Cycling in Christchurch and Wellington
Last Thursday and Friday, two representatives from Dutch Cycling Embassy have been meeting with local cycling experts, decision-makers and advocates in both Christchurch and Wellington.
In Christchurch, the local City Council is putting a great effort in rebuilding the city in a livable way after a severe earthquake in 2011. During this rebuilding, the Council pays extra attention to cyclists. Mirjam Borsboom and Edward Douma of the Dutch Cycling Embassy have been speaking with city councillors, members of the transport department, affiliated partners and local enthusiasts and initiatives in order to get a grasp of both what has been done during the last couple of years and to discuss future challenges.
An impressive amount of work has been done so far, for example the first dedicated cycling lanes are already constructed and many more will follow soon. There are many more potential possibilities in the Christchurch area within the coming years. Examples of possibilities include further developing the current bike sharing system (now six stations, which is very limited nowadays considering the potential with more bicycle stations). Also the outer area of the city could deserve more attention, using a network wide approach for cycling infrastructure. But with the current high level of ambition the city council will definitely work towards a cycling friendly city.
In (rainy) Wellington, a more or less similar program was put together. A pleasant morning tour was arranged by e-bikes (quite handy regarding the hilliness), visiting one of the first Bike On Schools initiatives. School children of different ages are learning cycling, both within a protected environment at the school area as outside on public roads. A very interesting program to help children cycling, which is not very common for many of them. Impressive was a public forum with 70+ people, ranging from Councillors to every day cyclists, within a beautiful venue along the waterside. During the meeting in Wellington it became clear that, although the will is there, different struggles are being met. The public forum and the round table-meeting afterwards with the City Council were good ways of further discussing these issues.
Altogether, visiting both Christchurch and Wellington was very fruitful; both for getting the facts straight about both cities and for giving the Dutch view on local opportunities and potential challenges. Many more opportunities exist in both cities and Dutch Cycling Embassy therefor looks forward to strengthen these new relationships and further cooperate together.
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