Christchurch - Papanui Parallel Cycleway | Puari ki Papanui

This facility aims to provide a dedicated, safe, high-quality cycle route that connects the Northern Line Cycleway, Sawyers Arms Road and Christchurch’s northern suburbs to the Central City. It was the first of 13 Major Cycle Routes linking the Central City to suburbs, educational facilities, businesses, shopping areas and popular recreational destinations.

The 4.9 km route largely consists of two-way and one-way separated cycleways, an off-road shared path between Grassmere Street and Rutland Street and a low-speed neighbourhood greenway on Trafalgar Street. The project also included intersection upgrades and signalised crossings at Main North Road/Sawyers Arms Road, Sisson Drive/Sawyers Arms Road and Rutland Street/St Albans Street. The route is shown below marked as Route A.

The route options considered included on-street routes, potential routes through parks and laneways, as well as an option to purchase private properties to form key links or to make routes more direct. Four principal routes were identified, and these were assessed against key criteria including cyclist level of service, community and stakeholder concerns.

Papanui Parallel was opened in June 2017.

The route is made up of a range of cycleway facility types as shown in Table 1. 

Table 1: Facility types along the route

Project owner: Christchurch City Council

Project cost: $14 million (Approximately $2.9 million per km; neighbourhood greenway facility is approximately $3.7 million per km).  It is noted that the project was completed under the approved budget of $15.8 million.

  • Key challenges and issues

    Design challenges

    • Transitioning between several different cycleway types to provide a legible route.
    • Safety at driveways with cyclists coming from both directions using the two-way separated facility.
    • Conflict between cyclists and pedestrians where they cross the cycleway.
    • Many crossroads, resulting in issues with traffic crossing in front of cyclists.

    Operational issues

    • Loss of some parking along the route, including outside businesses on Main North Road and along Rutland Street, and restriction of parking around driveways and intersections.
    • Placement of wheelie bins along parts of the route.
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  • Successes and learnings


    A key aspect of this project was taking and maintaining a holistic approach to the project. As Papanui Parallel was the first major route of a programme of cycleways to be constructed in Christchurch, the importance of the overall programme to cycling in Christchurch was a key consideration for the project team. A constant consideration was achieving the right compromise between project design, business and community acceptance, in order to achieve the greater vision of the cycleway programme delivery. Safety was of critical concern and compromised as little as possible, however the key learning came with the design aspect.  The most technically ideal design is not necessarily palatable to the local community.  Working towards a design with the community (rather than getting ‘a design’) was important to the successful delivery of the project.

    Route coherency

    Papanui Parallel has 5 different treatment types along the route (1 way separated, 2 way separated, Copenhagen, shared path and neighbourhood greenway. In discussions with users, the transitions along the route between treatment types are not difficult and a number of users had not realised they had changed facility types at all. The key to successfully having different treatment types is to ensure that the visual clues cyclists are being given along the route (coloured surfacing, line markings, landscape treatments) is consistent and the change points are at appropriate locations. For instance, two way to one way is done at an intersection or at mid-block signals. 


    The removal of parking directly outside local businesses and on residential streets was a contentious issue. A key learning from this project was the importance of taking the time (outside of defined consultation periods) to understand how the impacted businesses operate.  For one business on this route, a significant portion of their turnover came from morning takeaway coffee purchases, so it was critical to them to be able to maintain short term parking close to their premise.

    Where parking outside businesses has been maintained, managing pedestrian conflict is important to consider.   The original design included a raised separator and kerb between the parking and the footpath, as shown in the left-hand photograph.  However due to complaints from some users about the trip hazard, particularly elderly customers visiting the pharmacy and some limited mobility customers that visit Couplands, the layout has been revised so the cycleway is at the same level as the separator and the footpath, see photos below. 


    The Papanui Parallel received 650 submissions and there were 30 deputations made to the Community Board at the approval meeting.

    Dominant independent voices often overpower others in the room during a consultation session, so the Papanui Parallel team changed the consultation process to a more workshop-focused approach. Each session had 5-6 members of the design team present and began with a 20-minute presentation that explained the route selection, what had been ruled out and why, and provided more information for submissions. No questions were taken during the presentation, the public were just asked to listen.  Following the presentation participants were broken into small groups to discuss the proposal further. This format allowed the project team to find out what everyone thought and achieved a more balanced representation of views. It also allowed for questions to be raised by small groups.  

