That Christchurch is a tram and bicycle city seems to be a wrongheaded position - a fact-resistant bit of naivety. But it is certainly true that Christchurch was, until the 1950's, largely developed around these modes.
Mark Twain famously described Christchurch as a town where half the people ride bicycles and the other half are kept busy dodging them!
I've linked before to how Christchurch was built out with tram lines to all of the inner suburbs - Trams rule Christchurch in this video
. It would certainly be more straight forward to rebuild the tram network over the existing buried pre 1950's infrastructure as it is already relocated to the sides of the road to allow for trams. It is usually the relocation of pipes that is the major expense is create new routes.
But today I want to highlight bikes - it being Bikeoctober this month. Amsterdam is famously bike friendly, with 60% of trips being on two wheels, but it was not always so. The current state of the bicycle in the city is a conscious design that developed in the 1970's and reached critical mass in the 1990's.
How the Bicycle Conquered Amsterdam
It would be really interesting to compare the state of cycling in Amsterdam vs Christchurch over the last 150 years. I would imagine that for most of that time Christchurch was more bike centric and that it has only been in the last 50 years that fates have exchanged places and diverged.
Cars are really the anomaly in Christchurch - at least in the inner city, or perhaps that bounded by the original tram routes. I propose that we at least consider reforming these areas to the way they were in the 1950's - with trams and bicycle centric infrastructure. And the outer suburbs can then come along for the ride.
Christchurch is a tram and bike city - we just have to realise it.