Bikes, Buses and Motorways

I’ve found myself as the Waimakariri representative on the Regional Transport Committee, which comes under Environment Canterbury.  It has a variety of members: mayors and councillors from all the Canterbury district & city councils and ECan, NZ Transport Agency, and community representatives.

A Draft Regional Land Transport Programme has been out for consultation and for our District, the noteworthy parts are outside it: a northern arterial road that bypasses Belfast to the east and an upgrading of the NW Christchurch bypass, i.e. State Highway 1 along Johns and Russley Roads.

It looks, on the surface, to be putting money into encouraging more and more motor vehicles, when, it is argued, we should be putting it into public transport, walking and cycling.

In principle, I can’t argue with that. Nevertheless, I do support the major roading projects because we do have to live with the fact that the settlement patterns in Greater Christchurch (including Kaiapoi and Rangiora) have been largely brought about by the almost universal ownership of cars.  Many Waimakariri people commute daily to Christchurch and it is actually quite difficult to bike that distance and impossible to walk it. Public transport, currently buses, is more viable, and with the support of ECan, the District Council and ECan’s ratepayers (i.e. most of us!), the bus service has dramatically improved over the last couple of years.

I commuted to Christchurch for more than 20 years.  Most of the time I worked in Mairehau and Spreydon, and, for briefer times, Hornby and central Christchurch.  Only the last was reasonably accessible by the bus service.  My experience would be the same as many other commuters.

The construction of better alternate roads will, I believe, free up space on the current roads, for dedicated bus lanes and the buses themselves, making the buses faster and more efficient.

As an aside, we should be seeing work starting within the next 12 months on a cycle/pedestrian clip-on to the old Waimakariri bridge .

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