ViaStrada has reviewed a controversial cycle facility for Christchurch City Council and found people either love it or hate it!
Tennyson Street's cycle facilities were introduced in 2001 as part of a kerb renewal project. They consist of an off-road cycle path on each side of the road at midblock locations, with a transition from the off-road path to on-road cycle lanes at each intersection. The street carries about 10,000 motor vehicles per day and about 370 cyclists per day. Cycle traffic has grown significantly over recent years, with an increase of 18% per annum recorded between 2003 and 2008. Motor vehicle traffic has remained relatively constant over this time.
A four-part review of Tennyson was undertaken in late 2008:
- Crash analysis and background research. The study analysed and reported on crashes five years before and after the construction of the new cycle treatment. Various background reports were also reviewed.
- On-line survey of cyclists. Cyclists were surveyed about their perceptions of the changes to the design of Tennyson St.
- Motor vehicle and cycle traffic volumes. Motor vehicle volumes before and after the installation of the new cycle facilities were compared. Bicycle counts on Tennyson St's cycle paths were collected for two weeks.
- Commentary on design guidelines and principles. The merits of the Tennyson St design approach and its applicability for use elsewhere in Christchurch are discussed in the context of current best practice design guidelines.
The popularity of the facility (as evidenced by the increase in cyclists) demonstrates that there is a strong demand for off-road cycling facilities. Nevertheless, while a majority of cyclists surveyed (51%) feel the new facility is "better" or "much better" than before, many cyclists (32%) found the facility "worse" or "much worse" than before. In addition, the facility did not satisfy basic design criteria from the appropriate manuals.
The review concluded that Tennyson St has proved a very useful design concept but ideally should not be repeated unless some of the inherent design flaws can be resolved. This would require considerably more road width than is available on Tennyson St (or is likely to be available on most streets in Christchurch) or the removal of on-street car parking on at least one side of the road. Other concepts for providing off-road cycling opportunities should be explored where off-road facilities are desired.