Summit Road Opportunity

Road block sign

Sign above Rapaki welcoming cycling and foot access

What about making the Summit road a road for cyclists and pedestrians (and people with walking frames and wheelchairs) only?  The road between Rapaki and the Bridle Path reopened to foot and bicycle access only last week.  A trip up there at the weekend got me thinking that perhaps it would be more valuable to Christchurch if we kept it that way.

My friend and I walked from Halswell via Kennedys Bush along the Crater Rim Walkway and the Summit Road, and dropped down the Bridle Path to Heathcote. It was not a particularly nice day – cool, breezy and cloudy – but people were out and about walking, running, cycling, chatting, enjoying the view. Many came up tracks like Kennedys Bush, Worsleys Rd, Bowenvale, Mt Vernon and Rapaki and a few drove or biked up Dyers Pass.  I was reminded of Harry Ell’s vision for the Summit Road as a recreational resource for Christchurch and Canterbury, his efforts to keep all these routes open, and to put aside the scenic reserves that are dotted along the road.

Dyers Pass

Dyers Pass

It was wonderful to reach the road closed gate and read the sign – Road closed to cars and motorcycles – foot and bike access welcome.

It was the sight of a family group with young children biking along the road that got me thinking we should consider keeping the road closed to cars and motorcycles – at least this part of it.    As it was, I witnessed an incident that could have ended in disaster – a group of mountain bikers spread across the road whilst they admired the view on their way up a hill and a fast moving road cyclist coming round a blind corner into their midst.  Some swearing was involved but nobody was hurt.  We probably all need to remember that keeping left is a good idea even where there are no cars! It is also worth remembering that going at high speed round a blind corner is not a good idea in this new, relaxed environment!   Save it for places where you can see the road well ahead or for going down from Dyers Pass or  Mt Pleasant. or even the Gebbies Pass descent.

Family biking on Summit Rd

Family on Summit Rd

Personally, I’d like to see this part of the Road continue to provide a safe, fun environment for the cyclists and walkers of tomorrow to start out on. The Summit Road is too narrow for cars, and it should be permanently designated for non-motorised traffic only.  This does not prevent motorists from getting up there to enjoy the environment, but it does mean they couldn’t drive all the way along.

What do you think?



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  • Yo Eddy
    9 July 2014, 1:04 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. No motorised traffic along Summit road from Sugar Loaf to Gondola.
    Hopefully the next stage is to remove all the barriers near the gondola to allow through access!

  • Simon Barnard
    9 July 2014, 10:06 pm

    A great suggestion. Links or maps for those unclear as to the tracks would be helpful. Thanks for an inspiring account to attract people into the hills for a walk.

  • rob5chch6
    10 July 2014, 12:00 pm

    A great idea , what an experience for eco/adventure tourists especially with the mountain bike park in the area. If there is not the public support for such a change then perhaps a compromise may be more acceptable. Would a restricted access ( via permit ) one way route for vehicles travelling at reduced speed work ? . Thinking of access for operational vehicles, tourists , disabled etc . Day time use only .

  • stevenmuir
    11 July 2014, 8:59 am

    I was thinking a walk over Mt Cavendish would allow safe bypass of that cliff section and get me all the way to Sumner. Not sure if its possible yet but it wouldn’t be hard. Good on CCC for opening up this great resource for walkers & bikers -great to have it and would love it to remain as car free as possible.

    • ****ing Andrew@stevenmuir
      21 May 2015, 11:38 am

      There’s a walking track over Mt Cavendish already, we used this before the section of road below was reopened to walkers and cyclists just before xmas. It’s a slog up the western side walking with a bike and not rideable for anyone but super humans for the most part either way.

  • Joy Talbot
    14 July 2014, 1:33 pm

    A few friends and I walked the bit from Rapaki to Castle Rock a month ago. No easy access (nothing to say we couldn’t but we did have to climb around a couple of road blocks where others had been before) and we did meet other cylists and runners using the route. In passing we noted a new (and crudely formed) walking track being created right next to the road (city side), I assume to replace the one that used to along the side of the harbour side of the ridge. It would be really great to push your suggestion to the council now while they are still creating all these new tracks to when the road opens to traffic.

    To make your idea viable would mean at the minimum the creation of a decent large car park at the seaward end (without compromising reserves) as well as extending those available around the Sign of the Kiwi and Sugarloaf. Perhaps monthly/regular no car days/weekends would be an option worth visiting?



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