Waverley Council seeks to sink Bondi Junction Cycleway
On Tuesday night Waverley Council will vote to delete the Bondi Junction Link cycleway from its Complete Streets vision for Spring St, Bondi Junction. This despite the project having been developed in consultation with stakeholders for over a year and at the cost of forfeiting almost $6million of State Government funding if the cycleway not proceed. (What you can do about it).
The Motion to delete the cycleway put forward by Waverley’s Liberal Councilors (Item 7.3 of Tuesday’s meeting agenda – 20MB pdf download, excerpt below) suggests it as a strategic play than a genuine attempt to address any remaining issues facing the project.
This is hugely concerning given the ongoing obstruction of Sydney’s cycleway network. While growing in numbers, Sydney riders are being left exposed by the deletion of the College St and Castlereagh St North Cycleways and the mis-placed spending of the limited budget for “walking and cycling” projects such as the Tibby Cotter Bridge which, paradoxically, now sits idle several hundred metres south of the Bondi Junction-to-CBD cycling corridor that this project seeks to enable.
Remarkably, the Complete Streets concept (incorporating the Spring St Cycleway) has been in development since Feb 2014. In this time, stakeholders such as Transport for NSW (TfNSW), the RMS, Sydney Buses, the community and local businesses have all been engaged and their concerns heard. The resolution of the last remaining issues (eg, pedestrian crossings, relocation of loading zones and “parking” and potential bus conflict points) had been progressing to resolution prior to Councilors suddenly proposing a Recission Motion to defer the cycleway at its 16 June 2015 Council meeting.
Indeed, Council had already approved the Cycleway at its December 2014 meeting and subsequently secured almost $6million of funding for the project (through TfNSW and the RMS no less): $2.9milllion up front and another $2.9million subject to basic project milestones being met.
TfNSW’s funding stems from the fact that the Spring St Cycleway forms the Eastern Suburbs Link of the State Government’s cycling strategy as outlined in Sydney’s Cycling Future.
This funding will be withdrawn if Council drops the Spring St Cycleway component of Complete Streets, and TfNSW has not committed to extending this funding again in future. (TfNSW funding priorities are assessed dynamically each year as transport initiatives evolve.)
The loss of $6million of State funding would significantly dent Council’s Capital Works income (approximately $13.5million per annum) and impact its inclination to retroactively deliver the cycleway given the additional costs and second disruption to businesses.
So, what are the issues?
Following a specially-convened meeting, Councilors identified the project’s remaining issues as shown below. As indicated, most issues have been, or are in the process of being resolved in the near term. It appears that the three issues outstanding are:
- Concern by Jax Tyres as to the loss of “parking” created by the introduction of the cycleway;
- Addressing Sydney Buses’ concerns about priority, safety and bus delay at the existing Oxford St entrance to the Waverley Bus depot , and
- Sydney Buses’ preference to not share Oxford St East (in front of Westfields) with riders.
Councilors contend that it is because of these three issues that the Spring St Cycleway should be re-routed along Syd Einfeld Drive as shown below.
But before addressing the merit of the Syd Einfeld Drive option, it seems that there’s little cause for shifting the cycleway away from Spring St given that:
- the purported loss of “parking” to Jax Tyres is non-existent. As ably captured in Google StreetView, the “parking” so lost due to the cycleway is in fact a public footpath that Jax is illegally appropriating;
- In relation to potential bike/bus conflicts at the Oxford St frontage to the Waverley Bus Depot, the urban planning associated with the “future transport developments” touted by Councilors as the opportunity for re-routing the cycleway includes a shifting of the Waverley Bus depot ingress from the Oxford St frontage to York St (exclusively). Presto, bike/bus conflict removed. Notably, Council’s own expert urban planning consultant (the Government Architect) also shows the cycleway running along Oxford St and sensibly joining Centennial Park lands at the nearest point;
- In respect of the concern for road-sharing of Oxford St East, riders and buses are presently doing so without issue. While improvements could be made to safety and flow, the concept is already established and any changes deemed necessary could be quickly enacted.
