Jude Paul, Secretary, Glebe Society Bulletin March 2021
The cycleway near Cross St, Forest Lodge (photo: V. Simpson-Young)
The COVID-19 legislation that enabled the introduction of a ‘pop-up’ cycleway on both sides of Bridge Rd Glebe/Forest Lodge terminates on 25 March 2021. A decision will be made within eight weeks of this date to either remove it or establish it on a permanent basis. To make the cycleway permanent, Transport for NSW must undergo a rigorous community consultation process.
Several articles in 2020 Bulletins (7/2020 and 8/2020) outlined the Society’s long advocacy for and commitment to the increased use of cycles as a means of transport. Most recently, the Glebe Society organised a well-attended rally to highlight the role the (now disused) Glebe Island Bridge could play in supporting a safe pedestrian and cycling access route to and from the city and surrounds. A full report of this rally is in Bulletin 10/2020.
Since the opening of the first Pyrmont Bridge in 1858, Bridge Rd has functioned as both an access road and a popular address. By the 1880s, dense residential subdivision along both sides of the road itself and the many adjoining, mostly narrower, side streets and laneways reflected much of the heritage architectural design and character extant today, particularly along the two-kilometre section from Ross St Forest Lodge east to the site of the new Fishmarket. In addition to two intersections controlled by traffic lights, there are a further four cross-intersections, 11 side streets and 27 private driveways in Bridge Rd. For the many users of these points, access to Bridge Rd requires crossing the cycleway to do so.
From its mid-19th century origins until today, the road has adequately borne the complex and diverse needs of its many users, including various types of vehicular transport, residents, pedestrians, pre-school and school children and businesses. Nonetheless, under COVID-19 legislation, immense changes were made to the functioning of this road to improve the safety of a unique sub-set of road users. The subsequent installation of a dedicated cycleway on both the southern and northern sides of Bridge Rd now sees approximately 40% of the road width itself (intermittently) dedicated to the exclusive use of one group of road users – a road that is estimated to carry over 20,000 vehicle movements per day.
Has the cycleway been a success?
The design of the cycleway has created several problems for residents, businesses and schools along the road and for other vehicular road users. These problems include:
- ‘Blind’ corners where road users have to drive into the cycle path to gain a clear view for their entry to Bridge Rd. By nature of its 19th century origins, many of the two-storey terrace house rows on either side of Bridge Rd are built plumb to the corner of adjoining streets and laneways.
- The adaptable function of the road as a clearway at busy times, with restricted parking at other times has gone. This has severely impacted local residents’ ability to plan for the delivery of any service, access to parking for emergency, disability and medical services, drop-offs, moving house etc. The need for all service providers to find a parking spot ‘somewhere ’round the corner’ in Bridge Rd and immediately adjoining precinct is highly problematic.
- The intermittent nature of the cycle path. There are many gaps in the pathway that require a merge between cyclists and road users, so-called ‘pinch’ points. At a number of these points, cyclists mount the footpath to continue their journey.
- In a recent response to a resident’s concerns about the safety and amenity of this road, Clover Moore noted her belief that a cycleway on Bridge Rd would improve access to schools such as Sydney Secondary College Blackwattle Bay Campus and medical facilities such as Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. It is unclear whether Ms Moore knows the drawing area for SSCBB campus, but much of it is already well-served by the current light rail service, including a stop on the school’s doorstep. As for students cycling from Balmain or Lilyfield, here’s a question. Will I cycle the (very) long way along Bridge Rd or will I choose the existing, scenic cycle/pedestrian path around Blackwattle Bay? And for clients of RPA’s medical services, some more questions ‒ will I cycle to hospital for surgery or will I get a family member/friend /taxi to drop me off? Will I cycle home after treatment or get someone to pick me up in a car?
There is no trick to calculating the use of this cycleway. Stand anywhere on Bridge Rd and have a go yourself. However, residents have had no luck obtaining official data from either the City of Sydney or Transport NSW. Likewise, residents have received no detailed response from the City of Sydney to an independently commissioned safety audit. It is known however that a number of accidents between cyclists using the pop-up cycleway and vehicular traffic have required medical attention.
Where to next?
Society members can express either support or concern by contacting:
Transport for NSW: Tyson Kinnane – 1800 573 193; firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Sydney: Craig Ryan – 9265 9333; email@example.com; Lord Mayor Clover Moore – firstname.lastname@example.org