Guest Post: Cycling North East Chch: Part Two – What Could Be

Guest blogger Robert is back with further ideas for cycling in his neighbourhood:

Perhaps it is wishful thinking but I hope one day there will be a press release from Christchurch City Council which goes something like ……

‘Major Cycleways for Christchurch – 13 are just the beginning‘

OK, not for a while yet but, taking a look at the Major Cycleway Route Map, it is easy to see that perhaps some of the north-eastern suburbs of the city have been short-changed a little when it comes to a good cycle route from the central city. Routes from the CBD to Shirley in particular, Mairehau on to Parklands, and the new Prestons subdivision will not see any improvement for those wishing to ride a bike on a separated path in the current plans. The Avon-Otakaro Cycle and Walk Trail will be close enough if the journey is for recreation and enjoyment, but a more direct route would be desirable. The two major routes from the north (Hills Road and Marshlands Road/North Parade) are very busy thoroughfares during both off-peak and peak times; painted cycle lanes are helpful but of limited assistance for the “interested-but-concerned” would-be bike rider.

Shirley Road heading west. A cycle lane but this route is not a great experience

Shirley Road heading west. A cycle lane but this route is not a great experience

Perhaps in the meantime a route that takes advantage of quiet residential streets would suffice, and I know from experience that weaving your way through such streets can be quite successful, albeit with a couple of flaws. Inevitably no matter how clever your plan, there will always be a difficult intersection to negotiate or busy road to cross. Sometimes the pedestrian-signal phase to walk and wheel is the best option. (e.g. Hills Road/Shirley Road/Warrington Street). Secondly, a 30 km/h speed limit on local streets would help to encourage more courteous driving/riding by all and probably make the residents happy to boot.

Riding north from the city, both Colombo and Manchester Streets are reasonable options; just north of Bealey Avenue you can turn right into Purchas Street and head east along this very quiet street. Whilst it is necessary to stop/give way at north/south routes (Sherborne, Madras, Barbadoes) traffic-light phasing will produce gaps to enable this. Disappointingly, although Purchas Street was well repaired after earthquake damage, the road width, which had originally been ample to include a painted bike lane (or separated lane even) has been reduced. The berm is now huge. Safety is dependent on claiming the full lane, and fingers crossed that a vehicle approaching from behind is patient, considerate and preferably travelling at 30km/h.

Purchas St rebuilt - the old kerb line was close to the power pole.

Purchas St rebuilt – the old kerb line was close to the power pole.

This street desperately needs a ‘sharrow’ or two, as does Geraldine Street, which is by far the most cycle friendly street heading in a north/south direction {Editor’s note: sharrows won’t be a standard legal option in NZ until mid-2016}. If quiet streets cannot have separated infrastructure for bikes, nor ample room, then some signage indicating that traffic needs to move slowly and share would be quite appropriate.

Petrie St reconstruction plans: Over 200m without any speed management...

Petrie St reconstruction plans: Over 200m without any speed management…

Just closed for consultation on ‘Have Your Say’ are street reconstructions on both Petrie Street and Slater Street (both mentioned in the earlier Part One report on NE Chch). The information leaflets do not mention the word ‘cycle’ at all. It is to be hoped that the repairs will indicate sharing/bike friendliness. In principle anyway, these two streets will be well suited for a City to Shirley and onwards route. {Editor’s note: I submitted on both of these, expressing disappointment that neither of them had proposed traffic calming features to help encourage cycling on what are otherwise fairly straight racetracks for cars}

Prestons Rd looking west. Posts help, but needs some work.

Prestons Rd looking west. Posts help, but needs some work.

Another route I enjoy to ride occasionally is from Bottle Lake Forest Park back to St Albans. My previous post mentioned Prestons Road and the hope for improvements. If using Marshland Road can seem a little daunting, then the best route to take involves crossing at the lights, continuing west along Prestons Road and first left into Walters Road. A very quiet narrow route with no shoulder, this road would be ideal to trial for a painted line down each side, indicating the distance that should be given when overtaking (with slightly better communication than the similar recent trial in the Waikato).

Walters Rd - mark cycling shoulders with a narrow central traffic-way?

Walters Rd – mark cycling shoulders with a narrow central traffic-way?

Not that it has ever given any grief but, if this was to be a chosen route from Prestons subdivision into the city and became popular, such treatment would send a good message that someone on a bike has equal priority. The big plus for this route is the cycle/pedestrian tunnel under QEII Drive, much easier than an intersection. It links to Hills Road (south) which continues on to Mairehau High School.

Marshland Road. Don't assume that you will get the right of way...

Marshland Road. Don’t assume that you will get the right of way…

It is way too early I know to be considering a name for the Major Cycleway No.14, but some little improvements to what we already have in the North East would go a long way to giving commuters and recreational riders a better riding experience in the area.


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  • Davinia
    9 November 2015, 1:16 pm

    Yes the north east is poorly served particularly a safe route into the city. I commute into the city off the main roads via Prestons, walters, Hills, Westminster, Mayfield, Barbadoes, Edgewhere & Manchester St’s. But unfortunately most of these streets are rat runs, would be great if streets off main roads could be 30kph

  • Rick
    11 November 2015, 4:12 pm

    Your bang on about the right of way at the petrol station. Only ridden that way once and nearly got taken out. Pretty poor. Hopefully a nice route through Prestons south will link nicely to Mairehau Road.



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