Bold changes have been proposed to make cycling, walking and bussing safer and fight morning traffic jams in "heavily congested" Arataki.
Tauranga City Council's estimated $3.7 million multi-modal plan for the area between Golf Rd and Sandhurst Dr included removing on-street parks to make way for trials of new separated cycle lanes and rush hour bus lanes, as well as more pedestrian crossings and new roundabouts.
It would be one of the first projects rolled out in Tauranga City Council's $100 million plan to improve cycling in the city over the next decade.
Senior transport planner Gregory Bassam said thousands of people travelled through the area every day.
"The area is heavily congested, with buses experiencing up to 25-minute delays on Links Ave."
Among the users were schoolchildren from Arataki Primary, Mount Maunganui Intermediate, Omanu Primary and Mount Maunganui College, as well as increasing numbers of rat-running commuters dodging the Baypark to Bayfair roadworks on State Highway 2/Maunganui Rd.
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Bassam reported the reaction from the community to early plans for change has been mixed but largely positive.
Some hoped biking and walking would be safer, especially for children, and bus and bike lanes would mean fewer parents would drive their kids to school.
Others, however, worried buses would do nothing for congestion, the loss of on-street parking would be inconvenient and expressed concern the residential area was turning into an "arterial route".
Some of the council's original plans were changed in response to feedback.
Proposed full-time bus lanes on the south side of Links Ave and the south side of Grenada St were changed to bus clearways that would operate in the weekday morning rush hour, between 7.30am to 10am. Outside those hours they would be parking.
One Arataki parent was right behind the plan.
Katie Horrocks and her family live just off Grenada St, near the Arataki Community Centre.
Working from home, she said every morning around school drop-off time she saw a queue of traffic crawling or at a standstill on Grenada St waiting to turn on to Girven Rd.
The married mum of three was keen on any change that could provide a "carrot" for people to leave their cars at home and reduce the congestion.
She also liked the idea to put a shared bike/pedestrian path through Arataki Park from Monowai St to Girven Rd.
She said an overflow car park on the edge of the park, near her home, was a haven for loiterers and drug users who often left their rubbish behind.
"A cycleway would clean up the area."
City councillors, however, have raised concerns about the public consultation to date, seeking assurance from staff that the views of car owners had been considered equally alongside those of cyclists.
The council's transportation staff sought endorsement for the plan from the transport committee yesterday, but the five members of the committee present refused to give it - yet.
Councillor John Robson said there were inconsistencies in the data presented to councillors that appeared to minimise negative responses about issues such as the loss of on-street parking.
The councillors voted to let the endorsement decision wait until the full council meeting next Tuesday and, in the meantime, ask council staff to provide the raw consultation data.
Mount Maunganui\Pāpāmoa ward councillor Steve Morris said it was clear cyclists were "well-represented" in the planning, but it was less clear how well car users and residents had been canvassed.
"In the early days of rolling out our cycle plan it is critical we get it right. If we get it wrong it could impact all our future cycling projects.
"We do need to tread carefully."
The council's endorsement was needed before staff could begin work on detailed designs for the project.
Attempts to contact local school principals for comment yesterday were not successful.
The plan for Arataki
- Golf Rd from Oceanbeach Rd to Links Ave
- Grenada St from Arataki Park to Sandhurst Dr
- One lane on each side of the roads
Trial bus clearways
- Links Ave from Golf Rd to Links Ave Reserve
- Grenada St between Girven Rd and Kaimanawa St
- Operating between 7.30am and 10am
- Links Ave and Concord Ave
- Farm St and Concord Ave
- Girven Rd and Marlin St intersection
- New secure cycle parking facility in Arataki Park
- Bus stop upgrade on Grenada St
- New off-road walking/biking path through Arataki park from Monowai St to Girven Rd
- Improving walking/cycling routes on Ascot Rd, Berwick Pl, Compton Pl and Berescourt Pl
- New pedestrian crossings on Concord Ave.
- Safety education campaign
If Tauranga City Council approves the plan next week, the next steps for the project would be:
- Late 2018: detailed design of trial bus lanes and path through Arataki Park
- Early 2019: Construct bus lanes and Arataki Park path; detailed design of bike lanes; start education campaign.