By ALLISON HORE
Upgrades have been proposed to improve pedestrian safety along a historic tram cutting which makes up part of the popular Bondi to Bronte coastal walk.
Waverley Council are finalising plans to replace the temporary walkway along a 500 meter stretch of the Cutting where pedestrians would typically have to walk out on a road shared with vehicles accessing beach parking.
Improving pedestrian access along the road is significant, as over one million people use the Coastal Walk from Bronte to Bondi every year and as many as 500 people per hour use this section of the walkway during peak periods, according to council estimates. Hourly foot traffic can increase during events like Sculptures By The Sea.
“The popularity and the flow of traffic through this narrow section of road has given rise to safety concerns for those using it and a permanent footpath is the most appropriate solution,” Waverley Mayor, Paula Masselos, said.
The decision to proceed with construction of permanent path comes at the conclusion of a two-year pilot period of a temporary walkway. The trial involved replacing the 21 car parking spaces, and some parking meters, on one side of the Cutting with a pedestrian walkway.
While there have been no recorded cases of crashes between vehicles and pedestrians in the last five years, Waverley Council said pedestrians having to contend with open car doors and cars trying to parallel park along the narrow road decreases the amenity of the road.
Council says the new walkway will increase safety for both pedestrians and motorists.
Upgrades will include replacing the pilot footpath with a permanent one, extending the footpath to McPherson street and installing lighting along Calga Place. Existing footpaths on Calga Place to the north of the cutting will also be widened.
“Council has consulted Bronte Surf Life Saving Club who are on board with our plans and have kindly given up one of their car spots so that the footpath can be widened appropriately,” said Ms. Masselos.
The Cutting was built in 1910 to provide access for the tram line to Bronte which opened in 1911, the sandstone walls were put up a few years later to stop beach sand from blowing up onto the tram lines. Trams along the line were decommissioned in 1960 and were replaced with a bus service.
The tramway cutting is now used as a long, narrow car park for Bronte Beach. Since the council acquired the Bronte Cutting car park from the surf life saving club it has proved troublesome to the council.
From failed attempts to monetise the carpark with automatic boom gates to rumours council rangers refused to fine people parked illegally due to the workplace health and safety risks posed by the lack of footpaths, the pedestrian safety concerns for leisure walkers was just one issue the historic thoroughfare has faced.
Motorists and pedestrians aren’t the only people making use of the Cutting. Some rock climbers note the spot is excellent for bouldering, with popular rock climbing and bouldering website, The Crag, recommending the spot is “best avoided when the parking lot is full, as you wouldn’t want to fall through someone’s windscreen.”
People who wish to have their say on the upgrades can register for an online info session through the Waverley Council’s website. The consultation period will run through until December the 21st.