Sunday, June 26, 2011

Not buying the Bob Parker viewpoint?

NZ in Tranzit opinion - Christchurch land use for transport

Land acquisition vital to new city - so says entrepreneur, kitchenware manufacturer and major office park developer Ernest Henshaw in an opinion piece in Christchurch's The Press on June 7th 2011

But, according to Henshaw in the same article;

.."this will not happen. If Mayor Bob Parker and his chief executive officer have their way, it is impossible for this to happen because they have ruled out, in advance, any alteration to the city's grid of streets, any interference with property titles, and any interference with surviving buildings."

I have been unable to hunt down the sources references to Parker-Marryat statement of these aims.  [if anyone knows please drop me a line]. They seem absurd, unlikely, but I can't imagine Mr Henshaw would be lying.

And if the Parker viewpoint is as stated by Ernest Henshaw, God help Christchurch!!

Quite apart from the very attractive medium high housing density proposals put forward by Henshaw and shown in the same article, it ignores the fact that roading and public transport routes as currently constructed are in many cases becoming obsolete technology.

All over the world public authorities are wakening to the fact buses and light rail systems can not start to be competitive with cars and alleviate congestion, if they have to stop and load passengers AND fight on-street congestion.

On the other hand give buses and trams the same advantages traditionally enjoyed by railways -  their own lanes, priority traffic signals, pre-pay fare stations and segregated corridors, underpasses or overpasses, and superbly fast systems can be created that attract big patronage and save cities millions in rail and roading management and expansion costs.

Following the earthquakes Christchurch residents are told 900 city buildings and up to 10,000 houses have been, or will need to be, demolished. The biggest oppositional factor to creating new mobility infrastructure - the dislocation of existing use, tenants or owners - has been swept aside by the huge horrific forces of giant earthquakes. The nature of whole neighbourhoods may change, everything's open to re-evaluation.

What administrator in his or her right mind would not seize the opportunity to try place Christchurch's mobility on a more effective and secure base for future generations? Buildings can go anywhere in a tight area but linear routes - roading, bus routes, rails -  are very site specific...options are far, far more restricted. Yet here is an unique opportunity rarely offered any city.

Who, leading the city into the future, would not seek to replace a number of buildings, badly damaged or now demolished, or even some that have survived, by a range of intersection widening, or lane adding strategies to manage traffic into the immediate and long term future.

Who would not choose to laying the foundation for multiple bus advantage (and bike, skate and pedestrian friendly) systems and even (if oil is discovered under Christchurch) light rail, now, while the chance is offered.

The number of people, businesses effected by such purchases - mostly I imagine to their advantage - would be a few score at most, versus the needs of hundreds of thousands of residents, motorists, public transport users - benefitting millions of vehicle trips - spanning the decades to come.

What sort of politicians would go flacid on this issue? Tell me it is not true!

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