Sculptural underpass for cyclists and walkers opens near Christchurch Airport

A cyclist passes through the new underpass at the intersection of Russley Rd and Harewood Rd.
GEORGE HEARD/FAIRFAX NZ

A cyclist passes through the new underpass at the intersection of Russley Rd and Harewood Rd.

A new sculptural underpass forming part of a cycling network in Christchurch aims to get more people on bikes.

Christchurch's newest underpass opened this week. The 100-metre cyclist and pedestrian underpass near Christchurch International Airport was built to cross under Russley Rd (State Highway 1) and links the airport with the city.

Commissioned by the NZ Transport Agency and designed by Jasmax's Landscape Architecture team, the underpass features design elements based on the West Coast, Southern Alps and broad Canterbury Plains.

A new underpass for pedestrians and cyclists draws on the West Coast, Southern Alps and broad Canterbury Plains.
GEORGE HEARD/FAIRFAX NZ

A new underpass for pedestrians and cyclists draws on the West Coast, Southern Alps and broad Canterbury Plains.

Snow-capped Southern Alps are represented inside the underpass by irregular and faceted white sculptural forms that jut out.

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The feature is bracketed by colour panels and some 25 circular skylights have been installed above, allowing pools of sunlight into the underpass.

Jasmax senior landscape architect Mike Thomas said the underpass was built to be visually striking.

"This is exemplary promotion of cycling and walking in the city, and easily matches similar links in Auckland or Wellington.

"At Jasmax, most of us cycle to work. It is philosophically important to us to elevate cycling in Christchurch to a level in public perception above a shared lane on the side of the road. Cycling is a brilliant sustainable form of transport."

Thomas said the underpass would form part of the cycling network in Christchurch, which aimed to increase cycling movements threefold by 2041.

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"Positive design has a tremendous effect on people. People are encouraged by environments that respect the comfort, safety and experience of the user while also responding to the local area they know and love."

Cycle enthusiast and founder of CycleCHCH Catarina Gutierrez said the underpass was "one step in many steps" towards encouraging more people to jump on their bike.

"I think it gives people an option, where as before that option didn't exist.

"If you see more cyclists on the road you're probably more likely to see yourself in that person . . . the more protected pathways and the more separated cycle ways we have, the more opportunities people have in getting confident on the road and getting more cycles on the road."

The new infrastructure would help make New Zealand competitive globally, she said.

"As someone who has cycled in many cities internationally, we really have a lot of work to do but things like that put us in a position where we can get up to that international scale."

The underpass is part of the $112 million four-laning of State Highway 1 from Belfast to Hornby, one of the three Christchurch motorways projects as part of the Government's roads of national significance programme.

 - Stuff

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