Christchurch City Council opens High Street consultation

Christchurch City Council is opening consultation on development proposals for the section of High Street between Cashel Street and St Asaph Street.

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The proposals include widened footpaths, 10 km/h limit for traffic, additional tree plantings and a rain garden, making part of the street a one way section, and extending the tramway. Tram lines are currently in the road as shown in dark blue above, and the section in yellow is proposed to be added to these lines to create a loop, which allows trams to run in a single direction, so it makes it possible for trailer to be towed behind trams. As can be seen the section of High Street passed close to the city bus exchange which is the rectangular area highlighted in red to the left.

Consultation on the proposal will be open until 10 June, click here for full information.

My own personal interest in street projects is limited to important transport corridors. This street is such a corridor because of its proximity to the bus exchange and the tram route along it. Hence I will be making a submission on this project.

Due to the street being in three distinct blocks, there is a different treatment proposed for each block. My detailed breakdown of each block and initial comments are as follows. This is not necessarily what I will submit, it is just a starting point for discussion.

A summary of my views includes:

  • Northern Block should be mostly a pedestrian area
  • Mid block should be open to one way traffic only, with the cycle lane off-road.
  • Southern block shoould remove parking along the northbound side and make the cycle lane off-road.

Northern Block – Cashel Street to Manchester Street

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This aerial map in addition to the area of High Street itself also shows some of the surrounding area including the City Bus Interchange. The proposed treatment includes:

  • Two way traffic
  • Two tram lines (which are already installed). Whilst these lines are properly the two sides of the loop, there is a one-way crossover (it can be entered by the left hand line in either running direction) between the two lines next to Strange’s Building.
  • Widening the footpath on the south side only, to 5.5 metres
  • Two raised crossing areas for pedestrians which are also intended to slow vehicle traffic.
  • Seventeen P60 parking spaces.
  • A loading zone near the Manchester Street intersection.
  • 10 km/h speed limit for vehicles.

General features / observations of this area:

  • Because of the tramlines, this is a narrow street section.
  • Because of this narrowness, it is hazardous for cyclists to pass down the street when having to pass cars and avoid the tram lines. Perhaps this is why the proposal make no special mention of cycles.
  • The actual driveable section for vehicles along the tram tracks is only about 100 metres long.
  • The section outside Strange’s Building is currently reserved for pedestrians, and I presume this will not change.
  • At the Manchester Street end, the street is left in left out only for traffic. I presume this will not change.
  • The section of High Street immediately north of this is a pedestrian mall.
  • There is a large block which used to be the Centra Hotel site and which can clearly be seen as an empty area to the right of the Cashel Street – High Street intersection. I do not know what is planned for this area, such as whether the hotel is proposed for rebuilding.

My thoughts / proposals:

  1. There is no compelling need for full vehicle access along this short section of the street, part of which is already reserved forĀ  pedestrians.
    1. Cyclists accessing the street will find it difficult, as they already do, to dodge cars which are pulling in or out of parks along the sides of the street, because of the tram tracks, which are hazardous when crossed on a shallow angle.
    2. It is only 100 metres long.
    3. Its proposed speed limit of 10 km/h will discourage its use by through traffic in any case. However, this could be difficult to enforce.
    4. There is a carpark adjacent to the H&M building. This appears to have partial access from a laneway off Lichfield Street opposite the bus exchange.
  2. Vehicle access should therefore be limited to:
    1. The slip road at the south end (intersecting with Manchester Street) should become a dead end section, with the rest of the street becoming a pedestrian mall. This section is already proposed for a loading zone, that should remain as such.
    2. There may be a need for an exit from the off street carpark next to H&M and this being the case, this should be a one way lane onto Cashel Street.It is unclear if this carpark is a permanent feature of the area or is intended to be built on in future.
    3. If a hotel is proposed to be rebuilt on the Centra site, coach / PSV access should be reasonably well catered for on the dead end section of Cashel Street.
  3. The raised crossing humps pose questions about how they can be made to work with tram tracks crossing through them, maintaining enough clearance under the tram through which four tram rails must pass, and without creating additional trip hazards for pedestrians. Obviously if the street is closed to traffic, these humps will not be necessary.

Mid Block – Manchester Street To Tuam Street

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Again we can see the area plus some of its immediate surrounds. The proposed treatment includes:

  • Two way vehicle traffic, maintaining the existing intersection with Manchester Street.
  • High Street / Tuam Street intersection, which is currently fully signalised, is proposed to be signalised only for cycles and pedestrians. (The signalisation of this intersection was previously widely ridiculed for having no fewer than 19 signal poles, partly because of the provision for extension of the tram tracks through the intersection, and partly because of the Tuam Street cycleway)
  • A cycle lane painted on the road for northbound traffic only. Southbound cyclists share the existing roadway with vehicles. Carparking is retained in this northbound section.
  • Tram line extension to form a loop onto the existing tram line running down Poplar Street. This is subject to purchasing a piece of land that the curved part of the extension crosses at the Poplar Street / Tuam Street intersection. A tram shelter will be added at this corner for a passenger stop if the extension proceeds.
  • Twelve P60 parks, mobility park, motorcycle parking and loading zone.
  • 10 km/h speed limit.

General features / observations of this area:

  • This area has only one tramline along the northward side of the street.
  • This makes the northward side of the street hazardous for cyclists with cars manoeuvring around the carparks.
  • How does the Council propose to enforce speed limits? These speed limits appear to be a cop out because of the hazards that are highlighted due to the difficulty of accommodating all the different modes with tram tracks running through these areas creating additional cyclist hazards.
  • Both ends appear to be left in left out for vehicle traffic and I presume this will not change. This is one of the reasons the intersection on Tuam Street can be simplified.

My thoughts / proposals:

  1. Due to the narrowness of the northbound side of the street with the tramlines posing hazards to two wheeled vehicles, this section should be closed to vehicles entirely.
    1. This affects four P60 parks and a loading zone.
    2. The cycle lane proposed should be separated from the footpath and tram lines, instead of being painted on.
  2. This section of High Street should therefore be one way only, on the southbound side, insofar as motorised traffic is concerned.
  3. This area currently has many empty sites which have yet to be developed. Planning should ensure that these sites provide adequate offstreet parking for their business needs, leaving the on street parking on the south side only, for mobility, loading zone, motorcycle and a small number of car parks.

Southern Block – Manchester Street To Tuam Street

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The proposed treatment for this section includes:

  • One way vehicle traffic southbound only
  • A painted cycle lane for northbound cyclists only. On the southbound side cyclists will share the vehicle lane.
  • Widened footpaths, cycle stands, rain garden etc.
  • Eleven P60 parks, mobility parking, loading zone, motorcycle parking.
  • 10 km/h speed limit.

General features / observations of this area:

  • No tram tracks
  • Cyclists along their lane will still have to dodge vehicles using the loading zone and two carparks despite vehicles not being permitted to drive along this section.
  • There are bound to be motorists driving in the cycle lane northbound to access these areas despite the restriction on vehicle access which present a hazard to cyclists.
  • Two vehicle exits at the St Asaph Street end.
  • This area is the most built up with the existing Duncans buildings along the northbound side and the Ara Institute music school at the southern end.

My thoughts / proposals:

  1. Remove the parking and loading zone along the northbound side
  2. Build the cycle lane as off-road. These two measures combined will ensure the safety of cyclists using the cycle lane along this side of the street.
  3. Ensure off street parking is required/provided for all businesses.

So that is where I think these proposals could be improved. I expect that I will provide a formal submission to this proposal which closes in four weeks.

 

High St, Christchurch Central, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand

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