City News

Battle of Bourke Street takes to the footpaths

Resident opposition to the proposed Bourke St Cycleway has taken to the footpaths where someone is spraying ‘X marks the spot’ stencils next to parking spaces that will be lost to the cycleway.

Bourke Street residents have found themselves at the sharp end of Council’s plans to link safe cycle routes into a network across the city, aimed at reducing traffic congestion and pollution while bringing cost savings and health benefits to people who switch from cars and public transport to cycling.

While most Bourke Streeters are themselves cyclists and agree with this in principle, they say they are being made to pay the cost while the rest of the city benefits.

Nearly 100 parking spots will be lost to the cycleway in an area where most houses do not have off-street parking. Guy Ollivier lives in one such terrace house on the street in Surry Hills.

“While it’s all very well to say we should all get rid of our cars and take to our bikes, the reality is that cycling is not a viable option for regular all-weather commuting for most of us. Quite apart from arriving at showerless work places hot, sweaty and stinky, or rain-drenched, many of us have families or work in places that are not served by public transport. Elderly or disabled people can’t just take up cycling – people like that simply need their cars,” he said.

“It’s going to affect the side streets too, because anyone driving to Bourke Street will find themselves going round in circles searching for spots in nearby streets.”

“I heard someone had marked where car parking is to be removed from the northern end of Bourke Street. I hope they mark the rest of Bourke Street where scores more  parks will be lost. People need to know what the City Council is up to. The latest is that the City Council intends to remove  nearly 100 car parks and put parking meters  on the remaining spaces, and on Albion Street and Riley Street and other  streets in Surry Hills too. I don’t think this council is representing the residents any more”

Residents also claim the design of the cycleway is unsafe.

“This  narrow bi-directional cycleway is half the width and does not  meet the specifications of the Copenhagen cycleways it is supposedly modelled on, ” said Mr Ollivier.

He says the doors of parked cars will open directly onto the southbound cycle lane creating danger for children and passengers getting out of cars as well as for cyclists.

The City points out that this conflict is far safer than the present cycle lanes which run alongside parked cars with cyclists approaching from behind the drivers side door where they are difficult to see. The cycleway will have southbound cyclists approaching the passenger side doors of cars, resulting in much better visibility.

The residents say the cycleway design does not meet the standards of the Copenhagen bike network because it is too narrow and crossed by too many intersections. They predict that few cyclists will use it. They support a shared  ‘Cyclist Boulevarde’ concept, pointing to lots of overseas examples which work well.

The City has called for tenders for the first stage of the cycleway up Bourkes street Woolloomooloo to William Street.

by Michael Gormly