By Jessica Yun
The community in Bondi Junction have criticised the Cycleways planning proposal, part of Waverley Council’s Complete Streets project.
The affected streets in the planning proposal include Denison Street, Oxford Street, and Spring Street. Community groups and small businesses have criticised the proposal for presenting potential risks to personal safety as well as road infrastructure.
Bondi Junction Precinct’s Traffic representative Howard Parry-Husbands believes the plan could mean cyclists, pedestrians and drivers will all clash in a pinch intersection already sagging under the high volume of traffic.
“The corner of Nelson Street and Oxford Street is a known traffic blackspot. It’s a known arterial road. Congestion is going to be considerable,” he said.
A Waverley Council spokesperson said there is still more work to be done on several of the key intersections.
“It is mandatory for the Roads and Maritime Services and Waverley Traffic Committee to approve the detailed designs in order for the proposal to progress to construction,” the spokesperson said.
“Council cannot make a final decision until all these investigations are complete.”
Bondi Junction Precinct convenor Marcella McAdam said while the community did not oppose the creation of cycle ways, lingering questions about the ramifications of overdevelopment needed to be answered.
“There is a growing demand and interest [for cycleways] but we just felt that there were too many flaws in what was being proposed, especially with Spring Street because it is such a narrow, very busy and very active one-way street,” she said.
“It’s where a lot of shops rely on for street access, unloading, truck deliveries – it’s a major thoroughfare between two or three key points”.
Small businesses on Spring Street have rallied together to create No BLISS (No Bicycle Lanes In Spring Street). In addition to a public petition presented to council and signed by 3750 residents, an independent report commissioned by No BLISS found that several aspects of the Council-commissioned report did not comply with the Australian Traffic Roads Code.
“Traffic is one of the main aspects of this proposal. There’s going to be massive traffic dislocation and mayhem. Council is relying on their own reports, and those reports are relying on surveys which are simply wrong,” said No BLISS member and Bondi Junction property owner Joseph Zaresky.
The independent report carried out by traffic consultant Traffix found that between midday and 1pm, 1430 pedestrians crossed Spring Street to and from Bronka Arcade and Eastgate Shopping Centre. During the morning peak hours of 7:30am and 8:30am, 180 bicycles came through Spring Street.
“We don’t know how many bikes will be coming down between 12pm and 1pm, but it’s fair to assume that it would be at least a hundred. So a hundred bicycles are going to be hurtling into 1430 pedestrians,” Mr Zaresky said.
“On top of that, we’ve got the loading and unloading activities of delivery men and tradesmen which are extensive in Spring Street, because all the shops in Spring and Oxford Street depend on Spring Street for their servicing.”
Much of the criticism the community has for the Cycleway proposal is rooted in a larger community opposition towards the construction of high-rise buildings. Landscape artist and West Oxford Street business owner Matthew Taylor says the natural growth of Bondi that occurred over the last few decades has attracted developers whose proposed sky rise buildings would upend the delicate balance of the community’s atmosphere.
“This used to be a very dead area. And what’s happened over that interim period is a number of specialist retailers have come into this place including, a number of organic vegetable places, and this is an alternative to mainstream Bondi Junction retail and it has become very successful,” Mr Taylor said.
While various community groups have expressed their concerns, many feel as though Waverley Council has not been taking into consideration community sentiments.
According to Ms McAdam, council needed to undertake more surveys and reconsider certain aspects of the plan proposed by the developer.
“I feel they are jumping the gun a bit before they do really detailed traffic reports… I think that needs to be done first and foremost for the safety of the community.”
Council expects a report with detailed designs mid-way this year.