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Physical Activity Important In Christchurch Rebuild

Cycling, bouldering should be incorporated into the Christchurch rebuild says UC expert

December 3, 2012

Physical activity in the rebuild of Christchurch may be even more important than has been previously realised, a University of Canterbury (UC) sports science expert said today.

Given the importance of regular physical activity, cycling or walking as forms of commuting would seem to be a very sensible move as the infrastructure of the city is rebuilt, UC’s Dr Nick Draper said.

He said given the largely agreeable climate in Christchurch it would seem very possible to further develop and promote cycle commuting in the rebuild of Christchurch.

``This would have the added bonus of ensuring that cycle commuters got at least two bursts of activity each day which would be good news for the health of the people in Christchurch.

``Two possible ways in which CERA, the Government and Christchurch City Council could promote physical activity in the rebuild of the city could be through cycling or rock climbing on artificial boulders.

``In planning and carrying out the rebuild of Christchurch there are some good lessons we can learn from cities such as Odense in Denmark, which is often seen as the capital of cycle commuting and boasts the first ever cycle pathway and now a network of cycle pathways.

``Research findings from around the world suggest that the most significant change that can be made to improve cycle commuting changes in city infrastructure. While this would be difficult to achieve in some older cities, the rebuild of Christchurch and the favourable climate present us with a unique opportunity to create a cycle friendly city, with greatly enhanced use of bicycles as a preferred form of transport that is the envy of the world.’’

Such a policy adoption by CERA, the Government and CCC would serve to purposefully promote physical activity and be beneficial to the health and wellbeing of the people of Christchurch, he said.

The rebuild of Christchurch also presented an opportunity to examine some novel ways of promoting physical activity in the city centre. Bringing rock climbing to the city would be one such way, Dr Draper said.

To the rest of the world and to New Zealand itself, Christchurch is seen as the central hub of New Zealand climbing. From this city climbers can access a multitude of locations and styles from the alpine climbing of the Southern Alps, to the crags of Lyttelton and the endless boulder fields of Castle Hill.

As Christchurch considers the way it wishes to rebuild the idea of connectivity amongst the people will be strong in the planners and designers minds. Christchurch like most cities must look for new and old ways of creating this connectivity and making it accessible. Public landscape is one of those places where this can be achieved.

``As Christchurch is already a place where many climbers reside and visit then it makes sense to incorporate public bouldering into the new public space master plan. Bouldering is a sub sport of climbing where short routes called problems are performed near enough to the ground so ropes are not needed for safety. As the focus is on movement and not height it is possible to programme bouldering to meet safety standards as required by local council.

``As climbing is not exclusively a youth sport, studies overseas have found that the presence of urban bouldering has reduced anti-social behaviour by providing a known source of adult surveillance.

``I believe Christchurch is a climbers’ city and the strategic placement of some basic or sculptural public bouldering facilities would invigorate a sense of active and social place which will draw upon the city's existing strengths to foster connectivity. This connectivity will be essential for the success of Christchurch's evolution.’’


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