by Eugenie Sage
After a year of waiting, last week the Accessible City Transport Plan for Christchurch was released. Many Cantabrians had submitted on what kind of transport infrastructure they would like to see for the city, and it’s great to see the difference that those submissions made. Christchurch citizens have overwhelmingly called for a city designed for people and community, and the Accessible City plan is a good example of how public input can make positive changes to the rebuild. Congratulations to all those who wrote submissions.
While there is nothing radical in the plan, (such as making Colombo Street a giant promenade every weekend by opening it to walkers and cyclists and closing it to cars) the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Agency (CERA) has included many of the things that Cantabrians asked for. These include the potential for future growth in public transport, more prioritised cycle routes, cycle parking facilities at bus super stops, and a 30 km speed limit over more streets to calm traffic. There is a commitment to improved accessibility, with barrier free trust audits, better facilities for visually impaired persons and universal design standards.
The commitments to making it easier for walkers, cyclists and public transport in the central city need to be extended across the whole city. All around the world, city planners are choosing smart green transport infrastructure, and future Christchurch needs to be part of that.
If we follow their lead we can enjoy the many economic, health and community benefits that a transport system which encourages walking cycling and public transport would create. Here’s a short video we made at the Open Streets to celebrate how great cycling can be. Take a look!
In 2012/13 only 7.9 % of what the NZ Transport Agency spent in the Canterbury region was on public and active transport. It is clear from this spending that the Government’s priority has been developing a city for cars, which potentially explains why the cost-sharing elements and implementation section of the central city transport plan took so long to be agreed upon by Government.
CERA have finally listened to Christchurch people who asked for a walkable, liveable central city, designed for people not cars, that takes accessibility for everyone seriously, and encourages safe active and public transport options. We are looking forward to the future of Christchurch transport, and want this new smart transport ethos carried through the whole region’s transport planning – not just the central city.
That requires reprioritising the transport spend to invest more in public and active transport to help the Council expand the cycleway network. It also involves giving greater priority to the needs of walkers and cyclists in the road repair programme and the Council creating more busways on city streets to reduce travel time.