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HomeARCHIVECouncil defers two-way bike plans at Freshwater

Council defers two-way bike plans at Freshwater

Update: Councillors have voted to defer a final decision to allow time to refine safety issues so that a separate two way cycle lane project can proceed along Oliver Street in Freshwater. It means the matter will need to return to Council before it is formally approved, but that the separate bike path has general political support.

The updated article is here

Previously: A new Council report recommends scrapping plans for a two-way separated bike path along Oliver Street in Freshwater, despite 52% of respondents providing feedback saying they supported the controversial idea.

Councillors will be advised at a public meeting at Chambers in Dee Why this Tuesday (from 6pm) to instead vote for returning to original plans from 2021 of creating a shared pedestrian/cycle path.

This is a recommendation only and the decision will fall to a majority of councillors  to vote for, or against, or to suggest another approach entirely.

How did we get here?

Residents were surprised by the sudden arrival of works in early 2023 which made lane marking significantly smaller.

The road markings had changed substantially, shrinking and repositioning lanes from Adam Street/Bennett Street at Curl Curl into Oliver Street Freshwater so dramatically that it caused driver confusion and a very tight corner. Manly Observer understands the NSW Rail, Tram and Bus Union was looking to blacklist the road because of safety concerns for its drivers.

Most residents which Manly Observer liaised with did not have an idea of the project’s overall vision at the time, nor information on what changes were temporary and which were permanent.

Attendees at a June 2023 community meeting were keen to have a say.

Following community outcry most of the road markings were reversed, and independent consultants brought in to look at next steps.

A well illustrated plan explaining the project was then on exhibition over an extensive consultation period.

There remains marked disagreement between locals over the best way forward, particularly those living on Oliver Street.

What’s recommended?

The report to council states that “High-level findings from the 758 submissions (across all feedback channels) show 394 (52%) of respondents support the proposed design [of separated bike paths], 196 (26%) provided feedback indicating they either did not support the design and/or felt improvements could be made to it, 143 (19%) of respondents had mixed views (for example, some expressed they supported the need for the proposal while also suggesting changes/improvements) while the remaining 25 (3%) of respondents were unclear about their view of the design.”

However, the report then advises:

“Given the concerns raised by the community, especially with respect to loss of car parking and perceived safety impacts, it is proposed to revert to the original proposal of a shared pathway solution as the majority of the project outcomes can still be delivered with this solution, noting that this does result in the loss of up to 43 trees.”

A spokesperson for Bicycle NSW said advocates were scrambling to get to the bottom of what they saw as a sudden “backflip”.

“The community overwhelmingly rejected a shared path back in 2021. That sentiment would be reinforced by the big boom in e-bike use since then. Everyone now recognises the need to separate people walking from people cycling on busy roads like Oliver Street.  The separated bike lane retained the tree canopy and verges.

These are so important for shade and making walking and bike riding comfortable. The narrower lanes will slow vehicles, improving safety and reducing noise, and very few parking spaces are lost.”

A spokesperson for Better Streets Northern Beaches they “understand that this is not easy and there is a desire to keep everyone happy but the option to be considered at the meeting in Tuesday keeps no one happy.”

“We ask that a decision be deferred, and that staff work with experts including TfNSW and the community to present options that address the safety issues identified by external auditors. These options which include reducing speeds, losing some additional on street carparking, discouraging parking of boats, trailers etc on the street need to be considered publicly and the community’s reaction not second guessed.”

The report to Council, however, reasons that due to “ongoing concerns raised by the community, especially with respect to car parking loss and perceived safety impacts, it is proposed to revert to the orginal proposal of a shared pathway solution. This solution will still achieve the majority of the project outcomes.

The key aims of this project remain to deliver infrastructure that provides safer travel for children to and from school, as well as to improve active travel solutions for the whole community. This is especially important for this project as this area is the missing link in the northern beaches cycle network.”

You can review all of the project history here: https://yoursay.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/curl-curl-freshwater

The recommendation and new reports are available on the council meeting agenda here: https://northernbeaches.infocouncil.biz/Open/2024/04/OC_30042024_AGN_2398_AT.PDF

Residents have until 5pm Monday 29 April to lodge a request to Council if they wish to make any statement to the councillors on the matter.

Link here: https://help.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/s/article/Request-to-speak-at-Council-Meeting

Previous coverageWhat’s happening with the cycleway at Curl Curl and Freshwater?

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

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