Time to transform transport network

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 16:03 05/12/2013

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Two visiting Dutch transport experts say Christchurch has the perfect opportunity to transform its transport network.

Leo de Jong and Mark Brussel, from the Netherlands, have spent several days in Christchurch assisting the city council with its plans to build 13 new cycleways over the next five years.

Brussel, a senior lecturer at the University of Twente, said now was the perfect time to make changes to the transport network as so much needed to be done anyway due to the earthquakes.

''You cannot continue as you are. The city will grow and congestion will continue to worsen,'' Brussel said.

The way the infrastructure had been developed in Dutch cities meant the average trip was faster by bike than car, so cycling was the preferred travel method.

The fact that it was green and healthy was a benefit, ''but the primary purpose of any transport system is to get to a destination''.

Brussel and de Jong said there was a need for a culture change where cycling was seen as a safe, convenient option and all road users respected each other's right to be there.

''The Netherlands is in a favourable position; everyone cycles so when you are driving you know the behaviours and what to expect of cyclists - you are sympathetic to their needs,'' de Jong said.

''If you have cycleways that are well-designed, and designed in such a way that all road users know how to use them, then conflicts will reduce,'' Brussel added.

Both felt Christchurch was making good progress towards successfully integrating cycling into the transport network.

''Importantly you recognise the need for a collaborative approach to education, marketing and communications," Brussel said.

"This is as important as building the infrastructure in achieving uptake in use of the cycleways.''  

Construction of Christchurch's new cycling network is forecast to cost $68.3 million and take five years.

The network will link suburbs, education, business and shopping areas as well as popular recreational destinations.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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