Hamilton City Council has announced a transformational project to provide safer travel for the hundreds of students attending schools and the University of Waikato, and for those who walk, bike, and use scooters to travel in the east of Hamilton.
“These improvements will provide increased accessibility not just for students but also for residents in the retirement village, and people living in the neighbourhood,” said Council’s Public Transport and Urban Mobility Manager, Martin Parkes.
The significant safety improvements along Te Aroha Street and Ruakura Road will be the first section of the School Link project to be completed — a 12km biking network on the eastern side of the river that links 19 schools, the city centre, and the university, and extends from Hukanui Road to Peachgrove Road.
The safety improvements (which residents, schools, and interest groups provided input to in 2021) include:
- a two-way bike path along the northern side of Te Aroha Street and Ruakura Road
- a shared path on the southern side of Te Aroha Street
- raised safety platforms on all side roads
- a speed reduction from 50km/h to 40km/h.
Other improvements are:
- in-lane bus stops (cars must wait behind the bus while it picks up and drops off passengers)
- reducing the number of lanes along Ruakura Road, between Wairere Drive and Peachgrove Road
- new landscape planting (residents will be able to have their say on the new trees and plants they want along their street)
- raising the intersection of Ruakura Road/Te Aroha Street/Peachgrove Road
- installing rain gardens to improve stormwater runoff.
The improved Te Aroha/Ruakura section will connect the recently completed Grey Street/Claudelands Road intersection upgrades with the two-way bike path at the university end of Ruakura Road (between Mitre 10 and the Waikato expressway).
“The changes will make it safer and easier to get around this part of the city and provide a much calmer street environment for residents.”
“There is also the potential to reduce the need for so many single vehicle trips at school-drop-off time, with more children being able to get themselves to and from school using bikes and scooters,” said Mr Parkes.
The Council says independent research carried out in 2018* showed that over half (55%) of people who live in Hamilton said they would ride a bike more often if it felt safer – particularly if there were segregated biking facilities and safer intersections.
It says the Te Aroha/Ruakura safety improvements will contribute to the development of an entire network of connected and safe routes for commuting and recreation.
School Link aligns with Council’s Access Hamilton transport strategy — Ara Kootuitui Kirikiriroa — aiming to help people connect to places in safe, accessible, and smart ways.
*Research conducted in 2018 for Access Hamilton – Safe Ways To School.