Cyclists claim Grenada Street

Keith Arthur and Lawrie Glover on Grenada Street. Photo: John Borren.

Unlike its dreamy, balmy Caribbean namesake, Grenada Street in Arataki is a bristling corner of suburbia right now.

It’s about a couple of separated cycle lanes, and it has some neighbours in Grenada Street feeling frustrated and unheard. “The council’s traffic planners are listening,” says resident Keith Arthur, “but they’re not hearing.

“We just can’t seem to get through to them. It’s a fait accompli - that’s it, that’s what they are doing.”

What ‘they are doing’ is trialing separated cycle lanes along either side of Grenada Street – a kind of alternative arterial roadway running parallel to the beach.

“It’s one of our projects to make it safer and easier for people to travel,” according to Tauranga City Council’s website. “A lot of students walk and ride bikes to school through this area, so we want to make it as safe and convenient as possible.”

There’s no issue with safety, says Keith. “My grandchildren bike past every morning on their way to school, but they bike on the footpath, not the road.”

But he and a group of neighbours do have concerns and they do have suggestions. For example, on one side of the road, the kerb is around five metres from property boundaries. “More than enough for a single walkway/cycle lane with either direction optional,” says Keith, “so we can take the cycle lane off the road.”

No, we can’t, insists council. “There are a number of utilities in this berm,” says transportation manager Martin Parkes. “That makes it problematic to be developed as a cycle facility.”

But then comes the sticking point. A cycle way on both sides of Grenada Street means no roadside parking 24-hours a day. “We have no issue with there being no parking while the cyclists are using the lane,” says Keith. But they do have an issue with the blanket ban.

”We did a count one day, and between 7:45am and 9am only 51 children used it going to school. Then again, at the other end of the day, 57 kids cycled past.” Not many they suggest, and certainly not enough to warrant a 24-hour roadside parking ban.

Council research suggests otherwise. A council survey discovered Mount Intermediate, Arataki and Omanu schools have amongst the highest rates of “non-car modes” of getting to school – in other words they are walking, cycling and scootering. However, Keith says they’re talking about all cyclists from all of those schools heading off in all directions and not necessarily up and down Grenada Street.

In an email to Keith, Tauranga City Council’s senior transport planner, Gregory Bassam, says there was a need for high quality and safe cycling infrastructure through the corridor. He told Keith it would also encourage people too concerned about safety to feel comfortable cycling. Council wants to increase the uptake of cycling, get people out of cars and make it safe for them.

Then the armadillos come crawling out of the rain forests - half shell-like road cones, the physical devices which separate the cycle lane from the traffic lanes. Quick, easy and relatively cheap to install and apparently used globally with good results.

The neighbours raise the possibility of the cones causing accidents – cyclists riding over them, losing balance and falling into the line of traffic. But that’s not the experience in cities where they are used according to Gregory Bassam.

The sticking point is the armadillos, because they will mean no roadside parking for Grenada Street residents – day or night. That niggles.

“We’ve no issue while the cyclists are using the cycle lane, so what about no parking between 7am and 6pm but allow us to park at night rather than close it off for 24 hours?,” asks Keith.

They suggested making Grenada Street a clearway, no armadillos but a painted lane – like the rest of Tauranga – and allow residents to park on the road overnight. But no, that can’t happen. In his email Gregory says because the armadillos are a physical separation to stop vehicles encroaching into the cycle lane, it would not be possible to allow parking in the cycle lane outside of peak times.

“The separation would still be in place, so residents wouldn’t be able to drive over the separation to park.”

Park in nearby side streets was the council solution – Denny Hulme Drive, Grevillea Place and Gardenia Drive. “They’re too narrow and too far away,” says Keith. “And imagine how those residents will react if we park on their berm.”

Martin Parkes says there is sufficient for vehicles to park safely without using the berms.

What about the bus stops? “There are three in Grenada Street and the armadillos means buses will have to stop in the middle of the road to take on and let off passengers. Keith sees problems there - traffic on an increasingly busy thoroughfare will back up and people will have to tangle with cyclists to get on and off buses. “An obvious hazard,” he calls it.

Martin says there are a number of ways to safely deal with the interaction between bus passengers and people on bikes, and the next stage of this project will address this matter.

Council insists they stuck to the process. From the start it had a stakeholder working group, including local school principals, resident associations, advocacy groups, disability awareness groups and others. Everyone’s opinions, regardless of how they travel, were taken on board and public feedback led to a number of alterations to the project.

Council also asked for feedback from directly impacted residents on Grenada Street - an additional round of consultation.

They also asked neighbours Keith Arthur and Lawrie Glover, but they feel their thoughts weren’t taken on board. They’ll be watching progress on Grenada Street from their kitchen windows. Gregory Bassam and Martin Parkes at Tauranga City Council can expect ongoing feedback.