Here’s another guest post from regular blogger Robert:
Like Steve Muir, I too braved the cool southerly to witness the opening of the Antigua foot (and bike) bridge at 7.30am last Thursday morning. By looking at the City Council link and reading Steve’s story, little more needs to be said other than to share the thought that, for the first time in 4 years, I really felt enthusiastically encouraged for the future of the CBD in Christchurch.
And all over a little old footbridge, but hey don’t forget this wonderful structure means as much to the active transport followers in Central Christchurch as Ferrymead bridge does to the residents of the southeastern hillside suburbs, Redcliffs and Sumner…
I also took the opportunity to do a quick users critique on other infrastructure changes in the area, namely the journey for bicyclists from Hagley Avenue through to Manchester Street. Whilst it is too early to be 100% objective (still very much a work in progress, and remember this comes from a user, not an infrastructure expert), again I am extremely encouraged by what is happening, and already the improvement in journey time and experience.
I think removing through traffic from Oxford Terrace alongside the river is an absolute winner. There is still access for cars and seemingly adequate car parking but, compared to the recent times when Oxford Terrace was a one-way thoroughfare, it is now tranquil for those walking or traveling by bike. You can really appreciate the river now. Sure there is much work and tidying to do, but what a transformation.
Also pleasing to note were the number of walkers and cyclists using the shared Hagley Park path at what was commuter time. And how relaxed and pleasant it felt compared to the bustle of some of the streets (and yes, footpaths) where once you had to ride. On the shared path in Hagley Park the walkers and bicyclists were without exception keeping well to the left and overtaking carefully. There was a feeling of space and dignity for all (thinking how it used to be, my, what a change!!).
One area of concern however, which I doubt can be easily rectified and certainly cannot be attributed to the planning and implementation process.: The intersection of Riccarton Ave, Hagley Ave, Tuam Street and Oxford Terrace (aka Hospital Corner) is by its very nature large, busy and rather unwieldy. In the early morning sun from a low angle, clear visibility ahead is compromised and the traffic signals are extremely difficult to see. It is worrying therefore to see both those on foot and bike ignoring red traffic signals in the heavy traffic and crossing at an opportune moment. It is more than dangerous, it is extremely discourteous behaviour toward the drivers of vehicles who also have restricted vision and are learning to negotiate an unfamiliar intersection and constant route changes. Perhaps some education-cum-law enforcement will improve the situation. (Editor’s note: actually I think they could greatly improve the signal phasing first, so that path users didn’t feel inclined to ignore the reds…)
All in all however, I think we do have a lot to look forward to in the coming years as we get around Christchurch in our different styles and fancies. I think we deserve it, don’t you?
What do you think about the works happening in the central city?