When Tauranga constructed a $2.2 million cycleway, drivers turned it into an expensive carpark and there was nothing the local council could do about it, until now.
Tauranga City Council met today to vote on a recommendation to pass an amended bylaw to give the organisation the ability to enforce a no-parking rule in the area.
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Construction of the dual cycleway began in January and was completed last week, prompting motorists in the area to use the 3m corridor to park their cars and forcing cyclists out on to the road.
The parking prompted at least six complaints to the council which, after Bay of Plenty Times queries, provided a brochure drop to residents in the area reminding people the cycleway was not for parking in.
At today's meeting, general manager of infrastructure Nic Johansson said the brochures appeared to have worked.
"We got quite a lot of shift with that but still had issues with it towards the end of last week, particularly with one vehicle."
Last week, the Bay of Plenty Times spoke to a resident, who would not be named, who said he counted 10 cars in the cycleway on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the paper counted five.
Visits to the cycleway yesterday and today found just one car parked in it this morning.
At the meeting, councillor John Robson questioned why the council was only passing the bylaw today and not during the cycleway's construction.
"I'm surprised that it wasn't embedded in the process and we've effectively gone live and now we need to [address it]," Robson said.
Council director of transport Brendan Bisley said in the future such action would be done earlier.
"We do need to get timings slightly better and I apologise for that."
The bylaw will not come into effect until August 11 at the earliest, which is when the recommendation is expected to formally adopted. People parking in the cycleway can expect fines of $60.
Without the bylaw, there is no legal standing to enforce no-parking rules at the cycleway.
The issue of people parking in the cycleway attracted feedback from people both for and against the cycleway. Some said the corridor was a waste of money. Others said drivers should be ashamed of themselves.
At the meeting, cycle plan implementation team leader Karen Hay told the council the project was already going well with an average of 84 people a day using the cycleway, compared to an average of 49 people a day before it was completed.
"We've got fantastic feedback: 'It's really great to ride on'; 'Please build more'. So it's going really well."
Councillors voted unanimously to pass the recommendation. The council will monitor the cycleway's use and impact and report back to elected members later this year.