Changes to one-way system cause controversy

Posted on March 28, 2012 by

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Well, they don’t hang about for long on that draft City Plan. A positive sign that, as the Christchurch City Council and New Zealand Transport Agency look to implement a plan to turn the one-way system in the CBD to two-way next year. Montreal, Durham, Madras and Barbadoes streets (running north-south), and Salisbury, Kilmore, Lichfield and St Asaph streets (running east-west) will all be changed from one-way to two-way. This will allow wider footpaths, and more space for cycling.

 The online Press article announcing this has already attracted a wave of criticism from commentators, despite the fact this was a very prominent aspect of the draft City Plan and has been out in the public domain for quite some time (I should really listen to my own advice and not read comments on Stuff).

There are a couple of points the article misrepresents. First, it says only four submissions were made on the bylaw changes to traffic and parking which make this move possible. Fair enough. However, what it does not mention is the thousands of submissions that were made on the draft City Plan, giving the impression that this is some sort of sneaky move that no one has had a say over. Second, it fails to mention the work on the four avenues that will replace the one-way system – a clear case of poor research if you ask me. If the journalist had simply read the draft City Plan, they would know this (but it probably wouldn’t make for such a juicy story).

The AA oppose the removal of the one-way system, of course, but I don’t think the system is as amazing as many say. For a start, it is dangerous, an eyesore, and discourages development. Moving traffic to the avenues, designed from the start for big traffic flows, will make those areas in the inner city safer, more accessible for people, cleaner and will encourage more development in those areas. I think what most people ignore is that the one-way system is only really useful if you are going through the city. I know that is the main reason I use it. Why not move the through traffic out of the centre to the avenues? Why does it need to go so close to the city, bringing with it all those negative effects? Removing it makes sense to me, as it is a clear separation of through traffic and traffic heading into the CBD.

So basically, if you look at what is actually planned, it is not anywhere near the situation being made out in this article. For a start, the plan to change the one-way streets back to two-way will not lead to chaos. It is being done in conjunction with an upgrade to the four avenues, so effectively will split the through traffic from CBD bound traffic. Further, the traffic patterns being what they are at the moment, this is probably the ideal time to get it done, rather than waiting several years when the CBD is busier and a good way to being rebuilt. Finally, the one-way system has a number of detrimental effects, which this plan aims to remove while still providing a suitable traffic system. I think when the full story is told, and not the ill-informed knee-jerk reaction one, it is actually a move that makes a whole bunch of sense, and one we should do as soon as possible.

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