4 Aug 2016

Chch cycleway design 'compromised' - Greens

7:11 am on 4 August 2016

People using Christchurch's multi-million-dollar cycleway will have to share the road with motorists.

When the $162 million project was announced it was touted as a way to take cyclists off the road and encourage those with safety fears to give cycling a go.

Christchurch City Council wants to build 13 cycleways over the next five years, bringing commuters and recreational cyclists from all corners of the city into the CBD.

One route has almost been completed and work on the second one linking the city with the eastern suburbs is just months away from starting.

However, large parts of the Rapanui Shag Rock route will require cyclists to share the road with motorists.

Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said keeping cyclists and motorists separated was safer.

Julie Anne Genter.

Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter. Photo: GREEN PARTY

"It's really unfortunate they are changing and compromising on the design in a way which actually might not encourage many more vulnerable road users like younger people, women, older people, to use their bikes."

The shared use section of the cycleway includes the busy thoroughfare of Worcester Street where 3000 cars-a-day currently travel.

Ms Genter said greenways - areas where cars and bikes co-exist - are fine in low-speed, low traffic volume areas.

"But if they're being proposed for major arterial routes then it's very problematic.

"You're not going to create the safe separated cycling environment that's really needed."

The council's transport committee chairperson, Phil Clearwater, said he was confident speed restrictions and other measures would halve traffic volumes along Worcester Street and make it safer for cyclists.

Christchurch City Council transport committee chairperson Phil Clearwater.

Christchurch City Council transport committee chairperson Phil Clearwater. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

The council's models showed this section of the route, which is close to the city centre, would carry the largest number of cyclists and that motorists would naturally give way to them, he said.

"It would be like a critical mass and certainly we would expect that traffic will take a good number of cyclists into account.

"And in fact I guess it's changing the order because usually cars have priority and we're turning that around and saying look, in this street, cyclists are being prioritised."

Mr Clearwater said that at half the cost of a separated cycleway, the greenways made financial sense as well.

"There's no doubt that for some long stretches too, the neighbourhood greenway can be quite safe and also yes, it does reduce costs, but that helps the overall system become affordable."

Local backpacker operator Michael Britnell said he had no problem with a separated cycleway along Worcester Street.

But the measures designed to slow down drivers meant everybody would suffer; motorists because they would be held up and cyclists because it would not be as safe, he said.

Local backpacker operator Michael Britnell.

Local backpacker operator Michael Britnell. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

"The cyclists they're talking about are not regular, already up and running, cyclists.

"These are cyclists they say are possibly not confident enough to go out cycling so they want to provide them with a nice safe place to learn how to cycle.

"Well that's not what our main streets are for," Mr Britnell said.

Any reduction in the number of cars travelling along the street will be the death knell for local businesses, many of which are already struggling, he said.

Construction of the Rapanui Shag Rock cycleway starts in spring and is due to be completed by 2018.

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