It’s Not Just Infrastructure Stupid – Part 1

In recent times a lot has been said about trying to encourage more people to walk and cycle instead of using motor vehicles. One obvious way to do it is to build better infrastructure. But is that enough? Is there something else needed?

As person who rides a bike everywhere I often come across examples of inconsideration for people not in cars by those who should know better by now.

As a long time cycling advocate I’m still to be convinced we have reached the desired level of institutional acceptance for the necessary change in culture if our city is to return to one built for people and not cars.

My view of the current general state of play is as follows;

The public have mostly accepted the need to change, as evidenced through many resident surveys over the years. The one most often quoted is the excellent Share an Idea project run by CCC during the period of greatest seismic activity.

Local government politicians have seen and mostly accept the need for action by voting considerable sums to implement the protected cycleway project. It is also clear from personal conversations with planners at events and during consultations that in general they know and understand what is required.

But when we come to those who implement decisions agreed to by the rest of us, my experience is they generally continue to fail the test. Let’s be clear, some of them do an excellent job and it is getting better but there are still too many who show an unacceptable level of thoughtlessness.

A recent example was during the cricket test between NZ and Sri Lanka at the new Hagley Oval.

It is a rare person who would disagree that the news was all positive about how it is a world-class venue. A wonderful asset for the city. Yes it will bring more visitors to stay in our already overcrowded tourist accommodation at a time when we least need them…. but that is another story not for here.

The real untold story of international cricket in Hagley Park is the poor management of the car parking. To be fair in this case it is early days, so there is hope things can be improved.

The access point for some reason was on Deans Ave south of the east / west shared path that crosses South Hagley Park. There may be good reasons for doing what was done, but to get to the parking area vehicles had to cross this path. See panorama photos below.

Access to test match parking. Panorama photo (click to expand).
Access to test match parking 1. Panorama photo (click on image to expand).
Access to test match parking. Panorama photo (click to expand).
Access to test match parking 2. Panorama photo (click on image to expand).

The issue is: how the Right of Way was managed.

Instead of the logical solution of making vehicles give way to those walking and cycling on the existing permanent path, traffic management decided to give priority to those on the temporary road. Some may dismiss it as a trivial complaint and not worth the time of day but I strongly disagree.

This is a matter of principle, of deep-seated attitude and culture. Quite simply it is not good enough.

Wrong Right of Way priority.
Wrong Right of Way priority.

Hagley Park is one of the few areas in Chch that is free of motor vehicles and this encroachment in this manner should be resisted. Whatever happened to the consultation with those of us most affected?

Don’t get me started on consultation! So far no-one has given us an adequate answer and with the cricket world cup just round the corner we are going to see plenty more of this.

Rather than just complain we should look for ways to change behaviour to one that is more respectful.

So here are my Suggestions.

1) Above all else people walking and cycling must have priority, within the Hagley Park boundary, If it is not already policy it needs to be made so at the highest political level – CCC. That will be a good start and if managed properly all else should flow from that.

If managed properly.

In addition there were more specific matters in regard to parking at test matches that were worthy of attention so here follows some ideas to consider for the upcoming events…

2) Move the off-street parking access point from Deans Ave to the main entrance on Riccarton Ave. This would remove the conflict with other park users, shorten the distance to the parking area and cause less damage to the grassy areas. If the access cannot be changed then perhaps active transport groups could be the people to manage traffic at the conflict point?

3) Improve the sad provision of cycle parking by the main oval entrance. The photo below shows bike parking is full, taken on Monday, the last and not-so-busy day. What was it like at the weekend?

Sad looking Hagley Oval Bike Parking
Sad looking Hagley Oval bike parking

4) Valet Bike Parking – At the Ciclovia / Open Streets event in Sept 2013 Spokes hosted valet parking areas. Even if it is only on the weekends, they or other groups could be asked to do the same, the cost of which would be included in the event management budget. The amount will be small in comparison to the overall cost of running the events.

The above points cover the active transport issues, below are suggestions to address vehicle parking in general.

5) Provide and advertise other easy-to-use transport options for people who would rather not use their vehicles. The city has suffered from problems with traffic congestion for many years but in that time I have only once heard calls for people to use something other than their cars.

6) Exclude through traffic on Riccarton Ave on the test match weekends and allow angle parking on both sides of the avenue. Doing this doubles the amount of available on-road parking. The city council could even set up toll booths at both ends of the avenue and charge a usage fee that includes all day parking. It might even eliminate the need for using the polo fields.

That’s it, other comments and suggestions by readers are welcome. To be included in consultations it is important to have them posted by Wednesday 14th Jan.

8 thoughts on “It’s Not Just Infrastructure Stupid – Part 1”

  1. Time to put heads together and do some creative thinking. In the UK some events and attractions offer an entry discount to those who arrive by walk,bike,bus,train. Why not here ? . It is not about favouritism it is about good traffic managment, limiting environmental damage and having to avoid the expense of catering for more and more vehicles. All interests including Park Management, events personnel CCC, public transport providers and cycle groups need to sit down and work out a plan that will work for everyone.

  2. I have noticed that so called stms qualified people have absolutely no idea about cyclists. As an example for the Coast to Coast race the stms guys decided that the correct place for the cycle event signs was to block the marked cycle lanes in both directions on ferrymead bridge. I talked to the stms guy and he was adamant that the traffic would not see the sign if it was moved one metre out of the cycle lane. I would love to know what they are “taught” to be qualified as a stms person.

    1. I agree. Must be next to impossible for them to please all road users however frequently it seems they’re entirely focused on the motor vehicles & neglect cyclists & pedestrians. Often the ‘caution cyclists merging ahead’ sign is more into the road than the actual merge later on!

      1. By contrast I was in Auckland last year (Not a city I immediately associate with great cycling infrastructure). They are upgrading the NW motorway which has a cycleway alongside it. Not only was the cycleway not just used as a convenient place to put road signs but they have ensured that the cycleway is usable during the entire upgrade. – they actually view it as an important part of their roading infrastructure. Two thumbs up! If only this happened more often.

  3. It is deeply offensive to me to have the cricket there at all Hagley Park is a public space not a sports ground for rent – but anyway,the Resource Consent for the cricket requires a traffic management plan and the traffic management plan requires “Alternative means of access would be encouraged, particularly by cycle and bus.”

    So, if anybody cared – it seems to me that they are in breach of their resource consent to encourage cars at the expense of cycles.

  4. I agree that it is a matter of principle. One of reality is that while we may want something, most people don’t want to think about how to get it, so that something becomes a not-so-distant dream that gets talked about and forgotten in a few years.
    I feel the traffic management sometimes is about making sure the majority of the users are happy. As it stands people that ride bikes are still comparative rare to see, so the consideration seems to be tick the box and move on.
    The quality of the cycling culture and the positive riding vibes will need to be looked at in parallel with infrastructure. It’s very easy to be infrastructure and safety focused and neglect the “soft-science” of cycling.

  5. Unfortunately more of the same “cyclists & pedestrians give way to motorists” arrogance on the Harper Ave cycle path for Te Matatini over the five days. A real shame that the message is not getting through to event planners.

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