11 Feb 2021

'It's an overkill, it's unreasonable': Council urged to rethink cycleway

7:00 am on 11 February 2021

A notice of motion has been filed at the Christchurch City Council in a bid to stop a $19 million cycleway going ahead.

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An artist's impression of the proposed cycleway that would reduce the four lanes of a busy thoroughfare to two. Photo: Christchurch City Council / Newsline

The council has put forward a design to create a cycleway down the main thoroughfare of Harewood Road dubbed 'Wheels to Wings' as it would link the city to the airport and surrounding areas.

The $19 million design which would see Harewood Road reduced from four lanes to two in some parts and some on-street parking removed is out for public consultation at the moment.

But local councillors Aaron Keown and Sam MacDonald have filed a notice of motion which will be heard at a council meeting today.

It's requesting the consultation and design be scrapped and the process started again so the community can have more input.

Councillor MacDonald said since the design was revealed there has been a lot of backlash from the community.

"Given the over-engineering of this design we think it's appropriate to take a different approach, we want the community to have far more say at the beginning of these projects.

"We want the staff to work with the local community board who were opposed to this design, with the local schools and the businesses who will face huge repercussions if this goes ahead."

He said the local community board was briefed on the design late last year and raised concerns then - which were not addressed.

"I'm not a traffic engineer, I'm an accountant by trade but for me it seems like the design is totally inappropriate for that stretch of road.

"As elected members we've had no say about the design going out for consultation so it's created a real challenge and unfortunately a real tension in the community," MacDonald said.

The cost of the road upgrades and cycleway are set to be split between the council and Waka Kotahi, the NZ Transport Agency.

Copenhagen Bakery is a well-known business along Harewood Road. Owner Donna Thomsen said if the design goes ahead she will lose customers.

"The off street parking will be diminished and we are really worried about the safety of our older customers. The design looks like it would make things very unsafe due to the curbing of the cycleways.

"We have big trucks coming in for flour and wheat deliveries and having two lanes gives them room to come into the business and allows traffic to go around. If that's removed to one lane it will create queues of traffic," Thomsen said.

Thomsen said she is working with other business owners to make a submission on the proposed cycleway.

"It's an overkill, it's unreasonable - they need to consult with the community first because people have a lot of great ideas on how a cycleway can be included on the road without digging the whole thing up and reducing lanes and parking. "

Thumbs up from cycling group

But cycling group Spokes Canterbury chair Don Babe said the council staff who came up with the design are experts in their field and the whole process is democratic.

"We are obviously in favour of it. We think that we need more cycleways and more provisions for people to cycle safe in Christchurch."

Spokes meet with council engineers last night to discuss the designs and the small tweaks they would make to it.

"Just a couple of small things at a few intersections. We are aware that not everyone who is cycling is very agile so the cycleways need to be accessible to everyone," Babe said.

He's not surprised people are opposed to the cycleway as many have faced negative feedback in the past.

"Cycleways are well used in Christchurch and in fact we are having capacity issues on some of them - the Antigua Street cycleway in the morning is very congested.

"The reason you don't usually see people on cycleways is because they are a much more efficient way of moving people than cars. If you have five or six cars queued up at an intersection you notice them but if there are six bikes waiting you don't tend to take much notice," he said.

If the notice of motion is not supported in council today consultation on the design will continue and closes next month.

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