Destination Halswell Junction Road

Regular guest blogger Robert reports on his latest ride around town:

Is there such a thing as moderate addiction to everyday-style cycling?  We hear plenty about those serious athletes of all codes who profess to having down times when they are unable to exercise.  But getting from A to B around the city on a very standard bike has become with me a bit of an obsession of late. If there is no other option than to take the car somewhere, a sense of failure sets in. Is this healthy or heading toward some form of compulsive disorder?

Even the task of buying a 25kg bag of layer pellets for our 3 hens is now easily achievable on bike plus small cargo trailer (max load 30kg) The excitement produced by this event would indicate a hidden bloodline of Dutch or Danish ancestry one would think, but no.

Loaded up and ready to go.

Loaded up and ready to go.

Perhaps it is the Scottish coming out in me, the added bonus of saving money on petrol being responsible for the excess of joy.

The route from St Albans to Dawes Stockfeeds on Halswell Junction Road takes an hour each way. The recent completion of a cycle crossing over the railway line between Hagley Park and Mandeville Street (in the region of where the Addington Saleyards used to be) has improved the journey considerably. There is now no need to chance Riccarton, Blenheim, nor Lincoln Roads. Once across Deans Ave at the cycle crossing and then across the railway line it is an easy journey into Tower Junction car parking area, out onto Whiteleigh Avenue (which although busy does have a painted cycle lane of reasonable width). By turning into Jack Hinton Drive through to The Horncastle Arena it is possible to link on to the cycle path leading to the Southern Motorway pathway by crossing Wrights Road.

Horncastle Arena. Jack Hinton Drive has many small but potent traffic calming humps.

Horncastle Arena. Jack Hinton Drive has many small but potent traffic calming humps.

The cold but calm weekday morning I last did this trip was special. It appeared that the Southern Motorway Path had been purpose built for just one cyclist (‘moi’), one pedestrian and one dog. No congestion here. Of course the spanner in the spokes is the frustrating detour required at Annex, Lunns and Curletts Roads adding unpleasant riding and extra time to the journey.

The detour around Magdala Place: Follow the few detour signs carefully, a wrong turn can add extra kilometres of travel.

The detour around Magdala Place: Follow the few detour signs carefully, a wrong turn can add extra kilometres of travel.

Once back on the path it is plain sailing, including the shared cycle/footpath along Halswell Jn Road itself.  Crossing to my destination on the west side of the road is quite an exercise of patience, just no break in the traffic.  Once loaded up and banana digested, it is back on to the shared path and the homeward journey begins.

The Southern Motorway Cycle Path. A great asset for the city.

The Southern Motorway Cycle Path. A great asset for the city.

Of course we do not live in a perfect world and naturally there would have to be one intersection on the return journey that is yet to be conquered. Riding back through Tower Junction, the exit road ends at the Blenheim Road / Mandeville Street intersection. Somewhere in the distance over beside Placemakers is the route back to Hagley Park and working out how to turn or where to cross using the pedestrian lights is nigh impossible whilst waiting at the hostile intersection. Of course, there are no simple cycle signs for guidance.  Until I get back one day to nut it out on foot my best suggestion is to head straight through the intersection onto Mandeville Street, continue toward the Placemaker’s entrance on the right, do a complete ‘U’ turn and turn left into the unnamed road (see Google Maps), then onto the path. A bit of unnecessary excitement for what is otherwise a great journey. Accolades for the Deans Ave/Rail line cycle crossing  which now opens access to the city for bikes from the Southern Motorway path with a mostly pleasant route.

 The dreaded Blenheim Road / Mandeville Street intersection: A nightmare for cyclists

The dreaded Blenheim Road / Mandeville Street intersection: A nightmare for cyclists

Is this 2-hour journey a waste of time when it could be completed with a motor vehicle in 40 minutes under normal conditions?

New Deans Avenue Crossing into South Hagley Park

New Deans Avenue Crossing into South Hagley Park

I see it as 40 minutes saved, and this is why. It is 2 hours of a recommended 5 hours of moderate exercise per week that an older person should be accomplishing for better health and quality of life.

Addiction or not, it has got to be good for you.

Railway Crossing pathway: very much appreciated but "could do better" when it comes to aesthetics.

Railway Crossing pathway: very much appreciated but “could do better” when it comes to aesthetics.

 Have you cycled this route? What do you think?

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