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City of Canada Bay Council to remove the Heath St Cycleway

Canada Bay Council declares best practice bicycle infrastructure ‘unsafe’ (Image: Bicycle NSW)

 For no good reason 

You may have read that, as cycleways go, Heath Street Cycleway is top notch. However, on Tuesday 28 March, City of Canada Bay Council (CCBC) voted to have it removed. This is despite strong arguments in favour of its safety and attractiveness to bike riders of all ages. And its strategic importance as a regional bicycle route. But rather than wait and further refine the cycleway to ensure safety for all road users, CCBC voted for its demolition. There were offers of design assistance from Transport for NSW, Bicycle NSW and Canada Bay BUGs. But to no avail.

“New infrastructure often has teething problems and often time needs to be given to make amendments so to remove a brand new cycleway after only 4 months is a knee jerk reaction if I’ve ever seen one” said Peter McLean, CEO of Bicycle NSW.

Bicycle NSW addressed the CCBC meeting:

“The Heath St cycleway improves safety for riders of all ages and abilities.

This is because it separates pedestrians from cyclists from cars. Road paint won’t achieve this outcome. This is why after only 4 months there are, on average, 1000 people using it each week! Active transport must be encouraged to reach Net Zero, reduce congestion and improve health. That is why the cycleway was built. By demonstrating commitment to those health and sustainability outcomes, CCBC received NSW Government funding in good faith."

Failure of design or failure of process? (Image: Bicycle NSW)

Heath St remains the most appropriate route along the Parramatta to CBD cycleway corridor.

That was noted in the previous Traffic Committee minutes. Although CCBC claimed that there will be no financial repercussions, we disagree. Firstly, CCBC may be asked to reimburse the NSW Government for the pristine, 4-month-old cycleway. Secondly, destruction of Stage 1 risks the integrity of the whole $7 million six-stage project. Because Heath St is the gateway. The third financial implication is that CCBC will be viewed as an unreliable business partner. Why would anyone invest in a council that doesn't deliver on what it promised? And there are many future State-funded active transport projects which will inevitably be more challenging now.

Only 4 months old and already doing well. So, let’s take a deep breath.

Both sides agree that the consultation process was insufficient. However, time is your friend. So, we urge CCBC to use the time wisely. It is best practice to engage all participants in a process of co-design. That’s because co-design is a process of listening, informing and empowering communities to shape the outcomes. We therefore strongly advise getting experts with co-design experience on active transport projects. Not doing proper consultation, as we have seen, risks project failure. This again, has consequences.

Safe. Great for business. Boosts property values. Would you rip this out? (Image: Bicycle NSW) 

Cr Jago voted against the decision to remove the cycleway, with two remaining councillors absent. We don’t intend to forget Heath St because the destruction of great bike infrastructure for no good reason sets a terrible precedent. So, we’re asking for your advocacy support.

Join Bicycle NSW now! And join our campaign for Better Streets. Donate to the Environmental Trust which funds our advocacy campaigns for safer infrastructure on our streets.

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