By Tang Li
Community backlash against a proposed CBD bike path network has accumulated in the ‘Save Our Street’ campaign, launched last Tuesday (September 9).
After two years of negotiation, the NSW Government has launched an initiative to construct a double-lane, cement-bordered cycleway through Castlereagh Street.
Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay and Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian released the Sydney City’s Centre Access Strategy in December 2013. While the plan has been available for several months, this week opponents decided to organise into a full community campaign against the planned cycleway changes.
The planned changes to CBD cycleways were outline by Minister Gay:
“The bike path on College Street will be removed, as it is not connected to the rest of the network,” Mr Gay said.
“The Kent Street cycleway will be extended south to Liverpool Street and a new separated cycleway will be constructed between Central Station and Circular Quay along Castlereagh and Pitt Streets,” he said.
The Save Our Street campaign has focused its criticisms on Lord Mayor Clover Moore, despite the cycleway being designed and instigated by the NSW State Government and not the City of Sydney.
“If she’s not stopped, Clover Moore is going to kill Castlereagh Street,” said Jai Martinkovits, Spokesman for the Save Our Street campaign.
“If Premier Baird doesn’t act, this remarkable thriving shopping, financial, professional and hotel precinct is doomed. The tourists and the business people will go away – and not necessarily to some other part of Sydney,” he said.
The Save Our Street campaign claims there has been a lack of genuine consultation, without fair warning to those whose businesses and jobs are on the chopping block.
“Common sense dictates that a project of this scale – and one which is so damaging – be subjected to a rigorous cost benefit analysis, which this proposal has so far avoided.”
“Like the Lord Mayor’s College Street cycleway white elephant, it is unknown how many cyclists will actually use this monstrosity and whether the enormous cost would ever be justified,” Mr Martinkovits said.
The City of Sydney Council confirmed the CBD cycleway was undertaken by the state government, and that the City is involved only insofar as it is providing funding for the project.
“The NSW government announced the Castlereagh Street cycleway as part of its Sydney City Centre Access Strategy,” said a City of Sydney spokesperson.
“It is responsible for the design, in consultation with the community, and will build it with City of Sydney funding.”
Ms Berejiklian and Mr Gay outline in a new proposal ‘Sydney’s Cycling Future’ that they will prioritise bicycle infrastructure investment to ensure the projects that will have the biggest impact on encouraging more people to ride a bike are completed first.
Cycleways built along Castlereagh Street, Pitt Street and King Street would depend on proposed light rail construction on George Street to minimise disruption.
“Roads and Maritime Services is due to start construction in late 2014 and the cycleways are due to be completed in 2015,” said the City of Sydney spokesperson.