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Ara pāhikara ki Wairoa

Wairoa cycleway

The Wairoa Cycleway makes it safer to cycle along the narrow strip of State Highway 2 (SH2) between the Wairoa Bridge and Bethlehem.

Update 19 December 2023

The last section of the cycleway, linking Ōmokoroa to Tauranga, takes people under the Wairoa Bridge, and past the Waimarino side of the road to a new signalised crossing (traffic lights) at the top of the hill. This provides a safer journey across State Highway 2 for people to reach Carmichael Road.

An official opening and blessing is planned for early next year, once all works are completed. All road users are reminded to look out for each other as people get used to more activity in the area.

Safety reminders

People using the cycleway are reminded that the correct route is to use the signalised crossing above the Wairoa Bridge.

People using the cycleway are urged to take care and slow down as people get used to sharing the new facility. 

People on bikes should be mindful of other users and slow down while on the cycleway, as well as while travelling under the bridge.

Drivers are asked to be alert to increased activity in the area, the reduced speed limit and the new roading design, including the signalised pedestrian crossing (traffic lights) at the top of SH2. These lights are now operational and will pause traffic for 13-20 seconds when activated.

Media release: Wairoa cycleway official blessing planned for early 2024

This section of the cycleway is known as the Wairoa cycleway but is often referred to locally as the Ōmokoroa cycleway and ensures that both commuting and recreational connections are possible between the network along the 19km Ōmokoroa to Tauranga cycleway.

The cycleway means cyclists will be able to cross the Wairoa River and continue their journey between Ōmokoroa to Tauranga without the risk of sharing this section of road with trucks and cars.

Given the immediate safety risk associated with people cycling along this section of state highway, the cycleway is a temporary solution that balances the needs of cyclists, state highway users and the local community.

Completion of this cycleway will address cyclist safety in the short and medium-term until the Takitimu North Link is completed. At that time, this busy section of SH2 will become a local road which opens up possibilities that are not available on the State Highway network, as well as providing an alternative option along the Takitimu North Link.

Tauranga City Council, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Western Bay of Plenty District Council have been working together to ensure the safety of cyclists along this busy section of SH2 since the completion of the clip-on in May 2020.

Temporary solution

The cycleway is not always going to go under the bridge. When this stretch of highway becomes a ‘local road’ (once the Takitimu North Link is completed) an alternative solution will be investigated.

An additional cycleway is being developed to go alongside the Takitimu North Link. This will provide a different, and safe route for cyclists to get from Te Puna to the city.

Safety

This cycleway was required to meet design and safety standards. A Safety Audit in 2017 (undertaken by Waka Kotahi and Western Bay of Plenty District Council) approved the original cycleway design which was along the northern side of SH2.

The safety standards have now been further developed for cycleways - particularly where dual cycleways cross driveways.

These updated safety guidelines mean the cycleway now follows a new route on the southern side of the State Highway. This route allows more room for cyclists and has fewer driveway crossings.

Another benefit of this solution is that it provides a direct and safe connection to Waimarino Water and Adventure Park which is often used by school students to attend after school activities.

Wairoa cyclemap

Wairoa two-way cycleway

Wairoa two-way cycleway (611kb pdf)

SH2 speed limit changes

In late 2019, Waka Kotahi consulted on safer speeds between Katikati and Tauranga and put in place new speed limits in 2020.  

A new lower speed limit of 50km/h was proposed between the Wairoa River bridge and Bethlehem based on the development of a new cycleway. The new speed limit will be put in place at the conclusion of the project.

The speed limit changes are:

Location
Existing speed limit
Proposed new speed limit
Te Puna to eastern side of Wairoa Bridge 90km/h 80km/h
Eastern side of Wairoa Bridge to Carmichael Road 90km/h and 50km/h 50km/h

Background

Construction of the Wairoa cycleway (Bethlehem side of the bridge) will complete the 19km Ōmokoroa to Tauranga cycleway 

The cycleway began as part of the Urban Cycleways Programme project - jointly funded by central government, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Tauranga City Council with additional contributions from the NZ Community Trust, Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust and the Ōmokoroa Community Board.

The route of the cycleway is made up of both new and existing off-road shared paths and local road connections providing a link between Ōmokoroa and Tauranga City's existing urban cycleway network.

Map of the Tauranga cycle network (226kb pdf)

The cycleway enables access to communities, schools, parks and reserves, and the Tauranga Harbour as well as higher density rural development areas planned under the sub-region's SmartGrowth partnership.

The development of this northern city route will also provide an alternative transport choice to the busy SH2 corridor that connects Ōmokoroa to Tauranga City.

The cycleway is expected to attract 130-200 commuter cyclists a day, with a higher estimate for recreational users.

Cyclists will cross the Wairoa Bridge and go under it to cycle up the other side of SH2

Cyclists will cross the Wairoa Bridge and go under it to cycle up the other side of SH2.

The cycleway will avoid cyclists sharing the road with trucks and cars

The cycleway will avoid cyclists sharing the road with trucks and cars.

The last section will complete the 19km Ōmokoroa to Tauranga cycleway which is used for recreation, tourism and commuter cycling

The last section will complete the 19km Ōmokoroa to Tauranga cycleway.

Cyclists will cross the Wairoa Bridge and go under it to cycle up the other side of SH2

Cyclists will cross at a signalised crossing connecting to Carmichael Road.

What will it mean for me?

A cyclist’s perspective

If you are cycling from Ōmokoroa to Bethlehem, you will cross the bridge using the existing cycleway (which currently ends at the Bethlehem side).

At the end of the bridge, you will do a hairpin turn and then follow the cycleway down underneath the bridge and cycle up the other side. This brings you to the widest part of this section of SH2.

