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Last reviewed: Thu, 28 Aug 2014

Cycleways in Christchurch

A connected network of safe cycleways will help make Christchurch a cycle-friendly city.

The benefits of the network will total more than $1.2 billion over 40 years, according to findings by transport planning company Quality Transport Planning (QTP). They will be passed on to the whole community and not just people who ride, the independent analysis finds.

Among the benefits that were allocated a monetary value in the QTP report were the impacts on health and well-being, pollution, road congestion and crash rates.

The network is now expected to cost about $156 million to build. Funding assistance is available through the New Zealand Land Transport Fund and Urban Cycleways Fund

The Council will consider funding options for its share during development of the Long Term Plan 2015-25.

The first four routes to be built are:

  • Uni-Cycle: The link from Canterbury University to the Central City through Hagley Park.
  • Papanui Parallel: Connecting Northlands and the Northern Rail Route to the Central City.
  • Quarryman’s Trail: The link between Halswell, Hoon Hay and Somerfield to the Southern Lights route which connects the southern suburbs around Beckenham to the Central City.
  • Rapanui − Shag Rock Cycleway: From the Coastal Pathway at Ferrymead to the Central City.

You can view a map of the city with ward boundaries that shows the order the routes will be built.

The Council has approved the following projects to begin this year:

  • An off-road cycleway along Matai Street East from the railway line to Deans Ave, part of the Uni-Cycle route. A signal-controlled crossing will connect Matai Street East to Hagley Park across Deans Avenue, providing a safer option for pedestrians and riders.
  • Changes and improvements to the traffic signals at the junction of Harper Avenue, Fendalton Road and Deans Avenue.
  • A shared pathway for pedestrians and riders through Rutland Reserve, part of the Papanui Parallel.
  • A new signalised crossing of Dean’s Ave near the old Blenheim Road roundabout that connects to the Northern Line Cycleway.

About the MCR network

The Council is building 13 major cycle routes that will encourage the large group of people who think they would cycle, or cycle more, if it was safer.

To achieve this means making some significant changes to the way we prioritise the transport network in favour of cycling on these routes. In some locations this will result in cyclists having priority over cars at intersections and reduce on-street parking.

Council selects cycleway names
The Council adopted names for all 13 routes along with bilingual options in Te Reo Māori. The names were suggested during a public contest and a vote was held to find the finalists. 

View the route names and alternatives in Te Reo Māori.

Netherlands influence

Dutch transport expert Leo de Jong has twice visited Christchurch to offer advice on developing the network. In March 2014, Mr de Jong worked with staff on detailed designs, developing standards for the routes, and prioritisation of route construction. In November Mr de Jong spent time at the Council with colleague Mark Brussel, also from the Netherlands. They felt Christchurch was on the right path with its cycleways plans.

Click to read the media release about their visit.

Background and timeline

Improving the safety and accessibility for cyclists was a strong theme for recovery to emerge from the Share an Idea discussion in 2011. People said they wanted the Council to invest in cycle paths to provide more choices and safer routes for people travelling to work, study or play.

The Council adopted the Christchurch Transport Strategic Plan in 2012. It set out a 30-year vision for transport in the city including a range of transport options to meet the needs of the community. It proposed a network of 13 cycleways to provide safe, convenient connections between the Central City, suburbs, business and shopping zones as well as popular recreational areas. Funding for the cycleways was confirmed in the Christchurch City Three Year Plan 2013-16.

To help determine the look, feel and function of the cycleways, Cycle Design Guidelines were developed. The Council adopted the Guidelines in April 2013. These guidelines have been used as the basis for the development of detailed design requirements. There will be some locations where the guidelines are not able to be strictly adhered to but the safety requirements remain non-negotiable requirements.

Click here for a description of the routes.

Need to know more? Check out our FAQs on Cycleways.


Pre-earthquakes: Christchurch is acknowledged as a city suited to cycling and with high levels of participation. Land Transport New Zealand research in 2006 revealed that 15 per cent of people regularly cycle, and a further 32 per cent would consider cycling but don’t due to concerns about their safety.

2011: More than 3,500 cycling-related suggestions are made through Share an Idea, a way for the public to say what they wanted the rebuild to focus on.

July 2012: The Accessible City chapter of the Central Christchurch Recovery Plan promotes enhancements to the quality and connectedness of cycling opportunities in the Central City as one of the key measures crucial to recovery. An updated version is released in November 2013 by Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.

November 2012: The Council adopts the Christchurch Transport Strategic Plan, a 30-year vision for getting around the city. It proposes the development of an extensive network of cycleways, along with supporting programmes to encourage Cantabrians to cycle as part of their everyday travel and activities. It recognises that investment in safe cycling is a priority for the city to create a range of transport options for residents.

February 2013: Mayor Bob Parker proposes the inclusion of funding for all 13 cycleways in the revised draft 2013-2016 Three Year Plan. The total cost of the project is $68.3 million.

April 2013: The Council adopts the Cycle Design Guidelines. The Guidelines set out how the city’s cycleways would look and propose a mix of separated and shared cycleways and recreational pathways.

June 28, 2013: The Council signs off on the Three Year Plan 2013-16, which confirms support for the cycleways and sets funding of $68.3 million over five years, of which $34.5 million is to be spent in the first three years. The remainder of funding is carried over to 2017 and 2018.

July 2013: A project team is formed to begin detailed analysis on how to deliver the project.

November 2013: Dutch transport experts Leo de Jong and Mark Brussel visit the city to review Major Cycleways plans and tour the city.

November 2013: Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee releases a new chapter of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan − An Accessible City, which puts an emphasis on cycle and pedestrian-friendly streets.

November 2013 − January 2014: Canterbury people are asked to suggest names for the new routes.

February 2014: A public vote is held to find the names that will be put to the Council for consideration. Results are posted on

March 2014: Consultation begins with communities affected by Major Cycleways work in Papanui and the Deans Avenue area.

March 2014: The Council adopts names for each of the 13 Major Cycleways routes

May 2014: The Council approves a signal-controlled crossing over Deans Avenue near Blenheim Road.

June 2014: The Council confirms the project delivery will be over five years.

July 2014: The Council gives the go-ahead for final design and construction to begin on sections of the Major Cycleways routes. The projects include an off-road cycleway along Matai Street East from the railway line to Deans Ave, part of the Uni-Cycle route. Signal-controlled crossings will be installed linking Matai Street East to Hagley Park and at the junction of Harper Avenue, Fendalton Road and Deans Avenue.  A shared pedestrian and cycle pathway through Rutland Reserve, part of the Papanui Parallel route, was also approved.

29 January 2015: The Council agrees the order in which the routes will be built and also adopts in principle detailed design guidelines. The guidelines build on the Cycle Design Guidelines and explain the engineering detail needed to encourage the numbers of people to take up cycling outlined in the Christchurch Transport Strategic Plan.

30 January 2015: Transport Minister Simon Bridges announces the first funding allocations from the Government’s Urban Cycleways Fund. Money is given to a section of the Uni-Cycle route and Papanui Parallel. New Zealand Land Transport Fund allocations to the projects are also announced. Read the media release.

5 March 2015: The Council makes public a report explaining the MCRs will generate $1.2 billion in benefits to society over 40 years.



Authorising Unit: Communications

Last reviewed: Thursday, 28 August 2014

Next review: Friday, 28 August 2015

Keywords: bicycle paths, biking, cycle, cycle lane, cycle lanes, cycle path, cycle strategy, cycleways, cycling