Council's dilemma: demolish houses or car parks for cycleway?

This house on Barrington St in Christchurch is one of the properties potentially affected by a planned cycleway.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

This house on Barrington St in Christchurch is one of the properties potentially affected by a planned cycleway.

Two houses may be demolished for a new Christchurch cycleway after concerns the preferred option would have scrapped too many car parks.

Neighbours in the affected cul-de-sac are unhappy with the proposal, which they say could fundamentally alter the street.

Consultation is under way for the Quarryman's Trail cycleway, which would connect Halswell to central Christchurch.

Connecting these two culs-de-sac for a cycle way would result in houses between them being demolished.
LINZ/SUPPLIED

Connecting these two culs-de-sac for a cycle way would result in houses between them being demolished.

It is one of the Christchurch City Council's major cycleway projects.

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The council's proposed route would require it to buy and demolish several Somerfield properties in order to connect two roads for a cycle path.

A concept image for the Quarryman's Trail cycleway in south Christchurch.
CHRISTCHURCH CITY COUNCIL/SUPPLIED

A concept image for the Quarryman's Trail cycleway in south Christchurch.

The houses – one on Barrington St and the other on Roker St, backing onto each other – comprise four units and are all occupied. 

It is a departure from the council's preferred option, which it selected in 2015.  It would have used Milton St, a busy road running parallel to Roker St, which already has a marked cycling lane.

No houses would have been demolished, but it would have removed 100 per cent of the busy street's parking spaces – identified by the council as likely to be unpopular with locals.

It changed course and recently asked the cycleway's contractor, Pelaton, to come up with a new route that would retain more on-street parking "whilst still providing a high standard cycleway".

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The solution was to connect Roker St and Strauss Pl, removing the properties separating them.

The consultation document does not make it clear that houses would be removed, referring only to a required "land purchase".

The council confirmed it would need to remove at least one property for its proposed route to work.

"We have approached the affected owners regarding the property acquisition but have not confirmed the purchase of any properties at this stage," transport operations manager Steffan Thomas said.

The new route had other benefits, he said. It would be direct, safer for cyclists, and "significantly cheaper" even with the land purchase.  

There had been 39 cycle accidents on Milton St in the past 10 years, four of them serious. Traffic volume on Roker St was much lower.

A group of Roker St residents opposed the plan in a joint submission, arguing that it would turn their quiet street into a thoroughfare.

Somerfield Residents Association chairwoman Julie Tobbell said it had not been clear that houses would be demolished under the proposal.

There were differing views in the community. While most supported the cycleway in general, there were concerns about the extent of parking loss and the effect on quiet streets.

"It's difficult for everyone to agree because of the different routes and how it affects everyone quite differently," she said.

Losing car parks would have a big impact on the community, as would demolishing properties.

She favoured a less direct route away from the main roads, that would also go closer to nearby schools.

"There's options, and I think they need to consider going off the main roads more.

"We're very supportive of encouraging more cyclists and less confident cyclists on the road. But it's a matter of doing it correctly and in the best way."

The original route would have removed the vast majority of parking spaces along the entire route, including 82 out of 90 parks on part of Antigua St and 55 out of 60 on Strickland Rd.

The new route would keep about 35 extra parking spaces, along with all of the parking spaces on Milton St.

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