I’ve always enjoyed getting up and about the Port Hills, be it on foot, or bike (or running even if I’m feeling stupidly enthusiastic…). Along the top, the Summit Road is great for doing all of these activities while also enjoying spectacular views down below. Pre-quake the route was also a favourite driving haunt, which could make for some less than pleasant encounters along the narrow route. So it was pleasing to see after the quakes, when the debris was cleared, that a section in the middle was closed off to motor traffic. At the time, in a July 2014 blog, CMH mused how it would be nice if the section between Rapaki Track and Mt Cavendish remained car-free – nine years on, the dream continues to be a reality…
What about making the Summit road a road for cyclists and pedestrians (and people with walking frames and wheelchairs) only? The road between Rapaki and the Bridle Path reopened to foot and bicycle access only last week. A trip up there at the weekend got me thinking that perhaps it would be more valuable to Christchurch if we kept it that way.
My friend and I walked from Halswell via Kennedys Bush along the Crater Rim Walkway and the Summit Road, and dropped down the Bridle Path to Heathcote. It was not a particularly nice day – cool, breezy and cloudy – but people were out and about walking, running, cycling, chatting, enjoying the view. Many came up tracks like Kennedys Bush, Worsleys Rd, Bowenvale, Mt Vernon and Rapaki and a few drove or biked up Dyers Pass. I was reminded of Harry Ell’s vision for the Summit Road as a recreational resource for Christchurch and Canterbury, his efforts to keep all these routes open, and to put aside the scenic reserves that are dotted along the road.
It was wonderful to reach the road closed gate and read the sign – Road closed to cars and motorcycles – foot and bike access welcome.
It was the sight of a family group with young children biking along the road that got me thinking we should consider keeping the road closed to cars and motorcycles – at least this part of it. As it was, I witnessed an incident that could have ended in disaster – a group of mountain bikers spread across the road whilst they admired the view on their way up a hill and a fast moving road cyclist coming round a blind corner into their midst. Some swearing was involved but nobody was hurt. We probably all need to remember that keeping left is a good idea even where there are no cars! It is also worth remembering that going at high speed round a blind corner is not a good idea in this new, relaxed environment! Save it for places where you can see the road well ahead or for going down from Dyers Pass or Mt Pleasant. or even the Gebbies Pass descent.
Personally, I’d like to see this part of the Road continue to provide a safe, fun environment for the cyclists and walkers of tomorrow to start out on. The Summit Road is too narrow for cars, and it should be permanently designated for non-motorised traffic only. This does not prevent motorists from getting up there to enjoy the environment, but it does mean they couldn’t drive all the way along.
Do you like the closed section of Summit Road?