A new bike path planned between Castle Cove and Chatswood has been rejected by the community, with residents and motorists clutching to their carparks and high speeds.
Only 28 per cent of residents who responded during the public exhibition period voted favorably for the 3.4 kilometre route planned by Willoughby Council that would have linked Orara St in the west to Explosives Reserve in the east.
Of the 144 residents who provided feedback on the plans there were 91 objections, with 88 of these coming from residents in Castle Cove.
Concerns from residents focussed on the removal of car parking spaces on Deepwater Road and Smith Street and the installation of speed bumps for bike rider safety. The proposed removal of some trees along the route was also unpopular.
Following the unfavourable feedback, the council will progress with only 500m of the original route along Eastern Valley Way, Smith Street and High Street.
This downgrade is a massive loss for the local bike riding community. Particularly when compared to other projects, like Heidelberg Road in Melbourne, that are currently attracting thousands of bike riders per week, while working with those who have voiced similar concerns to make adjustments where necessary (including returning a few precious car parks).
Castle Cove Progress Association secretary Ken Rutherford voiced some of his concerns in The Daily Telegraph, stating "most of the people who cycle in Castle Cove pick their own route and what the council was planning seemed to be about getting outsiders in."
In the same article, Bike North member Caroline New said the community had missed an opportunity to encourage more people to uptake bike riding, a proven net positive for any community.
“It’s ‘build it and they come’ – if you create a cycle-friendly environment it does encourage people to cycle, particularly people who are worried about safety,” she said.
“Looking at the feedback around speed humps it seemed crazy people wanted to drive fast in a residential area – people should be driving much lower 50kmh in my view.
“But given the feedback I can understand why the council isn’t progressing with – if the community isn’t ready for it it’s their loss.”
Despite this setback, there is a growing list of proposed bike connections in the region, including an Artarmon path linking Chatswood and St Leonards, a shared path along the Pacific Hwy, a route connecting Chatswood to Hornsby and a new ramp for cyclists at the northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Let's hope the community can rally behind some of these future projects.
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