A Bridge Too Far: Can Sydney Overcome Nimbyism to Become a Cycling City? | Sydney
One of the world’s most popular transportation infrastructures is currently abandoning an increasingly popular mode of transportation: the bicycle.
Currently, the 2,000 cyclists who cross the dedicated Sydney Harbor Bridge cycle path daily have to dismount and face 55 steps on the north side. The number of cyclists in difficulty on the stairs is only expected to increase: cycling in Sydney city center has doubled in the past two years.
Cycling groups say the stages are risky, cumbersome and inaccessible to families, heavier e-bikes, the elderly, novice or nervous cyclists and injured people.
Today, the fervent opposition to a new cycle ramp design highlights a larger problem: Will Sydney ever overcome its nimbyism, feuding between rival councils and stifling bureaucracy to become a truly city-friendly city? cyclists?
Rise in power
During its first three decades, the Sydney Harbor Bridge welcomed cyclists on its main deck. But in 1962, the increase in automobile traffic relegated cyclists to the west side, transformed into a cycle path.
She expressed her disappointment that Transport for NSW did not include the option of an elevator in addition to the current stages: “Many riders handle this current arrangement effortlessly – go ahead and watch,” she said. declared to Guardian Australia..
When asked that this is about attracting more new or nervous cyclists to our streets, rather than just serving existing and confident cyclists, and that an elevator and step device would cause traffic jams dangerous, Gibson replies, “There’s congestion over there anyway.” “
Cyclists argue that a visible dedicated cycling infrastructure would be supported by a truly pro-cycling council and send the message that cycling is finally a priority in a motorcycle-obsessed city.
Gibson advocates an all-or-nothing approach, calling for the reinstallation of a dedicated cyclist lane on the bridge.
This month, Transport for NSW released a consultation report revealing a preferred linear design. He also revealed a Drawing contest, which Gibson calls “a win” but others suggest it is a delay tactic on a project that has been endlessly discussed for over a decade.
“The vast majority of comments supported safe and accessible access for cyclists to the Sydney Harbor Bridge cycle lane,” said Bastien Wallace of Bicycle NSW, adding that cyclists needed the construction of safe cycle lanes, not of “dusty documents filled with artist impressions”.
“Sydney is so far behind London”
Li Ditlef-Nielsen, 37, runs Pedal, Set, Go, a cycling education program, and often uses the bridge’s bike path. “The linear ramp looks great. It’s really necessary, ”she said.
Arriving in Sydney from London six years ago, she couldn’t believe how late Sydney was in transforming London in 20 years into a cycling city.
“The attitude here is very ‘us and them’,” she says.
“The south side of the bridge is doing so well thanks to [the Sydney lord mayor] Clover Moore, but Jilly Gibson is the ultimate nimby. She represents an elite minority and she doesn’t look at the big picture – large swathes might want to roam this area. Just to say that we don’t want it in our local government area is ridiculous.
One of the reasons Ditlef-Nielsen thinks Sydney is so behind London is that the Mayor of London controls 32 boroughs and, thanks to successful advocacy for cycling, both sides of politics are supporting common cycling infrastructure . Here, it’s more of a “patchwork quilt,” she says.
Cyclist and Mosman resident Michael Taylor, 52, uses the bridge’s bike path four times a week.
He argues that until North Sydney Council urgently supports better cycling infrastructure, the new ramp will make little difference.
“It’s a dead end for cyclists,” he says. “It’s really difficult to cross North Sydney or Kirribilli by bike. We really need separate cycle paths to protect us from motorists.
A tale of two cities
A sign that opposition to the ramp reflects a broader attitude towards cycling infrastructure, last month the North Sydney council lost $ 2.7 million in funding offered by Transport for NSW to build a cycle path between Kirribilli and Cremorne.
Various complaints from councilors, including Gibson, about the proposed bike path included that it “would cancel parking for buyers”, “further limit road networks” and “inconvenience local residents.”
At a board meeting in June, Gibson can be heard say: “Transport for NSW is trying to cross the cycle lanes – we have a mini war with them.” She also spoke of the “need to recognize how cranky our residents are about this,” adding, “I’d rather do nothing than whatever is on offer here.”
Rather than “attempting to renovate commuter cycle lanes on the already limited local road network,” Gibson proposes “to promote the inclusion of bicycle lanes with major highway and arterial improvements, such as the proposed widening of the road. ‘Warringah Highway’.
She told Guardian Australia: “The community will not accept a loss of parking and neither will I.”
Crows Nest resident and cyclist Tony Stanley, 39, said the board’s handling of the $ 2.7 million funding for the bike path was disappointing.
Gibson and other councilors would not even vote to support building the most popular and critical section of the road (along the Kurraba Road between Clark and Ben Boyd Roads in Neutral Bay), despite 70% public support for the entire project,” he says.
“Some North Sydney councilors are appeasing traditional and politically engaged residents who wish to maintain an impossible status quo of car addiction, without responding to the growing number of new residents living in high density neighborhoods or children.”
Tony Phillips, 64, of Wollstonecraft uses the Harbor Bridge bike path every week. “This new long ramp looked like an eyesore, but it would be practical,” he said, preferring the idea of a lane across the bridge to “send the message that cyclists are here.”
“We should install world-class cycling infrastructure that pushes the boundaries of engineering, like elevated cycle paths,” he says. “It would put Sydney back on the map, like the opera did.”
He is exasperated by the status quo.
“What strikes me is the inertia; the number of stakeholders that need to be involved to do anything. Classic Sydney.
“People are talking about climate change but are not prepared to put up with a little inconvenience for the long term good.”