A push is on to get more people on their bikes and using the 19km of new separated cycleways that now link suburban areas of Christchurch to the city centre.
The new cycleways are part of a network being built across the city to make it easier and safer for people to get places by bike.
“One of the main barriers to people cycling is the perception it is unsafe. By building a network of new cycleways, most of which are separated from the roadway, we are creating a safe environment for cyclists and giving people real travel choices,’’ said Christchurch City Council Transport Operations Manager Aaron Haymes.
This week a guide detailing the cycleways routes and providing useful tips on how to use them is being dropped into the letterboxes of thousands of homes located near the new cycleways.
“With this new guide we are hoping to encourage people to give cycling a go – even if it is only for one day a week,’’ Mr Haymes said.
“With the weather starting to warm up it is a good time for people to test out the new cycleways and see how they could use them to get work or to other places they need to go,’’ Mr Haymes said.
Cycle counters placed in strategic locations along some of the new cycleways show that in the past year there has been an increase in the number of cycle trips being made in Christchurch.
A counter located on the shared path in North Hagley Park, near the Armagh St bridge, counted an average of 1128 cycle trips per work day over the first half of 2017, which is 24 per cent higher than the 902 a day counted in the second half of 2016. By 2021 it is expected 1674 cyclists will be using that path each day.
A counter on the Colombo St section of the Papanui Parallel has counted an average of 153 northbound cycle trips each weekday – a 58 per cent jump on the 2016 estimate of 97 a day. This section of the cycleway is predicted to carry 1249 cyclists northbound every day by 2021.
Overall the counters show 2600 cyclists commute into the central business district on an average weekday. That equates to about 5200 cycle movements a day. That is 6 per cent higher than was predicted by computer modelling.
“We’re only just starting to see the full completion of some of our cycle routes so to see increases in cycle trips numbers at this early stage is really encouraging. We can expect to see these numbers further increase once we have more cycleways in place and we move into summer,’’ Mr Haymes said.
Results from the recent Christchurch Residents Survey also show attitudes towards cycling are changing. Fifty-six per cent of people now believe Christchurch is a safe and convenient city for cycling.
During the recent Life in Christchurch transport survey more than half the respondents reported they had ridden a bike in the past year and about a quarter indicated they were riding a bike at least once a week.
“If you commit to cycling just one a day a week it will make a big difference to traffic volumes on our roads. You will also save money on petrol and parking costs and increase your fitness so give it a go,’’ Mr Haymes said.