Christchurch – city of cycling

24 August 2018 Chloe Brigden

An innovative cycle route that links the University of Canterbury with central Christchurch has resulted in a massive surge in cycling activity and national recognition.

Just 18-months after opening, Christchurch City Council’s Uni-Cycle route has increased cyclist usage by 49% - three years ahead of expectations.

WSP Opus was the lead consultant on the project, which was recently recognised at the Bike to the Future Awards and named supreme winner.

Shelley Perfect, WSP Opus Project Manager, is delighted with the outcome and says it is testament to the hard work of everyone involved.

“We worked closely with the University of Canterbury and Riccarton Bush Trust to meet their needs and to maintain the residential character of the areas the cycleway passed through and the heritage of the Riccarton Bush site.

“This extensive collaboration has shaped a design that is cognisant of heritage, protected trees, ecology, business and community needs whilst ensuring a high level of service for cyclists,” she says.

Shelley says there were a number of different elements to work with as the Uni-Cycle Route travels a shared path through the University of Canterbury campus and playing fields, and ‘Riccarton House and Bush’, a Heritage New Zealand Historic Place Category 1 site, consisting of ornate gardens and a sweeping protected tree‐lined carriage drive, bordered by the Avon River.

Central to the outcome was that the cycleways were designed for a 10-year-old.

“The paths had to feel very safe as the purpose of this was to attract the interested but concerned rider, as opposed to the confident and experienced rider. This was key to ensure widespread uptake.”

WSP Opus put together a project team from across a number of disciplines including civil, geotechnical, structural, urban design, ecology, archaeology, planning and marine, with safety expertise from its Nelson office and information from WSP Opus Research.

“I’m really proud that we had this opportunity to work on a project that benefits the community and will be enjoyed by future generations of cyclists,” says Shelley.

Christchurch residents cycle more than any other city in New Zealand, with census figures showing that 7% per cent of people in Christchurch cycle to work, more than the nationwide average of 2% The Uni-Cycle route is one of 13 Major Cycle Routes which will connect suburbs to the central city via local attractions.