Cycling in Christchurch 2016 – The cycling city continues to build

“Rebuild” – that term seems to have been in the local lexicon ever since the 2010-11 Canterbury earthquakes. And yet, more than ever, 2016 really felt like a year when the rebuild really was in full swing across Christchurch. I’ve enjoyed watching the remarkably rapid pace in which new and improved bits of the city seem to have popped up this year. There’s still plenty to go, but already we can start to envisage what the end product may look like.

Lots of shiny new stuff appearing on our streets

That same thinking applies to cycling in Christchurch this year too. Again, the pace of cycleway constructions and consultations continue to accelerate, yet we also know that there’s a number of years of work still to come. It’s exciting to watch but, like a kid waiting for Christmas Day, also a little frustrating having to wait for the chance to try out the finished product.

Last year, we alluded to stuff happening as the mark of a good year’s work. 2016 has continued in the same vein, with at least a further 5km+ of new or upgraded cycleways completed (including five new/improved signalised crossings), a further four Major Cycleway routes currently under construction (with thirteen new/improved signal crossings), and a further four Major Cycleway routes recently out for public consultation.

So much going on in 2016… (click to enlarge)

Let’s not forget the other big “infrastructure” improvement this year; the introduction of a 30km/h zone in the central city. Despite the ongoing grumbles from some people, it heralds the start of a more cycle-friendly town centre. Good to see further low-speed proposals for a number of suburban centres and neighbourhood greenway routes in the pipeline. Hopefully lower speed limits will become more commonplace now.

The other big addition to the city’s cycling network is the new Chch Adventure Park, only a couple of weeks old. I haven’t had a chance to sample it myself yet, but early reports sound pretty positive (notwithstanding a few broken bones…). Looks like it will be a great attraction for locals and visitors alike – the next challenge will be to provide a better cycling route to the venue…

While the infrastructure went from strength to strength, there also continued to be a huge variety of cycling activities to entertain people every month. Thanks to the many people and groups who continue to offer bike rides, workshops, film nights, social get-togethers and other cycling-related events throughout the year. If you haven’t taken part in one of these activities yet, I urge you to make a New Year’s resolution to put a future event or two in your calendar and make a few new “bike-minded” friends…

There were lots of opportunities to go for a ride this year

What other cycling issues made an impact in Christchurch this year?

    • The cycleway projects are getting a bit more real for many people when they suddenly realise that their parking is getting reduced or traffic lanes are being narrowed or even cut off. So it’s not surprising that we’re seeing an underlying pattern of “bikelash” starting to pop up in Christchurch. While not to the same extent that the likes of Wellington has had to endure, it reminds us that elected members, the media and the general public all need to keep hearing from those who support what is being proposed.

    What happens if car parking has to make way for cycleways?

    • As the number of cyclists grow and more shared facilities are created, concerns are still being aired about having to mix with pedestrians. The problem seems to be greatly minimised when sufficiently wide paths are being constructed (e.g. North Hagley Park), but the idea of requiring bike bells also got raised by City Council. Arguably though, pedestrians aren’t doing too badly from all of these cycle facilities though…

    New shared pathways have to work for everyone

    • Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are getting a lot of interest around New Zealand as a way to tackle the problems of hills, wind and distances when biking (quite handy for bike trailers too). Locally, I am definitely noticing more e-bikes tootling around the city and there have even been opportunities for people to try them out.
       
    • Other interesting topics captured people’s interest, as evidenced by the site statistics. The most viewed posts of 2016 were to do with new road rules, the perils of carrying things by bike, and who’s who for cycling in Chch. Meanwhile, old favourites about the Westburn cycle park and plans for the mountain bike park continued to attract viewers too.

Bike passing laws were one of many road rules investigated in 2016.

Thanks for all the many guest contributions throughout the year; they make my job so much easier and help broaden the perspective  of what it means to be cycling in Christchurch. Keep them coming, short or long, one-off or regular, we’ll look at them all!

