Guest Post: The Road Less Travelled

Here’s another interesting contribution from regular guest poster Robert:

This piece starts with a disclaimer. It will probably be of no use to any readers of this blog. With the assumption that those who read this site are already accomplished travellers on bicycles, reading about the route that one person (me) takes to get somewhere could be seen as a waste of everybody’s time.

But is it?

Making progress in anything worthwhile invariably involves the sharing of ideas. Perhaps one person who reads this can relate to the reasons why I take this particular route and so gives it a try and likes it too. Perhaps (better still) they may share the information with someone who doesn’t regularly ride a bike but would like to, and this route to get somewhere sounds good to them. Even better, others who have found their own little niche journey to get somewhere useful to them will share on this site……. And so on. The seed is sown for progress via information sharing.

This may be a way to speed up progress to get more people onto bikes in Christchurch. Because, lets’ be honest, there seems to be scant concrete evidence of much else happening. Yes we have names for our cycleways (good ones too, I think) but as yet no sod has been turned to build them. Yes we have a lot of planning and talking but little evidence yet of something to really make a difference.

How long will the consultation process take I wonder? The Christchurch City Council meeting minutes website reports that a special hearing was held to discuss a residents objection to the installation of a new bus shelter in Belfast. The main reason for the objection was that the residents dog “didn’t like change“ .. Do you get my point ?

Already there is speculation that the development period for the planned cycleways will be extended from five to eight years due to budget constraints. Rather than expect cycleways to be the immediate saviour to those who don’t ride bikes at present but would like to (the 60% of interested, but concerned), an approach from the ground up could be applied by finding routes that are bike friendly for the novice and highlighting these. Danger points could be highlighted and safety advice given to assist with passage through them. Get critical mass in numbers to demand some “quick wins” on these routes.

This therefore, is a DIY approach to getting more people everyday cycling in Christchurch. No talk, no planning, just get on yer bike and do it. Besides, the cycleways won’t be serving everyone’s route adequately and should be seen as part of the development only.

Bike parking at Chch Boys High - apparently you can already cycle in Chch
Bike parking at Chch Boys High – apparently you can already cycle in Chch

THE ROUTE: Edgeware to Riccarton

Using Google Maps the direct route (via Colombo Street, Bealey, Harper and Deans Avenue, Kilmarnock Street, Straven Road and Riccarton Road) is 4.6km and will take 7 minutes to drive (optimistic perhaps at peak times) and 16 minutes to ride. If, like me you have an aversion to Bealey Avenue and more particularly the narrow Carlton Mill bridge, the cycle friendly recommendation from Google Maps is Colombo Street to Kilmore Street, through Cranmer Square to Armagh Street, through Hagley Park and along Riccarton Road. This route should take 19 minutes, riding 5 km. A more friendly option, but it does involve a one-way street (another aversion of mine) and at present the roadworks in the vicinity of the Colombo Street and Kilmore Street area significantly add some confusion to this route.

So we come to “the Road Less Travelled(even Google gets a bit confused about this one…):

  1. Head west along Edgeware Road and take the first left into Caledonian Road and first right into Ranfurly Street

  2. Follow Ranfurly Street until the “T” intersection street with Bristol Street, turn right, then take an immediate left into Webb Street.

Nice and quiet along Webb St
Nice and quiet along Webb St
  1. At Papanui Road, wait until the road is quite clear, turn left and then use the pedestrian refuge in the middle of the road to turn right into Merivale Ln.
Crossing Papanui Rd to Merivale Ln
Crossing Papanui Rd to Merivale Ln
  1. At the “T” intersection with Rossall Street, turn left , then immediately move to the right lane and turn right into Holmwood Road.

  2. Stop for bread or coffee at the bakery.

Helmores Ln bridge into Hagley Park - still bikeable
Helmores Ln bridge into Hagley Park – still bikeable
  1. Turn left off Holmwood Road into Helmores Lane, cross the bridge (open for pedestrians and cycles only), then cross Harper Ave at the refuge and ride into Hagley Park. (BTW: Helmores Ln bridge future access was recently out for consultation)

  2. Head west alongside Harper Ave and Deans Ave until you get to the Kilmarnock Street crossing.

Leaving Hagley Park towards Kilmarnock St
Leaving Hagley Park towards Kilmarnock St
  1. Take the cycle route along Kilmarnock Street, crossing Straven Road and turning left into Titoki Street, at Riccarton Bush, then left into Rimu Street.

  2. When crossing Riccarton Road there is usually slower moving traffic with good traffic light controlled gaps on Rimu Street rather than crossing at Kauri Street.

Instead of Kilmarnock St, you could explore the Matai St cycleway
Instead of Kilmarnock St, you could explore the Matai St cycleway

This route will probably take a little over 20 minutes. If “enjoying the journey” is your thing then it is certainly worth a try. The extra distance is negligible. The potential for close encounters with speeding and spatially unaware vehicles is reduced when compared with the other two routes. The only skill required is to be able to confidently indicate intended direction, and to give way to vehicles and pedestrians (Hagley Park)
Try it, you may like it .

Apply this to your own favourite route and tell the world.

Have you got a favourite cunning cycle route? Make some notes, take some pics and let others know – I’m happy to accept contributions for a blog-post

1 thought on “Guest Post: The Road Less Travelled”

  1. Lovely post Robert – I agree fully – people just need to get on their bikes and start exploring, I zig zag from east St Albans also to Hagley Park taking Berry or Ranfurly or Holly Rd each day and spotting different things. One of the nicest parts of my trip is Wainui St Riccarton – no 70 where my daughter used to flat and no 50 which has a pink teddy bear sitting in a tree outside, lots to see on the way to the slightly nastier Blenheim Rd intersection and railway crossing route through to Middleton. Every day you see something new.

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