Now we’re starting to get to the details… some potential cycleway routes that might be funded in coming years have been identified and presented to City Council. You might recall that late last year, following submissions on the Chch Strategic Transport Plan, Council asked its Environment & Infrastructure Committee to “identify four to five key cycling projects that can be brought forward for early completion in Council’s next Long Term Plan (2013-22)”. Staff have duly gone away and investigated options and these were presented to the E&I Committee last Thursday, as reported in The Press (full agenda note is here; note this a 20MB PDF download).
Thirteen routes were identified for consideration around the city; the intention is that these would all be built to a high standard for “all ages and abilities”, comprising a mixture of off-road pathways, separated bikeways, and quiet street links (aka “neighbourhood greenways”). Collectively all 13 would cost a shade under $70million. However they identified six costing $25m as their top priorities.
Looking at the routes identified, most of them are fairly logical and many were listed even long before the earthquakes changed the game. There are clear synergies with initiatives already underway in the east to develop pathways along the Avon and out to Sumner. Some, like the University route, already had investigation and design work done prior to the quakes, so should be easier to get off the ground. And in some cases, like the northern Railway cycleway, sections already exist and it’s just a case of extending it further and upgrading some crossings to attract a wider catchment.
Spokes Canterbury has also been doing some work on identifying a city-wide strategic network (hopefully more on that in the near future) and I presented some thoughts on this to the Committee last Thursday. Although Spokes’ work greatly mirrors staff thinking around cycle networks, there were probably a couple of areas worth further consideration:
- Out to the east, there is a big gap in the Linwood/Aranui area. As well as connecting these communities, providing routes through here might also provide more direct or pleasant options towards New Brighton and Ferrymead than the Avon River corridor (a bit circuitous) or Ferry Road (probably still going to be a busy environment and not easy to provide cycleways).
- Towards the southwest, the Lincoln/Halswell Road corridor will be difficult in places to provide pleasant options. Given that there is still undeveloped land between Hoon Hay and Halswell, there seems an opportunity to create a corridor along a more quiet route (and arguably more directly through communities).
Another great initiative proposed for spending in the first few years is a “targeted improvements” programme of ~$0.5m. The idea of this is to identify “quick wins” whereby a little bit of work could improve an existing cycle route. This could mean simple things like kerb ramps, barrier removals, crossing treatments, pinch-point widening, short pathways, cycle lane separators, removing a pesky parking space, signs & markings, whatever. I suspect that fixing a lot of these would generate as much goodwill as a couple of new flagship cycleways.
While the Committee seemed very supportive in principle of the plans, the money required to construct these made them rather nervous. This seems silly given the sheer magnitude of the overall transport spend expected here in the next decade, and the relative benefits of cycleways, but that’s another post. To their credit they did decide to recommend to Council giving the go-ahead to the University and Grassmere (St Albans / Papanui) routes in the next three years and also to support spending $1million on the “quick wins” initiative. Ongoing work is also likely to investigate further options for the southwest, and to link in with the Avon River and Coastal Pathway projects in the city and east.
So what would YOUR priority routes for safe cycling around Christchurch be?