Christchurch cycleways to cost $252m as city council proposes delaying completion

More than 1200 cyclists use the new UniCycle route from Canterbury University to the central city each day.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF
More than 1200 cyclists use the new UniCycle route from Canterbury University to the central city each day.

Christchurch's network of cycleways will cost an additional $90 million to complete and will not be finished for another 10 years.

The total cost of the 13 cycleways has now ballooned out to $252m, up from the $162m signalled two years ago and the $68.3m first proposed when the council envisaged the cycleways would be largely on-road.

In 2016, the completion date of the cycleways was pushed out from 2020 to 2022 and the city council's draft 10-year budget, the Long Term Plan (LTP), was now proposing they be delayed even further to 2028 – 14 years after the council first committed to building them within five years.

Christchurch's 13 cycleways will not be complete until 2028, under the city council's proposed 10-year plan.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF
Christchurch's 13 cycleways will not be complete until 2028, under the city council's proposed 10-year plan.

The council was also now proposing to spend $206m on 101 kilometres of cycleways over the next 10 years. This was $90m more than was budgeted in the council's last 10-year plan. However, 50 to 66 per cent of the cost would be refunded to the council following completion of the work, because the Government was part-funding the work through the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and the Urban Cycleways Programme (UCP).

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Three cycleways and a section of a fourth route have already been completed at a cost of $46.6m but the council's contribution to that was just $16m after NZTA and the UCP contributed a combined $30.6m. 

Councillor Sara Templeton says new infrastructure is needed. "We simply cannot afford to build another 10 Lichfield St car parking buildings."
STACY SQUIRES/STUFF
Councillor Sara Templeton says new infrastructure is needed. "We simply cannot afford to build another 10 Lichfield St car parking buildings."

The cycleways have been controversial with residents and business people upset at losing car parks outside their properties and in one case two homes will be demolished in Barrington in the next two months to make way for a cycle route.

The council's LTP states the additional $90m was needed to fund route changes because some routes could no longer run alongside railway lines because the space was too long and narrow. There had also been unexpected repairs of infrastructure including pipes and footpaths and changes had been made to intersections, with new roundabouts and traffic lights being needed which had been agreed to following consultation.

The council has completed the Little River Link, Papanui Parallel, the UniCycle and a portion of the Rapanui to Shag Rock cycleway, linking Ferrymead to the city. It has started building the Quarryman's Trail from Halswell to the central city and the remaining portion of the Rapanui Shag Rock cycleway. 

Construction on the Heathcote Expressway linking the suburb with the city will start early this year and consultation is being carried out on the Nor'West Arc, from Hoon Hay to Papanui and the Northern Line from Belfast to the city.

The five remaining cycleways – the South Express,  Southern Lights, Wheels to Wings, Avon-Ōtākaro and the Opawaho River Route – are in various stages of design. Completion of these remaining five has been pushed out to the later stages of the LTP. 

Cr Pauline Cotter said the cycleway completion dates had been delayed because the city had to manage other priorities, but she reiterated the new dates were only a proposal and could be brought forward following public consultation.

"These cycleways are going to be a legacy for the council. We are going to be set for this whole new way of living and travelling around."

A council survey of people using the new cycleways late last year, showed 43 per cent had changed their route to travel on the cycleway and 15 per cent would have travelled by car before the cycleway was built. 

Cr Sara Templeton urged the council to show leadership and push through the development of its major cycleways.

"Cycleways are hard. They're controversial and difficult everywhere. They take real leadership to implement and that's not what this LTP is offering our communities."

She said simply putting the same 20th century infrastructure back would get the same result.

"Do we want our CBD to thrive or are we happy to let it die?"

She said 10,000 more people would be working in the central city in the next three years and 83 per cent would be travelling in single occupancy cars if nothing changed.

"That's over 8000 more cars in the central city and as well as the increased congestion we simply cannot afford to build another 10 Lichfield St car parking buildings at $32m each to store them all in."

Cr Mike Davidson said he did not believe the delay in the cycleways was acceptable. 

"People wanted them done and they wanted them done quickly."

He said cycleways benefited the city by reducing traffic congestion and lowering emissions, but the city would only see the real impact of the cycleways when the entire network had been completed.

CYCLEWAY USE 

Uni-Cycle (Canterbury University to central city): 1256 cyclists per day (count done at North Hagley Park) 

Little River Link (south west to city): 1388 (at South Hagley Park)

Papanui Parallel (Northlands to city):  225 (northbound count only)

Source: Christchurch City Council

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