Cycling in Chch 2020: The Power of a Bike…

It’s that time of the year when we reflect on what has been happening cycling-wise in Christchurch in past 12 months and also look ahead to the coming new year. If I had to pick a theme this past year, it would be the power of cycling, be that for social change, simple independence, growing use in day-to-day activities around Chch, or simply the growing presence of (powered) e-bikes amongst our fleet as well…

This time last year we were musing over the continuing good work to grow the cycleway network in Chch, and the accompanying cycling numbers. Of course, what none of us saw coming at that time was the rise of COVID-19 and the impact that would have on our lives.

COVID lockdown: goodbye traffic, hello bikers…

What was most interesting was how much of a positive impact it had on getting people out walking and biking more, as they took advantage of the lower traffic volumes and additional time on their hands. This kind of activity was strongly encouraged officially during lockdown and it’s perhaps not surprising that (by far) the most popular CiC post this year was the one about riding your bike during lockdown (or that bikes have been a hard-to-come-by item recently for Xmas…).

2020 also saw a massive increase in the amount of new or improved cycleways built or at least underway, thanks in part to a major funding boost by the Government. That allowed the likes of the Nor-west Arc and South Express to start construction, while others like the final parts of the Rapanui-Shag Rock and Coastal Pathway routes are now working through final design. The completion of the Northern and Southern motorway corridors also saw accompanying pathways built alongside them, including completing the long-planned bridge link across the Waimakariri River.

A LOT of new cycleway works this year (click to enlarge)

All up, by my reckoning these and other bits and pieces have seen over 21 km of new cycleways constructed in the past year (about half of that due to the Northern corridor alone). In addition, street reconstruction works have created or improved further on-road cycle lane routes along some key corridors like Riccarton Rd, Victoria St and Hereford St.

{as a sneak peak, I can tell you too that, even with lockdown, 2020 saw a massive increase in the average amount of cycling recorded – more to come soon in a separate post…}

Cycleway construction is continuing throughout the city

A good cycle network also needs add-on supporting infrastructure and that appeared here in 2020 in the form of Locky-Dock free bike parking and charging stations and the recent arrival of Lime e-bike public bikeshare. Bike parking throughout the city also continued to come under immense pressure at some hotspots, and ongoing work continues to find new places to test out temporary bike parking.

Bike parking (simple or flash) is popping up everywhere

And it wouldn’t be cycling in Christchurch without our usual fare of fun cycling events throughout the year, even if lockdown did temporarily curtail or postpone a few things. Fortunately we were in the clear to be able to hold another edition of the ever-popular Winter Solstice Ride and the 4th successful year of Biketober’s broad programme of events. Christchurch also continued its trend of featuring strongly in the Aotearoa Bike Challenge back in February. And it’s also great to see the growing range of community bike build/repair workshops around the city.

Lots of punters at this year’s Winter Solstice Ride

Apart from our lockdown advice, some of the other most popular blogposts in 2020 were:

  • Keith Guthrie: farewell to a legend

    Our farewell to local cycle retail legend Keith Guthrie

  • The emergence of a new bike database to help address bike thefts

{It’s also heartening to note the strong ongoing interest by website viewers in our pages on Where to Ride, Bike Hire and Bike Shops, as well as the old favourite Hidden Treasures like Bottle Lake Forest and Westburn Bike Park…}

2020 saw 114 blog posts produced on a wide range of topics. Re-heating 52 “Flashback Fridays” from the past made my job a little easier, and I am also grateful for the 18 contributions by my fellow regular and one-off guest bloggers – long may they continue! We’re on the verge of a big milestone next year too, as we’re only about 20 posts shy of registering our 1000th blog-post – amazing to think how far we have come in 7-and-a-bit years.

Notwithstanding all that, I am still very keen to scale down how much effort I put into this blog – I have an outside life that I’d like to do more of! So please don’t be shy to contribute your own ideas, observations, pictures, rants, whatever; whether in a fully-formed polished state or a half-baked version needing some TLC (I’m happy to help there) – just contact me. And perhaps don’t be surprised if I don’t always churn out something for the blog as regularly in the past…

It would be nice to get out and do more of this in 2021…

Looking ahead to 2021, there are already a few more planned cycleways waiting in the wings for consultation, so keep an eye out for those. And 2021 is also the year when Council’s Long Term Plan gets reviewed, which is the ideal time to ask how much focus should go into cycling.

What was the cycling highlight for you in 2020?

1 thought on “Cycling in Chch 2020: The Power of a Bike…”

  1. My highlight is that nothing significant went wrong while riding.

    I didn’t have any run-ins with other traffic, and no significant discussions with any aggravated road users.

    I suspect its a combination of pain points being removed or mitigated by improvements, combined with changes to my preference of routes to avoid horrible roads like Lincoln Road through Addington etc.

    Honestly, more boring mediocrity is preferred over adrenaline-dropping close calls.

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