Concerns 'vocal business owners' having too much influence on St Asaph St design
A climate change action group is concerned "vocal business owners" are having too much influence over plans to overhaul a controversial Christchurch street.
Generation Zero is disappointed the Christchurch City Council is considering changing St Asaph St to introduce more car parks, which it believes will increase the risk to motorists and cyclists.
The original $3.5 million upgrade, part of An Accessible City completed in December 2016, removed most of the on-street parking and narrowed the lanes to make space for a cycle lane.
The work has been widely criticised as unsafe and a safety audit completed earlier this year recommended reducing the speed limit to 30 kilometres an hour and improving access to on-street parking spaces.
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Generation Zero Christchurch transport spokeswoman Francesca Bradley said the council should have gone ahead with the safety audit recommendations and left it at that.
But the Central City Business Group (CCBG), which represents 20 businesses in the area, wants more drastic changes and has met with the council 16 times to look at options to remediate the street.
The parties were unable to agree on a suitable option that addressed safety concerns, but council staff presented two options to the Infrastructure, Transport and Environment Committee last month. The committee has sought public feedback on those options and more than 330 public submissions have been received.
The first option would see minor adjustments made to the current layout, such as adding two goods vehicle loading zones and adjusting the entry and exit of parking bays for easier access. It would cost $210,000.
The second option calls for more dramatic changes, including the reinstatement of about 53 on-street car parks and cutting a metre from the width of the northern footpath to make the street's lanes wider. It would cost about $1.2m. CCBG supports an amended second option.
Bradley said the process had shown how much impact small, influential, vocal groups could have on the city's development.
"It poses a major risk to the future of our city, that small minorities with short-term interests can have this much influence over our council."
She said a final decision on the street layout had to address the safety of all road users and not just one section of the community.
Bradley said the group's first choice was for the council to proceed with the safety audit recommendations, but since the council had gone out to public consultation it had asked for the car parks on the south side to be removed to allow for wider traffic lanes and improve visibility of cyclists.
The New Zealand Automobile Association's (AA) Canterbury/West Coast District Council also made a submission on the controversial street.
In its submission chairman Roy Hughes said the association concurred with widespread community concern about the unnecessary loss of parking spaces, recurring damage to cars and disconcerting disruption to traffic flows resulting from the layout changes.
The submission supported the second option. It said while it was "regrettable" that could involve spending in excess of $1m, it was the Canterbury AA's view that the "longer-term cost to the community would be much greater" and noted the cost estimate was "a preliminary guess by council staff".
"As we have noticed the costs being incurred for street works projects would appear to be surprisingly high, we suggest there may be ways the council could obtain more value for the ratepayers' dollars."
Hughes said the Canterbury AA had been "opposed to the ongoing council programme of eliminating kerbside car parks and restrict the flow of private vehicles on central city streets" since before the earthquakes.
The council was due to make a final decision on the layout in November.