9 Dec 2015

Cyclists unimpressed by new Chch cycleway

9:01 am on 9 December 2015

A $347 million transport plan for central Christchurch views cycling as an afterthought and is primarily focused on cars, a cycling advocacy group says.

The plan has been drawn up by the government and will be mostly paid for by council. It includes a 30 km/h speed limit, dedicated cycleways and a new bus interchange.

Don Babe on the cycleway as it passes in front of main entry to the bus interchange.

Don Babe on cycleway in Christchurch. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Spokesperson for cycling group Spokes, Don Babe, said one of the concerns was the width of the cycleways.

Biking on a recently completed section on Tuam Street, Mr Babe said the cycleway needed to be half a metre wider than its 2m width.

"There's only the two of us this morning, but if there were 20 of us in this block and some were going slow and some were going fast, then we may find it's not quite enough."

Another area of conflict is where the Tuam Street cycleway runs directly in front of the main entrance used by buses at the new bus interchange. The entrance is now controlled by lights but Mr Babe said his group would have preferred to see an underpass for cyclists.

"It wouldn't be a tunnel or anything, but it would be open, so you've got a dip, you've got a grade separation and it's completely safe. So the buses go across a bridge and there's no lights - you just go."

He said there was a limit to how powerful electric cycles, or e-bikes, could be before they were kicked out of cycle lanes, but that this was another reason to go for wider cycleways.

Transportation engineering lecturer at the University of Canterbury Dr Glen Koorey agreed 2m might not be wide enough.

"If you've got things right next to the cycleway and you've got poles or fences or traffic signal boxes, people tend to shy away from those so you've got to allow for extra space there. The other thing is we're getting cargo bikes or trikes that are getting a bit larger and will need more space."

Mr Koorey said the dedicated cycleways might not provide enough space if people needed to take evasive action to avoid a hazard.

"The thing with on-road painted cycle lanes is of course if you need to go around someone you can just make use of the existing road right next to you.

"But when you're physically hemmed in by curbs then you need to make sure the space is big enough that you're not going to have any obstructions."

The man in charge of rolling out the transport plan for Christchurch City Council, Steffan Thomas, said they would have made the cycle lanes wider if they could, but cyclists were not the only road users they had to consider.

"We've only got the 20 metre-wide corridor from property boundary to property boundary.

"The feedback we got was that people wanted wider footpaths, cycle lanes, more street trees, to cater for general traffic and public transport as well, so it's a bit of a balancing act to fit all of that in within the 20 metre corridor."

Mr Thomas said the 30km/h speed limit for all traffic passing through the central city will be rolled out progressively next year and this would make things safer for all road users.