A 30-year strategic view of transport in Christchurch is outlining a bold programme of change. Head of Transport Lynette Ellis explains why we need a new approach to how we move around.
If Christchurch is to play its part in combatting climate change and we are to create a city that we all want to live, work. and play in, then we need to re-think the way we move around.
If we continue as we are now – often making trips with only one person in a car – then, as the city’s population grows, the roads will become more congested and we will not reach our goal of becoming a carbon neutral city by 2045.
We need to provide people with greater choice about how they travel, increase our use of sustainable transport and ensure that the trips we do make are safer.
Today we are publicly releasing a draft version of a 30-year strategic view and 10-year investment plan for transport in Christchurch. The plan sets out how we can reduce our carbon emissions and ensure our travel network is accessible, supports sustainable urban growth and reduce harm on our roads.
I want to stress the version we are releasing is a draft and we know that there is more work to be done. The elected Council has not formally endorsed it, nor approved its release for the purposes of public consultation.
We were intending to release the draft Christchurch Transport Plan earlier this year for public consultation but the elected Council decided to delay consultation until 2023. It wanted to give the new Council that will be sworn-in October an opportunity to consider the plan. It also wanted some more time for further engagement with key stakeholders, including mana whenua.
However, at the 25 August Council meeting, Councillor Aaron Keown submitted a Notice of Motion calling for the public release of the draft plan by the end of this month. The majority of Councillors supported his Notice of Motion, which is why we are releasing the draft plan today.
While the draft plan is a work in progress, it does paint a clear picture of the direction that we think we need to head to meet the needs of the city into the future.
Once the new Council has had a chance to review the draft plan, we will ask for public feedback and invite you to share your own ideas for how we can build a sustainable, safe transport network.
Our transport system will play an integral part in supporting and shaping the growth of our city.
We have to integrate transport planning with where, and how, we live, get to work, access shops and services, schools, and move around our neighbourhoods.
Christchurch is a growing city. By 2048 it is expected that over half a million people will be living here. Our population is also ageing so we need to think hard about how we can make it easy for people to get around.
We want people to be able to get where they want to go safely and easily.
We need appealing walking environments in every neighbourhood so that everyone has the option to walk to local schools or shops in comfort and safety. We need an appealing cycling environment and a strategic cycling network across the whole city in order to make cycling attractive, feel safe and easy for people, regardless of their age or where they live or are travelling to.
Over the next 10 years, we are looking to transform pockets of the city into a series of interconnected neighbourhoods, with the city centre as the social and economic hub. These areas will be known as Low Traffic Zones, in which streets will be redesigned to prioritise people. They will be nicer places to live in and they will be safer.
We’re also looking to introduce 30km an hour speed limits in key suburban centres – just as we have already done in the heart of our city centre. Lowering speeds in busy areas delivers important safety and amenity benefits. Slower streets are more attractive making it easier and safer for people to move around.
E-scooters, e-bikes and other small electric vehicles are becoming an increasingly popular way for people to make short trips so we need to look at how we can accommodate them in our streets.
We need to work with our partners, particularly Environment Canterbury, to increase the attractiveness and convenience of public transport. We have to take a transformational approach, particularly over the next 10 years, if we want to provide real alternatives to car travel that cater to everyone.
This means we need to change the way our roads operate and prioritise public transport on key routes (those with already high frequencies), while creating an environment where active travel is safe to and from these routes.
Some form of mass rapid transit to provide fast and reliable travel between key destinations is likely to figure in our plans for improving public transport but we are still exploring how much that would cost and the benefits it would bring.
Giving people transport choices is at the heart of our plan and it will be key to achieving our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2045.
On-road transport in Christchurch currently contributes to about 36 per cent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. That is because of the high number and length of trips we take in single occupant cars. If we keep doing what we are doing, we can expect transport emissions to rise by a further 10 per cent by 2030.
To meet our emissions targets, we need to change the way we are travelling and reduce our reliance on fossil-fuelled cars for all our trips.
We are proposing a number of actions to encourage change. These include using road pricing and parking charges as a way to encourage a shift in travel behaviour, and supporting the shift to zero-emission vehicles.
We have a lot of work to do to understand what type of road pricing might be suitable for Christchurch, but generally road pricing means that motorists pay directly for driving on a particular roadway or in a particular area, for how much they drive and when.
Road pricing can reduce congestion by encouraging people to travel in different ways and at different times, or choose alternatives to the car. Although congestion isn’t currently a major problem in Christchurch now, it will become an issue if our growth continues at the same rate and our travel patterns do not change.
Our draft Christchurch Transport Plan is all about giving people choices. We know that we will need to complement our investment in our transport network with efforts to promote and encourage active and shared travel.
We have to make it easy and intuitive for people to change the way they travel. We need to make people aware of their options and the impact of their choices on the climate and the wider network. It is important for our future.
I look forward to Christchurch having a healthy, constructive debate about how we can improve the way we get around and make our transport network safer and more sustainable.