The case for deferring the Spring St Cycleway is tenuous.
Why the Syd Einfeld Drive Cycleway Option can’t work
Even leaving aside the Spring Street option, the alternative option of a separated cycleway on the northern side (which would require a cycling bridge), or more likely, southern side of Syd Einfeld Drive is neither desirable nor feasible given that:
- the proposal to re-assign a vehicle travel lane on a State road to a cycleway would very likely be rejected summarily by the RMS. The removal of the well-used College St Cycleway is robust and graphic evidence of this;
- Council’s proposal to introduce the Grafton/Syd Einfeld roundabout (item “3A” in the graphic below) as part of its West Oxford Street precinct upgrade would yet further reduce the capacity of Syd Einfeld Drive due to the need for a devoted slip lane;
- a cycleway on the southern side of Syd Einfeld Drive would force riders to interact with this roundabout and mix with high volume, fast-turning traffic which would introduce unacceptable safety risks, which in turn would suggest that;
- it would be highly unlikely that TfNSW would contribute funding for a state-enabled regional cycling link that exposes inexperienced riders to fast traffic, and therefore the Government to risk and culpability issues;
- this alternative route would fail to attract TfNSW funding also because it fails to provide “local connectivity” to Bondi Junction’s retail and business centre. (Creating connections to activity hubs is the primary driver of the State’s cycling strategy);
- this alternative route would not clarify Oxford St Mall of riders;
- this alternative would be more expensive than the Spring St Cycleway option.
The case for deferring the Spring St Cycleway appears poorly founded. The alternative Syd Einfeld Dr proposal appears unviable and in any case, highly unlikely to be supported by TfNSW. There is a strong case for continuing with the Spring St Cycleway.
Council needs to be urged to act in the interest of the community.
It likely requires you to save the Spring Street Cycleway, a vital leg that will enable completion of the Eastern Suburbs Cycling Link. BIKESydney can confirm that the eastern extension of this critical regional link along Moore Park Road and into Surry Hills (including a crossing of Flinders St) is in active development.
There appears no good reason for Waverley Council to hinder the completion of this vital cycling link. Please encourage Waverley Councilors to see the wider picture and the significant benefit to their constituents.
What You Can Do
Call and email Waverley Councilors. At this late stage, calling (yes, call them) is better than emailing them as it will underline the support for the cycleway. Present the benefits of the cycleway. Ask whether they will vote in favour or against the motion. Encourage them to make this clear and public through social media. Otherwise, make their position known on BIKESydney’s facebook postings.
Tweet Transport for NSW. Make TfNSW’s aware of Council’s intention to forfeit their funding. Ask why the State Government would not take this opportunity now to build the Spring St Cycleway which will help complete the State’s Eastern Suburbs Link, a vital branch of Sydney’s Cycling Future? Ask TfNSW to investigate for itself the merit of Council’s proposal to delay the Spring St Cycleway. Have TfNSW confirm whether the Syd Einfeld Drive option is a meaningful alternative. If not, why should we delay?
Tweet State MP’s: Andrew Constance (Minister for Transport), Gabrielle Upton (Member for Vaucluse), Shayne Mallard (MLC), Bruce Notley-Smith (Member for Coogee), Mike Baird (Premier, NSW), Mehreen Faruqi (MLC), Ryan Park (Shadow Minister for Transport). Have them encourage Councilors to vote in support of proceeding with the Spring Street Cycleway. What’s the wait?
Attend or even speak to the Council meeting. Meetings of Council are held on Level 3 of Waverley Council Chambers on the corner of Bondi Road and Paul Street, Bondi Junction. If you wish to address Council on an item on the agenda, you must register with staff in the Governance Unit by calling 9369 8054 or 9369 8121 before 3.00pm on the day of the meeting. Your address must be no longer than 3 minutes. If there is more than one person addressing on the same item, Council may require you to share the 3 minutes.