Last Friday saw the Christchurch City Council have their final deliberations about the Long Term Plan (LTP), which sets in place how much CCC will spend on various activities over the next ten years. As mentioned earlier, there was some concern that most of the remaining Major Cycle Route projects were proposed to be pushed back from their original completion dates of the next few years, partly it seems due to other current funding pressures (not helped by a lack of clarity about ongoing NZTA subsidies) and also due to a perceived backlash about cycleways in Christchurch.
Fortunately there has been some reversal of this position in what was signed off on Friday. While the rhetoric is very strong in the press release on “focusing on the basics” (i.e. water supply, roads, etc), various other concessions were made from the draft LTP, including a number of cycleways brought forward. A lot of credit for that has to go to the many written and oral submissions that the Council received on this matter, with supporters for cycleways easily outnumbering the naysayers by more than 2:1.
So what are the specifics of what got confirmed? Firstly two sections of Major Cycleway, the balance of the Quarrymans Trail from Hoon Hay to Halswell and the Nor’West Arc from Ilam to Cashmere, were brought forward to be completed in the next three years (note that there were a few Councillors who disagreed with this amendment). This is on top of the remainder of the Rapanui/Shag Rock and Northern Line cycleways being completed and the start of the South Express route towards Hornby within the next 3 years too.
Another cycleway section, the balance of the Heathcote Expressway from Woolston out to Heathcote Valley will also be implemented slightly sooner too, thanks to an amendment from Cr Sara Templeton, although we are still talking about six years away.
The Coastal Pathway also received a lot of support for its completion in consultation (over 40 supportive submissions on this topic). So it is pleasing to see that funding for the final section around Moncks Bay has now been reinstated into the 10-year plan, albeit quite a while away.
Other items of note for cycling include an increased focus on road safety work in the next few years, including intersections and school safety, a consequence of the changed priorities in the Govt’s draft Policy Statement on Transport. A number of planned suburban masterplan projects (like Sumner and Woolston) will also have useful cycleway improvements. And Cr Mike Davidson also got an amendment for staff to confirm the likely programme for the planned cycleway connection between the Christchurch Northern Corridor and Papanui Parallel, once the National Land Transport Programme is finalised.
Overall, the adopted LTP is still a bit of a compromise between the original intentions for the Major Cycleways (remember when they were going to be completed in 5 years?) and balancing the many demands on the Council purse at the moment. Hopefully when the Government confirms its GPS and 10-year Land Transport Programme soon, there may be opportunities for additional cycleway projects to be brought forward too.
Has the Council made a good compromise in its Long Term Plan?