Every three years, the NZ Transport Agency prepares a National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) that summarises what is going to be spent by the Government and local councils on roads, pathways, public transport, etc. 2018 was the year for a new NLTP; normally it would be released at the end of June ready for the new financial year but, with a change in government, an extra two months was allowed to deal with the quite different emphases that this administration has in the world of transport (as evidenced previously by their Govt Policy Statement).
So it was on Aug 31st that the 2018-21 NLTP was launched around the country to much fanfare. A big focus was on extra funding for much needed safety-related projects, as well as a push for more rail and rapid transit services. But, not to be sneezed at was a record $390 million to be invested in walking and cycling around the country. We thought the previous Govt’s $330 million was pretty impressive, so this just keeps getting better…
There are a few big-ticket items in there, like the $67m SkyPath over the Harbour Bridge in Auckland and $43m for the Ngauranga to Petone path along Wellington Harbour. But otherwise, the walk/cycle allocation is spread fairly widely across the country.
Canterbury gets allocated $28 million for walking and cycling, much of it for further completion of the Christchurch Major Cycle Routes (in fact, it’s a bit disappointing how little has been proposed by other Canterbury councils). That includes considerable work on constructing the Nor’West Arc and Northern Line extensions, and completing the Heathcote Expressway, Quarrymans Trail and Rapanui-Shag Rock cycleway. The Coastal Pathway will also get some further work completed near Sumner, and a local cycleway will connect the Papanui Parallel with the Northern Arterial pathway.
However, that’s not the full story because inevitably there will also be cycling improvements built into other funded transport projects. For example, another set of Accessible City street projects are planned that will also include some cycling provision to connect the city to Major Cycle Routes, including Antigua St, Colombo St north and Ferry Rd; not to mention cycle lane improvements to parts of Hereford St and Victoria St. The Chch Northern Arterial construction also includes development of a parallel shared pathway, and let’s not forget the clip-on path being attached to the Waimakariri River motorway bridge.
Meanwhile, across the city a number of general intersection and route safety improvements will no doubt also improve things for cycling too; these include Cashmere/Hoon Hay/Worsley intersection (near the Adventure Park entrance), Riccarton Rd bus priority and the Burwood/Mairehau roundabout (towards Bottle Lake Forest).
Perhaps not surprisingly, some commentators like the local AA are grumbling that too much is being spent on public transport and cycleways (ignoring the fact that the lion’s share as usual is still going into roading capacity). But actually the amount on cycleways in Chch has dropped; $28 million is a lot less than the $70-80m spent in the previous three years in Christchurch. That somewhat mirrors the deferrals signalled by the City Council in their recent Long Term Plan; partly reflecting the current challenge of balancing the books and partly being wary of some of the current ‘bikelash’.
Still, it’s good to have some clarity on what is being spent on cycling and other transport in the region over the next three years. Now we can look forward to seeing it built…
What do you think of the NLTP allocations for cycling in Christchurch?