First Look: Ilam Road Cycleway

The push to build the major cycleways around the city may be only just starting, but there’s already one piece of road where you can see the future for cycling – the new Ilam Road cycleway near the University. Construction has now been completed – and it looks pretty good…

Protection behind parked cars

Long-time readers of this blog will know the saga of this project, which started off not that promisingly, but then transformed into a very nice design. The key was removing parking from one side of Ilam Rd, which enabled proper separated cycleways to be constructed on each side. Construction started in April and, three months later: wow!

Bus bypass if you need it

For the most part, one-way cycleways separated by regular kerb islands have been used to provide a traffic-protected environment. At the bus stops along the way, riders have the option of going behind the stop if there’s a bus in the way. And there’s also a wide shared path on the west side if you’re still a little unsure.

Shared Path and Cycleway options

The one exception to this approach is near Ilam School, where it was preferred to keep the parking next to the footpath (so the kids aren’t rushing across the cycleway?), with a wide cycle lane outside of this. It still seems to work OK; certainly better than what used to be there.

The cycleway switches over near Ilam School

Pedestrians also do well out of the new route, with two new zebra crossings installed at either end of Ilam Fields, and a median refuge island further north. This now provides them with additional priority crossings to help get across, particularly in rush hour (and of course, bike riders could also dismount and take advantage of them too if they wished).

North Ilam Field pedestrian crossing (yes, bikes have to stop for peds too)

The final implementation has ended up going a little further than previously proposed, with kerb separators all the way to Creyke Rd in the north and the cycle lanes going past Kirkwood Ave in the south. This helps to ensure that the project doesn’t create new pinch-points at the ends.

Separators all the way to the Creyke Rd signals

Are there any problems with it? Not big issues that I can see. Some of the bus stop transitions are a little messy (not always clear that you have two options available); and I’ll be interested to see how they go when under the pressure of morning rush hour. They could have easily indented the car parking immediately south of the school better, which would have provided even more separation for everyone. I think there’s still meant to be some green coloured surfacing go down across some of the conflict points (e.g. side-road crossings), which should also help too.

No car door worries here

It’s not all done yet either, because the plan is to also install a permanent 40km/h speed limit along this section (presumably between the cobbled sections at each end). This will help to reinforce what should become a very nice place to walk and cycle in the future.

The shape of further things to come?

What do you think of the finished Ilam Rd cycleway?


12 thoughts on “First Look: Ilam Road Cycleway”

  1. A great job of reducing bicycle-motor vehicle conflict. It will be interesting to see how much of an issue the increased potential for bicycle-pedestrian conflict will be.

  2. This is a truly wonderful example of the city and community working together. Congratulations to Spokes Canterbury for submitting and to UoC staff who had the credibility which CCC needed to be able to listen and act. They have done a marvelous job. Hopefully this excellent result may succeed in giving CCC confidence in trusting public consultation to produce win-win outcomes for all of us.

  3. Awesome !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’m really pleased we are starting to see some decent, safe cycle lanes appearing in Christchurch. Well done CCC and to all those who over the years have pushed so hard for this to happen.

  4. Looks amazing! Wish I was back at uni so I could use it 🙂
    Chch is leading the way when it comes to cycle infrastructure

  5. Looks great! We have some similar things done with triangle Road in Auckland, but ours was a belated retrofit to discourge motorists from queueing in a cycle lane. Getting it right from the start like this is much better!

  6. I’m nervous about the tiny concrete curbs on the university side of the road. I can almost see a driver rip their left front wheel out at night.
    Also, I wonder how they are going to maintain the cycleway from broken glass and debri as the cleaning truck won’t be able to clean between the 2 curbs.

    Otherwise, very cool :D, I use it everyday riding to work.

  7. Say, does anyone know the exact width between the kerb and the concrete block dividers (i.e. at the image subtitled “North Ilam Field pedestrian crossing (yes, bikes have to stop for peds too”).

    Here in Auckland, we are increasingly discussing such separated paths as well, and one of the queries is how wide the separated path needs to be to allow cyclist-cyclist overtaking.

    So my questions would be, in a nutshell:

    – how wide is the physical space
    – is it wide enough to reasonably comfortably overtake cyclist-cyclist?
    – how wide is the lengthwise gap between the dividers, and is it wide enough for overtaking cyclists to quickly dip in and out of the through (car) lane?

    With greetings from envious Cycle Action Auckland!


  8. Max:

    Kerb to kerb is just around 1.8m when I measured. The physical useable space is a lot less due to drain crates, debri and proximity to the dividers.

    I personally don’t feel like there is enough space for cyclist to cyclist passing. Unless you are passing a courteous cyclist who moved to one side to let you pass, even then depends on skill level, some people might still find that challenging.

    The gap between the dividers varies depends on which section of the road you are travelling on, but at cruising speed of 25km/h, it would be difficult to fit through the gap to the road and come back. Although a skilled bunny-hop can solve that problem.

    I’m not a fan of those concrete dividers. Europe have much better examples of dividers.

  9. Right idea but it looks a bit messy and has taken far, far too long to get in place. The raised physical divide between cars and the cycleway doesn’t look very easy to see – grey on grey. The cycle path itself seems to have discarded concrete dust and paint still everywhere. Ideally it would be clearly marked in one color and leveled. The bus bypass looks a bit scary as this bus stop often has a lot of people waiting at it and you can’t easily see around or through it because of the advertising. Don’t get me wrong. This is definitely a massive improvement but I am a little disappointed that (a) this has taken so long to get in place (b) it is only such a small section of road (c) that it still looks a bit half done.

  10. Had a “what was he thinking” moment when I saw a car parked just south of Creyke Rd intersection, straddling the footpath and bike path.

  11. The kerb is a big problem on uni side , broken in places , council bin in the way and cars in the way too sometimes not to talk about glass etc. with no were to go to if a hazard is in the way.
    Like today when a buss slowed down a Montana ave , I forgot about and did not see the last kerb ( as not very visible at 7am ). pulled out to go pass the buss like on all cycle lanes you would do. And as you are waiting for me to say hit the kerb ,over I went . I’m injured all down one side now and bike few Hundred dollars damage to my road bike . lucky no cars were flowing the bus.
    I know what they were trying to do , but it dose not work the way they have designed it in places
    The buss stop areas , to maintenance cleaning cycle lane etc . The car drivers feel the same way.
    This road now has more Accidents than it every did !!!

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