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Councillors clash over safety issues on inner city cycleways

Councillors have clashed over concerns for the inner city's cycleways. Photo: City of Sydney.


An amended motion to increase safety on cycle paths by providing status updates and community consultation reports on the inner city’s cycleways was passed last month. 

The original motion proposed by City of Sydney councillor Yvonne Weldon requested that council provide community consultation reports to councillors on the pop-up cycleways, status updates on plans to make these cycleways permanent (including Dunning Avenue, Pitt Street, Henderson Road, Moore Park Road, Fitzroy Street, Oxford Street and Bridge Road), and safety audits for each pop-up and permanent cycleway installed in the City of Sydney LGA for the past 10 years.  

City of Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore told City Hub that there are plans to make the Pitt Street, Henderson Road, Railway Parade and Bridge Road cycleways permanent. The remaining pop-ups will be kept in place “while [council] explores design options, which will help [council] ensure cycling is a safe transport option”.  

Deputy lord mayor Jess Scully amended the motion to exclude the original request that council provide audit reports for cycleways installed over the past 10 years.  

Cr Weldon said that she was “surprised and disappointed” that Cr Scully deleted “important statements” from the original motion.   

“It is the public duty of the City to ensure that any cycleway (including a pop-up cycleway) is safe before it is opened, only encouraging cyclists to use it after all safety issues have been fully addressed,” Cr Weldon said. 

“It is also the public duty of the City to properly consult with residents and other stakeholders affected by installation of cycleways by loss of access, convenience and enjoyment of their residences or places of work, removal of parking spaces, including disability parking and safety impacts.” 

Cr Weldon maintained that “safe cycleways and effective community consultation are the responsibility of every councillor” and that while she supported cycling use, it was important to “not [make] people who are already vulnerable to be excluded even more [excluded]”. 

In response, Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Scully said “[council] have doubled the participation in cycling in the city since 2008”, and “in that time we’ve reduced the number of injuries to a third of the 2008 figure”.  

Additionally, Cr Scully explained that the City of Sydney and Transport for NSW have introduced measures such as a childcare drop off at Moore Park Road, overnight parking and disability and loading zones to alleviate issues experienced by people affected by the installation of cycleways.  

Cr Weldon referred to an independent road safety audit conducted by DC Engineering for the Bridge Road cycleway in 2020, which states that the project team instructed the auditor to exclude parts of the cycleway and safety issues from the assessment. These issues include the intermittent arrangement of cycleways, the start of the scheme near Lyons Road Camperdown and the impact of the eastbound bus stop near Alexandria Drive.  

Cr Scully countered that the independent audit was conducted before the cycleway was completed, making its findings less valuable and that there are “risks inherent with using any form of public transport”. She added that “the best way to save lives is to build separated cycleways”.  

She also said that audits do not provide the full picture as they fail to account for the safety of the road before the implementation of cycle paths.  

Cr Weldon said that remarks made by Cr Scully about the Bridge Road safety audit during the council meeting were “incorrect”, which “concerns [her] as Councillor Scully claims to be an expert on the Bridge Road cycleway”.  

“Councillor Scully also dismissed concerns about the safety of the Bridge Road cycleway expressed by former Transport Minister Andrew Constance to Glebe residents during a visit he made to assess the Bridge Road cycleway for himself in October 2020,” she added.  

Cr Scully described the request that council provide safety audits for cycleways installed in the inner city as “overly onerous”.  

“There is no substance or evidence to suggest that the [safety of the] cycleways established 10 years ago is in question,” she said.  

A spokesperson for the City of Sydney said that the request went “beyond the scope of [Cr Weldon’s] particular motion”, and would be “resource-intensive and not provide any additional insight about the pop-up cycleways program”.  

Moved motion

The amended motion was passed by councillors Sylvie Ellsmore, William Chan, Emelda Davis, Lyndon Gannon, Robert Kok, Linda Scott, Clover Moore and Jess Scully.  

The passing of this motion will make community consultation reports available to councillors and will provide greater clarity on future plans to make pop-up cycleways permanent.  

Prior approvals 

New urban cycleways were approved on Oxford and Liverpool Street by councillors this year, with the new transport routes set to service multiple areas and create new linkages across the city.

The pop-up cycleway system was developed in the earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide a ventilated, socially-distanced form of transport for people throughout the inner city, and has received support from the state government following its introduction by the City of Sydney.

Routes covering Pyrmont Bridge, Pitt Street, Moore Park Road and Fitzroy Street, Ashmore to South Eveleigh, Sydney Park Road and Dunning Avenue were implemented, with many of these initial pop-up cycleways set to be made a permanent fixture in the city’s transport portfolio.

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