Guest Post: One Ride, Two Cycleways, Many Options

Guest blogger Robert contemplates a Sunday well spent…

It was billed as a Spokes Submission ride on Sunday Dec 11th to check out details for the currently consulted Heathcote Expressway and Rapanui-Shag Rock (Stage 2-3) Cycleways (described as a leisurely two hour ride out to the Heathcote and return). It evolved into a four-hour masterclass of cycleway design and detail learning, complete with cross-terrain cycle walking and lifting to negotiate part of the proposed route through long grass, over fences and around muddy drainage swales.

This looks like a good spot for a neighbourhood greenway…

The route, led by cycleway guru Glen who provided commentary and stimulated discussion at various points along the way, began on Ferry Road (car parking removal to allow separation) and wound its way to The Tannery via Wilsons Road (separation) and the neighbourhood greenways of Charles and Sheldon Streets and Mackenzie Avenue and Cumnor Terrace. From there, the route continued along the Heathcote River through the Kennaway Park Industrial area (where some route imagination and terrain walking were required) to Tunnel Road, and along the Main South Rail Line to Ferrymead Heritage Park, finally to Heathcote.

After lunch at Metro Cafe at Ferrymead we returned along the Rapanui Shag Rock Cycleway (Stage 2-3) splitting the ride between three possible options. This is where the discussion became seriously involved. Debating the pros and cons of the route via Humphreys Drive and Linwood Avenue (new infrastructure) vs upgrading the existing pathway network south of the Linwood Canal through Ti Rakau Reserve and Charlesworth Reserve.

There’ll be a cycleway through here one day…

Some points became very clear to me along the journey.

There is no substitute for getting on site with a group of interested persons to thrash out the issues first hand. This was the third Spokes submission ride for the cycleway consultation season and all have highlighted the benefit of debating various design points and the merits of each route option provided

There were eight participants on this ride: each rider communicated their individual needs and preferences for the various routes and infrastructure options; all had different priorities. Extrapolate this variance out to the thousands of ‘interested but concerned’ cyclists of Christchurch and to the thousands of confident commuter cyclists one can begin to understand the complexity of the task. Kudos to Christchurch City Council for listening to the needs and wishes of many before designing and building infrastructure that aims to be of benefit to the greatest number of people as possible for decades to come.

Debating the merits of different route options

There are many, many factors to consider that fall outside the usual issues of car parking removal, separators, crossings and asphalt quality. Discussed on this blustery but pleasant Sunday afternoon were:

    • Delights vs Directness – will a pleasant route be more popular than one that is convenient and accessible to more facilities? e.g. Suburban greenway vs Opawa Road.
    • The importance of safety after dark – roadway vs backwater – e.g. Humphreys Drive/Linwood Avenue vs the reserves option.
    • Protect the environment by avoiding it – would the beautiful Linwood Avenue trees (and daffodils) be put at risk if a 3-metre-wide asphalt pathway were to be built between them?
    • Cycleway to everywhere – the importance of a safer riding link between the places that people want to go to from the cycleway e.g. Gondola Terminus, Opawa Road, Coastal Pathway.
Different route options have different merits

Returning to the purpose of these rides. It is all about encouraging as many as possible to make a submission to “CCC Have Your Say” to indicate support in principle. Even if you do not necessarily agree with all of the details, a generally positive submission can make a difference. Criticisms and suggestions are also valued and can influence the final decisions.

Closing dates:

Please give it your attention.

It would be unwise to underestimate the appeal that these two cycleways will have for cycle tourists in Christchurch. A growing number of visitors to any city enjoy the ability to jump on a bike and look around. This circular route using both cycleways will allow a half-day journey to leisurely take in the ‘real’ Christchurch. Pleasant established suburbs, river and estuary, natural reserves, Port Hill views, the industrial heritage of Woolston, Ferrymead Heritage Park, the beautiful Heathcote Valley, Linwood Avenue trees, The Tannery, and a link to the Coastal Pathway. Hard to match in any other New Zealand town or city.

Build it. Market it. They will come.

4 thoughts on “Guest Post: One Ride, Two Cycleways, Many Options”

  1. I believe that the Heathcote Express Way has it’s merits, but I would like to say that putting an area to be designated as a cars/bike area with no medium strips and adding a 30 km sign, doesn’t really work here. This is because, to my way of thinking and observing Christchurch drivers are so sick of an extremely high proportion of 30 km areas due to road works for the last six years and the reality is that they are saying that this could happen for up to the next 20 years in some areas.
    Christchurch drivers seem to be ignoring these signs to a far greater degree now as well as running through orange lights, even when they are red…they are pushing the ‘social norms’ of safe driving and I know because I drive a lot and now cycle even less because of this increased hazard.
    I see that reducing parks on Ferry Road to be an excellent thing as this is already a very busy…too busy road and parked cars are a hazard re visibility for cyclists and drivers alike.
    I am sad at the thought of having to loose some trees but I believe that if the replacement ones are of a good height and maturity that this would be worthwhile
    Finally I believe that all bike lanes should be colored as this is much more visible to drivers and I find for myself that I feel more secure on the road because of it and the armadillo barriers look awesome..

  2. Cycleways are like railways – they go where they go, and that’s it. To make it a success, the cycleway has to go places where people want to ride to or from.

    1. In the short term, the Major Cycleways are having to play a tricky game of picking the routes that tick the most boxes, but invariably not all of the boxes. In the long-term, I would expect that “Major Cycleways phase 2” would come back and fill in some of the gaps so that ultimately we have a true NETWORK for cycling.

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