First Look: Rapanui – Shag Rock Stage 2

For once, a cycleway opening in Christchurch was heralded by a lovely fine day (is the curse broken?). A good crowd descended on Linwood Park on Friday to celebrate the official opening of the next section of the Rapanui – Shag Rock cycleway, from Eastgate down to Charlesworth along Linwood Ave. {P.S.: Would it be too much to ask The Press to report on a good news cycling story like the opening of a cycleway…?}

Lots of kids (and grown-ups) can’t wait to try out the new cycleway

You might recall the first section of this cycleway, which largely featured a neighbourhood greenway through Linwood. This next section involves a shared pathway for its entire length. Interestingly, compared with many other recent cycleways, no car-parking is affected by the entire 2km section.

Rapanui – Shag Rock Stage 2 route

The route starts at the entrance to Linwod Park opposite Eastgate Mall (Chelsea St). The existing pedestrian signals have been upgraded to a full pedestrian/cycle crossing, allowing access not only across the road but also to the new pathway running down the wide central median.

A pleasant ride down the middle of the road corridor (wait until the trees and flowers are in bloom)
Those pavers are all about the trees…

The 3m-wide path runs between the rows of trees lining the median. It’s far enough away from the traffic lanes to make for quite a pleasantly quiet experience. Because of the proximity to the tree roots, this section has been created entirely in porous pavers (and don’t worry, the daffodils will be back in spring!). Makes for a slightly bumpy ride, but probably only really noticeable on skinny tyres.

Linwood Ave features a number of U-turn/side road bays, some of which were removed as part of this project. One of the contentious features of the final cycleway design was the decision to retain priority to turning traffic over path users. In practice, the relatively low turning volumes may mean that your chance of being slowed by crossing traffic is fairly small. But it’s still a nuisance that feels unnecessary.

A rare instance of queued turning traffic – but who should have priority?

Along the way, various pathways lead off sideways to adjacent side streets. At Hargood St, the central median finishes, and cyclists are directed via a new signalised diagonal crossing over to the southern side of Linwood Ave (interestingly pedestrians are expected to use the perpendicular crossings instead…). As with all the signalised¬†cycle crossings, there are detectors on the approaches as well as back-up ones at the crossing points to ensure that you get your green signal.

Crossing over at Hargood St

Here the shared path continues between the road and the adjacent service lane. A debatable choice was whether to create a brand new pathway or simply use the quiet service lane as a neighbourhood greenway for riding.

The new pathway alongside the service lane

Personally I think a greenway might have been simpler; it might have also resolved the conflicts at the service access points. For a major cycleway, it seems a little incongruous to have to give way to a minor roadway…

Giving way to a minor road again…

At St Johns Rd, there is a bit of an odd detour to cross the side road away from the desire line; not sure why (confident city-bound riders can bypass this completely via on-road ramps).

Why such a detour here?

The last part of this section is alongside the Linwood Canal and, as such, quite a bit of work was undertaken to protect the waterway ecosystem during construction. That appears to include some (incomplete) raingarden treatment of path and roadway run-off.

There will be clever stormwater management here when completed

Approaching Dyers Rd (SH74), space was a bit tight, and some work was needed to create the pathway alongside the Canal.

Signal detectors approaching Dyers Rd (SH74)

Crossing the signals here, this is as far as the route goes for now. Currently there is still some debate being had over whether the final section will follow the estuary waterfront or run through the Charlesworth wetland reserve; both have potential issues in terms of ecosystem protection.

End of the line for now. You’re probably better off using the Charlesworth Reserve path on the other side of the canal

It’s important to remember too that the previous painted cycle lanes have still been retained along Linwood Ave. So more confident riders still have the option of staying on-road if they wish. Given the wide variety in rider skills and confidence levels, it’s great to have options.

Overall, the second stage of the Rapanui-Shag Rock cycleway is a very pleasant ride (esp. on a sunny day!). It certainly ranks as one of the more scenic (and I understand that about 150 new trees are being planted along this section). It’s just a pity about a few of the odd design decisions made that could have made it even more pleasant.

Have you tried the new section of Rapanui yet? What do you think?

