Welcome light rail opening should give green light to GreenWay

THE opening of the inner-west light rail extension presented a golden opportunity to begin work on a long-awaited walking and cycling route alongside the tram corridor, the Friends of the GreenWay group said today.

The NSW Government today opened the light rail line extension from Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill.

The government scrapped previously approved plans for a 5km GreenWay alongside the light rail extension, arguing that it could delay the light rail project.

Friends of the GreenWay spokesperson Jennifer Kent said that the welcome opening of the light rail line would now help everyone focus on the best way to deliver a GreenWay.

See our media release at light rail opening 270314

Government’s strategy provides just a glimmer of hope for GreenWay

Just six days before Christmas, as people’s interest was focussed on preparing for Christmas and the January holidays, the NSW Government quietly published its much-awaited cycling strategy for Sydney. Called Sydney’s Cycling Future, the document was jointly launched by Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian and Roads Minister Duncan Gay.

The document provides a little glimmer of hope for the GreenWay – but not much. This is the high-level strategy which the government said was required when it announced the “deferral” of the GreenWay way back in September 2011.

There are a number of problems with the document. For instance, the strategy says the focus of new cycle paths will be on areas that are within five kilometres of major centres and public transport interchanges. However, this seems to fly in the face of the long-held concept under the last three Metropolitan Strategies (from 2005 to 2013) to create cross-Sydney regional recreational trails which link a variety of centres (one of which is the GreenWay). Smaller trips are great but the solutions shouldn’t end there. There are infrastructure and environmental corridors right across our city (the GreenWay has both of these features) which should be used to encourage people to ride both short and longer distances.

Secondly, the document is vague and confusing. For instance, page 16 of Sydney’s Cycling Future outlines the proposed actions for Sydney’s Inner West. This includes unclear commitments to “upgrade connections to Anzac Bridge” which will “create new links to residential areas including Summer Hill, Lewisham and Lilyfield”. The only specific mention of the GreenWay is that the government will “work with councils on other sections, such as the southern section of the GreenWay” – which sounds like code for “making local councils pay for the GreenWay”.

These words are alongside a very small regional-scale map which doesn’t make it any clearer what routes will be upgraded and how this will be achieved.

Finally, the document is inconsistent with this government’s own vision. For instance, the Long-Term Transport Masterplan, which was released in late 2012, said that the Cooks River to White Bay link (which
includes the GreenWay) is a “medium term” cycling route priority – see page 364  at http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/b2b/publications/nsw-transport-masterplan-final.pdf Yet, in Sydney’s Cycling Future (which is meant to implement the aims of the Masterplan) this route name doesn’t get a mention at all. Why doesn’t Sydney Cycling Future simply tell us how Cooks River to White Bay will be implemented. It is all very confusing.

All in all, it is another disappointing effort. In the last few days, we’ve seen a bold vision released for London to use the airspace above
railway lines for cross-city cycling routes and another vision for Hamburg to use regional-cycling routes to create a car-free city. It is jaw-dropping, transformative stuff which is completely lacking in Sydney’s Cycling Future.

The sole upside is that the document actually references the GreenWay, and not surprisingly, says the uncompleted southern end is the priority.  To read more, see how the document was covered (and slammed) by the SMH.

Submission on Grove St development site

Grove St development plans

The Friends of the GreenWay group has lodged a submission calling for changes to a major residential unit development proposed at Grove St, Dulwich Hill  (plans to the left and photo of development site below). In particular, the Friends group has asked for a cycling and walking track to be built on the area of the development facing the light rail line. Our submission is below:

I am writing in regard to the plans for 6-26 Grove St on behalf of the Friends of the GreenWay Group. The Friends of the GreenWay is an apolitical  community group which has been fighting for the GreenWay vision since 2007, including for a 5km walking and cycling link between the Cooks River and Sydney  Harbour.

This is a major potential redevelopment within the GreenWay corridor.

The plans show a ‘green corridor’ along the northern edge of the development site, which is at times also described as a ‘GreenWay’. Consistent with the submission from the GreenWay Steering Committee, we believe this space should be set aside for bushcare and an active transport corridor. Currently, the plans show this area set aside for native landscaping planting with, as far as we can see, no mention of a cycling and walking pathway.

The Friends’ group believe this pathway could form part of a very useful 400m long cycling and walking link between Constitution Rd and Davis Rd. This development site would make up the majority of this link. After leaving this development site this pathway would probably have to veer into the rail corridor for a short distance (because private properties which are unlikely to be developed are adjacent to the rail corridor).

One of the major benefits of this 400m link is that it would relieve pressure from the existing pathway through Johnson Park, which is currently shown as the main GreenWay route and well-used by cyclists. The pathway through Johnson Park runs past a heavily used playground where toddlers and children play.

This link would also effectively join Johnson Park with Hoskins Park, in line with the GreenWay vision to better link green spaces. We think this development should be required to set aside and fund the required 3m pathway within its site. In the first instance, the link could run from Constitution Rd to Hill St, with a potential future connection to Hoskins Park if the pathway is allowed to run within the rail corridor.

It should also be noted that this proposal currently exceeds the floor space ratio requirements for the site, which raises concerns that it would have a damaging and overly bulky appearance on the GreenWay route. The developer’s offer of a new square under a voluntary planning agreement really would appear to be a glorified forecourt for this development site.

If a VPA was to be created, and if the proposal is approved despite exceeding planning controls, it would be preferable for this money to be allocated to a pathway as described in this submission.

Bandicoot concerns about biodiversity package

Trees cleared for the Taverners Hill stop near Parramatta Rd

A rare opportunity to improve the ongoing habitat of the inner-west’s threatened long-nosed bandicoot population has been lost due to a disappointing biodiversity compensation package put forward by the NSW Government.

As part of the planning condition for clearing about 1.1 hectares of bushland to create the inner-west light rail, Transport for NSW was required to develop a Revegetation and Biodiversity Compensation and Monitoring Package.

Some two and half years after this condition was imposed, the exact terms of the package are now being  thrashed out between local councils and Transport for NSW. The Planning and  Infrastructure Department is responsible for signing it off.

The Friends of the GreenWay group supports the joint response from the Ashfield, Leichhardt, Marrickville councils pointing out the deficiencies in this package.

The government might be spending at least $176 million building the light rail but is being stingy meeting  its own approval conditions and creating a truly sustainable and green corridor. Read our media release to find out more.

 

SMH exposes GreenWay inaction

Many thanks to Jake Saulwick at the SMH, who on Saturday July 6 exposed the government’s inaction on the progressing the GreenWay. Jake has pointed out that two years after the government “deferred” the GreenWay and announced it would be instead looking at an “integrated transport masterplan” to progress the project nothing has been announced.

Jake’s story can be read here and the government’s 2011 media release referring to the masterplan here.

Jake has dug up a series of internal government documents which show how the transport bureaucracy has been trying to progress the project, including through doing patronage surveys and urging the government’s planners to require a GreenWay contribution from the Summer Hills flour mill site. Clearly the transport bureaucracy is keen to progress a Cooks River to White Bay link but at this stage, Transport Minister Berejiklian has not supported anything going out publicly.

The Friends of the GreenWay are an apolitical group and genuinely keen to constructively work with the government to progress plans for this important active transport route.