Get on your bike
Cycling to work, the shops or to school is still in the too hard bucket for a lot of North Shore residents, with safety being a top concern.
Ray Rice, advocacy consultant at Bicycle NSW, says Transport for NSW figures show 70 per cent of people would like to ride if it were safer and more convenient.
“‘Safer’ for most riders means being separated from motor vehicle traffic, by a dedicated cycleway or shared path. ‘Convenience’ would mean connected,” he explains.
“People won't ride from A to D if there is a gap in the middle from B to C. It then becomes unsafe and not convenient.”
He says while councils may have great bike plans to provide safety and convenience, they are dependent on state government funding to implement these plans.
“Unfortunately, the state government funding is just not there,” he states.
“For 2019-20, the NSW government has budgeted to spend $15.1 billion on transport infrastructure. Of this, only $57 million is for walking and cycling – just 0.38 per cent,” he adds.
Sadly, the number of cyclists dying on NSW roads has increased.
“In 2018, eight cyclists died on NSW roads. This was the same number as in 2017 but three more than the five recorded in 2015, which was the lowest fatality total for pedal cyclists since records began in 1935,” says executive director for the Centre of Road Safety, Bernard Carlon.
So where are we at locally in the development of safer cycling options? Lindsay Menday, Sustainable Transport project co-ordinator at North Sydney Council, says the Integrated Cycling Strategy, adopted by Council in 2014, identifies five major ‘priority routes’ and a supporting local cycling network.
“It’s designed to make it possible for people of all ages and abilities to ride their bike for everyday transport needs, particularly trips between two to five kilometres,” he says.
“Since the strategy was adopted, Council has completed 1.5 kilometres of fully separated cycle path and more than six kilometres of on-road cycle route upgrades.”
Mosman Council has also been busy. It is about to complete its Mosman Bicycle Plan 2014-19, which has seen the addition of cycleways along various streets and includes new cycleways at The Spit as part of The Spit’s major upgrade.
“The next Mosman Bicycle Plan, which will include the work’s program for the next five years, is in development and the draft will go on display for public consultation next year when the council will seek feedback from the Mosman community on residents’ priorities for new cycleways,” says Craig Covich, the director environment and planning at Mosman Council.
“The new plan will then be adopted in 2020. Mosman Council has received funding from the Roads and Maritime Services to upgrade the route to North Sydney for 2019-2021, and plans for this will be included,” he adds.
Willoughby Council has big plans to deliver a shared path linking Mowbray Road in Artarmon with Herbert Street in St Leonards.
“Community consultation was recently completed on a concept design for this proposed initiative. The proposal will be considered by the Local Traffic Committee at its meeting on 21 August for consideration and, following this, will ask Council for its decision,” says a council spokesperson.
“The overall goal is to support cycling as a viable, safe and attractive transport option and respond to the needs of the community and encourages greater cycling participation in Willoughby,” she adds.
Willoughby Council first adopted its Bike Plan in 2006, and this is used as the basis of developing the cycling infrastructure and facilities throughout the area. The plan was then reviewed in 2012, and the area’s existing cycling infrastructure was audited in 2017. In 2018/ 2019, more than $340,000 funding was allocated for bicycle projects. More than $330,000 has been approved in 2019/ 2020 for bicycle projects.
At the moment, Bicycle NSW advocate Ray Rice says it’s just not enough.
“To illustrate the lack of connectivity in our cycleways, The Sydney Harbour Bridge Cycleway is Sydney's busiest bike route. However, bike riders must physically carry their bikes up 55 steps at Milsons Point,” he states.