Funding cycleways could boost business

CECILE MEIER
Last updated 05:00 21/01/2014
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KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
MORE BUSINESS: Rowena Morgan, left, and Kim Johnston enjoy a cup of coffee at Zeroes cafe in Cashmere after a bike ride on the Port Hills.

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Fast-tracking cycle lane construction in central Christchurch could boost retail activity, a Canterbury University researcher says.

Professor Simon Kingham said overseas research showed funding bicycle infrastructure had far-reaching economic spinoffs.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) transport plan and the city council's $70 million investment in a new suburban cycleway network were "on the right track", but work should begin as soon as possible to give local retailers a boost.

Cycle lanes should be introduced in the central city while roads and drains were being repaired, he said.

"It's very frustrating for people driving cars in Christchurch at the moment. Make it easy for cyclists now and in the long term, you'll have more people cycling."

Retailers would benefit as "significant evidence show people who cycle to shops spend more money", Kingham said.

A 2012 study conducted on a New York City street after the introduction of a protected cycle lane showed a 49 per cent increase in retail sales in the street.

A 2011 Portland State University study which looked at the spending habits of motorists and cyclists found cyclists made more trips to bars, restaurants, and convenience stores, and spent more money.

"A lot of retailers think they need carparking outside their shops, but what the research actually shows is that if you don't have carparking, then you have more pedestrians and people cycling in the cycleways. You actually get more people in the vicinity," Kingham said.

Cyclist Kim Johnston said she usually stopped for coffee after a bike ride with friends but she would rather use her car for shopping to carry items.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said cycling was important but the construction of cycle lanes should not be prioritised over other forms of transport.

"Christchurch was historically known as the cycling city and we can recapture some of that magic, but I wouldn't be over-emphasising cycling in comparison to" cars and public transport.

The CCDU yesterday was unable to confirm a starting date for the construction of cycle lanes in the central city.

The key routes include Salisbury, Worcester, Colombo and St Asaph streets, as well as Ferry Rd and Rolleston Ave.

"Cycling is a priority [in the recovery plan], but in terms of construction, design guidelines are still being worked through," a spokesman said.

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