Architect Ian Athfield, who was appointed Christchurch’s architectural ambassador, has laid down an ultimatum that he will not be part of the city’s rebuild unless the one-way system is removed and fewer buses through the city.
To be honest I am not sure quite what to think. I think it is certainly arguable whether the one-way system serves as vital a function as many think it does. Certainly, it mainly caters to through traffic so I have to ask whether we want this through traffic in the CBD or we re-route it around (or discourage it a bit). And it has to be said, the one-way streets do form a barrier and do suffer from a lack of development. The Christchurch City Council has previously talked of removing the one-way system anyway (more huff than puff though) so it probably is fair to say that its future should be debated (and I would probably support its planned removal on the basis that we shouldn’t have through traffic in the area).
However, Athfield’s comments on buses are a little more worrying. He said, “We also run a lot of buses around the city with not many people in them”. This seems a rather generic and ignorant statement, but could have been portrayed in the wrong context in the media. Is he saying we should give up on growing public transport? What about all the cars that run around three-quarters empty? Or is he saying we need to improve the public transport system? His idea of having buses stay out of the central part of the CBD and instead run around a ring are similar to those made by Jan Gehl last year in a report to the Christchurch City Council, a report I am generally in favour of as it supports a more accessible and people oriented CBD.
Whatever the case may be, Athfield has certainly created a lot of controversy and debate. If you dare, check out the comments on stuff!