I’m slowly appreciating a new route through town as a great place for biking – the Oxford Tce “City Promenade”. Since its opening in late November, this new corridor along the Avon River is providing a relatively traffic-free link to many central city destinations and beyond.
Let’s have a look at the route in more detail. Robert has already given you an overview of the westernmost “Oxford Gap” section past the hospital; this connects to the Little River Link towards the southwest. On reaching the mini-roundabout at Antigua St, you are also connected now to the Quarrymans Trail to the south, and across the Boatshed Bridge north towards the Uni-Cycle.
The Oxford Promenade is a shared zone and each section is one-way only for motor traffic; however, cycles are allowed to ride in both directions, so don’t be put off by the NO ENTRY signs.
For much of the route, there is both a tiled pathway area and a (typically asphalt) driving area. It’s up to you as to where you prefer to ride; it may depend on what road users and other people are about.
When you get to the main roads crossing the corridor, signalised crossings help you to get across. They can be a bit slow at times though to let you cross, so a lot of “civil disobedience” is definitely evident when not much traffic is about.
The Promenade uses some very nice urban design features throughout the route, including seating and bike parking (never seems to be enough of the latter!). One word of warning: watch out for the drop into some of the adjacent rain-gardens, especially when vegetation starts to conceal it.
At Durham St, the route follows Oxford Tce to a crossing by Lichfield St. But there is also a more direct footpath crossing by the bridge if you prefer (although again, the signalised crossing is painfully slow…).
The area around The Terraces bars and restaurants has been open the longest and has already been a great success. What’s needed now is similar “activation” of some of the newer sections.
One little thing to watch out for now is when crossing Hereford St (still to be reconstructed). Signals control this intersection, but at present there are no signals facing north; if you’re coming from The Terraces you’ll just have to keep an eye out for the side signals to know when you can go.
Between Cashel St and Worcester St the tram route follows the Promenade, so just be careful when riding over the tram tracks – always do it at a square angle if you can.
Construction of the convention centre is busy taking place as you head further north. In due course, you will be able to connect to Cathedral Square from the Gloucester St Bridge via a new public space.
The Promenade continues through Victoria Square following the traditional curving paths. You can also connect from here northwest towards Victoria St; likely to be a more useful cycle route in the future. From Colombo St, heading north takes you to the Papanui Parallel route too.
An interesting feature along this route is the trialling of combined signals featuring pedestrian and cycle symbols (also being trialled elsewhere on Christchurch’s cycleways). Given the shared nature of this route (and short crossing distance, making visibility easy), they make a lot of sense.
The final section of the Promenade leads from Colombo St to Manchester St and the Margaret Mahy Playground. There is a new signalised crossing just north of the Manchester St bridge that will connect to Cambridge Tce, and the signalised intersection at Armagh/Manchester immediately south. What is a bit odd though is the pedestrian refuge island at Manchester St, directly on the route but with no kerb ramps; I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument for their omission…
I gather that a cycling route along the north/west (Cambridge Tce) side of the Avon River is still (slowly) in progress (and there will be a bridge connecting the two sides east of Colombo St). There is also further work planned to connect the Promenade to the Avon River red zone further east. For now though, the Oxford Promenade already provides a very handy new connection through town.
What do you think of the Oxford Promenade?