Inner-West councils have voted to lobby the NSW Government to support an off-road path between the Cooks River and White Bay, amid speculation that a cheaper and less satisfactory on-road option is being considered.
There’s considerable speculation that a government study for the 7.5km link has been prepared and is on the desk of Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian, waiting to be released. This study does apparently include an on-road cycleway option – in other words using existing streets with improved line-marking and signage – rather than taking advantage of the light rail corridor to build a safer and speedier off-road pathway.
It was encouraging, and somewhat surprising, that the Cooks River to White Bay link was listed as a ‘medium to long-term’ cycling priority in the Long-Term Transport Masterplan released before Christmas 2012 (note large file size). While the light rail extension construction is forging ahead, government action to progress the active transport link however has been a little slow, with some meetings cancelled last year.
The Cooks River to White Bay link is of course really another name for the GreenWay – except that it is a longer route which runs all the way to White Bay rather than the GreenWay which stops at Sydney Harbour.
On February 26, Ashfield councillors Alex Lofts and Lucille McKenna moved and received unanimous support for a motion stating that the on-road option was not acceptable, including because this option was already largely in place. The motion also called on the government to release the internal government planning work undertaken to date for the GreenWay so that funding and resourcing models can be pursued. The council also pushed for the bushland rehabilitation and improvements – required because of 1.1 hectares in vegetation removal caused by the new light rail stations – to happen within the rail corridor.
Two days later, Canterbury Council also supported this motion.
A similar motion was moved by Marrickville councillor Melissa Brooks at that council’s March 19 meeting and was approved. This motion includes an interesting analysis from council staff that the costs of building an off-road path should not be prohibitive, despite the government’s claims.
A similar motion is also before Leichhardt Council’s March meeting.
One piece of good news from these motions is that they are being passed unanimously, which shows there is no political divide – including among Liberal councillors – when it comes to supporting the initiative. We now await Minister’s Berejiklian’s response and the grand release of the Cooks River to White Bay link study.