Less traffic, more bikers



5 May 2020


COVID-19 Alert Levels 3 and 4 have resulted in created quiet intersections and empty roadways all over the country. Along with improved air quality, another unintended benefit of the vehicle restriction was that people explored more active travel options (e.g. biking and walking), as the Rotorua Lakes Council Safe and Sustainable Journeys (SASJ) Team has discovered by monitoring feedback on cycle pathway user rates across Rotorua.

A focus of the SASJ Team is to motivate transport choice and enable mode shift from private vehicles to walking, cycling and public transport.

Jodie Lawson explains in her experience as Safe and Sustainable Journeys Manager, one of the most common barriers for cyclists is the perception of safety with new or inexperienced and vulnerable riders preferring to be separated from traffic. The isolation period has given Rotorua residents the chance to give riding a go and feel much safer while doing it, with less risk and much lower amounts of traffic on urban roadways.

“We are thrilled at the current bike explosion on to our network as it shows our community the benefits of choosing alternate modes. COVID-19 has seen for the first time, more cyclists than pedestrians recorded on these parts of the network since we began using the counters. It’s especially great to see all the path users such as families, older riders and those more vulnerable feeling safe enough to give it a go while there are fewer cars on the roads.”

SASJ now want to know how many people are walking, biking and scootering around our neighbourhoods and are using the ‘Big Backyard Bike Count’ to do this. To take part, download the form here (or just write it down) and count the number of people using active modes of transport that you can see from the comfort of your front lawn or driveway, then submit the details online. It takes 15 minutes, has prizes available from local businesses, and is something the whole family can get involved in. Visit the CyWay Rotorua Facebook page for more details.

The SASJ Team encourages those who have decided to use these active modes during the lockdown period, to continue building confidence and enjoyment of riding, scootering and walking as we move down the Alert Levels. We would love to hear about your experiences and journeys, complete with photos to share on our facebook page. Send to cycling@rotorualc.nz


How to keep your biking momentum going:

  • If you’re heading back to work in Alert Level 3, why not 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 event later this year
  • Get the whole family involved – exploring the shared path network by bike, foot or scooter is a great way to see the city and get active
  • Support local – jump on your bike and head to your local café for a caffeine fix (through contactless pick-up, of course!)
  • Follow Cyway Rotorua on Facebook for more events and cycling information
  • Send any feedback, stories, pics and good ideas to cycling@rotorualc.nz


Data comparison

Data collected from eco-counters during lockdown demonstrated the change in behaviour of those using Rotorua’s shared paths and walkways.

The graph below compares shared path usage the weekend before Level Alert 4 was activated, (21 - 22 March), and the last weekend of the Level Alert 4 (25 – 26 April).

The decrease in numbers at our forest sites show that the community responded well to Council’s request to stick to trails close to home during Alert Level 4. This movement to urban routes is reflected in the increase at our Fenton Street and Ngongotaha Trail site counters.

Learn more about Council’s cycling programmes and shared path projects here.  


Page reviewed: 05 May 2020 12:00am