By VANESSA LIM
Safety concerns were raised for Randwick Council’s planned South Coogee to Kensington cycle path, which includes a blind spot that places cyclists at risk of collision with motorists.
While Randwick Council’s cycle path plan – revised to save 27 trees and plant 60 new ones – is environmentally friendly, concerns remain for users’ safety.
Mary Richard, an Eastern Suburbs resident, said that the absence of a risk assessment was problematic.
“Public safety should be uppermost in the design. A risk assessment has not been conducted, which could have implications of liability for the Council. General Manager Therese Manns admitted at the Council meeting that Randwick Council will be liable, as they own the infrastructure.”
Ms. Richard pointed out one of the safety concerns was the narrow downhill road curve on Bundock Street in South Coogee where the cycle path was routed. Ms. Richard mentioned that cars often cross the white lines in the middle of the road and it is a blind spot.
“This section will be dangerous as it will push oncoming cars closer to each other.”
Emma, an Eastern Suburbs’ parent who lives on Bundock Street near the road curve, voiced her concerns about the planned cycle path. “The biggest danger for a cycleway here is the speed. The cars come down this hill fast and there’s tightness at the corner of the road, which is unsafe for vehicles.”
Emma recalls seeing multiple road accidents at the road curve of Bundock Street. “We’ve seen numerous incidents and if a cyclist was there, I would fear for the cyclist.”
Emma is anxious about the new cycleway’s potential increase in cyclist and road traffic. “It’s an incredibly busy street. I worry for my children; they get off the bus on the other side of the road upon Rainbow Street and walk down the hill home. Crossing this road already is busy for them and I worry about their safety.”
Mark Worthington, President of BIKEast, said that safety concerns for the narrow turn could be lessened if there was a shared cyclist-pathway. He added that the cycle path would create a bigger network of cycleways, which would encourage more people to get on bikes and could reduce road traffic.
“If facilities like this are provided, we believe they will attract people to cycle. This includes people who wouldn’t usually ride and people who currently ride but on a less risky route.”
Mr. Worthington said that facilities like this cycleway were intended to increase safety, especially in environments that weren’t so safe to ride on. “We have to have safe design and we would not build or construct if it was unsafe.”
Ms. Richard stated that the hidden driveways further down Bundock Street would also raise safety concerns. “Hidden driveways I believe, were approved with extra wide verges, so cars reversing up could sit on the level section before meeting the road, for safety reasons.”
Mr. Worthington countered that people are already using the footpath that intersects with the driveways. “If needed, there should be obvious signs to warn you that you’re going into a driveway area.”
Ms. Richard said that while the council said that 27 trees would be saved, she still didn’t think it was definite. “There are no guarantees that RMS will save the trees on this design. 16 trees are marked to go and this number could rise.”
Mr. Worthington stated that building necessary infrastructure, such as cycle paths, couldn’t be halted because trees were in the way. “It’s frustrating because it’s always going to be a problem with cycleways. 30 or 40 years ago a lot of the trees seen around Sydney were planted. Before that, councils didn’t want people planting trees because they create a lot of problems for infrastructure.”
Mr. Worthington acknowledged the necessity for trees to exist in urban environments and said that the council’s revision of the cycleway project to protect more trees was a win. “Trees will grow again; we live in an urban environment and we have to have balance.”
Keep Sydney Beautiful, a community-led organisation against overdevelopment, believe that the proposed cycle path will not only be beneficial to the cyclists but could be good for drivers on the road. However, a spokesperson expressed their anxiety: “Keep Sydney Beautiful is concerned that this cycleway will, in fact, create another major east-west road corridor bringing more, and not fewer, cars to the area.”
They voiced concerns for the consultation process and want Randwick City council to come up with a win-win situation for residents and cyclists.