Following the recent local body elections, it hasn’t taken long for the new Christchurch City Council to get stuck into their business. A first Council meeting is happening this Thursday 31st Oct, and already there are some interesting developments relevant to cycling…
The first thing that is happening is a bit of a reshuffle of the council committees and compositions. During the previous electoral term, the “Infrastructure Transport & Environment” (ITE) Committee, led by Pauline Cotter, oversaw the implementation of the Major Cycle Routes programme. That committee has now effectively been split in half, with Cr Cotter looking after the new “3 Waters Infrastructure & Environment” Committee and Cr Mike Davidson heading the new “Urban Development & Transport” Committee. The latter will no doubt look after cycleways going forward, and it’s good to see the link between transport issues and the much broader urban development ones. Interestingly new Councillor (and civil engineering contractor) Phil Mauger will be the Deputy Chair for the UDT Committee.
The other big item being discussed at this meeting are some of the plans to spend the $300m “Christchurch Regeneration Acceleration Facility” proposed by the Government. Although a large chunk is set aside for the new stadium, there is also a proposal to spend $40m on the planned Otākāro Avon River Corridor and another $40m on accelerated roading and transport investments.
The first part of this sees approx. $7.7m of the river funding to be used to create pathways and connections along the full length and across the Avon corridor. These will complement the already budgeted “City to Sea” major cycleway route from town out towards New Brighton (although that is not currently planned to start until 2024/25). Works will include creating or widening other paths along riverbank berms and repairing or widening streets to enable comfortable cycling.
Interestingly, Council officers have also submitted to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust a draft funding proposal to enable the establishment of three pedestrian/cycle footbridges along the river (two replacement and one new). Also interesting, given the recent kerfuffle over a new bridge in the central city, is that the suggested designs are quite artistic…
Within the planned accelerated roading investments, most of it ($25-30m) is set aside for street improvements within Richmond, New Brighton, Linwood/Woolston, Spreydon/Somerfield/Waltham/Beckenham, and Riccarton. The works are described as “integrated safety, modal choice and asset improvements to communities which experienced significant damage and disruption, or increased transport demand / travel use due to a change in travel patterns following the Canterbury Earthquakes”.
Although details are still a bit sketchy, examples of the types of treatments include footpath improvements, slow speed treatments, access improvements, and road condition improvements. About $5-7m of further road safety improvements are also proposed, including intersection “safe system” treatments, school walking/cycling safety, red-light-running initiatives, speed management along corridors and at intersections, signalised intersections and right-turn safety, and any Community Board road safety initiatives.
While some of this work is likely to help address the regular “fix the roads in the east” grumbles (not that apparently that’s the only place in the city with poor roads…), it is encouraging that there is also an emphasis on improvements to road safety and encouraging active modes. The speed management proposals along various corridors and intersections are also just as critical as specific facilities for improved cycle safety.
All this will still take some time to happen; at the moment Council are looking to get final sign-off by Cabinet of the proposed investments (given that it’s Govt money), hopefully before Xmas. Then the real fun can start with development/design and consultation of the individual projects.
What do you think of the planned projects?