The multimillion-dollar CyWays programme is getting bums on bike-seats, according to Rotorua Lakes Council figures.

Rotorua has 11 cycleway projects that are costing a total of $5.5 million to build.

The council covered $1.9m of this cost, and the rest was covered with $1.5m from the Government's Urban Cycleways Fund and $2.1m from the National Land Transport Fund.

The 2018-28 Long-term Plan includes CyWay enhancements of up to $1m per year, 55 per cent of which will be covered by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

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In comparison, the council's budget for the repair and maintenance of its 670km of footpaths is about $260,000 annually for the likes of fixing cracks and replacing cobbles.

There is a separate allowance of $500,000 a year to replace parts of whole footpaths.

The CyWays project aims to make active modes of transport such as cycling and scootering safe and easy, and to reduce gas emissions and congestion, with a city-wide network connecting suburbs, to the CBD and Whakarewarewa Forest.

Tallies from the Rotorua Lakes Council's permanent counters show from January 1 to August 22 this year there was an average of 67 riders per day on the Amohau St CyWay, 71 on Fenton St, 43 on the Kuirau Park link and 77 on the Ngongotahā Trail.

Infrastructure general manager Stavros Michael said the tallies suggest "the primary objective of the programme is being met".

"We are seeing a very encouraging increase in teenage and child riders across most shared paths during weekdays and an overall increase in wheeled users on weekdays."

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He said manual site surveys were also carried out every year by people watching specific areas for a period of time and recording pedestrians, bike riders, and other users.

Harm Zuidmeer, co-chairman of Rotorua Cycle Action, on the newly opened Long Mile Rd to Te Ngae Rd cycleway. Photo/Stephen Parker
Harm Zuidmeer, co-chairman of Rotorua Cycle Action, on the newly opened Long Mile Rd to Te Ngae Rd cycleway. Photo/Stephen Parker

Michael said during the initial CyWay consultation in 2015 "it was clear that riding on the roads was a significant barrier to most people who wanted to give biking a go".

"We expect people who are comfortable riding on the road will continue to do so. Shared paths are built with vulnerable users in mind such as people new to biking, children, elderly, parents with young children and those with impairment. The speeds at which they travel are generally slower meaning it is easier to stop when required."

He also said the CyWay team gave safety information to residents living along cycleways and shared paths to help them to increase awareness of pedestrians and bike riders.

Rotorua Cycle Action co-chairman Harm Zuidneer said building a CyWay was "not the end of it".

"Once it's there, that's actually when the campaigning starts to say 'look guys it's here, use it'."

He said the CyWays programme was "a really good incentive for people to get riding, without having to worry about vehicle traffic".

"For example, you can go through the Redwoods, through the link on Long Mile Rd to Te Ngae Rd link, under the Te Ngae Bridge, through Sulphur Pt to town, without meeting a car."

Business owner Ross Swenson led a petition in 2015 asking the council to reinstate the Hinemoa St carparks that were removed for the construction of the Green Corridor cycleway.

When asked about the 11 CyWays projects in 2018, Swenson said: "If they are out in the forest I support them, in the CBD area it is a waste of ratepayers' money."

He said the only cyclists he ever saw using the Hinemoa St stretch of cycleway, between Fenton St and Tutanekai St, were "the bike shop across the road testing their bikes".