Better transport planning needed in Christchurch

This week in Christchurch I attended a breakfast lecture by visiting planning consultant Todd Litman from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, British Colombia.  He was advocating the benefits of “multi-modalism” transport planning – which basically means modern transport planning that spreads the focus over several forms of transport options – cars, public transport, cycleways, and walkways, when developing a transport plan.

This has been the Green Party’s modus operandi for transport for as long as I can remember, and it was encouraging to hear a visiting expert advocate for this sort of future forward planning specifically for Christchurch. We could be the best practice model for New Zealand and enjoy the many economic, health and community benefits that a multi-modal transport system would create.

As my colleague Julie Genter has pointed out, spending money on improved walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure is far more cost-effective than putting more money into highways.

Mr Litman gave the example of supporting local businesses. Suppose you could walk to your local shops, to more of the services and activities you wanted to access, instead of needing to drive a car – you wouldn’t need to spend as much on petrol (supporting foreign oil companies) and would instead have extra funds that could be spent on supporting local businesses (in Todd’s case, supporting micro-breweries).

A community where people walk and cycle more will be a healthier community. Todd  Litman asked the Christchurch audience an interesting question, “who here, as children, were chauffeured to school by your parents?”  I didn’t see any hands raised, though there could have been 1 or 2. He then asked, “and who here, is now driving their children to school?”,  a large section of the audience raised their hands.  Todd continued “but do children nowadays not have the same number of legs that their parents had?”. He made a very good point, especially given the National Government’s destructive proposals for Christchurch school closures and mergers.

Education Minister Hekia Parata’s agenda for Christchurch will result in fewer schools, and those left will be super-sized.  More students will have to go by car or bus rather than being close enough to walk, scooter or bike to.  We know we have a growing obesity problem in New Zealand. We need to allow the same healthy start for today’s students that many of us enjoyed by having local neighbourhood schools that kids (and parents) can walk to.

New Brighton mural by the Suffra-jests

New Brighton mural by the Suffra-jests

Multi-modal transport design also promotes community cohesion.   Todd Litman said that in Victoria B.C, walkability is the city’s most valuable asset.  It is an easy city for tourists to explore, and for  locals greater foot traffic encourages more social interactions. People say hello when they walk which they can’t in a car. This promotes community cohesion, security, and ultimately more liveable communities.

We could have all this in Christchurch. We have the perfect conditions for it, a very flat city (easy for cycling and walking) that is in the process of being redesigned. A Green transport plan for Christchurch would focus on multi-modal transport design that is inclusive, safe and accessible.

15 thoughts on “Better transport planning needed in Christchurch

  1. Eugenie says “We know we have a growing obesity problem in New Zealand. We need to allow the same healthy start for today’s students that many of us enjoyed by having local neighbourhood schools that kids (and parents) can walk to.”

    You need to look at all factors. Like there are far more opportunities to play different sports, and far more teams available for children to join at larger schools.

    I was at a large weekly sports even yesterday. The large schools had multiple teams. The small schools weren’t even there.

    Larger schools also have the advantages of facilities small schools will never have – all sorts of extra sports, IT, music equipment, things like gyms, halls etc, dedicated music teachers, art teachers, drama etc.

    Then there’s also recent research that shows larger schools have higher overall academic achievement than smaller schools.

    The argument of further to go to get to school was also used when some of our local schools were merged last year. Until it was pointed out that most people on one side of the school would actually be closer.

    There will always be pros and cons with school sizes, but in pushing for smaller schools, don’t omit the fact that there are fewer sports, fewer teams, fewer opportunities, and lower academic achievement at smaller schools.

  2. @photonz1: but which is healthier: daily exercise & a healthy lifestyle, or playing sports in the weekend for less than half the year?

  3. Paul says “@photonz1: but which is healthier: daily exercise & a healthy lifestyle, or playing sports in the weekend for less than half the year?”

    Why on earth would you only count kids sports at the weekend for only half a year, when they play school sports year round, particularly on week days.

  4. I would vote for walking to school as it dose not involve all the ideological trappings of organised sport and is thus more likely to lead to good lifelong exercise practices.

  5. yeah right – walking around the corner to school gives you much better life lessons than leaning to be part of a team, learning to win, learning to lose, learning self discipline, learning to control anger, learning to socialise with new people, pushing yourself harder etc

  6. Yes, and some of that stuff actually happens for some people who have above average ability. For those people who have low levels of natural ability their main experience of compulsory sport is lose, lose, lose. Even when the team is winning these members still lose as they are embarrassed by the spectacle they create. They do not learn to work as part of the team, but rather experience alienation as they are the last to be selected by the team leaders and are chastised generally by their “team” for their lack of ability. Most of these people will drop out as and when they can.

    Next to feel the squeeze are those of average ability who are now below average. As the children grow older and their sport gets structurally more and more competitive many of these will start to feel inadequate.

    By adulthood only a small minority of people will still be playing. This is the process by which “Jocks” are created.

    When i was in primary school and a member of the first group, it would make me very angry that we could not have maths lessons set to this sport structure so that i could lay my vengeance upon these jocks. photo, how do you think a sport model would help children struggling with maths?

  7. Do questions come any sillier than this “how do you think a sport model would help children struggling with maths?”

    Just because you failed at sports doesn’t mean we should remove all the opportunities for today’s children.

    A survey of youth courts in Victoria, Australia came out with the staggering result, that of over 500 cases, less then 1% of youths played regular sport.

    And large schools can do what small schools can’t – they have a much better ability to grade teams so that no matter what their ability, children are playing with kids, and against teams, of a similar ability.

  8. Kerry says “Less than 1% of children played organised sport.”

    What is it with appalling poor reading ability on this forum?

    The 1% is of those who have been in trouble and gone through the youth court – not of children in general

  9. I imagine of the kids who go through the youth court ‘not playing sports’ is another symptom, not a cause.

    What about that guy who got drunk, jumped into a random womans car (basically abducting her), made her drive him around town, and then throw $20 in her lap. The judges let him off because he played sports and came from a ‘good family’. So, what are the stats for those who didn’t go throught the youth courts just because they play sports? THat might mess with your figures a bit…

  10. Kerry says “Actually, Photo, for children in general, after they leave school sports, the stats are not much better.”

    What are the stats then Kerry?

    Cause it sounds like yet another thing to add to the long list of things you’ve made up off the top of your head when you don’t actually have the slightest idea of the actual real world facts.

    Because Sport NZ’s figures for 15-18 year olds are that only 25% of boys and 30% of girls don’t participate in organised sports, and less than 10% don’t participate in any sports at all.

  11. In contrast to Photo, who uses statistics out of context, ignores the full story, and unfailingly defends whatever facsist policies that National comes up with, despite overwhelming evidence they do not work.

    And you complain about other peoples reading comprehension.

    As I said, AFTER leaving school sports. Bugger all people continue with organized sport.

    And the first figures I’ve got were from an article by the NZYF.
    Asking why we lose almost all the kids from sailing once they leave the optimists. Less than 5% are still sailing by the time they are 20.

    The cut throat competition, blatant cheating, buying success and regimentation, that is sport these days, has a lot to do with kids voting with their feet, I suspect.

    Sport, like business and Government, seems to been have been overtaken by the same idea. Cheating and poor sportmanship are OK so long as you win and do not get caught.
    Yet another legacy of your antisocial, dog eat dog world.

  12. I never found organized sport to be as useful or relaxin as my going out and training myself. NEVER. I can sail or bike or even (well not so much any more) run for the pleasure of it. Add competition and it is diminished. It becomes more stressful.

    We have more than enough of that.

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