Christchurch Transport Update

Here’s a quick update of a few significant things I’ve seen happening in the transport world of late.

There was a fantastic article on newsroom by Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw, that voiced a lot of the frustrations I’ve found working in transport in Aotearoa:

“it is timely to explore why transport is an area in which the evidence is so routinely ignored, even though implementation of what we know in policy would enormously improve so many New Zealander’s quality of life”

The draft Regional Public Transport Plan has moved forward to the next step, pretty much unchanged following consultation. Their was a big response – 726 submissions and 9,000 odd online polls completed. The theme was one of general support. A desire for rail was the biggest change people asked for, along with faster implementation of the programme. Kudos should go to Ecan for making a good effort to get the community views from online polls. However, despite the effort, the data still show a representation problem with our whole consultation set up (old people still over represented, young people still under represented).

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Lincoln Road bus lanes consultation closed. Hopefully we hear back soon that Council are going ahead with a functional design and not watering it down.

The promenade opened a couple of weekends ago. This is a 1.6km length along the banks of the Avon river, of mostly pedestrianised or shared spaces. I thought it looked really good.

Brougham Street and Moorhouse Avenue improvements consultation opened. It’s an interesting consultation technique for this one. They’ve created an online map that you can drop pins onto and add comments, complaints, ideas, photos etc. Quite a big project for a very messy part of town. Get in and have your say.

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Amy Adams, the MP for Selwyn District, has been opposing a lakefront walking/cycling track in Cromwell because it goes past one of her houses. It isn’t a great look for anybody to be selfishly opposing something that so obviously has massive positive benefits to society. It’s worse when they are someone who has a lot of power to influence tranportation policy in Greater Christchurch. Here’s hoping this NIMBY attitude doesn’t manifest itself in Christchurch transportation in any way.

The proposal to pedestrianise one small section of Colombo Street generated some good discussion in in the mainstream media. The negative stuff was mostly generic moaning about Council, consultants, and change. The positive comments seemed to be a little more specific to this project. Overall the poll suggested majority support, even amongst a tough crowd of Stuff commenters. Let’s see what Council do with this information…

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Otago University did some valuable research showing that cycle lanes reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make us healthier. It looked at New Plymouth and Hastings, who installed a bunch of cycleways 3 years ago, and compared them to Whanganui and Masterton, who did not. They found that New Plymouth and Hastings had a drop in vehicle-kilometres driven and a 1 percent drop in carbon emissions attributable to the investment in cycleways. They calculated that if we did the same thing in all our cities we would immediately save about 80,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year. You might think this is just common sense, but to get any sort of traction in changing policy it is important to have the hard, incontrovertible evidence like this, so good on Dr Caroline Shaw for leading this work.

Slightly depressingly, Greater Auckland did a wee expose showing that the AA’s official driving test guidance is to fail anyone who drives more than 10km/h under the speed limit, despite the Transport Agency saying that “87% of NZ’s roads have speed limits that do not align with the safe and appropriate speed for the road“. So we intentionally train people to drive faster than they should, fail anyone who doesn’t, and then wonder why kiwis are among the worst drivers in the world.

Auckland is banning through-traffic from their CBD. I’ve not heard a lot of talk about it down here, but to me this massive news that is an absolute game-changer for the whole country. Surprisingly (to me anyway) there seems to be widespread support for it, with Councillors voting it through unanimously, and not a heck of a lot of moaning in the media. I’m hoping they do a lot of before and after monitoring on this one, as if it can be demonstrated to have tangible positive impacts, there’s a much higher chance of something similar being replicated down here in a few years.

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Lastly, a bit of a strange one. Christchurch trialled an innovative method of phasing traffic lights along Bealey Avenue to try to discourage late-night boy racers. The technique involved setting the signals to always be green, with the theory being that they won’t be able to race without a red light to start them off. It seemed to me that this theory may have a one or two holes in it, but apparently it’s been deemed a success, so I guess good on whoever thought it up.

Anything I’ve missed?

7 thoughts on “Christchurch Transport Update

  1. I got an email from the hearing panel for the speed limit change saying they support the reduction to 30kph in South central city so we’ll see where that goes

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    1. Yea I did see that. It’s kind of a strange consultation. I was surprised by how many negative submissions there were given most of the other speed limit reductions around town have been really positively supported (Addington reductions had 95% support). I think people are using this particular project to vent off their general frustrations with Council. A lot of the submissions didn’t seem that relevant to the project.

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  2. Chris, thanks for the mention of my GA post on driving test requirements. The requirements are from the NZTA’s Driving License Test Guide. The AA simply interpret that in their guidelines.

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  3. Regarding the Bealey Avenue thing, that’s basically putting it back to how it operated a few years ago. When Councillor Deon Swiggs bragged about the success after the first weekend, I responded to him as follows:

    “Cause and effect? If @nzpolice advertised a strong presence for the weekend of the change, why would that not have resulted in changed behaviour? How can you possibly draw any conclusions from a situation where a major parameter (i.e. enforcement) was different?”

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  4. “Auckland is banning through-traffic from their CBD. I’ve not heard a lot of talk about it down here”

    I did some work looking at it in Christchurch well before the earthquakes. It took the CBD core and split it into 4 or 5 cells, & I think each with their own parking building, & used the one way street system to provide circulation around the core.

    That work included early concepts of the one way swap getting the Lichfield St one way out of what is essentially the retail core & moving it a street south to Tuam St.

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