    It is important to keep politicians thinking holistically and bring them along for the journey. This means they can back designers when needed and builds their confidence in the project and project delivery team. Maintain the goal of coming up with a solution the community can accept, but not necessarily like, and be aware that the media will likely take a negative angle regardless of the design.

    High volume driveways

    For industrial areas and locations of major vehicle access, determine if there are any resource consent conditions related to adjacent land uses. An evaluation of the Sawyers Arms Road route revealed a location where trucks were reversing into the yard from the road, this would present a key safety concern for the cycleway. A review of the resource consent revealed that the site was specifically forbidden from undertaking that reversing movement. The practice had developed because of clutter on the site and had been allowed to continue. 


    With one exception, the separators used are of varying widths from 0.6 m to 1.2 m determined by the available space and consideration of the needs of the community (see photos below). Wherever possible the design was accommodated within the existing kerb to kerb width to keep cost down.

    A design compromise made was the treatment of Rutland Street separated cycleway between the shops and St Albans Street.  The community provided a lot of feedback about parking demand for the school and church located along this section.  This led to the use of a low-profile kerb (shown below) rather than a raised separator between the cycleway and parked cars, to create a raised cycleway whilst still allowing for stormwater flow.  A v-channel separates the cycleway from the berm.  This arrangement allowed parking to be retained on both sides of the road, except near intersections for visibility reasons. To mitigate the risks to people cycling, the cycleway is flush with the adjacent footpath or berm (allowing space for an evasive manoeuvre if a car door is opened).  This solution resulted in a 35-40% reduction in existing parking supply as opposed to a higher reduction with the separator design. 

    Tree removal

    Whilst it was inevitable that some tress would need to be removed to complete the project, the project team strived to put more trees in than were taken out, and leave the street looking more attractive than before the project commenced.

    Waste collection

    Confusion of the placement of rubbish bins was an issue on the Papanui Parallel, with residents unclear on where bins should be positioned on rubbish collection day. As can be seen below on Colombo Street, bins were being placed on the grass berm, the road, and the separators. 

    An information leaflet was sent out to residents to clarify where rubbish bins should be placed to ensure the safety of cyclists and maintain smooth collection of rubbish by contractors.  Procedures differ along the route to accommodate the different cycleway treatments.  Where no parking is in place, bins are placed on the grass berm (Image 1) or on the footpath behind the cycleway.  Where on-street parking is located on the other side of the separator, bins are placed in front of the marked car park spaces (Image 3).

    On rubbish collection day, where parking has been retained collection takes place as usual. Where parking has been removed, the refuse truck straddles the cycleway to up-lift the bins. 

    Property acquisition

    Securing property presented some challenges for this route. Careful negotiation and management was used to minimise the impact of this to the delivery of the project and as shown below, temporary measures were able to be utilised to avoid holding up the completion of a safe route while final property acquisition is undertaken.

    Cycle count

    The number of cyclists using the route is approximately 500 per day; much more than anticipated, and higher than the figures used in project modelling. There is a mixture of commuters and recreational riders using the Papanui Parallel with approximately 250 cyclists per day using the route in weekends.

    Bus stop design

    A floating bus stop design was used on Colombo Street as shown below.  The bus stop is separated from the footpath by a cycleway and a raised median.  The bus passengers are required to cross the cycleway via a raised pedestrian crossing to access the median. The zebra crossing is raised and surfaced in a contrasting colour so that approaching cyclists are aware of the crossing. 

    The bus stop design has been revised since this initial design was constructed. The key change relates to the width of the separator between the cycleway and bus to allow more room for bus passengers to stand without being in the cycleway. It also gives cyclists more time to see a passenger getting off the bus before they are in the cycleway and for passengers to see the oncoming cyclists. Give Way signage and markings have been added to the cycleway at the start of the bus stop area to reinforce that the cyclist gives way to the bus passengers to minimise conflict. The red surface is used to highlight it is different to the rest of the cycleway.

    The increase in width has also led to the cycleway being constructed with a small deflection towards the property boundary to maintain the cycleway width and the increased separator width. This deflection is a useful way of reinforcing that the cyclist does not have right of way over the bus stop area and potentially needs to slow.

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