Ref: CCC 2021-31 Long Term Plan
Open for feedback: 12th March 2021 – 18th April 2021.
Spokes Canterbury (http://www.spokes.org.nz/) is a local cycling advocacy group with approximately 1,200 members and is affiliated with the national Cycling Action Network (CAN – https://can.org.nz/). Spokes is dedicated to including cycling as an everyday form of transport in the greater Christchurch area.
We would like the opportunity to appear at any public hearing that is held to consider submissions on these projects. Should there be an officer’s report or similar document(s) we would appreciate a copy(s).
If you require further information or there are matters requiring clarification, please contact our Submissions Convenor (and Secretary), Chris Abbott in the first instance. His contact details are:
Address: (in submission)
Phone: (in submission)
Spokes is mostly pleased with the directions being taken in the draft Long Term Plan 2021-31.
Especially pleasing is the plan to complete five of the Major Cycleways by 2024 and the last three in 2025-29. The plan to start work on the local connections that will boost access to the Major Cycleways is further good news.
However, there are two issues Spokes where believes the thrust of the plans is not right.
The first is that providing alternatives will not be sufficient to make people change their transport habits. Changing habits is a major step for people to make and it is not something that is done without a degree of prompting. People that are currently using their bikes for transport have mostly changed habits in the past due to some external factors. For our chair, Don Babe, it was due to the study he did for a Master’s degree in 2002 that opened his eyes to the inefficiency of wrapping ourselves in a ton of steel and plastic to get from one place to another. For our secretary, Chris Abbott, the initial switch was due to a serious knee injury leading to his cycling to rehabilitate his knee in time for the imminent tennis season. He enjoyed it so much and the benefits were so great that he has never stopped! In later years cycling has been the bedrock for maintaining both his physical and mental health.
Given the Mayor’s comment that this is the first long term plan that has been subject to scrutiny under the Climate Emergency scenario, our concern is that providing good alternatives will not create the prompt for sufficient people to change their habits during the life of the plan. That will leave us needing more radical solutions to meet the Council’s and Government’s carbon goals.
The second point concerns the safety of our transport infrastructure. The stated goal is to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes by 40% over the next 10 years.
Spokes considers this goal too conservative. There is no reason why the goal should be anything other than no deaths or serious injuries on our roads by 2031. Oslo in Norway had only 1 road death in 2019 and no children under 16 were killed on the roads anywhere in Norway for the year. Norway is very comparable to New Zealand, a long narrow country dominated by a mountainous spine. Their winters are a lot worse with up to 20 hours of darkness and a lot more snow. Why should we accept anything less than what the Norwegians can achieve?
Accepting that we may lose a few fellow citizens each year because of mistakes on the road network is macabre. We do not accept that for any other facets of our lives and have harsh penalties if people lose their lives whilst at work.
Fortunately, there is one action that can provide the council with a solution to both of these shortcomings and provide a better city:
REDUCE THE SPEED LIMIT ON ALL RESIDENTIAL STREETS TO 30KPH.
This will provide a further prompt to those that may be inclined to use alternative transport and will reduce road deaths.
It is possible that some arterial routes may need to be 50kph but all roads below that status should be limited to 30kph. Bus lanes could stay at 50kph.
Cars seem a little inappropriate in 30kph areas. Those speeds can be managed on electric bikes or scooters at a fraction of the cost and easier parking. The time advantage people perceive from operating a car will disappear especially for the bulk of car trips that are 3 kilometres or less.
The big upside is that with slower traffic speeds the road network becomes a public space and not a place to be avoided because it is dominated by motor vehicles moving fast. We saw how streets changed during the April 2020 lockdown. They became public spaces again and people were surprised by the increased birdsong. People went walking with their families and young children rode their bikes because parents felt the spaces were safer.
We are aware of stopping distances that we learnt whilst studying for our drivers’ licences. Cars travelling at 30kph will stop in about 3 car lengths whilst it takes 5 car lengths for a car to stop at 50kph. That extra 2 car lengths could be the difference between life and death for a pedestrian or cyclist. Also, the slower a car is moving the less severe any injury is. At 50kph a person may have multiple broken bones but maybe only a broken arm at 30kph. Still bad but probably not in the serious harm figures the Council are keen to reduce.
This is highlighted by the following reference to the following World Health Organisation report (this report focuses on car vs. pedestrian, but other references show a similar pattern for car vs. bike collisions:
At 30kph, there is less than 10% risk of fatality.
At 50kph, there is just over 50% risk of fatality.
And at 60kph, there is over 90% risk of fatality!
And all these are compounded by the increased chance of collision the greater the speed limit.
The 30kph zone in the central city has been successful in reducing accidents and making the place feel more relaxed for those on foot, scooter, skateboard and bike – and many drivers too. It may have also played a part in reducing car travel. People moving from one side of the city to another may be avoiding the central city because travel is too slow and some may even use other travel options or abandon their desired journey. These actions are required on a bigger scale if we are to be serious about reducing transport emissions.
Furthermore, streets that are restricted to 30kph become multi-modal because cyclists, scooter riders and others are happier to mix with slow traffic. This would reduce the need for the connections to the Major Cycleways to be so expensive.
Finally, there is an equity problem with the current 30kph restriction only applying to the central city. People that live in the central city tend to be better off than those living in most suburbs. Providing safer streets for just those that can afford to live in the central city is unjust.
The Council has already signalled how important climate change measures are and that Council has a responsibility to keep all road users safe. In this submission Spokes offers a means to achieve both outcomes.
Thank you for your consideration.