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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.