Cycling advocates say new bike paths being constructed in Sydney during the coronavirus crisis should become a permanent part of the city’s sustainable transport network.
Six temporary cycleways are being built along key roads in Sydney to encourage people to ride to work rather than crowd on to public transport.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore says cycling has doubled since the city’s bike network was established in 2009 and she hopes the new cycleways in Pyrmont, Paddington, Rosebery, Alexandria, Eveleigh and the CBD will become permanent.
The paths will be constructed in the next few weeks using a combination of barriers, line markings and lane dividers.
Ms Moore says the council and state government are also considering additional temporary cycleways on Oxford Street in Paddington and Darlinghurst, King Street in Newtown, and King, College and Castlereagh streets in the CBD.
Some footpaths will also be widened to make social distancing easier.
Bicycle NSW general manager Bastien Wallace is delighted to see a change in attitude.
“The conversation has shifted quite beautifully away from the characterisation that bicycle riders are in a war with car drivers – that was dangerous commentary,” Ms Wallace told AAP.
The additional paths should be made permanent because they “join the dots” in Sydney’s existing network, Ms Wallace said.
“These are cycleways that already should have happened.”
UNSW urban design lecturer Mike Harris agrees the new cycleways should remain as a way of encouraging improved health and reducing traffic congestion.
“Before the pandemic, there was something like two million car trips per day under two kilometres,” he told AAP.
“If 10 per cent of those become bike trips, that’s 200,000 cars off the road.”
Overall vehicle traffic in the CBD is down 85 per cent during the pandemic but bicycle traffic is only down 10 per cent, he added.
Bicycle traffic along Sydney’s Bourke Street, which has a separated cycle path, has increased up to 30 per cent while riding along the Glebe foreshore is up 50 per cent.
Dr Harris insists people need to feel safe if they’re to continue riding.
“There is a big demand but we’re pretty far behind other cities that we compare ourselves in terms of spending and infrastructure – there is a big opportunity here.”