I hope you are all enjoying a nice summer break (or if you’re one of the unlucky ones who has to work, then I hope you get a great break later!). As another year draws to a close, it’s time again to reflect on how cycling has progressed in our fair city over the past 12 months.
When we last reviewed things back at the end of 2017, it had been a whirlwind of activity, both with new cycleways and events like the inaugural Biketober. Things slowed down a little in 2018, in terms of stuff on the ground, although it feels like a much clearer picture of the end product is taking shape, particularly in the central city.
New cycleways were completed in 2018 along the first part of the Quarrymans Trail, and the middle bits of the Rapanui/Shag Rock cycleway and Heathcote Expressway. In the central city, the remaining sections of separated cycleway around the western end of town near the hospital were completed, as well as the East Frame pathways and a very nice shared route along the Oxford Tce river promenade (we’ll show you that soon).
All up, it works out to another 9km of Major Cycle Routes completed in the suburbs and at least 3km of cycle-friendly routes in the central city. Further bits of the Quarrymans and Heathcote cycleways are currently under construction, and a couple more almost ready to go. What’s really encouraging too are the growing number of areas that are getting speed limit reductions, including all the neighbourhood greenway sections of the new cycleways.
But initially it looked like the brakes were going to be applied very strongly on the Major Cycleways programme. A combination of growing demands on the city’s budget and backlash over some of the new cycleways saw the proposed programme spread out over the coming 10 years. However, a lot of that has been clawed back, firstly due to strong submissions on the Annual Plan, and then thanks to additional funding subsidy provided recently by the new Govt.
The inevitable ‘bikelash’ did still continue throughout the year and you know that you’ve touched a nerve when “expensive, under-used cycleways” become the catch-phrase for everything that’s wrong with the Council (possibly replaced for now by “water chlorination”…). Meanwhile others grumbled why some riders aren’t using the brand new cycleways that had just been built (hint: they don’t have to…). And even cyclists had concerns about proposed new links like the recently opened Oxford Gap.
We’d long heard the grumbles that the new cycleways hardly get used. And while one can undertake their own counts, it’s even better now that we can finally see the Council’s ongoing cycle counts around the city via the SmartView website. We also know that typically half of the city’s residents have cycled at some point in the past year. And if that’s not enough, there’s even a new live display counter at the Antigua Boatshed Bridge to enjoy as well.
Let’s not forget Biketober 2018 as well! After winning a national award for the inaugural 2017 event (along with a gong for the Uni-Cycle), this year’s programme was even more comprehensive, with over 80 events during the month. Thanks to the many volunteers who helped make this such a success (and for the many other biking events put on throughout the year).
So onto 2019… more cycleways will be showing up (and hopefully more lower speed limits too). I suspect that we will also have to get used to e-scooters forming part of permanent landscape (it would be nice if there is some public bikeshare in the mix again too). And towards the end of the year will be local body elections, which will be an interesting test of conviction about cycling for both existing and prospective candidates…
Thanks as always to the many other contributors to Cycling in Chch, be it regular or one-off articles or a comment or two about them. Every contribution is much appreciated (as always, contact me if you have an idea for a post), and I hope that you will keep making it an interesting place for discussing everything bike-wise in our fair city!
What was your cycling highlight in Christchurch for 2018?