Who are cycleways for again?

Despite their success, I still hear complaints about the cycleways we’ve built in Christchurch.

I think a big part of this stems from a misunderstanding of who these are being built for. In some people’s minds, the cycleways are being built to benefit a small number of smarmy, rich, lycra-clad, fitness-freak cyclists.

In reality, the people using them are far more varied. From my observations, it’s primarily children riding or scootering to school; it’s a lot of parents, especially mums; it’s grandparents taking children for rides; and it’s regular people making utility trips- going to work, shops, appointments etc.

Below are some photos I’ve taken over the last few months of people using the cycleways of Christchurch.

Kids scootering to school
Kid biking with friend on skateboard
Man biking to work passing kids on their way to school
Mum and kid going to school
Men biking to work passing kid going to school with guitar strapped to back
Mum biking with baby and daughter
Mum with toddler on back passing kid on way to school
Hagley Park full of all sorts of people

When we don’t build cycleways people have to ride with traffic which feels dangerous. Many decide it’s too unsafe and just jump in the car instead, which is a lose-lose for everyone.

Kids biking to school. On-road because there’s no cycleway
Kid on road because there’s no cycleway
Mum and bub sitting in cycle box because there’s no cycleway.

It’s worth keeping these sorts of people in mind when you think about the value of cycling infrastructure.

A few other reminders to finish:

  • The cycleways we’ve built are being very well used (here and here)
  • Women especially are using them (here and here)
  • The majority of people want us to build more cycleways (here)
  • Cycleways are cheap. Despite all the cogitations of council wasting ratepayers money, cycleways are a bargain compared to just about any other transport infrastructure – they cost a tiny fraction of what motorways, new roads, road widening, overpasses/underpasses, bus lanes all cost. They are also funded mostly from central government rather than council, so they have next to no impact on council rates.
  • They’re not just for summer – people use them even if it’s raining (here)
  • They’re not just for rich people – rich and poor alike use them in roughly equal measure (here).

4 thoughts on “Who are cycleways for again?

  1. Good article. But you will still have those naysayers who cannot force themselves to see all of the evidence of bicycle lane preference right in front of them.


  2. We’re getting there but not good enough yet.

    Need a nation wide infrastructure standard that mandates protected cycleywas and protected ped/cycle movements at junctions.

    A white line on a road is not a cycleway.


  3. Good article and lovely pictures. I like the one of the boy with the guitar. In the 1970s it was common to see children biking with cellos on their back on their way to CSIM!


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