Every year the City Council reviews its intentions for what to spend its money on (and also how much it needs) in the form of its Annual Plan. Lurking in the background also is the ten-year Long-Term Plan (LTP) and this also gets reviewed regularly. This year, the Christchurch public get a chance to provide comment on both and, as is often the case, there are a few implications in terms of what is provided for cycling.
The good news is that your rates are not likely to increase as high as previously proposed; only about 5% per annum. One of the reasons for this is that the time to undertake various capital works projects is being extended to better reflect the time-frames required to implement them.
In terms of cycling, that is affecting a couple of major initiatives:
- Originally the 13 Major Cycleway Routes were scheduled to be all finished in by 2021. However, the experiences from the first few projects underway (where a couple have had to undergo additional consultation) have suggested that this might be a tad optimistic. So the time to complete all the major cycleways has been extended by a year to 2022.
- A similar delay has also hit the Coastal Pathway completion. Originally scheduled to have the last section completed by 2018, this has now been deferred to 2020. This reflects the extra time needed to confirm funding arrangements (remembering that the Council is only part-contributing to this project) and for detailed design and resource consents.
It’s important to appreciate that these time delays do not necessarily reflect a reduction in support or interest from the Council in these projects; rather they are reflecting the practical realities of trying to deliver these complex projects in a reasonably quick time frame. Even when (back in 2014) Council originally signed off on completing the Major Cycleways in only five years, we sounded a note of caution about how exactly that might be achieved. Now it seems that the originally suggested time-frame of eight years was closer to the mark.
That doesn’t mean of course that you can’t use the Annual Plan consultation process to express a desire to get them completed quicker. The Coastal Pathway in particular has received a bit of attention lately, especially after a motorist hit a pedestrian on one of the unimproved sections. Some of the delays problems are due to confirming the non-Council funding (e.g. via the Coastal Pathway Trust), although local Community Board Chair Sara Templeton makes the very good point that if the route had been designated a Major Cycleway all the way to Sumner then this wouldn’t be an issue.
While much of the attention is on the specific cycling projects, it’s helpful to appreciate that there are also other projects planned that could improve cycling provision. In the coming year that includes:
- Completion of the Wigram-Magdala Link overbridge in Middleton, which will finish off the missing piece in the Southern Motorway route that forms part of the Little River Link cycleway.
- Renewal of North Avon Rd (Richmond) between Hills Rd and North Parade
- The preliminary design work to develop the Cranford St four-laning and link to the Northern Arterial extension.
- Upgrading of the Annex / Birmingham / Wrights Rd route.
- Some new school speed zones
- The start of Suburban Masterplan works for Sumner, Woolston, Edgeware, Selwyn St, Linwood and New Brighton.
- Some pedestrian/cycle safety fences along Dyers Pass Rd (but is there anything else cycle-wise planned for this corridor?)
- The start of various intersection improvements, incl. Gasson/Madras/Moorhouse, Cashel/Fitzgerald, and Barrington/Lincoln/Whiteleigh
- Construction of further sections of the central city ‘Accessible City’ works, including St Asaph St and Victoria St
The 10-year programme, as outlined in the Long Term Plan, indicates works beyond 2017 and also illustrates the various money reshuffles to reflect the proposed new timeframes:
- Rather disappointingly, there is little additional money for local network cycling improvements until much of the Major Cycleway network has been completed in 2020-22. I think it is the potential of localised “quick wins” to really get the best value out of some of the new Major Cycleways.
- We’re also not likely to see construction of a long-awaited link between Belfast and across the bridge to the Waimakariri District and beyond until at least 2020-21.
- With the Northern Arterial in place in a few years, there is then the opportunity to revisit the Main North Rd corridor and make it more attractive for cycling.
- A whole host of other intersection improvements are planned that are likely to also provide some enhancement for cycling as well.
- It’s a bit disappointing not to see more specific attention being proposed for speed management and traffic calming in many areas, given the benefits to cycling, although there continues to be some funding towards a few school speed zones and suburban masterplans.
So there really is a lot on the go, not just the ‘headline’ cycle facilities. We’ll be sure to let you know when new projects that could affect cycling are out for consultation. In the meantime, it’s time to have your say about these plans, with submissions due by Tue 10th May. As well as the usual written/online submissions, people also have the opportunity to attend various suburban meetings around the various community wards and give feedback directly to local elected members.
What do you think of the Draft Annual Plan and Long Term Plan?