Cold War on Sydney Cycleway gets hot

Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, accused WestConnex contractors of tearing up part of the Bourke Road cycleway in Alexandria without due process.

In Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts on 28 April, Moore was concerned about the safety of cyclists and pedestrians and said WestConnex acted without consultation, notification or providing an alternative route. “It is a miracle no one was hurt”, Moore said.

Clover Moore's FaceBook Post on 28 April
Clover Moore’s Facebook post on 28 April. Photo: Facebook

Bicycle Major of Sydney Sarah Imm spoke about riding on the changed path.

“It does basically take cyclists onto the footpath where we are not legally allowed to ride. It does eventually turn into a shared pedestrian cycle and pedestrian walkway. There is a good stretch that is basically a no man’s land so I think the city as well as the cycle community would like that [part of the cycleway] reinstated.”

WestConnex said they provided work notification on 10 March. In a statement, a Sydney Motorway Corporation spokesperson responded to Moore’s posts.

“City of Sydney council was notified of the traffic changes for this upgrade, including the temporary cycle path closure in their monthly meeting with the New M5 contractors. City of Sydney were also involved in reviewing these changes as part of the Traffic Control Plan which is a requirement before work can start. The New M5 and associated local road upgrades are being delivered in line with the relevant Conditions of Approval, plans and requirements.”

december 2016.png
Bourke Street Cycleway before the alterations. Photo: Google

Michael Short is Special Counsel at Veritas Law Firm who are business partners with Bicycle N.S.W. Asked whether City of Sydney can reverse the change, Short said “I would imagine that statutory priority lies with the Sydney Motorways Corporation because they have been given the jurisdiction by the state government and the state government has empowered Sydney Motorways Corporation to build this road and they won’t allow the councils to get in the way.”

The Bourke Road cycleway opened in 2010 and is used by 500 cyclists each weekday. It is part of Sydney Cycleways, a 284 km network planned by the City of Sydney that will eventually cost $179 million. The cycling network has long been the target of opposition from conservative state governments and media, whom have been unable to remove it or defeat Moore, its strongest supporter,  in elections.

Imm said this cycleway is very important. “There are specific cycling corridors which are safe for cyclists to use and this kind of amendment disrupts the flow as well as the feeling of safety when removed without any notice.”

Sydney Cycleways, part of the City of Sydney, declined to be interviewed.

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