Newcastle Council are at it again, upgrading cycle paths where it’s not really needed. This time it’s the cycleway from Hunter Stadium through to Broadmeadow, alongside the stormwater drain.
I’ve cycled this route twice every weekday for eight years, and apart from the grass encroaching in a couple of places, and a few minor lumps from tree roots, the path seemed fine to me. It never once entered my mind that this section of path needed an upgrade.
There are lots of other places however where I have thought that. One example is just on the other side of Turton Road, where the path travels alongside the New Lambton sporting fields. The path here is perfectly adequate, but the drainage certainly isn’t. Every time there’s heavy rain, water trickles off the sporting fields and across the path, turning it into a slimy slippery mess for days afterwards. Why couldn’t the money be spent there where it would actually make a difference?
As before I suspect the problem is that the cycling infrastructure budget is too small to do anything worthwhile, so council are left to spend the money on projects that aren’t worthwhile.
Update 27th June 2017
The path reconstruction is completed and now open.
It’s not just the weather bringing me down today. Two minutes into my ride home from work my bicycle got into a somewhat unfair battle with a stray nail on the road.
I’ve never experienced a tyre go flat so quickly before. It went from intact to fully deflated in under a second. Fortunately it happened at one of the few times today when it wasn’t raining, so I was able to change the tube and get under way again without too much bother.
The Clyde St rail crossing between Hamilton North and Islington was closed all last weekend. I was hoping that was for the purpose of fixing the horrendously bumpy road surface across the tracks, which was a real pain to cycle over.
My wish came true.
New road surface at the Clyde St rail crossing, Hamilton North.
Spotted this week in Hamilton North … a school of Ferrum Rotata return to their native breeding ground for spawning season, continuing the remarkable cycle of life.
Breeding season in Hamilton North.
I have set up a website to act as a point of focus for people protesting the RMS plans to sever the cycle/pedestrian path at Jesmond.
Initially I was a little concerned that the site name was too negative, but on consideration I think it accurately reflects the sobering reality – with the way the RMS ignored all the complaints and submissions earlier this year, that’s exactly what they want us to do, and if we don’t make our voice heard now, that’s exactly what we will have to do.
About 25 cyclists and pedestrians met in Jesmond Park this morning for a photo to protest against the current plans to remove the cycleway when the Rankin Park to Jesmond bypass is built.
Some things I learned today…
- There were a lot of people who submitted responses to the RMS earlier in the year, and who feel they’ve been ignored.
- There are a lot of alternative solutions on how to maintain the cycleway, all of which are better than the two ridiculous ‘solutions’ investigated and dismissed by the RMS in the environmental impact statement (EIS).
- The cycleway is an important part of the “Two City Circuit”, a 50km loop incorporating many off road cycle paths in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.
- Somebody who attended the drop-in information session at Silver Ridge Community Cottage yesterday heard from an RMS representative that this issue of the cycleway being cut is the biggest source of complaints in the evaluation process.
- Other people besides me were frustrated with how the EIS document is split up into 82 separate PDF downloads! Is it too cynical to think they’re deliberately making it hard for people to see and respond to the EIS??
- There is one more drop-in information session to be held Thursday 1 December 2016 between 3pm-6pm at Silver Ridge Community Cottage, 13 Iranda Grove, Wallsend.
Probably the most important thing I learned this morning is that the submissions made earlier this year were to the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), which they evaluated and then produced the current environmental impact statement (EIS). Submissions to this current EIS will be evaluated by the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE). i.e. it is a different department evaluating the EIS responses.
So it is vital that submissions be made again, in greater number, with greater detail, and with greater urgency.
Whereas the RMS seems to be only interested in roads, lets hope the DPE is actually interested in the environment.
In Section 4.5.4 of the November 2016 EIS for the Rankin Park to Jesmond bypass, the planners ‘investigated’ and ‘costed’ two alternatives for maintaining the cycleway between Jesmond Park and Jesmond. I just get the feeling that both these options were put forward simply as ‘straw men’ in order to be dismissed, and avert objections that had been submitted.
The first option is for a towering and twisting overhead bridge, like something out of a Dr Seuss book1, that would cost $30 million!!!! That’s surely a joke solution, like the obviously wrong answer examiners often put in a multiple choice question.
And the second option proposed is for a subway that would cost $3 million, but is dismissed because (among other things) it would be subject to flooding.
But seriously, if you’re going to propose a subway route (purple dotted line) that is along the lowest point in the landscape and right next to a stormwater drain – of course its going to flood!
Why not route the subway 100m further south (red dotted line in the diagram below) where the land is 8 to 10 metres higher and not subject to flooding? I get the impression they’re not really trying hard enough to find a solution, and that they don’t really want to try.
- Refer to the Bunglebung Bridge, in “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are”, by Dr Seuss, 1973.
Despite numerous people (myself included) submitting concerns about this to the planning authorities earlier this year, the ‘revised’ plan for the Rankin Park to Jesmond bypass still shows that the shared pedestrian/cycle path from Jesmond Park to Jesmond is going to be obliterated and replaced with not one, not two, but three separate traffic light crossings across eight lanes of traffic. (See section 4.5.4 of the EIS.)
The government is about to spend 280 million dollars to facilitate the easy movement of environmentally unfriendly cars and trucks, but is giving a middle finger to cyclists and pedestrians in the process.
If this madness of the triple crossings is persisted with, can I suggest a more equitable situation would be for every other day to have the crossings default to green for the pedestrians/cyclists, and any car driver wishing to proceed must stop at the lights; hop out of their car; press a button; wait in the rain, hail or shine for 2 minutes; repeat this 3 times; and only then be allowed to proceed.