In response they have made some tweaks to the plans and and will now proceed with detailed design and construction, which is currently expected to start early in the new year (Stuff article here).
The project is primarily about allowing buses to operate efficiently in the face of increasing congestion along Lincoln Road. Lots of new growth is planned to happen in the southwest and there’s no space for all of those new residents to travel by car along Lincoln Road. There is however plenty of space for everyone if a good chunk are travelling by bus. It proposes converting parking lanes into bus lanes 7-9am inbound, and 4-6pm outbound, with them remaining as parking lanes outside that. There is also a new signalised pedestrian crossing, a 30km/h speed limit, introducing some parking time limits on sideroads, some turning restrictions at the smaller sideroads, and relocation of a statue.
Changes made in response to consultation include:
- The proposed left in / left out turning restrictions at Wise Street have been removed. This intersection will now allow for right turns in and out.
- To improve safety for right turning vehicles into and out of the side streets where these turns are allowed, we are proposing ‘Keep Clear’ areas to be installed on Lincoln Road. This will keep the areas clear during queued traffic, and this will improve safety and visibility. Turning vehicles can now see cyclists coming towards the intersection, before they turn across them into the side road.
- A P5 Loading Zone will installed outside 297 Lincoln Road.
- The bus stop outside 342 Lincoln Road is being relocated to outside 334 Lincoln Road. This will improve sightlines for users of the laneway and for people accessing the Jailhouse Backpackers accommodation.
- The bus lane on Moorhouse Avenue is proposed to be a peak hour bus lane from 4-6pm Monday to Friday, rather than the 24hr/7 days a week bus lane originally proposed. This is achieved by constructing 2 recessed parking bays that provide 6 carparks.
To me these all seem pretty minor.
If you are that way inclined, it’s quite interesting reading the submissions received. Installing a new signalised pedestrian crossing seemed the least controversial part of the project, with most submissions supporting this part of the proposal.
The 30km/h speed limit seemed to be the most controversial with about 50/50 of the submissions split between support and oppose. Humorously, lots of the people who supported it did so for the exact same reason that others opposed it. Many correctly noted that a lot of the time people only drive through here at 30km/h anyway. But some saw this as a reason to support a 30km/h limit, others saw it as a reason to oppose it (saying it’s unnecessary).
The same thing was evident in the comments on the bus lane. A lot of people supporting it gave comments to the effect of “public transport is poor in Christchurch and few people use it, therefore we should invest in it to make it better”. But others opposed it saying “public transport is poor in Christchurch and few people use it, therefore there’s no point investing in it”.
Personally, I can’t see how this project can be anything but good for the city. Despite some of the whinging about the $4m cost, compared to other transport projects installing bus lanes is chump-change (remember that light rail would probably be a billion or more, heavy rail would likely be hundreds of millions, the current batch of motorways we are building is about a billion). Rolling out bus lanes like this one to all our core public transport routes is probably the most cost-effective thing we can do to improve public transport in Christchurch right now.
My only concern is that it needs to be supported well. I quite often see other bus lanes around the city unusable because cars are parked in them, so it needs some enforcement otherwise the whole exercise is pointless. And the current 15 minute bus services are at capacity during peak times – you’d expect this to attract more people to the buses so it would be good to see additional peak services introduced to coincide with the bus lane opening.