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There must be more to hating the Oxford Street cycleway than meets the eye!

The commercial press has framed the Oxford Street urban renewal plan as a ‘bike war’. But like the Sydney Harbour Bridge Ramp, it’s just another sad NIMBY beat-up fuelled by a pocketful of bike-hating boomers.

And opportunist politicians on winter break. For example, one Federal Senator fulminated:

“Funding this horrid boondoggle was one of many big mistakes of the previous administration,” Bragg told the Herald. He then described the cycleway as a ‘draconian’ proposal that would clog Paddington’s heritage streets and undermine the vibrancy of Oxford Street.

Headlines so often fan the flames of controversy - even when the article itself is reasonably balanced.
  (Image: Julian Andrews)

Bicycle NSW stands firm on the huge positive potential of a revamped Oxford Street, alongside leading experts from the Committee for Sydney, the City of Sydney and Transport for NSW. All understand the holistic nature of this project and long-term generational benefits to society.

Friday night on Oxford Street: Seven lanes of traffic with nowhere for people to hang out. (Image: Bicycle NSW)

News headlines equate cycleways with the End of Days. But it’s all about the many proven benefits. Read on!

We know most journos don’t even believe their own headlines. Except for the Telegraph ones who remain characteristically rabid. In fact, cyclists aged 8-80 are probably the fourth beneficiaries of the planned upgrade. The first will be the businesses making hay from increased foot traffic. Next are the pedestrians able to hear each other talk and dine alfresco. Then commuters travelling by bus. Finally, bike riders will finally have their own safe, separated cycleway. And drivers will still get to store their cars on public road space.

Property developer Theo Onisforou owns multiple shops along Oxford Street. He has no problem with the planned cycleway. As there will be no loss of parking. “Now that I’ve seen the detailed plan, I’m happy with it,” says Theo.

The Committee for Sydney can’t wait for the Oxford Street improvements 

“What we see in other jurisdictions is that cyclists and pedestrians are significantly more likely to stop and shop - or buy breakfast, or a coffee - than people using other modes of transport.  On balance, it's more likely to bring life to this iconic street rather than take it away,” says the Committee for Sydney

A white-knuckle ride: Peter McLean considering his options for safe cycling on Oxford Street. It’s not good at the moment (Image: Dion Georgopoulos/SMH)

Let's call it out, the fossil fuel industry are no supporters of pedestrian and bike infrastructure

For obvious reasons. For example, key Murdoch-shareholder, Saudi oil prince Al Waleed bin Talal, retains 1% voting stock of News Corp. This was after selling down from 6.6%. Then there’s the influence of pro-motor industry businesses and advocacy groups. Like the Institute of Public Affairs, and Seven West Media, which are stridently pro-car.

Additionally, Senator Bragg voted NO on all restrictions and disclosures of big donations to political parties. But until the major parties disclose their donors, there’s no way to determine pecuniary interest. Because party members will always protect and advance party donor interest even if they don't directly benefit as individuals.

With changes to Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG), Bragg and the news editors might consider their choices. 

July 2023 saw the hottest temperatures ever recorded. That’s a fact the media had to report. Alongside their contractual car and fossil fuel giants’ greenwashing ads.

In a few months’ time summer will slam Australia like a fist. So a vital plank of the Oxford Street plan is to increase urban tree canopy and reallocate road space for transport modes that don’t emit carbon. Like walking and cycling. This is because the transport sector contributes 20% of Australia’s CO2 emissions - the second highest sector nationally. Transport is fastest growing source of emissions. As renewables increasingly power up the grid, transport emissions will contribute a much bigger share of total emissions by 2030.

Bikes are the most energy efficient transport mode and they can take cars off the road. The other reason for returning road space to the people is the deadly Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect.

We’re at a critical time when companies must comply with ESG standards or lose at their own game

This is because Australians care a lot about the environment. They also hate being lied to and want organisations to tackle climate change and not just talk about it.

As global temperatures rise, the media trust barometer falls (Image: Bicycle NSW)

Sydney’s bike wars are lame

“Not only are Sydney’s bike wars a bogus NIMBY-media beat-up. They are also an international embarrassment. Whilst the world has moved on, Sydney is a little bit stuck in car-first thinking,” said Bicycle NSW Head of Advocacy, Francis O’Neill on The Sydneyist. 

Ultimately, it's in the interests of the fossil-backed mastheads to back walking and cycling improvements. Otherwise they risk haemorrhaging their audience - 70% of whom want to ride more for their health and the planet. And to save money.

Bagging out Sydney’s Bike Wars: Radio host and urbanist Elizabeth Farrelly and Bicycle NSW Head of Advocacy, Francis O’Neill had fun chatting about the battle for cycling in Sydney on The Sydneyist, Elizabeth’s show on Eastside Radio (Image: Bicycle NSW)

Please join our campaign to Build a Better Oxford Street! 

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