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Christchurch city transport plan misses opportunities

Christchurch city transport plan includes inconsistencies and misses opportunities

November 29, 2012

The Accessible City draft transport plan for the new Christchurch appears to include inconsistencies and misses opportunities, a University of Canterbury (UC) transport expert said today.

UC Professor Simon Kingham said the plan to include faster moving motor vehicles would scare people on bicycles. He said slowing maximum speeds in the inner core to 30kmh would encourage more people to cycle.

``There is a wealth of evidence that shows that reducing the speed of vehicles from 50km to 30km significantly reduces the risk of a pedestrian or cyclist dying in a collision with a car.

``In the UK reducing speed limits to 30kph is a growing trend and this reduction has been described as the most cost effective way to improve quality of life.

``All Christchurch cycle priority routes in the draft plan should have 30km limits. At the moment they do not. More than half of road deaths and serious injuries in the UK occur on roads with 30kph limits. Lowering urban and residential speed limits to 30kph has been found to increase urban journeys by just 40 seconds maximum.

``Why don't we reduce the speed limit for the whole central city to 30kph? Why stop there, why not do it in all residential streets too? Let us too reap the benefits of the most cost effective way to improve quality of life.’’

Professor Kingham said another feature missing from an Accessible City plan was rail. There was no reference to it in the plan.

He said it should be at least discussed in an open forum, rather than dismissed behind closed doors, which it seemed to have been.

CERA recently released An Accessible City a new draft chapter of the Christchurch central recovery plan.

The plan is focused on how the transport system needs to be `affordable, resilient, environmentally sustainable and practical’. It includes big-picture information on future road layouts, providing for pedestrians, cycles, public transport and private vehicles, speed zones and streetscapes, parking and service vehicle requirements.

Particular features include a clear central city road use hierarchy that prioritises walking, cycling, cars and public transport on different transport corridors.

An Accessible City, the transport chapter of the recovery plan, is a real change in direction away from a car focused city centre towards one that allows people real choice to walk, cycle or use the bus. It promises to provide good quality infrastructure for these other modes, he said.

``We know from New Zealand Transport Agency funded research that we carried out in Christchurch just prior to the earthquake that the main barrier to people choosing to use the bike as their mode of transport is that they do not feel safe at the moment. The priority cycle routes and physical separation outlined in An Accessible City will provide a safer feeling environment that should encourage more cycle.’’

The draft plan is now open for consultation and people have until February 1 2013 to make submissions through the CCDU website at www.ccdu.govt.nz.


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