The Simple Power of a Bit of Paint

A couple of weeks ago I was working at home for a few days, so it was my partner who first alerted me to a quiet little improvement that had been made to her commuting route along Waltham Rd. Some of you may recall that a few years back I opined about a number of locations where cycle lanes could be easily added to an existing street, and Waltham Rd (between Brougham St and Moorhouse Ave) was one of them. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the route had gotten a makeover…

Hello, what is this…?

Let’s start in the northbound direction heading towards town: The existing roadway is already over 10m wide. So it was actually a pretty easy exercise to just squeeze up the two traffic lanes a little, do likewise with the parking shoulder and, hey presto, there’s enough room for a marked cycle lane!

Green paint to steer you the right way…

At the intersections, the improvements continue with a splash of bright green steering riders to their place between the through and turning traffic.

The rather horrible pinch-point approaching the overbridge has been removed to provide a decent cycling shoulder now…

Room to ride safely here now

…and the overbridge itself has again received the lane-shift treatment to make a bit more room for people cycling along the lefthand side. There’s also more green markings when you reach Moorhouse Ave as well.

The old marking (still visible) shows just how narrow it used to be

Coming back the other way from town, more bright green steers riders clearly onto the overbridge pathway (bits of the old red are still showing through but they will fade in time).

Follow the green…

Coming down the other side, again the shoulder width has been increased, with a bit of colour to help (still not a fan of the way you come off the pathway here to the road though…).

A wider cycling space on the downhill run

Again, more green helps lead riders across the Mowbray side street and towards the Shakespeare/Wordsworth intersection. So, well done Christchurch City for this great improvement!

The extra width is evident against the old markings

I still hear people complain that “paint isn’t protection” and, sure, many cycle lanes aren’t going to get all of the “interested but concerned” onto a bike. But well laid out cycle lanes still provide good safety benefits and do attract a few more people onto their bikes – for their relative low cost, that’s a pretty good investment in places.

This is much safer than the previous vague approach to this intersection

For all the great aspects, I still have a few minor gripes:

  • It’s a pity that the work didn’t extend a little further south. The southern approach to Brougham St along Waltham Rd is still problematic for cycling as you attempt to squeeze between the queues of cars. And a splash of bright green on the south side of Shakespeare Rd would have been a nice way to link with the existing cycleway there (which looks a bit tired now).
Sigh… why are we still marking cycle lanes like this?
  • Christchurch seems to have a curious habit of ignoring national best practice when it comes to marking cycle lanes next to car parking. Obviously the biggest danger there is the “door zone”, so the way to address that (and encourage people to ride further out) is to mark the cycle symbol on the right-hand side of the cycle lane (contrary to popular belief, passing traffic is not your biggest risk here…). But locally I still keep seeing cycle symbols marked right in the middle of the lanes…
How it should be done – keep clear of the door zone…

But the end result is still much better than the old street layout for cycling. As my partner has noted, she feels so much more comfortable now taking this route, to the point that she is often not choosing the alternate “quieter” route instead. For someone who is not the most confident rider, that’s a pretty big tick…

Have you ridden the Waltham Rd cycle lanes? What do you think?

4 thoughts on “The Simple Power of a Bit of Paint”

  1. “every little helps “ – the Tesco UK supermarket jingle comes to mid here. A little something here and there collectively makes a significant difference. Best of all, the minor projects that fly beneath the radar of public outrage give the ‘warm fuzzy’ message for those riding bikes that we do matter, and we’ll ride more as a result. No matter how simple the change may be it’s all good. Thanks too to those who report on such matters; nice to have a happy read over the morning coffee.

  2. I think this is a great improvement for how little it cost, especially the over bridge (heading north)
    I agree with you sentiments on the lack of paint on the south side of brougham street.
    Also there could be more green paint down the lanes to clearly mark it and why not plastic bollards like down park terrace (which look solid because the are black) specifically over the bridge where you still get the occasional car drifting over into the bike lane. Cheap and easy to remove if it doesn’t work!

  3. There was some green paint and stencils added to the existing cycle lane on Wairakei Road a few months back. As one of the few “safe” routes out here in the northwest (while we continue to wait for the Wheels to Wings cycleway and other much-needed connections), it makes me feel like someone is listening to me continuously ask for cycling infrastructure in my community board area (Waimaero Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood), which is way behind other community board areas.

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