13 thoughts on “First Look: Rapanui – Shag Rock Stage 2”

  1. It’ll be really interesting to see how less confident riders find crossing the u-turn. I found looking back over my shoulder for u -turning traffic slowing from 60kph and usually indicating late as well as looking out for side roads a bit nerve racking so I’ll be sticking to the on road cycle lanes. I agree that the service lane would have been a better option to have priority through that section. My main worry is where the cycleway ends South of Dyers Road. Great to access the cycleway northbound, but heading south you’re dumped out on the wrong side of a 70kph wide road. Not pleasant at all cycling home from opening yesterday and having to get across.
    Overall verdict, love Stage 1 (use it every day), can’t see me using Stage 2 at all due to safety concerns, roll on Stage 3.

    1. I gather that there will be some interim signage put ahead of Dyers suggesting either (a) use the lights to cross to the other side of Linwood Ave or (b) use Charlesworth Reserve. Agree that checking behind at the u-turns (and also remembering that some traffic may be coming sideways from the adjacent side-street) is more tricky than it should be.

  2. Are we going to see fixes to stage 1 due to the cheap design beign put in. Was safer along Worcester st before the speed humps and concrete build outs. Residents can still park there cars behind them and rubbish day is horrible. Unfortunately taking Glouster st and Hereford st not much safer.

      1. I’ve found CCC Parking very polite, helpful, and responsive to such things. They’ve towed cars maliciously parked in the cycle lane segments on Buccleugh St. Mostly overcrowded townhouses down that way so I guess they’re bitter about their “loss” of parking privilege.

  3. Just cycled it. Loved the shared path but not impressed by giving way to any odd car that crosses the path. I am not sure what the design principles are of major cycle paths but for me 9 year old kids should be able to independently cycle major cycle paths. This design only caters for more experienced cyclists in my view. I am not sure why drivers that make a turn can not give way to cyclists on a major cycle route?

  4. Its great to have this facility on offer for the interested but concerned cyclist. And I know this is who its been designed for, and not me who wants to get from point a to b at the fastest pace and most direct route that I possibly can. So for the new rider I feel the compromises you mention to give priority to cars at all intersections misses the mark when compared to the other cycleways (Count the number of give ways from the start to finish!)- this slows people down and makes what is a ‘long’ commute longer (a switch off) – ultimately when one is under ones own steam we naturally seek efficiency so we want a direct route and this definitely meanders (another switch off). I want to use this facility and support this to help those interested but concerned cyclists but slower, less direct, stop start and a lack of community engagement on the whole thing leads me to fear for the success and uptake of this section of the network. I really really hope I am wrong.

  5. The greenways need to have a 30k limit as well as the speed bumps and speeding cameras in between each speed hump. The revenue gained would more than pay for another dozen or so completely off road cycleways.

    I also thought that broken yellow lines meant no parking or even stopping, but it seems not to be the case anymore, recently I had to ride over a speed bump as I could not get past on the little bit beside the hump.

    1. The neighbourhood greenway section through Linwood already does have a 30km/h speed limit. I have heard that there are one or two repeat parking offenders near the humps despite them getting quite a few parking tickets…

      1. Well given the number of people I have seen driving full tilt between the 25 k speed humps and slamming on the brakes then race off to the next one then there sure is a fortune to be made in fines. Or maybe they are all driving stolen cars and don’t care about fines.

  6. As an older slower cyclist I don’t mind the give ways along Lynwood Ave as I just don’t trust any driver to give way to me anymore. My experience every day is to come across vehicles parked on cycleways and cycle lanes. I have also learned that my drivers go through red arrows, stop signs and give ways. So even if I have the right of way, I no longer trust it at all.

    1. I preferred the alternative design that had a raised platform over every U-turn; that would definitely slow down any motorist and encourage them to give way.

      1. The problem with that idea is that you still are never quite sure that they will actually give way. Many large 4×4 vehicles just mount them at speed regardless of what it might do to their wheel alignment.

        A good example of that is On the corner of Simeon Street and Brougham Street near the caged crossing. Their is a raised bit as well as a green painted section of the cycleway and TWO GIVE WAY signs. Despite all that I have had several instances there where drivers have just plowed straight through at speed with no intention of giving way. Thats why as the cyclist I am happy to have a give way to those minor roads etc.

        I do however wonder why they need so many of those U turn bays, if they like racing along in their vehicles so much surely it would not kill them to drive an extra block?

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