Yesterday morning, Christchurch woke to the news that the Government was investing in the completion of six major cycle routes, thanks to funding from the Government’s shovel-ready infrastructure fund for COVID-19 recovery.
An extra $87 million is being pumped into the Christchurch cycleways programme (including the previously announced funding to complete the Coastal Pathway). Together with money already committed by the City Council and Govt, a total of $125 million will be invested to kick-start construction and fund the completion of the following cycleway projects:
- The 12km Nor’West Arc cycleway – connecting Cashmere to the University, and Papanui
- The 15km Southern Express cycleway – connecting Templeton, Hornby, Riccarton and the city centre
- Redcliffs to Shag Rock (1km) – completing the Coastal Pathway
- Rapanui / Shag Rock cycleway – connecting the Coastal Pathway to Linwood and the city centre via Ferrymead and the Estuary (1.7km)
- Sections at the north and south ends of the Northern Line pathway – connecting Belfast to South Hagley Park and the CBD (3.5km)
- Heathcote Expressway – extending the existing cycleway from the Tannery in Woolston to Ferrymead Historic Park and Heathcote Valley (3.5km)
All of these projects will either start construction this year or next year. You’ll note that some of these projects have been in consultation and design phase for over 3 years; they’ve just been waiting for the cash injection to bring them forward from their previously delayed funding timelines. So this news is brilliant at getting some much-needed momentum towards completing these routes – and then working on the remaining four major cycle routes.
One noticeable effect of the growing number of cycleway links around Christchurch is how the “network effect” starts to kick in, i.e. more people can get from A to B using a number of connected cycleways. So what you can expect to see is even greater increases in cycle numbers overall, compared with what you see with just an isolated standalone cycleway.
In listening to the online chat since this announcement came out; two things stood out:
- A number of people have pointed out the rather obvious gap in funded cycleways to the northeast. The Avon-Ōtākaro route will eventually fill in one of those segments, but it is a fair point that currently there is relatively little to connect the central city to the likes of Mairehau, Shirley and Burwood in the north or Wainoni and Aranui to the east. Major Cycle Routes Round 2 anyone?
- Major cycle routes are only useful to you if you can access them easily from your origin or destination. Where these are not directly on the cycleway corridors, then it becomes even more important that some attention is paid to identifying the necessary local cycle connections around each route. Let’s hope that the City Council soon stump up some money for this, to really get best bang for buck out of each major cycleway. The recent work around the St Albans downstream effects plan gives one example of how a whole neighbourhood can be made more cycle-friendly.
Those quibbles aside, this is great news and provides some more funding certainty for our growing cycleway network.
Which cycleway are you most looking forward to?