$25m for six new cycleways

Six cycleway projects worth $25.2 million have been singled out as priorities for the Christchurch City Council, but money woes mean only half of them are likely to go ahead in the next few years.

The council committed itself last year to making Christchurch more cycle-friendly and asked staff to identify some key cycleway projects that could help it reach that goal.

Staff today presented the council's environment and infrastructure committee with a list of six cycleway routes they think should be given priority, but with the combined cost coming in at $25.2m, only the top three are likely to be included in the council's next three-year work programme.

The six routes are:

● The University of Canterbury route would see a separated cycle route established from the university to the central city. The proposed route would pass near high and intermediate schools and is expected to see many new cyclists commuting to work, school and university. It is estimated to cost $1.9m.

● The Grassmere route would connect the Northlands shopping area and the northern railway pathway to the central city. It would provide an alternative to the arterial roads for cyclists to travel into the city centre from the northern suburbs. The projected cost is $3m.

● The Little River route would connect Christchurch City to the Little River Rail Trail and is designed to meet the needs of recreational cyclists and commuters. The rough cost of the route is $2.7m.

● The northern rail route would extend and upgrade the northern and southern sections of the off-road rail pathway from Factory Rd in Belfast, with a link into South Hagley Park, to the central city. The estimated cost is $6.7m.

● The Avon River route would connect New Brighton to the central city via the river corridor. The route would provide connections to the proposed sporting, recreational and cultural developments for the area, as well as the schools and parks alongside the river. The projected cost of the route is $4.2m.

● The Sumner to city cycle route would start at the Ferrymead bridge and end in the city centre. It is primarily aimed at commuter cyclists but is also expected to be popular with weekend recreational cyclists. The rough cost of this route would be $6.7m.

Cr Sally Buck said she was disappointed that only the top two or three routes were likely to go ahead in the short to medium term. ''If we really want to achieve what we want in terms of a cycle city, it is not enough.''

Cr Claudia Reid said the council needed to put ''its money where its mouth had been'' and push harder to secure funding for the cycleways.

Acting committee chairman Cr Aaron Keown, who bought a bike on Wednesday and has committed to cycling at least once a week, said he doubted whether more cycleways would result in more people cycling.

He said many people used safety concerns as an excuse not to cycle when the real reason was they were lazy. Even if they had a police escort, they would still not cycle.

''People are lazy and cycling is not cool,'' Keown said.

If the council wanted its cycleways to be a success, it should also be ''spending a fortune on marketing'' to change people's perceptions of cycling, he said. 

The Press