Kaiapoi Cycleway Craziness

There was an article appeared on Stuff a few days ago that described how construction of a cycleway in Kaiapoi has been put on hold because a group of local residents have decided they don’t like it.

A did a little digging, and from what’s available online, the facts seem to be that:

  • Waimakariri developed a walking and cycling strategy in 2017. A key part of this was a community survey asking people what they wanted (258 people filled it in). One thing a lot of people are frustrated about is the fact you can’t safely ride a bike between Christchurch and Kaiapoi (and onto the rest of Waimakariri).
  • Another common complaint was that kids can’t safely bike to school at the moment. Reasons given by parents not letting their kids bike to school were:
  • Council used this to develop a cycling strategy that included an action plan with specific projects to be prioritised. One of these high priority projects was the Kaiapoi-Belfast cycleway. This strategy was opened up for public consultation, following which it was was formally adopted.
  • Over the last 4 years the Christchurch Northern Corridor has been under design and construction, which includes a cycleway linking the Waimakariri District to Christchurch. This comprises an off-road seperated cycleway, and a clip on cycleway on the side of the Waimakariri motorway bridge. This project was consulted on and approved.
  • Last year the Waimakariri District Council investigated which route the cycleway should take through Kaiapoi. They went out to the public to seek their views, which included public drop-in sessions. Following this, the preferred route was chosen, which went down Peraki Street.
  • Residents on Peraki Street specifically were sent letters inviting them to give their feedback on the project. After considering local residents’ feedback, the cycleway designs were finalised and adopted.

This is what the final design looks like on Peraki Street.

It is a neighbourhood greenway, which is basically just adding paint and signs to tell people to expect others to be riding bikes here, and installing some street calming to ensure no one is driving too fast. Parking is mostly unaffected, except for a few short lengths of yellow no-stopping lines around the kerb-buildouts. Vehicle access doesn’t change, you can still drive a car everywhere that you could before.

So when construction started recently, the cycleway had been consulted on four times, in one form or another. Some of the local residents complained about it, which is not surprising. Any time you make any sort of change to the public realm there will be some people who push back. What was surprising is that the Council chose to put construction on hold. It is unclear why – the Stuff article says the delay is to “allow authorities to investigate ways to reduce the effect of the cycleway, and survey the residents again”. It even goes so far as to say “if residents were still strongly opposed to the cycleway after consultation, there was a possibility Peraki St would be removed from the plan”.

This seems absolutely crazy to me. The public have already been asked their views on this cycleway numerous times over many years. In terms of involving the public, Council seem to have done everything they are meant to have done, and more. Yet now this project will potentially be cancelled because a handful of angry residents have kicked up a fuss about a few speed humps. It makes a mockery of all the people who have taken the time to contribute when they were asked, like the 258 people who gave up their time to be a part of the cycling strategy. A small number of people are getting a disportionate amount of influence purely because they are willing to kick up more of a fuss than others are.

It reminds me of this Spinoff article about how bad consultation is here, where he quotes:

Councillors and council officers are forever going to public meetings to receive bad advice from angry people who mostly don’t know what they’re talking about.

Another great Venn diagram

I hope the councillors see sense with this one, recognise the people who have given their views in previous iterations of public consultation, and get this project going again as soon as possible.

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