Looking ahead to 2017, we can look forward to a number of current cycleway projects being completed in the early months of the year, with new ones starting later in the year. Again, lots of cycling activities are planned throughout the year; in particular, watch out for the Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress coming to Christchurch in October – a great programme of public events are being planned around this conference.

What was your cycling highlight of 2016? What are you looking forward to in 2017?

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  • Dayna
    30 December 2016, 10:25 pm

    We’re currently on holiday here from Melbourne (AUS) and have been very pleasantly surprised by some of the cycling infrastructure we’ve come across. The bike path from Hagley Park to Riccarton Bush, for instance combines thoughtfulness with regard to light changes at intersections (with the sensors in the path and on approach rather than right on the curb – also installed on the share path running north alongside the rail line past Papanui), and it’s also the best type of separated cycle lane. It’s a real pleasure to ride.
    Something very common around Chch that we haven’t been so fond of is the seemingly excessive amounts of sticky gravel left on the streets. Since it really seems to be everywhere, I can only assume it’s from road repairs post earthquakes… it sticks to our tyres and occasionally larger chunks get caught up in the mudguards. Yes, I know, cry me a river, but I’m actually far more worried about the chance of stones being flung up into people’s faces as a car – or even our bikes – go by and someone being hurt. Occasionally I hear a ‘ping’ as a stone flicks up from under my wheel.
    On the whole, we’ve very much enjoyed riding around town and venturing out a bit further on day trips. 😊

    REPLY
    • retro
      LennyBoy@Dayna
      31 December 2016, 8:33 am

      Glad that you’re (mostly) enjoying our cycleways! We’ve mentioned road sealing practices here in the past (http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/2015/09/26/timely-street-maintenance-is-important-for-cycling/); standard practice often seems to spread an excess of gravel chips, let traffic bed them in, and then sweep up the balance a few weeks later. All very well, except that in the meantime most of the excess gets pushed into the shoulders where cyclists are… Bear in mind too that sometimes these chipseals (whether whole road or just patch repairs) are just the first temporary surfacing before applying an asphalt top layer later.

      REPLY
    • Robert@Dayna
      1 January 2017, 9:22 am

      Stone chips under the car have always been a problem on really hot days in many parts of New Zealand , particulalry Canterbury. But Christchurch roads at present are a hotch potch of every standard imaginable . Hopefully on your next visit the cycleways will be our highway network of choice and the roads will be smooth , easily negotiable at a civilised speed and without a road cone in sight. Might also be some pigs in the sky , but hey, ya gotta stay positive.

      REPLY
  • criggie
    2 January 2017, 10:57 am

    The St Asaph Street wiggle-way is a step in the right direction, but there are a few issues too.

    There’s no space to pass – its pretty much one-bike wide if the front rider is in the middle. Perhaps this is a way to stop shoaling, or to impose a linear line order ?

    What happened to the contraflow lane originally in the plans? Perhaps the narrow bike lane is to discourage this ?

    Curbs/Kerbs and wiggles sneak up on you and have become a hazard in their own right rather than a simple separator. Same goes for the "peninsulas" that poke into the parking lane, and the raised areas by bus stops. Someone’s going to come a-cropper on them!

    Also notice in your first photo there’s a slippery metal plate right on the wiggle. Great for an adrenaline rush if your tyre slips on the turn! There’s a metal lid right outside Knox Church that does the same to me if I’m not looking for it.

    Bus stop confusion – have you noticed that bikes have to give way to pedestrians in the boxes by bus stops?

    Pedestrians don’t get it – they’ll blithely wander up the "funny footpath" and the tiddly/merry/drunk ones are unpredictable. Meanwhile your bike is hemmed in by the kerbing.

    Traffic lights – the danger of a left hook still remains – the cycle traffic lights are the same size as the car ones but are 80% blacked out to the bike silhouette making them harder to see. TBH I biked down Tuam street a couple times before I even realised the bike controls were there!

    So its a positive step forward and better than nothing, but plenty of room for growth too.

    REPLY

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