Victoria Street traffic changes

The central city Accessible City transport works continue with a fairly contentious design proposed for the Victoria St corridor from Bealey Ave to Kilmore/Durham. As has typically been the case lately, there are good improvements planned for cycling as part of it, and even the little details look quite good…

Looking southeast along Victoria St at Salisbury/Montreal - big changes coming
Looking southeast along Victoria St at Salisbury/Montreal – big changes coming

The main thrust of the proposal is to discourage through-traffic from using Victoria St as a short-cut from the city to the northwestern suburbs. This currently makes it difficult for people with business in Victoria St to safely make their way around and enjoy the street environment; it’s also not great for anyone bussing or cycling along here either. Funnily enough, due to the traffic signal phasing, it’s actually already quicker for people to drive to/from the north via Bealey and the one-way streets of Montreal and Durham, but many people still think that Victoria St must be a better route because it’s physically shorter.

General traffic on Victoria St: access, not thoroughfare, proposed
General traffic on Victoria St: access, not thoroughfare, proposed

The proposed work will prevent general traffic from traversing the length of Victoria St; instead, rather like High St, the continuous route will have interruptions. However buses and people cycling will continue to have a route all the way through. Some of the details for cycling are discussed below; if you want to get a feel for what the whole route looks like, you might want to check out this fly-over video of the proposed work.

3D view looking northeast along Victoria St at Kilmore/Durham
3D view looking northeast along Victoria St at Kilmore/Durham

Starting at the Bealey Ave end, cyclists will get a nicer ride with cycle lanes in all four directions, and some hook turn boxes for right turns. Entering Victoria St, a new gateway treatment will welcome the 30km/h zone that already extends down the street.

Crossing Bealey Ave into Victoria St
Crossing Bealey Ave into Victoria St

Victoria St continues with wider 1.8m cycle lanes; kerb extensions will also allow for new cycle parking areas and street trees. At the Montreal/Salisbury intersection, general traffic from the north leg of Victoria St will divert to Montreal St (thus only allowing exits northbound), but cycles and buses can continue through the main intersection. In the future, Kilmore and Salisbury Sts will both be made two-way and southbound buses will continue down Victoria St, but the way south will be blocked by trees in planter boxes for now.

Bikes and buses get to go right through at Montreal/Salisbury
Bikes and buses get to go right through at Montreal/Salisbury – note the enhanced cycle lane on Montreal St too.

Again, wider 1.8m cycle lanes will be provided along Victoria St towards the Durham/Kilmore intersection. Traffic in the south leg will have no access into the intersections at each end; they will need to use Peterborough St to get in and out. But cyclists will be able to get across to a new pathway through to Victoria Square, via a special signal crossing phase, or use the enhanced the cycle facilities on Kilmore and Durham Sts (which connects to the cycleway facilities previously consulted on further down Durham St).

Cycle access to/from Victoria Square is now improved at Durham/Kilmore
Cycle access to/from Victoria Square is now improved at Durham/Kilmore

The work also extends up Montreal St, with the provision of a widened cycle lane through to Bealey Ave. Cycle lanes have also been provided along Bealey Ave, which will help the current “squeeze” when riding along here.

Montreal St and Bealey Ave also get cycling improvements
Montreal St and Bealey Ave also get cycling improvements

Not surprisingly, the proposal has generated plenty of public reaction already, not helped by The Press initially describing it as a “traffic-free” street. The main objections are that it will drive away business, thanks to restrictions on traffic and car-parking (there’s also the usual “fix the roads in the east” mantra that always seems to pop up – have they not noticed the millions of dollars of roadworks that have covered East Christchurch over the past five years?). About 50 car park spaces are being removed for this project, which doesn’t help garner support from some circles. Of course, the aim is to provide a much improved environment for people walking and cycling to use the street, which would hopefully provide a fillip to local businesses, but it’s still a challenge to make this case in Christchurch…

If you want to know more about the proposals, there are a couple of public drop-in sessions this week with presentations:

Overall, the proposal looks pretty good from a cycling perspective (pedestrians and bus users also get some great enhancements). Perhaps some of those cycle lanes on the one-way streets could do with a few strategically placed separator posts to enhance their perceived comfort, especially around intersections. The trade-off in this project of course is the reduced accessibility for those driving – whether there’s enough concern about this to dilute the current proposals remains to be seen.

Public submissions for this project close 5pm on Thu June 9th (now extended), so make sure you have your say.

What do you think of the proposed Victoria St roadworks?

1 thought on “Victoria Street traffic changes”

  1. I think the proposed changes are spot on. The activities on Victoria street have changed substantially over the years and the proposal would make it much more fit for purpose (Just go on google street view and count the pedestrians from 2008 vs 2015). There is a natural North West desire line into the city thru the commons to New Regent Street. This will be fantastic in the evenings for diners and patrons of the Isaac Theater, Town Hall etc.

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