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.
Spring has finally arrived with the last of my three personal signs of spring appearing this morning in the form of a black and white winged messenger from the sky. My three signs are:
- The appearance of green leaves on my mulberry tree.
- Being able to ride to work without wearing gloves.
- Being swooped by a magpie.
unvaporia – noun. The delicious tingling sensation on a cool foggy winter’s morning when the mist clears sufficiently for the warmth of the sun to be felt on the face for the first time.
People mark the changing of the seasons in different ways. Some say that March 1st is when summer passes to autumn, a botanist may mark it by the chlorophyll exodus in deciduous foliage, an astronomer may mark it by the autumnal equinox when the sun crosses the plane of the equator.
But me, I mark it with the “Equinox digitabulorum” – the equinox of the gloves, the day that I have to start wearing gloves while cycling to work. Today was that day.
As rich as the English language is, sometimes there are moments where there is no English word available to adequately describe that experience. I had two such moments on my cycle to work this morning.
Firstly, that moment, when you’re out on a foggy morning, when the mist disperses sufficiently for you to feel the warmth of the sun on your face for the first time. A subtle, but truly delicious moment that deserves its own word in the English lexicon.
Secondly, only moments before I took the photograph above, an elderly gentleman walking along saw some litter on the path (an empty beer can), and in a ‘civic minded’ gesture dealt with it by picking it up and … throwing it in the Styx Creek drain, the satisfied look on his face betraying his obvious belief that in throwing the can there he had somehow magically made it disappear! Surely the English language has space for one more word to describe this particular kind of insanity?