By ALEXANDER LEWIS
Leichhardt cyclists have welcomed an allocation of nearly $1 million to local bike paths as pressure mounts for the state government to abandon its plans to tear up Sydney CBD’s College Street cycleway.
The combined Leichhardt Council and RMS funding, as outlined in council’s 2015-16 budget, is set to improve existing Leichhardt cycleways, as well as build a new path along Lilyfield Road.
The Hawthorne Canal Cycleway will receive $400,000 in upgrades, while the Catherine Street bridge will see dedicated bike lanes completed.
Local cycling group Bike Leichhardt welcomed the council’s continued commitment to regular cycling upgrades, but the group’s president Bob Moore said there needed to be further increases from council, not just RMS.
“The amount quoted this year [from Council’s funds] is the same as for the last year. We reckon there should be an increase to at least cover inflation,” Mr Moore said.
“Plans for Catherine St bridge have been awaiting funding for a number of years. The western footpath is unused, so it makes a lot of sense to turn it into a northbound cycle path.”
Mr Moore said the local cyclist community wanted to be engaged in plans for the cycleway on Lilyfield Road.
“A separated bike path may be hard to achieve unless parking is removed on one side of the road,” he said.
“This could be possible where there is no residential frontage, for example along the section from Denison Street to Balmain Road, but would council go that far?”
“We actually don’t mind the current layout, which has uphill bike lanes and sharing the traffic lanes on downhills, where bikes can keep up, but there are sections which could be improved.”
He said there were other key locations in the area that needed better conditions for cyclists, including on Victoria Road.
“A new bridge over Victoria Road is also needed, or perhaps a link from the foot of Gordon Street along the goods yard and under Victoria Road to bypass the need to go over the footbridge. This link might be possible as part of the Urban Growth redevelopment of the area,” he said.
The council’s cycle budget allocated funding for improved bus shelters to allow better cyclist vision, however Mr Moore said this area needed much more attention.
“The Victoria Road shared path needs a lot of work, and not just at the bus shelters, so again we are hoping to work with council and RMS to identify and fix the problems,” he said.
Deputy Mayor of Leichhardt Daniel Kogoy said council remained committed to providing safer and more connected alternative transport options.
“Cycling is such an important transport option in our local government area, especially given our close proximity to the CBD,” Clr Kogoy said.
“Funding off road and separated bicycle paths is a proven way to get more people cycling, more often. Many more people want to ride, but don’t feel safe on Sydney streets.
Clr Kogoy said that council would continue to back the community’s fight to save the College Street cycleway.
“It is more than a little bizarre to see the state government on the one hand contributing funding for the Lilyfield Road safe, separated bike path, while at the same time planning to rip up the heavily used College Street cycleway,” he said.