Flashback Friday: Is cycling really cared about in this city?

The tragic events of last week on the outskirts of town and the subsequent suggestions of poor cycle-friendly safety practices can make it feel like the world is very much against you when on your bike. It’s a theme that comes up continually in relatively low cycling usage countries like New Zealand and, as you can see from this Oct 2012 post, it has been an ongoing grumble. I tend to subscribe to the “incompetence rather than malice” theory on these matters, and the more interesting question is whether it feels like things have improved or not since then…

So the other day I had to ride to town for a meeting at the City Council. As I rode in from Somerfield, I noticed a number of things that got me wondering:

      •  Just north of Brougham St, Antigua St is currently down to one lane southbound while SCIRT repair pipes. For cyclists travelling north (on what is probably the busiest cycle route from south of the city) the options are now to either travel along busy Brougham St to one of the adjacent streets, or to somehow amble (illegally) along the Antigua St footpath. Hmm, couldn’t something a little more proactive have been arranged?
No obvious way through here…
So I should turn left on my bike… and make a right turn across five lanes of Brougham St further along?
      • Once in town, at the top of Antigua St, the historic Boatshed Footbridge is still out of action. Hmm, how come it’s the non-road bridges that don’t seem to be reopened so quickly? Not as much load on these bridges; can’t be that hard to get something in the interim? For a while, the Hospital were resisting letting riders using the ambulance bridge as an alternative route, but to their credit, they have now made a short-cut detour (well, the District Health Board are supposed to be promoting healthy lifestyles after all…)
“Pedestrians and Cyclists use Montreal St” – but what if I don’t want to go that way?
The belated (yet obvious) shortcut through the hospital
      • Then it’s time to visit the City Council and at last there’s some good news: the scaffolding that had been covering all of the visitor bike parking in Hereford St has finally been removed. But why in the two months they were out of action couldn’t the Council provide some temporary parking for its visitors?
Perhaps a few more bike stands wouldn’t go amiss here too?
    • To finish things off, when I headed towards Ilam afterwards through Hagley Park I was confronted with more pipe works blocking the main cycleway to Fendalton (again, one of the major cycle routes in the city) with nary a warning sign advising of detours.

One of these incidents on its own could just be an oversight. But collectively you just start wondering how much the city truly wants to be a cycle-friendly city. We know there’s a lot of work to go to rebuild the city (and we are looking forward to some great cycling facilities), but it would be nice if cycling was being more positively thought about while that work was going on…

Do you feel like cycling is more proactively considered in traffic planning these days?

6 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Is cycling really cared about in this city?”

  1. The feeling continues…
    The concept of ownership and rights have got any better. Car drivers act as if they own the lane, get grumpy if in the short term they are slowed and are oblivious to the fact that if they lowered their speed to that of the cyclists they pass only to slow again at the corner, or stop at the tailback caused by the lights Ahead that the traffic would move more consistently and safely.
    It’s a perpetual frustration for me as I commute between meetings that traffic passes dangerously, overtakes, takes the lane and then slows to navigate a corner in the mistaken idea that they own the right to the space I’m in.

    I don’t think things have improved, probably worsened. Add to this they also get peeved when the lesser mortals on two wheels are not on the designated cycle path, despite that path not supporting the direction they need to take, OR traffic needed to be navigated across.

    1. Marlene, I too have that fear and it is what makes my driving behaviour as courteous and responsible as possible, particularly around those on bikes.I know how unpredictable all other road users can be, and know in the case of a bike rider there is often good reason for them riding in the middle of the lane or stopping at the front of the intersection. If you are in a position to be seen on a bike, the risk of accident is less.

      This article was written nearly 8 years ago at a time when roading infrastructure was dire in Christchurch , particularly for those who ride a bike. Safety and service for those on a bikes was a lower priority than it is now, yet despite huge improvements over recent years tragedies still happen.
      The latest only yesterday.

      Registration for those who ride bikes has not proved to be feasible. Few ( if any ) countries in the world have a registration system (of the type you would like ) – for instance Japan registers bikes for insurance purposes only. Firstly, it would cost more to administer than it would receive in benefits. It would be rather unwieldy to charge children. Thirdly, those who commit an infringement when riding a bike are already subject to penalties just as any other road user. Fourthly, those who go on to the urban roads with their bikes have paid for that bit of space in the same way any other road user has, through rates and general taxation.

      The provision of good cycle infrastructure pays dividends to the population quite handsomely. This is through reduced wear and tear on the roads, better efficiency of moving people per area of space allocated, environmental benefits and a healthier population, as evidenced in
      European countries. The better the infrastructure is, the more people will use it, benefitting all road users. ( The Netherlands has been deemed the best country in the world to use a car, because such a high % of the journeys taken are by other modes of transport )

      It’s all about getting around Marlene. In the safest, most enjoyable and efficient way possible, using the transport option that suits each of us the best.

  2. Thank you for raising this topic. I’ve been thinking a lot about the tragic events last week and the subsequents focus of national media on typical vested interests such as, moving a few cones and she’s fixed, parking at the hospital, escooter safety.

    First off my utmost sympathies to the family. I feel shattered for them and wish I had answers as to how to prevent this happening again, but I don’t. because until minds and ears are open we, the minority cannot be responsible for improved outcomes. And this will happen again.

    There are many areas in this city which I now refuse to cycle because I perceive them to be too high risk. Yet our central government talks about climate change and actively promotes cycling while enacting structural change which continually magnitudes that risk.

    Until the majority is inconvenienced through sufficient system failure, the government will say one thing while acting differently. So I will support whatever initiatives are implemented (like using the hospital stop and surrounds which are a step forward) But I will not put my life in the hands of those who have no idea what they’re doing. You would think that the lives lost already are examples of system failure enough. In reality the majority will make that call, rest assured the way they are heading the system will fail in a matter which severely inconveniences the majority who will cry for themselves the loudest and demand change. It’s a matter of when.

    1. I stopped using that end of Springs Road a month or so back after several separate instances of intimidation. The worst and final straw for me was a very large truck drove within inches of my back wheel tooting its horn whilst I was doing 32km / hr in the 30km section. I instead now go all the way along to Shands Road and double back to Prebbleton.

      The 50km and works end signs bang slap in the middle of the cycle lane in Prebbleton would be tolerable if they actually made drivers slow , but of course they don’t. Such signs make me choose between swerving out into speeding traffic or to dismount, lift my bike up over the kerb and illegally ride on the very narrow non shared section of footpath.

  3. Of course in reality it is us who needs to change. We need to take that pill which will lower our IQ, then we can lack self awareness, decency and the effects of our actions on others. Just like the majority. It’ll be great. After all the world is apparently a much brighter place when you lower your mind for it. Thank you minusIQ sleep thinker for that suggestion.

    1. I am always afraid when a cyclist is near. Cyclists need to ride in their very expensive cycle lanes. Your sarcasm will not engender empathy for your cause. Cyclists are quite arrogant the way they park in front of your car at the lights, those who bike across waiting traffic at lights, who ignore the lights and cycle off when they find it convenient. I loathe what the cycleways have done to our uncomplicated city, especially the raised berms. We seem to have some loopy people who imagine that they can ride in packs and intimidate people in cars or other motorised traffic. I think all cylists should be registered so they can be reported when seen breaking the law. The registration money would help pay for the expense of the cycleways, as motorists do for the roads we all travel on.

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