Early monitoring by Christchurch City Council indicates that hundreds of people are travelling by bicycle or on foot each day using new paths built in the city.
A new cycleway along Matai Street East, including a crossing of Deans Avenue, was opened on 28 August 2015 by Transport Minister, Hon Simon Bridges. It was one of the first projects completed nationwide as part of the Government's Urban Cycleways Programme, a joint funding arrangement to speed up delivery of cycle infrastructure.
In November 2015, an average of 590 people cycled across the new Matai Street crossing into Hagley Park every weekday. This was up from an average 280 a day in September, its first month of operation.
The nearby Kilmarnock Street crossing averaged 550 cyclists a day in September and a similar number in November. Surveying was not done in October.
"People told us they wanted better cycleways and direct access to key destinations and the increase in numbers shows that they are using the new facilities," says Phil Clearwater, the Chair of the Infrastructure, Transport and Environment Committee.
"Volumes at Kilmarnock Street have remained constant and there has been growth at Matai Street over the three months. This suggests this new path and crossing is catering to a group who previously didn't have access to what they needed."
Assets and Networks Unit Manager Chris Gregory says, "These early results are encouraging and we look forward to what our monitoring programme shows over a longer period."
Meanwhile, an estimated 1400 people on bikes are using the recently widened shared path in Hagley Park adjacent to Hagley Avenue every weekday. The path was widened as part of Central City transport network changes outlined in An Accessible City, the transport chapter of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan.
In the morning peak hour, more than 150 people were counted cycling along the shared path. In the same hour, 90 pedestrians also used the shared path, while another 60 walked on the footpath that runs on the west side of Hagley Avenue — parallel to the shared path. There were 10 people who rode using the on-road cycle lanes at this time.
The NZ Transport Agency has a target of 10 million more cycling trips annually by 2019, and Jim Harland, Southern Regional Director, says he’s delighted by this increase in people cycling in Christchurch.
“Over a quarter of New Zealanders are already getting out on their bike and research shows that a further 407,002 are intending to take up cycling in the next six months so we’re on track for 10 million journeys annually by 2019 – if not sooner.”
Transport Rebuild Unit Manager Steffan Thomas says one of the interesting things to observe from the monitoring was the behaviour of those using the shared path.
"Our surveyors report that in the time they were doing their observations, people were generally courteous and respectful of others' right to use the shared path. That shows that even during busy times, this type of shared facility can work effectively."
The Major Cycle Routes network
The Council is building a network of 13 Major Cycle Routes. They will link suburbs, education facilities, business and shopping areas as well as popular recreational destinations. They will offer a level of service not seen before in Christchurch, and enable younger and less confident riders to feel safe and increase the number of cycle trips they take. More information: www.ccc.govt.nz/cycleways(external link)
The Urban Cycleways Programme
The Urban Cycleways Programme is made up of shared investment from the Urban Cycleways Fund, the National Land Transport Fund and local councils. This enables key, high-value urban cycling projects to get underway around the country over the next three years, improving cycle safety and supporting more connected cycle networks.
More information: www.nzta.govt.nz/UCP(external link)