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Keeping up the battle for Better Streets

Bicycle User Groups (BUGs) are fantastic for making friends who share a common passion for all things bike. They also provide an opportunity to learn the best bike routes, get fit and have fun in the process.

But BUGs also act as a collective brains-trust from a local pedestrian and bike rider’s perspective.

“BUG members act as our eyes and ears for infrastructure advocacy across NSW,” says Bicycle NSW CEO, Peter McLean. “Take for instance, WestConnex. Local BUGs have fought hard to get better outcomes for bike riders and stop Inner West streets from becoming the sole domain of motor vehicles.”

Bob Moore of the Inner West Bicycle Coalition is a founding member of Bike Leichhardt.  He has worked hard over three decades to improve bike riding in his area. The issues with WestConnex, both during and after construction, have been a huge focus in recent years. (Image: IWBC)

The Inner West Bicycle Coalition epitomises all the reasons we love BUGs so much

In 2016 the former councils for Marrickville, Ashfield and Leichhardt were merged to form the Inner West Council.  Subsequently, three Bicycle User Groups in the area,  Ashfield BUGBike Leichhardt and Bike Marrickville, joined forces to form the Inner West Bicycle Coalition (IWBC)  Working together, the dedicated advocates represent cycling interests to State and local governments with a loud and unified voice.

But most IWBC members have a very long history of working with decision makers in the Inner West.

“As to why I joined a BUG, it was a long time ago!” Bob Moore, Bike Leichhardt

“I took up regular cycling in the late 80’s and was a member of Bicycle NSW. I happened to work with Russell Webber, who was Vice President of Bicycle NSW at the time. So probably, I blame it on him!”

“Bicycle NSW was encouraging the formation of BUGs in early 90s. And a doctor from the Children’s Hospital set up the Leichhardt BUG in about 1992. BUGs in Ashfield and Marrickville were also started up.  Then, based on member input, we mapped out local cycle routes and the first Leichhardt Bike Plan. We then presented it to Leichhardt Council.”

BUG members ride the Cooks River cycleway which they helped establish, upgrade and maintain (Image: IWBC)

 “We approached councillors for support and had a public meeting in Annandale.

Independent Mayor, Larry Hand was very supportive. So was the subsequent Labor Mayor, Mary Sheehan. We then joined the Traffic Committee and fought many battles with the conservative police and the Chairman. That was always fun!” remembers Bob Moore.

”After befriending engineers and staff, who saw the merit of our cause, a new Bike Plan eventuated in 1996. So, most of the sign-posted bike routes you see now around Leichhardt and Glebe were identified back then.”

Keeping the goal of a better Victoria Road firmly in sight. Right to left: Bob Moore from the Inner West Coalition (IWBC) and friends: Col Jones, John McNeil, Neil Tonkin (an ex Bicycle NSW CEO!) and David Martin
(Image: Bicycle NSW)

What do BUGs do?

“BUGs in the Inner West have carried the community for cycling and walking advocacy, providing advice and input into many Council decisions. We have been very active on big State Government projects like WestConnex, Rozelle Interchange and the Iron Cove Bridge upgrade.  We have developed proposals for the creation of a Bicycle Hub in the buildings on Gordon Street as part of the new Rozelle Parklands. Then there’s Parramatta Rd Urban Improvement Scheme and the battle to reclaim space for people on both Victoria Road and Parramatta Road.”

Battling with a smile: IWBC members John McNeill (back left), Bob Moore and Neil Tonkins and the Bicycle NSW advocacy team negotiating with the WestConnex project team for better active transport outcomes.
(Image: Bicycle NSW) 

“We have been engaged on development of the Strategic Cycleway Corridors (the new version of shelved Principal Bicycle Network). And we firmly support Better Streets and 30 km/h speed limits. Because, at current speeds, our streets are deadly and kids can’t be active”, explains Bob.

This explains why Australian kids are now 140th out 146 of the least active nations on the planet.

 “We have also encouraged bicycle use through our rides and events calendar on

We now do about 50 or more rides a year, all over Sydney.  There are longer tours around NSW and even in Europe - something for everyone. One of our members started up the Roll-On Bikes on NSW Train Link campaign.”

IWBC members and friends on a rail trail tour through the Victorian towns of Lavington,Tallangatta, Beechworth, Bright, Wangaratta and Corowa. (Credit: Mike MacDonald)

Bicycle NSW joined a special Sunday ride in 2022, exploring the untapped potential for the Inner West’s cycling network.

The Inner West has waterways that could become bike flows, highways that could become bike byways, construction sites that could become parks, and coves already primed for pedalling along - but not pedalling to.

Of course, there are many constraints in a dense area criss-crossed by arterial roads, rail corridors and waterways. The streets and other public spaces have many competing demands. But progress has been made!  Check out the exciting plans to complete the missing links of the Cooks River to Iron Cove GreenWay with high-quality underpasses and landscaping.  Thanks to hard work from local community groups, the GreenWay will finally be a safe off-road active transport corridor for people of all ages and abilities.

Bicycle NSW is hugely grateful for the work of the IWBC in chipping away at the barriers that have hindered the delivery of a coherent, safe network for walking and cycling.

Inner West Bicycle Coalition support the aims and objectives of Bicycle NSW

 “We welcome anyone who rides a bike or wants to promote bicycle use for transport or recreation. And we have a high proportion of women who are members. But we’re all getting older and would love some young people and families to take up the torch!” says Bob.

Want to form a BUG or join an existing group? Then please get in touch

Each month we will be doing a story on one of the many active and dedicated BUGs throughout NSW.

Find out how to join your local BUG or form a new BUG here.

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