Christchurch’s cycleway scheme seems to be shifting the way people travel, with results from a recent survey suggesting the separated routes have encouraged some out of their cars.
The $16,000 survey of 625 people using the Christchurch City Council-funded cycleways also pointed to users cycling more and feeling more comfortable because of the separated lanes.
Three of 13 planned major cycleways have been completed in Christchurch to date: the Papanui Parallel from Northlands to the central city, the Uni-Cycle route from the University of Canterbury to the central city, and the Little River Link from the south west to the central city via Addington.
When asked how they would have made their trip before the cycleway was built, 15 per cent of those questioned for the survey said they would have travelled by car and 43 per cent said they would have cycled on another route.
Ninety-four per cent said the cycleways improved their overall safety and comfort and 83 per cent said the amount they had cycled in the past 12 months had increased because of the lanes.
Ninety-two per cent said more cycleways should be installed throughout Christchurch.
Council manager transport planning and delivery Lynette Ellis said council staff were very pleased with the high level of user satisfaction.
She said the feedback provided the first opportunity to gather user’s views following construction of the routes, and would “form the benchmark for a range of topics”.
Ellis said one surprise was the high proportion of females using the network. Forty per cent of the respondents were female, and Ellis said it was a very good indicator the major cycleways were meeting the council’s objectives.
Don Babe, chairman of cycling group Spokes Canterbury, said the survey results were in line with what he had been hearing from the community.
“We are hearing of people feeling safer on their bikes, even if they have cycled in the past.”
Babe said it was “a little bit of a skewed sample” as it focussed only on cycleway users and could not be used as a city wide survey.
The cycleways were good for everyone, he said. Cyclists getting off busy streets like Riccarton Rd was good for motorists using that route, while streets where cycleways were being put in were getting “quite a makeover”, resulting in better footpaths and curbs for those living there.
The council recorded 1400 cycle trips on the Hagley Park end of the Uni-Cycle route each working day in November, while 1500 were made at the Hagley Park end of the Little River Link and 250 at the city end of the Papanui Parallel. For the Uni-Cycle route, this is up 18 per cent on November last year.
The council aims to get more people aged from 10 to 80 on bikes through its cycleway programme, which is expected to cost $156 million.
To obtain the survey results, each cycleway was surveyed for both a weekday afternoon and a weekend day between late October and early November.
The survey is part of a wider monitoring programme and would be repeated, including at new cycleways when they are completed.
The first stage of the Rapanui-Shag Rock Cycleway, which will run from Ferrymead to the central city via Linwood, is set to open to the public on Wednesday.