City Hub

Reclaiming the Sunday streets

Restricting streets to bikes on Sundays could prove difficult in the inner-city, some argue. Photo: Chris Peken

Every Sunday in Bogota, Colombia, 120 kilometres of streets are closed and opened up to cyclists. Similar events, though not as frequent, take place in cities around the world, including New York, London and Berlin.

The latest addition to these cycling enclaves could be Sydney’s Marrickville, after council decided to support and investigate a local option of the initiative that would go by the name of Sunday Streets.

David Borella, convenor of the Sunday Streets movement and President of Bike Sydney, said the event is about bringing together all aspects of the community, not just cyclists.

“It’s really about bringing out all of the community to meet each other, out onto the streets: businesses and neighbours, dog walkers and hula hoopers, people who want to do yoga,” he said.

“So it’s to give everyone…an opportunity to reclaim the streets that they are otherwise totally excluded from, for a totally different view of their local environment.”

These street events are complex to organise, says Mr Borella, so for now the group is focused upon an initial one off event that would happen later in 2014.

“Our focus is just for this first one, doing it well and collaborating with all the relevant stakeholders: businesses and traffic management, the relevant councils and of course the local community,” he said.

Marrickville councillor Sylvie Ellsmore said council has not committed to any particular streets but most people are interested in King Street and Enmore Road.

“We’ve decided in principle to support Sunday Streets and investigate whether we might be able to hold a trial in the second half of this year.”

“We are going to co-operate with the other local councils surrounding and… we’re going to work with the state government.”

Cr Ellsmore envisages a family-friendly event that links up across several local government areas including City of Sydney, Marrickville and Leichhardt councils.

“So the challenge for us is that if they’ve got roads they’ve identified, we can hook up with them so that we get a nice long consistent street across a couple of local government areas.”

A spokesperson for the City of Sydney said council is investigating options for programs similar to Sunday Streets.

But the motion adopted by council in November was amended to note that “there are significant issues that need resolving in order to temporarily close a road in Sydney”.

Small business owners typically object to road closures but Mark Ely, president of the Newtown Precinct Business Association, told City Hub he is “generally in support” of the event.