Cyclists feeling unsafe on a notorious stretch of road are calling for existing plans to improve safety in the area to be treated with more urgency.
But the council says it is progressing the design and construction of Totara St's new cycleway "as fast as possible".
Totara St is one of the Bay of Plenty's busiest roads. It serves as a popular commuter route for people travelling between Mount Maunganui and Tauranga as well as access for heavy commercial vehicles visiting Port of Tauranga.
The road is considered a nationally strategic corridor and in 2018 hosted more than 19,000 vehicles daily. Up to 20 per cent of these were heavy commercial vehicles and the numbers are expected to have only increased since.
On May 28, 2020, cyclist Graeme Shallcrass, 62, died in a crash with a truck at the intersection of Totara and Maui Streets. Two years earlier, Kevin Akroyd, 74, died in a crash between his scooter and a truck near Waimarie St.
A cyclist who witnessed a crash on Monday involving a cyclist and a car on Totara St near Triton Ave questioned why it was taking so long to make the area safer.
In November, the Tauranga City Council voted for the Totara Street safety upgrade which will cost ratepayers $4.1m, with NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi expected to fund the rest.
Construction was expected to begin in April and take about six months but this has been delayed a month.
The cyclist, who would not be named, said the council's upgrade meant they were "admitting it is not fit for purpose" yet they were taking too long, in his view, to do anything about it.
"I got absolutely knocked off by somebody opening the car door. I was on the cycle lane. That was about three months ago, just up the road from there [Monday's crash].
"They are trying to encourage people out of cars but there's people getting knocked off ... It's just disgusting."
The safety upgrade is expected to include an off-road shared path to provide more separation between cyclists and heavy vehicles. This is considered the safest option until long-term changes are made to the area in eight to 10 years' time.
In June 2020 the council changed a bylaw to allow cyclists to use the footpath until the shared path was built.
The cyclist rides to work daily and said he felt vulnerable but he believed in the benefits of cycling and did not want to have to drive.
"You don't feel safe riding along there. All of the signs and the road markings, they suggest that you should go on the road but ... If you imagine cycling along and less than an arm's width away is a logging truck doing 60km/h, does council honestly think that's acceptable?
"Let's get on with it, let's get it done."
Director of transport Brendan Bisley said the council was progressing the design and construction of Totara St's new cycleway "as fast as possible".
When asked why there has been a delay, Bisley said the council was still working with businesses regarding parking and design.
The council was now finalising the design, including parking layouts for Totara St retailers between Triton Ave and Hull Rd, and a technical review was under way.
"The design period has been kept as short as possible as we are aware of the need to get a safer cycle facility along Totara St, but we need to ensure that underground services etc are correctly identified and allowed for before we start physical construction," Bisley said.
"Council also need to ensure discussions with businesses etc are completed before construction starts."
The tender for construction work is expected to go out this month in efforts to start works in May.
Bisley said construction was planned to be done at night to minimise the impact on traffic and freight movement during the day.
"Night works also provide longer working periods so the total construction time can be minimised."
Consultation with businesses directly affected is expected to continue over the next few weeks.
Bike Tauranga chairman Kevin Kerr said it was time for action.
"At Bike Tauranga we've signed off on the safety aspects. We've had a lot of consultation. We just need them to get on with it. Bike Tauranga would like to see an urgency status applied to it," he said.
"We want to get people off the roads and make it safer for cyclists and for the truckies as well so they are not having to avoid cyclists. Really, for everyone concerned we need to get these cyclists off the road and onto a safer cycleway."
Kerr said crashes involving cyclists on Totara St were "quite a regular occurrence" but most did not get reported.
A police spokeswoman confirmed a woman had been injured in the crash on Monday. She was taken to Tauranga Hospital with moderate injuries after swerving to avoid a car and coming off her bike, the spokeswoman said.