November 15, 2014
Health experts, cycling advocates and some business lobbyists have taken aim at the state government’s plan to introduce part-time cycleways in central Sydney.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay said this week all new, separated cycleways built in the Sydney Central Business District could be built to also accommodate vehicle loading zones outside peak hour.
But the policy was met with an angry response from cycling advocates, while the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, pointed to a long list of big businesses in the city which were expanding cycling facilities for their staff.
Tim Williams, the chief executive officer of the Committee for Sydney, said: “It is an international delusion that you can reduce congestion by expanding road capacity. Demand for road use has to be managed. Walkable and cycle-able cities are economically successful.”
As part of the government’s plans to introduce a light rail line down George Street, it wants to reopen another lane of traffic on the alternative route of College Street by removing the permanent cycleway down College Street.
In its place it has proposed a cycleway down Castlereagh Street. But Mr Gay now says the Castlereagh Street cycleway will also have to allow vehicle access outside peak periods during a six month trial. He said this policy could be applied to all new cycleways in the city.
“The bike path on Castlereagh Street will be there 24/7 with specific areas for business access outside peak hours and those sections will likely include rolled edges,” Mr Gay said in an email statement through a spokeswoman.
The spokeswoman did not respond to questions about what cyclists travelling north on Castlereagh Street outside peak hours should do when the cycleway is blocked by cars. Castlereagh Street is one-way southbound.
The president of advocacy group BIKESydney, David Borella, said spending on cycleways was wasted unless the government delivered a link that was completely connected and separated from traffic.
“New and inexperienced riders won’t ride through the city unless their path is safe for the entire journey,” Mr Borella said
“A cycleway is only as good as its weakest link.”
Professor of Public Health at Sydney University, Chris Rissel, said prospective cyclists would not use a cycleway that would have vehicles blocking it outside peak hours.
“I’m not aware of any bike network anywhere in the world that has a part-time option,” Professor Rissel said.
But Patricia Forsythe, the executive director of the Sydney Business Chamber, defended Mr Gay’s attempts to balance the needs of local businesses and cyclists. “I think the minister in his ever practical way is looking for a way to accommodate the needs of a majority of city users.”
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