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.