Local Heart, Global Soul

September 25, 2018

Christchurch Cycling: The Path Of The Future…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, a webpage was put up by the Christchurch City Council where people could contribute ideas for how the “new” Christchurch would look, feel and work.

The ideas poured in in the thousands, practical, weird, wacky I think everything was there.

Of course the Council’s budget was stretched thin after the quakes so many were just too expensive but there were however a ton of very well thought out ideas, many with accompanying drawings and artwork.

These were ideas that local residents hoped would not just rejuvenate the decimated city, but also set it on the map as a new, innovative, safe, forward looking place to live and visit.

Christchurch residents wanted to not just rebuild Christchurch but to grab the opportunity to rebuild a city with improvements that were functional and practical.  Keenly interested in what was happening in my old home town, I read this public forum of ideas whilst it stood open, wondering which ideas would be implemented.

At the time it was difficult to imagine how the city close to my heart could possibly recover when it stood looking so broken, but seeing the contributions made me realise that many other people were equally concerned that somehow the “New’ Christchurch should be a the silver lining to the tragedy that had befallen the South Island’s biggest city.

Christchurch is the only large New Zealand city that is almost completely flat (the outer suburbs on the Port Hills excepted) so it was brilliant for me to see that several ideas popped up in the survey of ideas over an over and over and over again: The request for cycle paths set apart from regular road traffic and for the city to be as “Green” as possible.

My cousin told us during our 2013/14 Christmas trip that several people from the city council had come to meet with Dutch city planners and experts on cycle paths here in the Netherlands but that not much had been heard at the time about if, how, when or where cycle paths would be implemented. Many feared that there would be token gesture instead of the extensive network that was hoped for. Light rail, electric trams were other alternative ideas that were lobbied  because there are now so many people living further out from the central city and of course the completely demolished suburbs in “red zones”. (More on those in a post coming very soon).

Now, during our visit of January 2018 I was delighted to see evidence of these requested cycle paths springing up as a network in the city. I have no clue how far it all extends from the central city area but this at least is in my eyes very positive start. It also meets the “Green” request of local people whilst providing a safe way for people to commute around the city and get exercise. For the Council it would cut down on the numbers of vehicles in the central city so surely this idea would have been a no-brainer from the very start. One thing is for certain, Christchurch’s cycleways are the new healthy, green transport option, and a definite path to the future.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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