Rotorua is enjoying a "bike explosion" like no other in the midst of lockdown.
Figures obtained by the Rotorua Daily Post show the number of people cycling around the city's streets and tracks during lockdown level 4 has overtaken the number of pedestrians in those areas, for the first time.
Rotorua Lakes Council safe and sustainable journeys manager Jodie Lawson said it was great to see so many people including families, older riders and those more vulnerable, feeling safe enough to try riding while there were fewer cars on the road.
"We are thrilled at the current bike explosion on to our network as it shows our community the benefits of choosing alternate [transport] modes."
Lawson said feedback had traditionally suggested people felt unsafe cycling while navigating road traffic. However, the isolation period had changed that.
Figures from March 26 to April 27 show Rotorua had a daily average of 814 riders using the city's seven most popular tracks, compared to 709 pedestrians during level 4.
Those tracks are the Redwoods Waipa, Redwoods Nursery Hill, Kuirau Park, Fenton St, the Mountainbike Park at Tarawera Rd, Ngongotaha Trail and Te Pou-Koropu Mountainbike park.
During the same timeframe last year, the daily average number of riders was 1872 compared to 2112 pedestrians. The drop in yearly figures was expected due to the lockdown but more people are appearing to stick to their own neighbourhoods.
"We can see from the decrease in numbers at our forest sites that community responded really well to council's plea to stick to trails close home during alert level 4. This movement to urban routes is reflected in the increase at our Fenton St and Ngongotaha Trail site counters," Lawson said.
Lawson said the council was aware of a significant increase in people choosing to ride bikes around their own neighbourhood and hoped they would take part in the Big Backyard Bike Count, found on Facebook.
Rotorua woman Natalie Ridler has been out riding almost every day with partner Erin and their 8-month-old daughter Nina.
The family live close to the Redwoods and have enjoyed being able to ride there while remaining in their bubble.
"We also absolutely love riding on the CyWay and can hop on to that at a number of spots in our neighbourhood which is so cool. We often ride with Nina in her bike trailer, and sometimes [with] her in the baby carrier - she loves both."
Ridler said she and Erin were keen cyclists so biking was not unusual but working from home had allowed more flexibility in when they could ride, and they weren't alone.
"We have absolutely noticed a massive increase in cyclists over the past five weeks which has been so cool to see. We live opposite the CyWay and have commented numerous times on how neat it is to see so many people out using this awesome infrastructure we have.
"We really hope it continues long after lockdown. Everyone we have seen has been friendly and courteous which makes our community feel connected at a time when we have had to be physically distant."
Ridler said they felt lucky Rotorua had such a great network of cycleways and trails in the Whakarewarewa forest.
"We hope that the increased use of the cyways network during lockdown leads to even more infrastructure and safe cycling paths for the community to keep active and enjoy our town."
How to keep your biking momentum going:
- If you're heading back to work in level 3, try commuting by bike while there is less traffic on the roads
- Keep it local and check out the shared path network in your neighbourhood
- Start thinking of costumes so you're ready for the next Frocks on Bikes later this year
- Get the whole family involved – exploring the shared path network by bike, foot or scooter is a great way to explore the city and get active
- Support local – jump on your bike and head to your local café