No movement on Wairoa cycleway
Frustration continues to mount for the region’s cycling community, with the final stage of the Ōmokoroa to Tauranga cycleway still in limbo.
The final section is between the Wairoa River Bridge and Carmichael Road on State Highway 2, and cyclists have voiced concerns about riding next to heavy traffic with no separation.
Exiting the cycle bridge towards Bethlehem is also deemed as dangerous, as the surface is coarse gravel and riders arrive on the roadside less than 1.5 metres away from vehicles, says Bike Tauranga founder Shane Plummer.
The cycleway is a 19km route, made up of new and existing off-road shared paths and local road connections, links Ōmokoroa to Tauranga. Cycleway construction began in 2016, and the cycle bridge over the Wairoa River opened in mid-2020, but there has been no progress on the last section.
The Weekend Sun wrote a piece in September 2020 voicing a local cyclist’s concerns, and those safety issues remain.
Shane says cycling towards the oncoming traffic is a huge risk - as is the half-finished nature of the bridge exit.
“The risk has been there for an unacceptable period of time now,” says Shane.
The cycle advocacy group founder wants to see the gravel at the exit of the bridge concreted and the spot where it meets the road moved, making it safer for cyclists.
He has also suggested cutting a temporary and low cost roadside track on the grass verge of State Highway 2, and has even offered to do the work himself.
Plans for this section have changed more than once, but the latest information is there would be a three metre-wide concrete cycleway from the Wairoa Bridge, past the Wairoa Marae, connecting to the Tauranga city cycleway network at Carmichael Road.
No further plans have been released, and there is no official word on the reason for these delays. Western Bay of Plenty District Council were the lead agency for the project, but they have since handed it over to Tauranga City Council.
Last year WBOPDC infrastructure services group manager Gary Allis told The Weekend Sun: “WBOPDC is working with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Tauranga City Council and Ngāti Kahu on plans for the final section connecting into Tauranga city’s urban cycleway network.”
For this article, WBOPDC referred The Weekend Sun to Tauranga City Council to answer questions about what the new plan is, what the timeframes were and if any safety measures would be put in place in the interim.
Tauranga City Council director of transport, Brendan Bisley, responded by saying: “Tauranga City Council was not originally involved in this cycleway project, but we offered to become involved earlier this year because the safety of our communities is paramount and we want to help make sure there is a safe connection for cyclists between Wairoa Bridge and Carmichael Road.
“We can’t comment on things that happened before our involvement, such as project timeframes and input from local cycling groups, and we’re still working through the plans, but we’re looking forward to being in a position to share more detail with the community in the next three or four weeks.”