An economist and author who specialises in policy effectiveness says strategies encouraging Christchurch residents to get out of cars and onto bikes and buses have not worked.
But Christchurch City Council says the number of people cycling is increasing and Environment Canterbury says it is working to address challenges facing public transport and its popularity.
Dr Greg Clydesdale, an author and former Lincoln University economist, believes in spite of urban planners attempting to combat climate change with more bike lanes and buses "they have failed significantly."
In his submission to the city council's Long Term Plan, which has been up for consultation and will be finalised next month, Clydesdale said oil consumption in Canterbury and Westland increased from 1.672MT [metric tonnes] per person in 2013, to 1.675MT in 2019.
He said figures show car ownership in Canterbury has also increased from 0.485 cars per person in 2013 to 0.706 cars per person in 2019.
As a result, Clydesdale believes this means transport's contribution to climate change has worsened under the city council's policies.
Said Clydesdale: "Our council has spent millions on cycleways and discouraging cars from entering the CBD, and there is no evidence of any benefit for climate change. In fact, the evidence suggests they have made it worse.
"By making it harder for cars to travel and park in the city, planners thought they were encouraging car drivers to switch to bus/bike.
"In reality, they were making it harder for businesses to relocate to town. This, in turn, made buses less competitive with cars, as bus passengers now had to take two or three buses to get to where they want (more travelling and wait time)."
He said bus numbers in Canterbury have dropped from 17 million pre-earthquake to between 11 million and 12 million now.
"The council put bicycles first. Businesses and rebuilding the city came second.
"The result is wide, empty footpaths, insufficient businesses in the CBD, few pedestrians and empty bike racks. And, under the council's policies, our carbon footprint has increased," said Clydesdale.
Said a city council spokesperson: "The council has seen a consistent increase in cycling numbers since we started building the cycleways. For example, a count of cyclists last year showed a 20 per cent increase on the count the year before. That count follows a pattern of yearly growth and we expect these numbers will continue to go up as the cycleway network is built.
"Environment Canterbury has reported that bus use dropped significantly after the earthquakes and has not returned to the levels we would like to see.
"As a council we are working with ECan to finalise the Public Transport Futures Business Case. This will outline what improvements to the public transport system would leverage the greatest benefits."
An ECan spokeswoman said: "The work we have been undertaking over the last few years with public transport partners, including Christchurch City Council and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, is around understanding the challenges facing public transport - the two biggest being urban form and the resulting uncompetitive nature of public transport in our distributed urban environment.
"PT [Public Transport] Futures is intended to improve service levels to make public transport more attractive, invest in service enhancements and invest in priority measures."
It comes after The Star reported average temperatures in Canterbury could rise by 1.5 deg C by 2040 and 3.5 deg C by 2090 if climate change is not responded to.
- Star News