Guest Post: The good, the bad, the ugly of Chch cycleways

Guest blogger Robert recently went and had a look at the new Wigram overbridge and mused on other bits of our network…

Well, a lot can happen in ten weeks for sure. Having reported on June 15th that the Wigram-Magdala bridge project would be completed during October, what a surprise to read on Stuff that July 30th would be the grand opening date. So off we went for a ride, taking an extremely circuitous route to get to the Saturday morning Farmers Market at Riccarton House.

Great to avoid the old detour route now
Great to avoid the old detour route now

Like the rest of the Southern Motorway Pathway, the best part of riding is the feeling you get knowing that this is a quality piece of infrastructure. It has been purposely built for me specifically as someone who rides a bike, or for me who at times may wish to walk it. It is simply not possible to experience this feeling on standard roads anywhere. OK, some roads would have begun life specifically to facilitate the movement of people by method of 2 legs, horse and cart or 2 human-powered wheels, but today’s economy requires roads for 2, 4, 6, or 8 axle motorised devices and that is basically what we now have.

The new pathway in all its broad glory
The new pathway in all its broad glory

Heading southwest from Annex Road, the shared pedestrian/cycle path takes you over Curletts Road on to Wigram Road in a matter of seconds. Onwards then to rejoin the Southern Motorway path. Brilliant. Returning to the city there is not quite the same room on the bridge, so those on a bike are required to join the traffic (a bike lane indicated) whilst pedestrians get for themselves a narrow footpath. Perhaps not a big deal, but I can imagine there may be a few two wheeled travellers who choose to ride the footpath here. (NB: off-road riders should stay on the two-way shared path on the south side of the Wigram Rd bridge – Ed)

Options for walking and cycling
Options for walking and cycling

If there is to be a downside to getting some fantastic new infrastructure, it would have to be how suddenly a lot of the existing infrastructure seems decidedly mediocre. There is no better place in Christchurch to experience some not-so-wonderful cycling facilities than Curletts Road. From the Magdala overbridge the shared path heading north on the western side of Curletts Road reverts quickly to an untidy uneven surface, but still certainly preferable to riding Curletts Road itself.

An OK path along Curletts Rd now seems a bit narrow and bumpy...
An OK path along Curletts Rd now seems a bit narrow and bumpy…

Once across Blenheim Road the route north along Curletts Road becomes a shared pedestrian/cycle pavement. This is an “excellent” example of retro-fitted compromised infrastructure.

Curletts Rd: Best practice for cycling?
Curletts Rd: Best practice for cycling?

The undulating surface to accommodate residential driveway access onto the road repeatedly alerts one to the dangers of reversing vehicles, which is probably a good thing. Once again, preferable (for me anyway), to using the road.

The side road crossings along Curletts Rd aren't that great either
The side road crossings along Curletts Rd aren’t that great either

Back on Curletts Road proper there have been improvements for bikes at the intersection with Main South Road where a marked cycle lane for those cycling north gives a perception of safe. Not so, however, at Yaldhurst Road where the left turn lane for vehicles must be crossed without any marking. Note to self that the dismount and walk method at this intersection is advisable for the future... North of Yaldhurst Road intersection (Peer St, heading towards Waimairi Road), the very narrow painted lane for cycles affords minimal comfort and again, where there are no driveways to contend with, the footpath seems a sensible option.

Cycle lane on Peer St - or do I stay on the footpath?
Cycle lane on Peer St – or do I stay on the footpath?

And so, on to the Farmers Market at Riccarton House via Ilam Road cycleway, University Drive, Hinau, Miro and Totara Street ‘greenway’. This is soon to become the western leg of the Uni-Cycle Major Cycleway. A journey for the morning that has taken in the best, the worst, and the soon-to-be fantastic cycle infrastructure for Christchurch.

Do the new bits of cycleway suddenly make some of the older bits feel not so good?

1 thought on “Guest Post: The good, the bad, the ugly of Chch cycleways”

  1. I’m looking forward with great anticipation the opening of the tunnel under Johns/Russley Road at the end of Harewood Road. It’s going to make getting across that roundabout 10000% safer.

    The tunnel is finished it just needs the pathways joined up at each end. October it will be complete according to the friendly workmen I see everyday on my commute to work at the airport.

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