The first stage of an active transport link connecting south Sydney hubs Sutherland and Cronulla is underway.
The cycle-walk path is predicted to change the lifestyle of many residents by connecting key destinations, including train stations and transport interchanges, schools, shops, parks, business precincts and the beach.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the project tied in with the government’s “strategy of getting active kids out and about”.
“Twenty-two per cent of kids in NSW suffer obesity and the more we can do of this the better,” he said.
The first stage of the Sutherland to Cronulla Active Transport Link (SCATL) is an 11 kilometre link between Sutherland and Kirrawee, which will be built over the next 12 months at a cost of $5.3 million.
The final cost of the project is predicted to be greater than $30 million.
Local MPs rally around bikes
Cronulla MP and Attorney-General Mark Speakman believes the project is well overdue, stating “there has been talk about this project for about 20 years", and “it’s unfortunate the previous government stuffed up the duplication of the train line and didn’t allow space for a bike path when everyone wanted it."
As such, stage two of the project, between Kirrawee and Cronulla, is expected to encounter "some challenges" with working alongside an active rail corridor.
Mr Speakman cited research that revealed only 30 per cent of people in the shire felt safe riding a bike along the road.
“Cycling as a form of transport is below average in the shire and that’s probably because of the off-road infrastructure," he said.
“This is a great chance for off-road safety, with great social benefits of parents riding together with their kids, as well as the environmental benefits.”
Local MPs echoed Mr Speakman's excitement for long-awaited bicycle infrastructure, with Heathcote MP Lee Evans stating "I am very pleased it has actually started – we have been talking about it for so long."
Miranda MP Eleni Petinos said it was “really important to encourage kids and families to get on their bikes and exercise as much as possible”.
"I am really glad we are providing a safe environment to enable that exercise, and connecting all the hubs along the way.”