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The Press-News Column Nov 5

Rough Ride on Christchurch Roads

How would you rate the state of road repairs in your neighbourhood? According to SCIRT, a fifth of the city’s roading work programme has been completed, with nearly 300,000 square metres of road pavement now laid. Yet, from my observations, I think you’d have better luck staking out an un-etched bus window in Christchurch, than a permanently repaired road that has a nice smooth surface. A frisson of driver excitement can be found in McCormacks Bay, with the newly-surfaced causeway, finally re-open to traffic.  Like a slightly-demented cocker spaniel on heat, I cruised up and down the causeway  over the weekend, multiple times, such was the novelty of discovering a great new carpet of velvety smooth asphalt to traverse. But the causeway is a notable exception to the norm. SCIRT tells me the reason many residents are bemoaning the repair standard, is because in most cases, the entire length of roadway won’t be re-surfaced. Once the below-ground pipes and cables have been installed, the roading surface is patch-fixed. Not every bump, rut, and dip will be ironed out.  Only the most significant undulations will be tackled. Shirley Road, for example, will get a full length rebuild, because its Dr. Seuss-like undulations are so sensational. But most of Christchurch’s roads will permanently resemble a blotchy bitumen patch-work of peggy square repairs, interspersed with “minor” bumps and dips.  No wonder SUV sales are soaring. SCIRT also confirms the central city’s permanent road repair programme is “on hold”  until the construction of all new buildings is complete. How long is that going to take?

Test Pilot.

Bravo to the Automobile Association, who are cheer-leading for Christchurch to become a traffic light-free zone, overnight.  Their advocacy for flashing amber lights overnight is precisely the kind of efficiency-driven pragmatism that needs to be injected into traffic management.  Having to wait incessantly at 2am for a green light, without a soul in sight, is unblinkingly inane.  Let the give way rule supersede every traffic light, from 10pm to 6am. Similarly, the proposed 30km speed limit for the inner zone of the central city, should not apply overnight. What exactly is the point of forcing midnight motorists traversing the likes of Montreal Street, to stick to 30km?  Why not make re-imagined Christchurch the test pilot for all manner of efficiency-focused traffic initiatives? Let cyclists ride through red lights, if the way is clear. It helps de-clutter stationary intersections, and frankly, we’d merely be legalising what half the buggars already do. And how about taking a leaf out of Uncle Sam’s book?  Let motorists turn left, if the way is clear, on a red light.

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