Flashback Friday: Hagley/Hospital street works so far

We cycling advocates can be a picky bunch sometimes; as I illustrated with yesterday’s post, something new might be mostly good but there always seems to be something they could have done a little better… This is not a new phenomenon, as illustrated by this post (originally from Mar 2015) where the good parts of the Chch cycling rebuild mix with the not-so-good (many of which still haven’t really been addressed…). I would venture to say that lessons are being learned and the obvious clangers are getting fewer – in fact, there’s some damn fine cycling infrastructure out there around the city now. But, whether you’re an experienced cycle designer or just a person who likes to ride, don’t be afraid to point out the problems you encounter, either at the design consultation stage or once it’s on the ground. That way, things might get even better…

Late last year we introduced you to the planned first central city transport works happening around Hagley Park and Hospital Corner. Just before Christmas, the diggers started work and have now largely completed the first phase and moved onto parts of the works further into the central city. So it seems an appropriate time to see what has been produced and what it’s like for cycling.

Let’s start with the good stuff so far:

  • That wonderfully wide new shared path along Hagley Ave, complete with shared use behaviour messages (although I wonder whether some directional arrows would also ensure that the messages would be noticed by those who inadvertently travel along the righthand side?)
Feel the width… (and read the messages)
  • Pathway priority crossing of the Netball Centre driveway – more of these please around the rest of the park!
Right of way for path users
  • Mostly quite generous widths provided with the new cycle lanes
No skinny bike lane here
  • Copious lashings of green colour to highlight the various cycle facilities and conflict points
Hook turns, cycle lanes, bike boxes – all green
The new signalised crossings at Hospital Corner – useful?

But (and you knew there was a but), there are still bits where I worry that they haven’t quite thought through how a cyclist is going to use this.

For example, a lot of work has gone into a two-stage signalised crossing to get path users in South Hagley Park to/from Oxford Tce. It kind of works if you are heading north (albeit rather slowly), but that same signal phasing is not helpful if you’re heading in the opposite direction where you have to wait a bit longer to get over the last hurdle. OR you do what many people are doing, and just ignore it and run the gauntlet…

When it comes to designing intersections for cycling, a golden rule in my book is: always consider journeys from every possible origin to every possible destination. It’s no good if you have provided a brilliant safe, optimal route for where you think most people are going, if you have completely forgotten about how others are going to do their journey.

Case in point: I am often coming from work in Ilam, along Riccarton Ave, and then either heading onwards to Tuam St (perhaps to a meeting in the south of town) or turning right down Antigua towards home. Previously I would have used the contra-flow cycle lane to get to the Tuam/Antigua intersection and beyond. Now I note a few confusing challenges:

  • Coming from the northside path along Riccarton Ave, I invariably then squeeze past the tight car-parking by the hospital (no point crossing at the lights over to the southside path, only to cross back over again 200m later). Despite all the street works, no-one has either (a) removed the problematic car-parking or at least (b) realigned the lane markings to give me a bit more width to play with. Let’s be honest: it’s not even close to being a legitimate cycle lane.
Still not much room to play with…
  • On getting to the Hagley/Oxford intersection, it seems the only option presented to me is to veer left into Oxford. That might be fine if my ultimate destination is further to the north; I imagine that Oxford Tce will become quite pleasant with the traffic removed. But if I want to go to Tuam or Antigua (both of which have very nice new wide cycle lanes), the logical thing would be to go straight ahead. Unfortunately not even a shoulder has been left on either side to accommodate me, so essentially I need to “take the lane” to achieve this.
But I don’t want to go left!

I suspect that the ‘official’ response might be “well, cyclists can go around Oxford and then just around the corner turn right to get to Tuam and Antigua.” But if I’m in a car I don’t have to make that kind of detour, so why should I on a bike? Hardly encouraging people to switch modes…

If I want to turn right at Antigua, I guess I need to take this lane
  • If I somehow get myself over to the new link between Hagley and Antigua, the natural instinct would be to ride in the green “bus lane” area. Except that it’s marked “BUS LANE” at the start (meaning bikes can ride on it), then “BUS ONLY” at the end (meaning they can’t), and then a cycle logo is thrown in for good measure on what looks like a cycle lane only anyway. Confused?

There are other little minor niggles too. For example, I’ve been waiting for the contractor (or Council/CERA) to notice that they haven’t actually marked the hook turn box at Montreal/Tuam correctly…

Yes, that’s meant to be a hook turn box

…and, given that they now direct riders along St Asaph St and onto the new shared pathway, it would be nice if there was a kerb ramp directly lining up with their new access path (as shown in the original plans):

You’ll have to go up/down the pedestrian kerb ramp on the right

I’m also keeping an eye on the Montreal/Oxford intersection; at the moment I’m not convinced of its legibility and level of service for active mode users here either.

