It might be not quite complete yet, but Transport Minister Simon Bridges rolled into town on Friday to help celebrate the opening of the first section of Christchurch’s Major Cycleway Programme, along Matai St East. This section was one of the “quick start” works of the national Urban Cycleways Programme, two-thirds funded by the Government.
A chilly breeze greeted the assembled throng near Mona Vale, a mixture of dignitaries, Council staff/politicians, interested cyclists, and media (not to mention quite a few curious schoolchildren trying to head home). After a few words from key stakeholders, it was time for everyone to hop on a bike and give the new 400m section from the railway line to Hagley Park a whirl.
Given the relative state of construction that the site had been under, right until today, it was a miracle that the route was in a reasonably finished state. A few signs/markings and landscaping remain, and a generator had to be brought in to temporarily run the traffic signals at Deans Ave. But already you can ride along it and see what it is like.
The route provides a 3m-wide two-way cycleway, separated from both the road and footpath. It runs along the north side of Matai St from the railway line and then hops over to the south side for the second half, to avoid the Girls High School entrance chaos.
I’m still not convinced about the fairly sharp turn involved to cross the road mid-block; a tweak of both the path and road alignments would have made that a less awkward manoeuvre.
At Deans Ave, separate signalised cycle and pedestrian crossings into Hagley Park have been installed but not quite ready to go “live” yet (so be careful crossing here until then). Further north, the Harper/Deans/Fendalton intersection is also being reconfigured so that all the signals along this road can work efficiently for everyone.
In the near future, the pathway across Hagley Park towards town will also be substantially widened, as consulted on recently.
It may be a few more weeks before all the finishing touches are completed (there’s also new automatic barrier arms to go in at the Mona Vale railway crossing and replace the annoying “maze”). But it’s great to see a tangible part of the Major Cycleways now available to use. Roll on the rest…
What do you think of the new Matai St cycleway section?