Happy New Year! Cycling Wishes for 2014

Welcome back! I hope you like our new look website. No doubt we will continue to experiment with the style for a while; please stop by regularly and give us your thoughts. And pass it on to all your friends who bike or who have been thinking about biking in our fair city (or get them to “like” our Facebook page or keep tabs on our Twitter feed). There’s never been a better time to take it up than now!

As the calendar ticks over to another year, it’s instructive to reflect on what has happened over the past twelve months and look forward to what may come in the next twelve. It’s really interesting to look back to the first post at the start of 2013 and see what we were musing over. At the time there were more plans than reality and, while we were hopeful that cycling would get a look-in in the rebuilt city, I don’t think any of us was prepared for the dramatic vote of confidence given by our previous City Council in June to spend nearly $70 million over the next five years to deliver a world-class cycling network. Now it’s starting to become a reality, although there’s still a lot of work to do.

We’d like to think that we had something to do with the interest and support garnered for cycleway development in the city. That included collecting over 1700 signatures in a petition on this website, which was presented to Council during the 3-Year Plan hearings. Plus of course we’ve been throwing various ideas out there from other parts of the world (e.g. Washington DC, Beijing, The Netherlands) to inspire everyone to make it happen here too. Not to mention the encouraging signs of things starting to happen around the rest of NZ too.

Major Cycleways – the start of something great…

The various plans also took a much clearer shape in 2013 as well. First we were inspired by the brilliant new Chch Cycle Design Guidelines that provided a wonderful cycle-friendly vision to aspire to. Then CERA finally came back to the party with a finalised view of what the central city would look like, with much to like from a cycling perspective. Other related initiatives like the Coastal Pathway and the Avon River Network also got some legs (and funding) to get underway. And we also sought guidance from some Dutch experts on how to develop our cycling networks in a similarly successful manner to their own.

Ilam Road cycleway – a glimpse of future cycling in Chch?

There have been a few tasters on the ground of what to expect as well. The most noticeable was the Ilam Road separated cycleway; controversial in some regards but a very useful pilot project. NZTA also finished the rest of the Southern Motorway cycleway, another useful facility even if some of the design did seem a bit under-cooked. And it was nice to see that the rebuild contractors were starting to take their responsibility towards providing for cycling through work sites a bit more seriously. But we still have to guard against old ways of transport thinking, like the distinctly cycle-unfriendly Curletts Road proposals.

2013 was also a time to start celebrating cycling again in Christchurch, and this was best exemplified by the first ever “Open Streets” ciclovía in town, a great success. We also rode our bikes in the depths of winter and showed off our growing numbers of cargo bikes. The fantastic team at ICECycles continued to spread the good word with bike fixup workshops throughout the year. We also heard from international experts how cycling can be good for our economy and our businesses. However we still have to work a bit harder to make sure that all major events in Christchurch are bike-friendly by default.

Open Streets was a great event – and even some of our new City Council enjoyed it too

So what does 2014 hold? Well, we have a new team of City Councillors for a start and at this stage they generally seem very cycle-friendly; I guess we’ll see their true colours when the first “acid tests” of the Major Cycleways programme come up. Assuming everything goes to plan, expect to see the first bits of the Major Cycleway routes on the ground about mid-year – we’ll keep you informed as things are rolled out. Some of the central city facilities, like the Avon River corridor, may also get further developed over the next 12 months.

Nationally there are also some issues that will no doubt influence things locally. After the angst of the cycle safety Coroner’s inquiry, NZTA are now leading a national investigation that may produce some significant changes to the way we deal with cycling in this country. And of course, towards the end of next year there is a General Election, and if there is a change in Government that could have major implications on cycling and transport in general as well… If you want to be further inspired by other like-minded souls, some of you might also like to attend the next national 2Walk&Cycle Conference in Nelson in October (more about that soon), or even jump across to a truly international forum at the VeloCity Global Conference in Adelaide in May. Based on past experiences, I highly recommend both events!

What was your highlight of 2013? What are you most looking forward to in 2014?

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