'Difficult and dangerous' Sumner coastal pathway needs 'urgent' fix

Christchurch City Council needs to make this stretch of Main Road between Redcliffs and Sumner a priority for redevelopment.
DEAN KOZANIC/FAIRFAX NZ

Christchurch City Council needs to make this stretch of Main Road between Redcliffs and Sumner a priority for redevelopment.

A community leader is accusing the city council of leaving the most difficult and dangerous part of a crucial pathway to volunteers to progress. 

Hagley-Ferrymead Community Board chairwoman Sara Templeton wants the Christchurch City Council to prioritise redeveloping a section of Main Rd between Sumner and Redcliffs where a pedestrian was hit by alleged drink driver Sarah Arrow in March.

Safety concerns about the section of the road around Deans Head by Shag Rock had been raised before the incident, Templeton said.

Alleged drink driver Sarah Arrow is accused of hitting a pedestrian onto rocks in Redcliffs last month. She is yet to be ...
DAVID HALLETT/FAIRFAX NZ

Alleged drink driver Sarah Arrow is accused of hitting a pedestrian onto rocks in Redcliffs last month. She is yet to be charged.

The footpath on the hillside of the road is inaccessible because of a row of shipping containers placed there following the earthquakes, so pedestrians must walk along a narrow seaside path and cyclists have to jostle with motorists for road space.

READ MORE: Walkers do not feel safe

The area was part of the Christchurch Coastal Pathway project, but not the council's cycleway network, which officially ends at Ferrymead Bridge. 

The 6.5 kilometre Coastal Pathway would eventually link Ferrymead and Scarborough Beach, but construction of the final stage has been delayed and was not expected to start until mid-2018, when it was supposed to be completed. The council was contributing $9.9m to the $25m project. The Christchurch Coastal Pathway Group has been tasked with raising the rest.

"We have left the most difficult and dangerous part of the full route to a group of volunteers to progress, with limited funding and support and no specific project to address pedestrian and cycle safety in the meantime," Templeton said. 

She said the work around Deans Head was urgent and needed to happen now. It should not be classed as a "nice to have", but should be part of core council infrastructure.

"Yes, it is complex and yes, funding is not clear, but it is urgent and a plan needs to be made to address it as soon as possible."

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Templeton said if the pathway project did not exist, the cycleway would have gone all the way to Sumner, and would have been eligible for cycleway funding.

"The Avon-Otakaro route goes all the way to New Brighton, yet we are not making sure that we have a safe cycleway all the way to Sumner, which is the intent of the network."

Christchurch Coastal Pathway Group chairman Tim Lindley​ said the council had progressed most of the pathway to this point without any Government funding and he believed it was time for the Government to contribute.

Transport minister Simon Bridges said the coastal pathway was not part of the Government's urban cycleway programme, but it was an important project in the city's wider cycling network and had many benefits.

He said the council, with agreement from the New Zealand Transport Agency, did not prioritise the Coastal Pathway for Government funding in the 2015-18 funding round because the focus had been on connecting the major cycleway routes into the central city.

"The project will be considered and prioritised alongside other cycling projects, in particular as connections to this route are completed from the CBD to Ferrymead," Bridges said.

The council's Infrastructure, Transport and Environment Committee last week decided to get an update from staff on the pathway project and the safety around Deans Head.

Committee chairman Cr Phil Clearwater said the city's 13 major cycleways were the priority at this stage and the committee would wait to get the report back from staff before deciding its next move regarding the pathway.

Police said they had not yet charged Arrow over the crash. 

 - Stuff

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