So there’s a lot to like, but also a few things where it seems that someone didn’t quite think it through. Fortunately most of them seem relatively easy to fix with a little bit of re-work.

Bear in mind that a lot of this is only “stage 1” works, with further “stage 2” works to provide separated cycle facilities to connect the Major Cycleways into the central city. But, as with any “transitional” works (e.g. during construction) it’s important that it is intuitive and safe for all road users and I’m not sure that’s entirely the case here yet.

I also wonder whether the new wide path will set the bar for elsewhere in Hagley Park – suddenly the other paths will be seen for what they are: far too puny for the amount of usage. Is there a plan for gradual upgrades?

One of these paths is not like the other…

Can you think of cycleways that are not quite 100%?

5 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Hagley/Hospital street works so far”

  1. Along Collins Street the cycleway (well it’s a shared path really) is marked with small give way signs at all the cross street intersections. It is very strange. Cars on the cross streets are slowing and stopping at these intersections (effectively giving way) to cars on Collins Street – but cyclists are expected to give way to the cars already giving way. If you follow.

    It’s such a farce that *most* cars ignore the requirement for cyclists to give way – and instead wave cyclists through.

    There should be consistency. Surely it is better for cars to always give way to cyclists on a shared path / cycle way.

    This should be changed ASAP – and the intersections marked more clearly as crossing points for the cycleway/shared path.

    1. Requires a change in law unfortunately. Others will confirm but the problem plus solution is sitting patiently on the ministers desk.

  2. There’s an obvious missing connection between cycle lanes that would better develop the cycle network. This is not quite on topic as it is not a cycle way at present. But it is an obvious oversight.

    Edinburgh Street runs from: –
    – The Little River Link cycleway at the Christchurch Southern Motorway
    – The Nor-West Arc on Domain Terrace

    It is a quiet street, and is the natural connection for students cycling from Addington to Hillmorton High School. Additional signage, and a painted cycle lane, needs to be installed. This would be very inexpensive. Then at Lyttleton Road a formalised pedestrian / cycle crossing should be added with a spacious refuge in the median. Ideally this would be signalised – but at present there is nothing.

    These updates would make the route much safer for tamariki commuting to school.

    Likely the transport planners will point to Lincoln Road as the preferred route – once the bus lane is installed cyclists would feel safer. However it adds at least 500m to the route when for not very much money some simple interventions would increase safety.

    Oh and bonus points for timing – there are currently roadworks on Edinburgh Street that will require road markings – so just add some additional lines to the contract… and add some lines.

    1. There is an allocation of tens of millions in the 10 year plan ( 2021 – 2032 ) for better connections for cycling.

      41853 Cycle Connections – Wheels to Wings
      44693 Cycle Connections – Central City
      44695 Local Cycle Network – Inner Western Arc
      44696 Local Cycle Network – North West Outer Orbital
      44697 Local Cycle Network – South West Outer Orbital
      44698 Local Cycle Network – Burnside to Villa
      44699 Local Cycle Network – The Palms to Heathcote Express
      44700 Local Cycle Network – Eastern Outer Orbital
      44701 Local Cycle Network – Northern Mid Orbital
      44702 Local Cycle Network – Northern Outer Orbital
      44703 Local Cycle Network – Northwood
      44704 Local Cycle Network – Opawa & St Martins
      44706 Local Cycle Network – Avonside & Wainoni
      44707 Local Cycle Network – Bishopdale & Casebrook
      44709 Local Cycle Network – Greers Rd
      44710 Local Cycle Network – Halswell to Hornby
      44711 Local Cycle Network – Opawa, Waltham & Sydenham
      44712 Local Cycle Network – Springs Road
      44713 Local Cycle Network – Ōtākaro-Avon
      44715 Local Cycle Network – Ferrymead

      The above are an example ( funding allocated for 2025 -30 ) and are in addition to
      these ones below which have funding allocated between 2022 -2026, more specifically connecting the cycleways to where people wish to go.

      17057 Cycle Connections – Rapanui – Shag Rock
      17058 Cycle Connections – Northern Line
      17059 Cycle Connections – Little River Link
      17060 Cycle Connections – Uni-Cycle

      This funding is in addition to the capital expenditure for the Cycleways themselves. Only problem is the good things, as always, take time. As you suggest, a real no brainer with that route, another that comes to mind is reducing the speed , some paint and perhaps traffic calming on Smith Street to link Rapanui Shag Rock with Heathcote Express.

      The more we do, the more we need to do eh!

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