Calls for quicker bike route rollout to beat Sydney congestion

Plans are underway to extend Sydney’s bike network more quickly, following overwhelming support from business leaders, local communities and commuters who ride into the inner city.

94 per cent of feedback on the city’s new cycling strategy and action plan was positive and featured strong calls to connect key bike routes as soon as possible.

The majority of respondents backed separated cycleways over shared paths, and many people had ongoing concerns about driver attitudes to people riding bikes.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said with Sydney’s population increasing, cycleways are more important now than ever before to keep our streets moving, reduce traffic congestion and encourage more people to ride.

“Community support for building Sydney’s bike network has never been stronger,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Business leaders know traffic congestion is crippling our city and costing $8 billion in lost revenue and productivity, but many people still don’t feel safe riding a bike to work.

“Around one million people live within a 30-minute bike ride to the inner city, but we simply can’t expect more people to give riding a go if they don’t feel safe and supported to do so.”

“We’ve taken inspiration from other global cities like New York and London where cycleways have been built quickly and strategically – creating safe bike routes that have seen rider numbers increase dramatically.”

The new 12-year cycling strategy was unanimously endorsed by council on Monday night. Connecting the bike network is a key priority, with a refined bike network map highlighting the key links to get more people riding.

During consultation, people said they wanted the King Street cycleway in the city centre finished as a priority, connecting either end of the Liverpool Street cycleway. They also wanted cycleways to be prioritised over shared paths where possible.

The strategy aims to complete Sydney’s regional bike network and most of the local bike network by 2030, but will require ongoing support from the community, and more financial support and quicker approvals from the NSW Government.

The city is accelerating its development of these priority bike routes:

  • Bondi to the CBD along Moore Park Road – which is the NSW Government’s highest priority
  • bike connections to and around Central Station
  • final designs for extending the King Street cycleway in the inner city
  • final designs for the extension of the Castlereagh Street cycleway on either end
  • new cycleways linking Green Square to Randwick council area
  • new cycleways connecting Redfern and Newtown
  • final design for a bike connection between the city centre and Sydney Harbour Bridge with Transport for NSW and Roads and Maritime Services
  • more safe bike connections to Pyrmont and Glebe.

The strategy also prioritises supporting people to ride especially around new bike links, and helping to grow the number of people riding, particularly women and children.

The city will also work with businesses to support a healthier workforce and encourage them to add to the 52 major end-of-trip facilities, worth $57 million dollars, already in the inner city.

“The private sector is investing millions of dollars transforming basements in Sydney’s biggest office blocks into bicycle parking, showers and change rooms to attract high-end tenants,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Of course not everyone can ride, or wants to. But we must work towards a safe environment for people who want to make the switch. The positive impact on traffic and the health of our community will be worth the hard work.”

“As our population grows, there’s also increasing competition for road space. Building the bike network won’t be easy but the longer we take, the more difficult it will become as Sydney’s traffic will continue to worsen.”

The city received more than 2000 submissions during consultation on the strategy. The feedback found:

  • 97 per cent of people thought building bike connections like cycleways and shared paths were ‘important’ or ‘very important’
  • 92 per cent of people thought a network of regional cycleways extending throughout the inner Sydney was ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’
  • 90 per cent felt ‘very’ or ‘extremely comfortable’ riding on separated cycleways
  • 79 per cent felt ‘only a little’ or ‘not at all comfortable’ on high traffic streets
  • 61 per cent thought end-of-trip facilities like bike parking, showers and lockers were ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’ when deciding to take a job
  • 85 per cent thought more driver education was ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’.

“Active transport, especially cycling, is integral to assuring Sydney’s future as a vibrant, sustainable city,” said Committee for Sydney CEO, Eamon Waterford.

“We recognise the strong leadership of the city and its program of cycling infrastructure already in place, which is one of the most ambitious in Australia. We also commend the City of Sydney on its success in doubling the rate of cycling in Sydney’s inner-city in just 10 years.”

Image: Sydney – October 14, 2015: Cyclists take part in the Sydney Suit Ride on Ride To Work Day (photo by Jamie Williams/City of Sydney)