A group of parents who fear a child will be killed cycling to school on a redesigned road have pleaded with the council to make urgent changes.
More than 110 people signed a petition asking the Tauranga City Council to address safety concerns with a new bus lane and shared pathway on Links Ave and the corner of Golf Rd in Omanu.
Last year, the council turned parking spaces on the south sides of Links Ave into a peak hour bus clearway, with a 2.5m shared path on the north side used by cyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders and scooter riders.
Now parents say the path is not wide enough for the volumes of people - especially schoolchildren - using it, and that it places them right next to moving traffic.
The petition was presented to Tauranga City Council yesterday.
Berwick Ave resident Karen Laidlaw, a mum of three children, told elected officials parents witnessed near-misses between children and vehicles "daily".
"Kids are forced to cycle dangerously close to moving traffic, on a route where there is no room for human error, the results of which do not bear thinking about."
The council was encouraging the community to cycle and needed to make it safe, Laidlaw said.
"I bike daily on the school run with my children... Every day I question my choice to get on my bike with my 10, 12 and 4-year-old. It feels like I am putting them in harm's way rather than choosing a safe option.
"We are here to ask council, for the sake of our children, please review the layout."
Links Ave resident Friederike Haffelder said the current layout meant that "if a kid falls it is on to a road in front of a car driving at 50km an hour or in front of a bus, and the bus can't go anywhere to swerve around a child."
Children were fast-moving and unpredictable, often zooming ahead of their parents and zipping through crowds.
She urged the council to create "greater segregation between children and moving traffic", even if that meant removing the bus lane.
Change was needed "sooner rather than later".
They presented evidence the road layout did not meet NZ Transport Agency guidelines for the volume of use.
Other suggested solutions included banning parking on the berm between the shared path and houses and removing power poles, both of which reduced the width of the path, as well as diverting some traffic to Concord Ave or making Links Ave a T3 lane.
Council infrastructure general manager Nic Johansson said he agreed the road left no room for error.
"Ideally, there should be better separation between vulnerable users and buses and vehicles".
"We are cramming a lot of objectives into a small space with a bus lane on a residential street, that is very unusual.
"It is very tricky when we are retrofitting like this. We are putting new uses, new objectives into a street that was designed a long time ago for nothing like the utilisation it sees at the moment."
He said there was no silver bullet but there may be small tweaks to be made. The council would do what it could to address the issue as soon as possible.
"We need to bring all stakeholders together in a room and decide what is best."
Where bus lanes should be located depended on where the council placed a permanent interchange, currently proposed for Farm St. More information on that was due in April.
There were other similar issues in the city, but he said it would be hard to argue the Links Ave situation was not a priority.
People and engagement manager Susan Jamieson said the council hoped to meet with stakeholders in the next 1-2 months to discuss the Links Ave project and others.
Councillors John Robson, Heidi Hughes and Dawn Kiddie urged faster action.
Robson said the council should not sacrifice safety to meet the goals of a Government Policy Statement.
"A safe path is better than the path that has a dead child alongside it."
After the meeting, Mount Intermediate School principal Lisa Morresey told the Bay of Plenty Times school staff were out every morning and afternoon manning bus bays, pedestrian crossings and intersections on Golf Rd and Links Ave to keep students safe.
In the afternoons, with children leaving en mass at the same time, this required the full staff team - "quite a lot of manpower". Omanu School staff also helped with this.
The school was doing the best it could to educate and support students to get safely home on the congested road, but she was not sure what the long-term solution was.
"I am not a traffic safety engineer, I don't know what the answers are."
She said the council had been communicating well with the school and had already made several adjustments to the layout - including adding a pedestrian crossing outside the Intermediate - but "for the council, it is a work in progress".