By KIRSTA CHEUNG
As more people are returning to workplaces from work from home arrangements, public transport services are getting busier and more congested. Could the development of active transport infrastructure offer a new travel option for busy Sydneysiders?
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Sydney’s public transport hard, overall commuter rates in Australia have taken a dive due to space restrictions and the difficulty of maintaining social distancing.
In an attempt to boost alternative transport, the Australian government is giving $7.63 million to assist the City of Sydney Council and Woollahra council to deliver active transport links. By improving current active transport infrastructure, councils and the government hope to improve the range of transport options.
One of the transport links which has benefitted from the grants is a new Pedestrian Shared Zone on Gurner Lane in Paddington. Funding has been granted by the Woollahra Council to pedestrianise Gurner Lane, near Glenmore Road Public School.
Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, told City Hub the grant would increase safety for local pedestrians, school children and teachers who walk from and to school.
“It’s something that the local school Glenmore Public School and the local community are really excited about as they had been advocating for years,” he said.
Cycling and walking, according to the City of Sydney, rose by 51 percent in some suburbs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though there are more people who want to walk and cycle in and around the city, numbers are less in the city due to the lack of cycle infrastructure.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has really been the call to action to ensure that we are able to build more cycle infrastructure around the city,” said Mr. Greenwich.
People who are in the city are less willing to travel via public transport to make space for those who need to travel afar into the city. There has been a growth in the number of people who prefer to walk or cycle to get around their local areas.
Mr. Greenwich things the key to improving the city’s transport links in the post-COVID world is balance.
“We are now able to see delivery bike lanes, widening of footpaths, pedestrian shared zones, these are all elements every city needs,” he said.
“I think it’s important to realise our city needs to accommodate active transport and public transport, so people can drive in and around the city. We need to make sure we get the balance right and know that these should not be seen as competing interests at all.”
Government grants will also go towards a separated cycleway along Pitt Street between King Street and Alfred Street, improvements at the Lang Road intersection and a pedestrian link to the yet-to-be-completed Redfern station Southern concourse.