A canned idea that could dramatically change the way people move around in an iconic Kiwi destination is being given a second chance.
The Tauranga City Council will trial a one-way system at Mount Maunganui's Pilot Bay with a temporary bi-directional "cruiseway" for bikes and scooters on the harbour side.
That is despite having dumped the same idea two years ago after opposition from Mount residents.
The new plan includes extending the cruiseway down Marine Parade, which could come at a loss of 125 car parks between Banks Ave and Tay St, according to an early proposal.
Supporters are thrilled to see the cruiseway resurrected but a Mount resident who opposed it last time is not happy to see the "stupid idea" return.
The idea was pitched to the council by community group Bike Mount in 2017.
It had support from cyclists, two-thirds of people who made submissions and Ngāti Kuku.
Opposition included Mount residents, boat ramp users and the Port of Tauranga. Ngāi Tūkairangī did not support the project.
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This week Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency approved the council's May application to the new Innovating Streets fund, set aside for quick, low-cost "tactical urbanism" projects.
The agency would pay 90 per cent of the nearly $1 million cost, with the council funding just under $100,000 from existing budgets.
The council project team was working with the agency to plan the next steps for the process but any physical works must be done by June 2021. Construction would be avoided over the summer holidays.
The resurrection of the project has taken some by surprise, with concerns raised about the lack of a traditional consultation process.
Rather, the council was planning a "co-design" effort involving interested people in the community and Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency. The outcome of this would be reported to the council later this year.
Roading changes during the trial would be made with temporary materials that could be adjusted as needed based on monitoring and feedback.
Risks of the Pilot Bay one-way trial identified by council staff included 55-90 per cent increases in southbound traffic on Maunganui Rd through Mount Mainstreet in peak hours, and 30-40 per cent on Marine Parade.
Kerbside collections would be an issue as lifting mechanisms were on the left side of the trucks, meaning collectors would need to walk bins over the road.
Trucks collected outside of peak hours, once a week, but could still block the road if on-street parking was full and there was nowhere to pass.
Safety at the boat ramp at the north of Pilot Bay would be independently audited.
Queues behind rubbish trucks, issues for boaties and "gridlock" on Maunganui Rd were some of Mount resident Fred Greenville's concerns when he opposed the one-way trial in 2018.
He thought it was a "stupid idea" then, and now says stupid is "not a strong enough word".
"They have rocks in their heads for brains if they think changing The Mall to a one-way street is a good idea."
He said it was "totally ridiculous" to resurrect the project after the council had already considered the pros and cons and rejected it.
"The Mall is a good, safe road ... it's blind stupidity to be complicating it."
He rejected any suggestion it was dangerous for cyclists, saying he saw people on bikes use it every day.
There was no point wasting money - taxpayers' or ratepayers' - to try something that would not work and was not wanted by any resident he knew.
Mount resident Deborah Crowe, however, said the change was "so needed".
She had lived in the Mount for six years with a young son, now 12. She said she would have loved to bike to Pilot Bay, Marine Parade and the surf lifesaving club with him in those years but it was "too dangerous".
The volume of traffic, double parking and the lack of space for bikes made it "simply not a place for cycling". She believed many Mount families would feel the same.
She said many realised what they had been missing during the Covid-19 level 4 lockdown when the streets emptied of cars. Cycling rates in Tauranga jumped 227 per cent.
"It was a sheer delight to cycle around there during lockdown," Crowe said.
Tauranga councillor Heidi Hughes advocated for the cruiseway as a Bike Mount member two years ago, and backed it again this year as an elected official.
Asked about the lack of public consultation this time, she said the "pilot programme" was "actually a really good engagement process" and would be more inclusive.
"The beauty of this is that it's really flexible.
"If there are parts of this that don't work - like access to the boat ramp or parking or turning circles or it might be that there's traffic on someone's street - they will be able to be to acknowledge it during the trial ... and not after something's permanent.
"You get to see what the unintended consequences are."
She said concerns about things like a loss of parking were valid and should be discussed, but she encouraged people to give the trial a chance.
Councillor Steve Morris said the idea of consulting via a live trial was "patronising" to residents and business owners who would be affected.
"If a good case is made to them, they will accept it.
"In the often-quoted words of Marty Grenfell, we need to do things with our community, not to our community."
Along with councillors Dawn Kiddie and Andrew Hollis, he pushed for public consultation with Mount residents and businesses before the application was made but was voted down.
Other councillors in that meeting backed the "fail fast" approach and said the council should do more low-cost testing of new ideas.
Mount Mainstreet chairman Grant Aislabie slammed the lack of communication from the council about its intention to revisit what in his view was an "unwanted and misguided idea".
"I am stunned that Mount Mainstreet haven't heard anything. The council is operating in secret."
He could not see any benefit from the proposal or what problem it was trying to solve but said it was hard to comment as the council had not told people what options it was considering.
Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell said if the council had not communicated with Mount Mainstreet about revisiting the idea, that was not okay and he would "take it on the chin" and ensure communication improved.
He said the council was genuine in its goal to be more inclusive in the way it engaged with the community, and to give people something they could see and experience to assess rather than "just a word picture".
He emphasised the flexible and temporary nature of the trial, and that nothing would be "set in stone". He said he was anxious to avoid "another Greerton or Phoenix Park".
A Port of Tauranga spokeswoman said the port supported better walking and cycling in Pilot Bay, and looked forward to seeing the new proposals.
"The port has previously raised concerns about design options that would be impractical for vehicles using the western end of Salisbury Ave. We look forward to seeing the new proposals."