Fiery council debate on “temporary” cycleway metres from two shared pathways

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Jun 07, 2023 |

Cycle lane council staff added next to a share path less than four metres away

Christchurch City Councillors have voted against the removal of a controversial cycleway along Park Terrace.

The cycleway, which runs just metres from two shared pathways on either side of the Avon river, has been a bone of contention among the council members.

The cycleway was never officially approved by the elected councillors, further adding to the controversy surrounding its existence.

To exacerbate matters, staff installed a bus stop on the remaining road lane on Park Terrace, causing traffic congestion whenever the bus comes to a halt.

Cr James Gough said “my preference would have very much been to explore widening the shared pathway along Park terrace to accommodate cyclists in the designated only cycle lane.

“We’ve probably got widest grass verge in all of the city in this location.

“Park Terrace being halved by capacity is one thing, but building a bus stop quite literally in the middle of the road is extraordinary.

“I’m comfortable for the staff delegations to be used for relatively minor tweaks, but significant fundamental changes like this should be subject to full consultation” Gough said.

Amidst the debate, Cr Melanie Coker attempted to read a fictional children’s book, which advocated biking to school in the name of climate change.

She failed to finish her tale due to time constraints.

Cr Victoria Henstock acknowledged Coker’s story, but emphasised that the council motion did not concern the merits of cycling or the scientific aspects of climate change.

She refuted claims that the motion displayed contempt and lack of respect for cyclists.

“If anything, it’s actually about contempt and lack of respect for all residents of Christchurch, especially those who were not consulted prior to the implementation of these works.

“I think it’s a legitimate expectation that our residents have that they will be consulted on important measures, such as this where there’s material changes and it’s a major route and and out of our city.”

Henstock said “it makes absolutely no sense to consult after the works have been completed, and retrospectively seek approval.

“And to those who say that this is a waste of money to rip it up.. well, my response is that it was a waste of money in the first place. There was no problem to be solved and there was no evidential basis for that decision.”

Cr Celeste Donovan voted to keep the cycleway for now

Cr Celeste Donovan said “I’ve listened to some people in this room argue against cycleways for the reasons that they’re too expensive or they’re over engineered.

“Here we are with a temporary solution that is fast affordable and it’s fixing safety issues in a pretty innovative way.”

Cr Aaron Keown said “the numbers at the table are for it (cycleway) to stay. It’ll be there for five years. That’s the reality of how the table works.”

His comments didn’t go down well with Cr Sara Templeton who interjected with a point of order.

Cr Aaron Keown said his vote didn’t count and pointed out, the decision was predetermined

“That’s completely disrespectful to standing order that talks about disrespectful language. It’s completely disrespectful of colleagues to say that it’s predetermined when everyone’s been really clear that they’re looking forward to having the information arriving.”

Keown continued following Sara’s outburst.

“Biking is not dangerous and everyone who says that cycling is dangerous and keeps bringing it up to try and blackmail councils into putting in massive expensive cycleways is doing damage to cycling.

“If you live in your danger zone then wear a lifejacket when you’re at the beach because you’re 11 times more likely to drown than you are to be killed on a bike.

“The whole thing about the shared path (being dangerous) – newsflash for everyone that has been living under a rock – we’re about to open the coastal pathway in the coming months or years depending on when it finishes that will be the most popular cycleway and walkway in this country. It is going to be a stunning addition to the city, and it’s a shared path. Oh my god, it’s gonna be so dangerous” Keown said.

Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger said “I still cannot see the sense and putting this one here, when it runs parallel to an existing shared path, less than four metres away. It is strange to say the least.

“I asked at a prior briefing what instigated the decision, and was told there were complaints by pedestrians about the safety on the shared path. When asked to see these complaints, I have not seen them to date.”

Mauger also said he had been advocating for hospital parking for eight months.

“It is a small but simple fix, which could have been prioritised well before this, because that would help solve a far more important problem.”

Cr Sam MacDonald said “we should consult the community. It’s as simple as that”

Cr Sam MacDonald who was one of the councillors who put forward the motion said “we’ve talked about how we’re getting value for money from these things, but the best value for money would have been giving the options to the community to make a decision on and then implement.

“I’m unclear as to why we think the best value for money is spending money, putting it in, and potentially removing it, to put it onto a shared path.”

“Before we put in hard infrastructure, we should consult the community. It’s as simple as that” Macdonald said.

Cr who rejected the notice of motion to end the temporary cycleway, Templeton, Mclellan, Johanson, Donavon, Scandrett, Fields, Harrison-Hutt, Cotter, Coker, Moore,

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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