In recent times a lot has been said about trying to encourage more people to walk and cycle instead of using motor vehicles. One obvious way to do it is to build better infrastructure. But is that enough? Is there something else needed?
As person who rides a bike everywhere I often come across examples of inconsideration for people not in cars by those who should know better by now.
As a long time cycling advocate I’m still to be convinced we have reached the desired level of institutional acceptance for the necessary change in culture if our city is to return to one built for people and not cars.
My view of the current general state of play is as follows;
The public have mostly accepted the need to change, as evidenced through many resident surveys over the years. The one most often quoted is the excellent Share an Idea project run by CCC during the period of greatest seismic activity.
Local government politicians have seen and mostly accept the need for action by voting considerable sums to implement the protected cycleway project. It is also clear from personal conversations with planners at events and during consultations that in general they know and understand what is required.
But when we come to those who implement decisions agreed to by the rest of us, my experience is they generally continue to fail the test. Let’s be clear, some of them do an excellent job and it is getting better but there are still too many who show an unacceptable level of thoughtlessness.
A recent example was during the cricket test between NZ and Sri Lanka at the new Hagley Oval.
It is a rare person who would disagree that the news was all positive about how it is a world-class venue. A wonderful asset for the city. Yes it will bring more visitors to stay in our already overcrowded tourist accommodation at a time when we least need them…. but that is another story not for here.
The real untold story of international cricket in Hagley Park is the poor management of the car parking. To be fair in this case it is early days, so there is hope things can be improved.
The access point for some reason was on Deans Ave south of the east / west shared path that crosses South Hagley Park. There may be good reasons for doing what was done, but to get to the parking area vehicles had to cross this path. See panorama photos below.
The issue is: how the Right of Way was managed.
Instead of the logical solution of making vehicles give way to those walking and cycling on the existing permanent path, traffic management decided to give priority to those on the temporary road. Some may dismiss it as a trivial complaint and not worth the time of day but I strongly disagree.
This is a matter of principle, of deep-seated attitude and culture. Quite simply it is not good enough.
Hagley Park is one of the few areas in Chch that is free of motor vehicles and this encroachment in this manner should be resisted. Whatever happened to the consultation with those of us most affected?
Don’t get me started on consultation! So far no-one has given us an adequate answer and with the cricket world cup just round the corner we are going to see plenty more of this.
Rather than just complain we should look for ways to change behaviour to one that is more respectful.
So here are my Suggestions.…
1) Above all else people walking and cycling must have priority, within the Hagley Park boundary, If it is not already policy it needs to be made so at the highest political level – CCC. That will be a good start and if managed properly all else should flow from that.
If managed properly.
In addition there were more specific matters in regard to parking at test matches that were worthy of attention so here follows some ideas to consider for the upcoming events…
2) Move the off-street parking access point from Deans Ave to the main entrance on Riccarton Ave. This would remove the conflict with other park users, shorten the distance to the parking area and cause less damage to the grassy areas. If the access cannot be changed then perhaps active transport groups could be the people to manage traffic at the conflict point?
3) Improve the sad provision of cycle parking by the main oval entrance. The photo below shows bike parking is full, taken on Monday, the last and not-so-busy day. What was it like at the weekend?
4) Valet Bike Parking – At the Ciclovia / Open Streets event in Sept 2013 Spokes hosted valet parking areas. Even if it is only on the weekends, they or other groups could be asked to do the same, the cost of which would be included in the event management budget. The amount will be small in comparison to the overall cost of running the events.
The above points cover the active transport issues, below are suggestions to address vehicle parking in general.
5) Provide and advertise other easy-to-use transport options for people who would rather not use their vehicles. The city has suffered from problems with traffic congestion for many years but in that time I have only once heard calls for people to use something other than their cars.
6) Exclude through traffic on Riccarton Ave on the test match weekends and allow angle parking on both sides of the avenue. Doing this doubles the amount of available on-road parking. The city council could even set up toll booths at both ends of the avenue and charge a usage fee that includes all day parking. It might even eliminate the need for using the polo fields.
That’s it, other comments and suggestions by readers are welcome. To be included in consultations it is important to have them posted by Wednesday 14th Jan.