From here you will cycle up to Taniwha Place where there will be a crossing set back from the intersection to enable clear visibility between vehicles approaching and cyclists.

You will cross Taniwha Place and continue up to the top of the hill.

At the top of the hill there will be a new signalised crossing that allows for you to safely cross SH2 to Carmichael Road.

From Carmichael Road you can connect through Gordon Carmichael Reserve to join the urban cycling network to the city.

A Taniwha Place resident’s perspective

As you are leaving or entering Taniwha Place, when cyclists are at the crossing, they will give way to vehicles.

A designated turning bay is provided on SH2 for drivers turning right into Taniwha Place. Cyclists will give way to prevent a backlog of traffic behind you.

There will be space before the crossing for a car to wait if it is turning left into Taniwha Place.

A driver’s perspective

If you are driving from Bethlehem to Te Puna (north), there will be a new signalised crossing on SH2 at Carmichael Road. This is between the roundabout (where the Gull and Z petrol stations are) and just before you head down the hill to the bridge.

The signalised crossing will be set off by cyclists wanting to cross the road. The length of time they will have to cross is approximately 20 seconds.

In heavy commuter traffic (either way) the delay will be minimal as the traffic is already moving at a slow pace.

FAQs

The original expectation was that work start in October 2022 with all work completed prior to the Christmas holidays. However, this deadline has not been achieved largely due to three factors:

  1. safety audit
  2. approvals for “technical” standards (as this will become a local road once it is no longer a state highway, we have had to adapt the existing state highway technical standards)
  3. funding.

The revised construction start date is May 2023.

Using the northern side did not leave enough space to allow a turning vehicle to wait for a cyclist without holding up traffic behind them.

With heavy traffic and trucks heading towards Bethlehem, approaching cyclists would not be visible in both directions, as well as at multiple driveways.

The volume and types of traffic on SH2 limited the ability for people cycling to see vehicles turning.

The alignment of the cycleway on the eastern side of the road provides safety benefits for users, particularly at the intersection of Taniwha Place as it avoids the crossing of multiple busy driveways.

An alternative solution (for a wider range of users including pedestrians) is being developed as part of the Takitimu North Link.

There are three reasons:

  1. space on this side of the road is required for the cycleway
  2. the left hand slip lane was constructed when left hand traffic was required to give way to right turning traffic (this changed in 2012 and now left turning traffic has right of way)
  3. with the reduction in speed limit to 50kmph – once the cycleway is in – there is no need for left hand turning traffic to need a long slip lane for ‘slowing down’ to turn.

In other words, the slip lane is being re-purposed.

The total cost of the completed project is estimated to be $3.2m.

Waka Kotahi has provided half of this from the National Land Transport Programme funds.

The separated cycle path connection design includes a shared ramped underpass from the Wairoa River clip-on bridge, leading to an on road two way cycleway, which crosses at Taniwha Place and continues along SH2 to a signalised crossing connecting to Carmichael Road.

Detailed design concept plans (5mb pdf) 

When operating, the signalised crossing will stop traffic for approximately 20 seconds.

At peak times traffic is already moving very slowly so the crossing will not impede this significantly.

The crossing here will enable the cyclists to get across the road safely. The safer cyclists feel, the more of them will be confident using the road. The more of them using the road, the fewer cars there will be on the road.

The signalised crossing was programmed to be delivered in the future, irrespective of the cycleway. This is because of development occurring in the surrounding area to enable people to safely cross the road. This has been brought forward to support this project and the wider area into the future.

This is a State Highway – not a council road. However, when the Takitimu North Link is completed, this section of SH2 will become an important local road managed by Tauranga City Council.

There will be much reduced traffic volumes (including heavy freight traffic) on this road once the alternative Takitimu North Link is opened.

Pedestrians can use the cycleway if they wish but it is not designed to be a shared space for both cyclists and pedestrians.

A gate is being installed at the end of the bridge (Bethlehem side) so people can still access the berm for walking. (The berm is considered wide enough for pedestrians to use safely but does not have sufficient width for the safe passage of cyclists.)

The purpose of the cycleway is to provide a safe route that removes risks for all cyclists and meets the needs of other road users.

The berm has never been a safe route.

As construction increases on the Takitimu North Link Stage One project, there will be more trucks along Wairoa Road where a new overbridge is being built.

People turning from Wairoa Road onto SH2 towards Bethlehem are being encouraged to use the underpass, and then turn left onto SH2 (to avoid making a right turn). This intersection will be monitored to consider if further actions are needed. New signs will be installed so people are aware of this safer option.

The Takitimu North Link includes a continuous and separate shared path alongside the new road from Tauranga to Te Puna, providing a safe and efficient connection for people cycling, riding e-bikes, electric scooters, electric skateboards and walking.

The path connecting Kopurererua Valley to Te Puna will be built on the north side of the road and provide regular access points to local roads and points of interest (e.g. Hakao/Minden Gully and the Wairoa River).

Key information

Project type
Transport and movement
Community
Health and wellbeing
Parks and recreation

Status
Underway

Neighbourhood
Bethlehem

Key dates

  • Plans for construction of the Wairoa cycleway shared with mana whenua, stakeholders and the community

    June - September 2022
  • Locals and public notified about the Wairoa cycleway via maildrop, media release, newsletters

    November 2022
  • Information days for the community

    19 November 2022- Bethlehem Night Out Markets
    12 March 2023 – Waimarino Water and Adventure Park
  • Construction of Wairoa cycleway

    May - December 2023
  • Official opening and blessing

    February 2024

Who's listening

Community Relations team
Tauranga City Council

wairoacycleway@tauranga.govt.nz 
07 577 7000

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Waka Kotahi

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