Welcome to www.sustainablesydney.net
This site is dedicated to protecting, sustaining and enhancing all that we love about Sydney.
We are currently "under construction" but have devoted a page to current affairs in one of Sydney's historic villages, Surry Hills.
The issue that has everyone in Surry Hills rather hot under the collar at the moment is, of course, the proposed Bourke Street Cycleway.
Just about everyone in Surry Hills has a bike - it's one of the most bicycle-friendly suburbs in Sydney, due in large part to the old South Sydney Bike Plan and the proximity of Moore Park's excellent cyclepaths - so there's a fair head of steam building up. We cyclists were being blamed for a dastardly - albeit vague - plan to chop down the Bourke Street trees to make way for our handlebars.
An undated letter from Clover Moore, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, was distributed in various parts of Surry Hills on Saturday 07 June 2008.
In it, Clover writes:
"I want to assure you that the Bourke Street cycleway project will protect and retain healthy mature street trees on Bourke Street. No trees will be removed in Surry Hills."
We would like to applaud Clover for this decision. The wonderful old plane trees (heritage-listed by the City of Sydney Council itself, no less) are sighing wearily in relief after their narrow escape.
Clover also writes:
Making the Bourke Street cycle route safer and therefore more usable is a central priority for the project. The proposal was based on evidence that bike lanes shared on road with vehicles are more dangerous. The concept plans were developed by City staff with expert and safety advice, following Council's unanimous adoption of its cycling strategy last year. During the consultation and design process now underway, the City will continue to access the best advice from Australian and international cycling experts.
We are all very pleased to hear this, as there are worrying rumours that everyone else who's tried to build cycleways in similar inner-city areas, throughout the world, has ended up with egg on their face and - on a more serious note - an awful lot of injured cyclists and pedestrians.
The problem seems to be that if you've got cross-streets every fifty metres or so you end up with a "Clayton's" cycleway that propels novice cyclists out from their safe separated lane - generally behind parked cars and vans - into complicated and unprotected intersections almost as soon as they've managed to get both feet on the pedals and work up a decent bit of speed. Vehicles and pedestrians simply can't see them coming.
Just about everybody who's built this sort of inner-city cycleway seems to have eventually decided that it's much safer to create a "Bicycle Boulevard" by slowing the traffic down to bicycle speed and giving bikes equal rights with other vehicles on the main carriageway.
No doubt Council's experts will demonstrate that Australia is indeed a "Clever Country" that can prove the rest of the world wrong. We hope that they'll soon be able to share their "expert and safety advice" with us, although we're a bit puzzled by the fact that they carefully avoided the subject at their Public Meeting at the Medina on 24 May, and wouldn't take questions from the audience.
In the meantime, we suggest that safety-minded cyclists and pedestrians might like to seek reassurance by browsing the Internet on the subject.
Good starting points are:
John Forester's report on the Bourke Street Cycleway proposal
AASHTO's Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities (p23 et al)
No doubt you will soon come to share our village's confidence in the experts at Town Hall, and the wisdom with which over $35 million of ratepayers' money is being spent.