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Eastern suburbs councillors reject New South Head cycleway obstacles

A push at a Woollahra Council meeting to defer construction of a cycleway between Rose Bay and Double Bay has been rejected, with just two councillors voting in favour of the motion. Photo: Woollahra Council.

By ERIN MODARO

A push at a Woollahra Council meeting to defer construction of a cycleway between Rose Bay and Double Bay has been rejected, with just two councillors voting in favour of the motion.

Proposed at a meeting on March 28 by Liberal councillor Mary-Lou Jarvis, the motion requested that the construction on the New South Head Road cycleway be deferred to “address community concerns” and suggested exploring alternative options for the project. 

The 2.4-kilometre cycleway, which was given council approval in December 2019, will run between William Street in Double Bay and Norwich Road in Rose Bay. The project was first delayed due to last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns and was pushed back again to April so that construction could begin in slower activity months.  

According to council, the upgrades will improve the cycling capacity of New South Head Road, which has been identified as a “critical east-west cycling connection within Woollahra”. The cycleway will also include a section of shared path for pedestrians and cyclists, that has been the topic of various safety concerns.

Councillor Jarvis said that “whilst we are very concerned about the safety of the cyclists, we have a duty in my view to be equally as concerned about the safety of the pedestrians”. 

Speaking to City Hub, Cr Jarvis added that there is “likely to be an accident” on the path in the future. She voiced her concerns about pedestrians being at risk from electric scooters in a shared space.  

Matthew Robertson. Photo: Twitter.

“At least on bikes you’ve got a bell,” Cr Jarvis said.  

Woollahra councillor ‘so sick’ of debate

The motion to defer construction was opposed by Greens councillor Matthew Robertson, who said that he is “so sick of this [cycleway] debate”.

“The fact is, there is no ideal solution. And the one that’s before us that we have approved, that our local planning panel has approved, is the best solution,” Cr Robertson said. 

Woollahra Mayor Susan Wynne said that she was “vehement[ly]” against the motion.  

“What is wrong with us that we cannot share our spaces to save lives?” Cr Wynne told the council, after sharing a personal story about her twin sister who sustained severe injuries in a past biking incident.  

Construction on cycleway begins

Concerns about the safety of the cycleway have been raised in the past, as in November 2021 when the Rose Bay Residents Association wrote a letter conveying “strong resident opposition” to the cycleway plan due to pedestrian safety issues.  

Barbara Mortimer, the Member Communication Representative of the Residents Association, said that they are “against the plan to mix the cyclists with the pedestrians” on the Rose Bay Promenade section of the cycleway.

“We didn’t think it was best practice to mix very old people on walking frames … with cyclists,” Ms Mortimer said, also noting that residents from retirement homes in the area would be at risk.  

Infrastructure for cyclists is increasingly becoming a prominent element of the Sydney transport landscape following Transport for NSW’s pop-up cycleway initiative in previous years, which has been especially successful in the inner city.

Construction has begun on the cycleway. Photo: Matthew Robertson.

Transport for NSW reported that more than 700,000 trips have been made on the pop-up cycleways, which were developed as a response to increased active transport demand during the pandemic.  

Some of the temporary cycleways, including the one installed on Bridge Road in Glebe, have been received well by the community, as Transport for NSW reported that 92 per cent of users felt safer on the cycleway than on the street.  As a result, the Bridge Road cycleway will become a permanent installation, and upgrades will be made in the future.  

Construction on the Rose Bay/Double Bay cycleway, which will be jointly funded by council and Transport for NSW, began this week and is projected to be completed by July this year.

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