Have your Say: Westburn Reserve Learn-To-Ride Track Renewal

As mentioned the other day, the celebrated Westburn Reserve junior bike park is planned to have a much-needed overhaul of its cycling circuit and associated play equipment and other facilities. Consultation is currently open and you have until Mon Apr 24th to get your thoughts in.

Westburn Reserve bike track – a favourite with my kids…

My kids just loved going to the Westburn Bike Park as they were growing up and learning to ride their bikes – lots of happy memories there. But after teaching generations of kids how to bike for over 60 (!) years, it’s perhaps understandable that a refresh is in order – certainly our streets look a lot different now (and kick-scooters are also another common riding alternative now for the kids…). So the Council has come up with a draft plan for changing the layout (including new playground equipment and picnic tables too).

The proposed new bike park layout (click to enlarge)

In thinking about how to improve Westburn Reserve, it’s useful to take some inspiration from the ever-growing number of bike skills parks all across NZ now, including:

The kids’ bike park in Cambridge by the Avantidrome

One thing that quite a few other parks have is a set of mini-traffic signals. Considering that Christchurch is arguably the “traffic light capital” of NZ (and they feature heavily along our Major Cycle Routes), it seems a little odd that our bike parks (present or proposed) don’t include any traffic signals for kids to practice using (no wonder everyone runs red lights…).

The bike skills park in Palmerston North features both a roundabout and traffic signals

A few other thoughts I had about the proposals for Westburn:

  • I like the idea of adding a one-way loop track for testing some riding skills. It would be good to see a few more “challenges” added to the circuit, e.g. pump bumps, low seesaw
Some extra skill challenges could be an idea…
  • Asphalt surfaces are relatively unforgiving, especially when kids are learning to ride and potentially encountering other fast-moving kids in the area. Perhaps consider a more forgiving ride surface? I’ve come across some rubberised asphalt options that are softer on the falls but still reasonably hard-wearing.
  • If I’m reading the map scale right, it looks like the new play “roads” are barely more than 2m wide; 3m at best. This doesn’t seem to provide a lot of wobble room when riding – something that is pretty critical for new riders (especially at the corners). Perhaps consider slightly wider paths?
  • I hope that the indicative plantings beside the pathways are (a) low to avoid sight distance obstructions, and (b) friendly and soft should a child fall off into them?
  • I really hope that the proposed bike parking is NOT a spiral design as shown; they are completely impractical for easy parking of bikes (let alone scooters). We do have national best-practice guidance on cycle parking to use here…
  • The existing pathway between Westburn Tce and Memorial Ave is already severely under-spec’d (<2m wide) and also has no on-road connections at either end for people wishing to bike to the park. So a wider path with kerb ramps at the ends would be a great improvement too.
  • In terms of practicality, having the new toilets and drinking fountain located nearer to the playground and picnic areas would make more sense too.

It’s encouraging to see some refreshing of the bike park and play area at Westburn Reserve. But potentially it could be even better for future generations with a few extra tweaks…

Ready to play…

What do you think of the proposed changes to Westburn Reserve?

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