Big changes are being proposed for the Ōtūmoetai Peninsula to make it safer and easier for people to walk, cycle and catch a bus around their neighbourhoods and into the city centre.
New traffic lights at key intersections, separated cycleways for all ages and abilities, bus priority measures and improved infrastructure are all included in a new design unveiled by Tauranga City Council’s Accessible Streets for Ōtūmoetai project on the back of community consultation last year.
The changes will affect people living in Bureta, Ōtūmoetai, Matua, Cherrywood, Brookfield, Bellevue and Judea, as well as Waihi Road, Chapel Street and Cameron Road towards Harington Street, with residents now invited to provide feedback on the early design.
Tauranga City Council Director of Transport Brendan Bisley says the project aims to make roads safer for everyone and provide a variety of transport choices.
“By 2050 the Western Bay of Plenty will be home to an estimated 258,000 residents which will create one million extra trips on our transport network every year. There is already significant congestion in places, and because our city is built on narrow peninsulas there isn’t room to build more roads.
“Due to this anticipated population growth and the large number of local trips on the Ōtūmoetai Peninsula that could be taken by foot, bus, bike or scooter, we need to provide safe, healthy and environmentally friendly transport options to help manage future congestion. While we recognise that most people will still travel by car, we also need to plan ahead to give our community better options and currently these options are limited.”
Tauranga is one of the country’s most car-reliant cities however local residents have asked for better options so they can safely walk, or cycle to places such as shops, parks, schools and workplaces.
In 2020, people living in Brookfield, Judea, Bellevue, Ōtūmoetai and Matua told the Whakahou Taketake Vital Update survey that they valued living close to parks, cycleways, walkways and reserves, and wanted better roading solutions, better public transport access, and safe cycleways.
Prior to the Accessible Streets project, further community consultation was undertaken as part of the Take me to the future Ōtūmoetai 2050 project to develop a 30 year plan for the area, which also showed good support for alternative ways to travel.
The project aims to make the peninsula, including Waihi Road and Chapel Street, safer for everyone.
“The community will benefit from this project by improving safety for everyone,” Brendan says. “We have designed separated cycleways for all ages and abilities, safer intersections and pedestrian crossings, changes to road layouts to improve the safety of our streets, particularly around schools, improved bus stops and bus shelters as well as improved bus journey times at key locations.
“The early design has also carefully considered impacts on traffic flow as well as other impacts on local residents and parking has been retained as much as possible.”
The Accessible Streets project also supports the Ministry of Transport’s Road to Zero Strategy to improve overall travel safety, so no-one is seriously injured or killed in road crashes. Over the past five years, 112 people have been injured along the roads where changes are proposed, including people that were driving, cycling and walking.
Proposed changes include new road layouts in some places, introducing traffic lights at key intersections, new traffic calming measures and reducing speed limits around schools during school hours, bus priority measures, as well as removing some on-street parking along the routes and introducing a one-way system on Windsor Road in Bellevue in front of Ōtūmoetai College and Ōtūmoetai Intermediate School.
A map showing the main cycle and bus routes is being sent to all residents along with a letter outlining the proposed changes. Public consultation is open until 12 July 2023. Local residents are invited to have their say online at letstalk.tauranga.govt.nz/accessiblestreetsotumoetai.
Community drop-in sessions will also be held on Tuesday, 4 July and Wednesday, 5 July at Atrium Café on Ōtūmoetai Rd (12pm - 2pm and 4pm - 6.30pm) so people can view the design in person and chat to the project team.
“This community feedback will then be considered to develop a business case,” Brendan explains. “We will also undertake an economic evaluation to determine if the money invested would return the benefits we anticipate. This project will only go ahead if the business case is considered feasible and approved for funding by Council and central government.”