public feedback on.
Half of the council's funding was expected to be covered by a NZ Transport Agency subsidy that would cover 51 per cent of the project cost.
Councillors were told the agency was considering lifting the subsidy to 67 per cent for safety and multi-modal transport projects to match the coalition Government's transport priorities.
"We're looking for the Government to come to the table a bit more," council infrastructure manager Christine Jones said.
"But until a decision is made we don't really know."
To leverage off that potential increase, the council also agreed to invest an additional $12.68m to speed up the roll-out, on the condition the New Zealand Transport Agency increases its subsidy.
If NZTA increases its subsidy from 51 per cent to 67 per cent, this would provide an additional $52m for implementation
Local cycling advocates who have lobbied the council for months - mustering hundreds of submissions supporting a strong investment in the cycle network - were celebrating the decision.
Some started the day unsure whether there would be enough support from the council - which a day earlier agreed to try and cap next year's rates rise at 3.8 per cent and culled the museum proposal - to fund the plan.
Heidi Hughes of Greater Tauranga was in the chamber to hear the vote, lifting both arms and saying "yay".
Glen Crowther of the Sustainable Business Network said he was delighted with the decision, and with the prospect of separated cycleways being rolled out in priority areas of the city within the next few years.
"I am really pleased that the council has responded positively to the massive public support for safer cycleways.
"I'd like to say thanks to the council staff, who listened closely to the public feedback and made a big effort to come up with an aspirational yet affordable plan."
If the NZTA subsidy increased, council staff estimated it would take a minimum of 22 years to deliver the plan, with the priority projects completed in about 11 years.
If the subsidy stayed at 51 per cent, the timeframe would be 57 years, with priority projects done in 25.
The total cost to implement the full plan was expected to be about $236m.
Steve Hutchinson, who often commutes from Mount Maunganui to the CBD on a bike, said speeding up the rollout of the plan was the most important thing.
"We don't want to put off another generation of kids off cycling."
He was looking forward to a safer commute, especially along Hewletts Rd.
"At the moment you just have to take your life into your hands and use the bus lane."
NZTA, TCC and you: who pays what?
Unconditional funding agreed by Tauranga City Council:
$20m in the first three years
- Tauranga City Council - $9.8m
- NZ Transport Agency - $10.2m
$4m each year from to 2022 to 2028
- Tauranga City Council - $1.96m per year
- NZ Transport Agency - $2.4m per year
2019: about $1 a year
2028: about $20 a year
Source: Tauranga City Council