The Daily Telegraph’s Miranda Devine has directed harsh criticisms at Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s plan to remove a clearway on Oxford Street.
“Clover Moore lives in a fantasy world where people spend their time sitting around cafes drinking chai or riding pushbikes,” Ms Devine wrote.
In response, long-time resident, business owner and chair of the Darlinghurst Business Partnership Stephan Gyory told City Hub: “Miranda [Devine] and the Telegraph have no idea what they’re talking about, they just hate Clover and want to oppose everything she does.”
Local and state politicians have also banded together in their support for the dissolution of the controversial clearway.
City of Sydney Council last week supported Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s mayoral minute to request the NSW Government remove the Oxford Street clearway and reduce the speed limit to 40 kilometres per hour. Woollahra Mayor Toni Zeltzer and Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich have also backed the motion.
“The clearways remove kerbside parking at a time when there are many people in the area who may wish to shop, eat or spend time on Oxford Street,” said Ms. Moore.
“These kerbside clearways mean that large volumes of high-speed traffic create a noisy and hostile environment for pedestrians, shoppers, diners and visitors. Kerbside parking provides a buffer between people and vehicles.”
Ms. Moore said the state government must remove the clearway entirely if it wanted to revive Oxford Street’s unique retail culture.
“Research and community consultation with residents and business by both City of Sydney and Woollahra Council have identified the removal of the clearway as an essential part of revitalising Oxford Street.”
A year long trial conducted by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) found that the clearway made no difference to bus travel times.
The outcome of the trial has been a permanent reduction in eastbound clearway operation hours.
“From an urban design point of view… it is very difficult to encourage outdoor dining when you have a large bus coming so close to the footpath almost as a wall coming past you,” Cr Zeltzer said.
Mr. Greenwich has previously petitioned the Roads and Freight Minister Duncan Gay to remove the Oxford Street clearway.
“There hasn’t been a clear case put forward as to why we need a clearway operating here. Those hours could be peak dining or shopping times for venues along Oxford St,” he said.
Mr Gyory agreed the clearway was redundant.
“The people who oppose this change say transport is the engine of the economy, to which I counter: Oxford Street is not at capacity, we do not have a traffic problem. I know it, anyone who’s ever stood on Oxford Street at 5.30 knows it; it’s all there in the numbers.”
“They just want another main road and more cars, that’s their mindset. But they are ignoring all of the ways this will benefit Sydney. It’s pure selfishness,” he said.
Spokeswoman for the Paddington Business Partnership Sally Tremlett warned that further measures must be taken to curtail traffic and promote outdoor dining.
The Paddington Business Partnership is set to prepare a business plan for the revitalisation of Oxford Street based on a Village Well study into the prospects of the area.
Retailers have also welcomed the change, arguing the clearway inhibits valuable parking space and restricts trading hours.
Local business owner and convenor of the Three States Square Project Sue Ritchie recently said that the removal of on-street parking to make space for the clearway was an “unfair disadvantage to small businesses”.
Ms. Moore has indicated she will continue her advocacy for Oxford Street.
“The current clearway and speed limit on Oxford Street do not deliver a balanced solution. It prioritises fast traffic movements over parking, pedestrian safety and amenity, and the needs of local businesses.”