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…
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!
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…
…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.
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).
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…).
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!
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.
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).
- 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…
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?