A Sunday cycling takeover involving free public transport into the city, pausing the light rail and closing side streets is being targeted by Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore following the success of the City of Sydney’s summer streets festival.
Cr Moore has asked the state government to support closures in the heart of the city on regular Sundays for a cycling takeover practice known as Ciclovía (it’s a Spanish term believed to have originated in Colombia), to help lure families back into the city following the pandemic.
Cr Moore said the closure of streets aligns with her long-term vision for “increased pedestrian areas, outdoor dining, and green avenues”, adding that “we’d love to see the city centre closed to traffic for cycling Sundays, similar to other great cities around the world”.
Cr Moore told City Hub that the festival provided a safe outlet for “people to re-engage with their communities”, saying that “expanding outdoor dining remains an essential part of what [council’s] doing to support businesses during these challenging times”.
Cr Moore hopes to continue the initiative and has requested $5 million from the state government to repeat the series another four times this year.
“Given the spread of the Omicron variant, our Summer Streets events weren’t all they could be. We’re sure that with a steady calendar of closures, businesses would invest in infrastructure and offerings to make these events even better, and the wider community would come to enjoy the party”, she said.
Cr Moore acknowledged that funding was necessary for the series to continue, specifically “contributions made to Transport for NSW for road closures and pay-per-use policing”, which would be a “huge step” towards ensuring the sustainability of these events.
Darlinghurst summer streets festival a ‘definite success’
The series was originally designed for local businesses to recover from the pandemic while providing a COVID safe environment for communities to re-engage with Sydney’s streets.
Claudio Tropea, the owner of Bill and Toni’s, called the festival a “definite success” and said it was “awesome to see [the street’s] energy, consumer confidence and buzz back”.
Tropea added that changing public health restrictions had made it “extremely difficult to remain in operation and optimistic about the future”.
“Put simply, we have had to adapt to the changing environment and as an iconic Sydney business that has been in existence since 1965, it was difficult to do,” he explained.
Member for Balmain hints that summer streets festival could come to the Inner West
State Member for Balmain Jamie Parker praised the popularity of the events, saying “returning streets to local neighbourhoods is a key part of bringing people together while supporting our local businesses”. He also hinted at plans to initiate similar events in his electorate.
Urbanist Jason Packenham said the program showed that “people want to get out and socialise in our neighbourhood centres and streets”, saying “it’s been great to see the cross-section of our communities on display”.
“It’s also highlighting the fact that our main streets can be put to better use than just driving and parking cars … [the program is] the perfect indication that we need more public spaces for coming together and socialising, living our lives in public, and we need those spaces at the heart of our local communities”, he said.