There has been vast controversy over the redesign of Christchurch's St Asaph St to add off-road cycle lanes. A part of this, and the heated discussion over Wellington's Island Bay cycleway, illustrate how difficult it is to add these off road cycleways to an existing road with driveways coming out onto the street where parked cars and buildings close to the kerb can block visibility of the cycle lanes for vehicles turning into and out of these driveways.
The answer of the traffic planners has been to try to force drivers to slow down by making the turns ever tighter to get in and out of these driveways. This is simply likely to cause problems with vehicles driving over the kerbing if they can't get round the corners. The result will simply be a lot of money spent unnecessarily on repairing these kerbs.
There appears to be insufficient traffic enforcement as a car yard in the street had parked many of their vehicles illegally at the time I visited the site, such as on top of traffic islands. Handing out a few tickets would solve that one. The biggest issue that has not been addressed is the narrowness of both the parking lanes and the traffic lanes.
The design process is appalling but typical of transport planners who try to socially engineer traffic behaviour all over Christchurch. An example being a roundabout which completely blocked the view for traffic by having trees and shrubs planted in the middle, this was supposed to calm traffic for a safer driving experience.
In order to fix the issue at St Asaph St, quite simply, is to have:
- On street parking, if there is any, only one side of the street (the right side as you drive down it). Does not impede the view of the cycle lane, and does not require a buffer zone between parked cars and cycle lanes (to allow for people to get into and out of cars) which saves space.
- Off road cycle lane only on the left side of the street.
- Make sure those trees planted next to the cycle lane never get big enough to block the view of cyclists in the lanes.
- Make sure the footpaths on that side are wide enough so that cars coming out of driveways have a reasonable view of oncoming cyclists and enough time to stop. Put up caution signs at all the driveway entrances and exits.
The cycleways along the side of Colombo St work much better, and one of the key reasons is there are no car parks alongside them and no driveways going off the street into premises. When you go down St Asaph St it is quite a different design, and those differences have not been fully appreciated by planners.