Northern Beaches Council has extended the six-month trial of the one-way system along Dee Why seafront, known as Streets as Shared Spaces: The Strand, Dee Why, by another year.
The trial, installed in August 2021, involved converting the southbound lane of The Strand into a dual cycle path whilst retaining a northbound-only vehicle traffic flow.
An enlarged boardwalk for outdoor dining and pedestrian activity was also added.
The trial will now run until April 2023, to enable further monitoring, after Council voted for the extension in a public meeting on 26 April 2022.
A Council spokesperson explained that the reason for the 12-month extension was “to allow for assessment under more usual conditions – without the impact of COVID restrictions, associated staff shortages, patron hesitancy and months of inclement weather.”
In March 2021 Council first sought public feedback on their proposal to modify the main road along the Dee Why seafront. Then, on 25 May 2021, Councillors revealed several options to reduce vehicular traffic and increase pedestrian activity along The Strand, including “improved parking opportunities and on-road cycling connections.”
These were combined with “additional pedestrian traffic measures, such as new pedestrian crossings in the surrounding streets” and “preference for the existing footpath to be allocated as outdoor dining and the existing parking spaces to be used as new boardwalk.”
The Strand was shrunk to a one-way lane northward, restricted to 30km/h, beginning at the southern end junction with Oaks Avenue and ending by the Surf Life Saving Club adjoining Dee Why Parade.
The southbound lane was converted to a two-way cycle path, painted green and buffered from the vehicle lane alongside.
According to the Council meeting minutes on 25 May, there was an additional request that the “NSW Minister for Transport trial electric buses on the various routes through Dee Why.”
All councillors voted in favour of the trial, with three exceptions: Cr Rory Amon (Narrabeen), Cr Alex McTaggart (Pittwater) and Cr Vincent De Luca (Narrabeen).
Since its announcement the lane closure trial has been a divisive issue, prompting fierce debate between opponents and those advocating for its permanent installation.
On 25 Aug 2021, after the trial was announced, Cr Rory Amon posted his opposition to Facebook community pages. Under the headline ‘Dee Why Strand fail’, which attracted comments approximately 50/50 in support and disagreement, he wrote:
“Against community opposition, Council has decreed that The Strand, Dee Why, become One Way…
“This decision is a One Way ticket to traffic gridlock and business failure. Residents are beside themselves. One cafe owner told me that he could survive COVID lockdowns, but that Council’s One Way decree would kill his business.
“Half the road has closed and there is a dedicated bike lane. I went to exercise in Dee Why last weekend and, over a 30 minute period, there was three bike riders using the dedicated bike lane…The proposal needs to be undone/changed.”
Critics of the lane closure assert the recent decision to extend the trial is further ‘proof’ of its failure. Many took to social media to air their grievances and accused the Council of postponing the trial’s conclusion in the hope of achieving a better outcome.
However, others praised the significant increase in safety for children crossing The Strand between the beach and cafés for ice creams, and the ease of cycling along the seafront during periods of peak traffic.
Mayor Michael Regan acknowledged the trial had polarised Dee Why residents, businesses and beach users.
“The community themselves are quite divided on the trial so far. Some love the new arrangements and would like to see them stay. Some want to see the trial go further and close the road to traffic completely. Others remain concerned about local traffic impacts and safety and want the area returned to how it was before the trial.”
He also announced further adjustments to the trial.
“In the meantime, we’ll implement some of the suggestions provided by the community, including the installation of three new marked pedestrian crossings on Clyde and Avon roads, and investigate more parking opportunities in the area to replace those lost. Other additional crossings and the like are being investigated along with other suggestions from the public.”
Mayor Regan, who backs the permanent implementation of the one-way scheme, asserted there was “overwhelming support among the businesses for the changes” to a permanent one-way system.
“I look forward to seeing how the area operates once the rain eases and people continue to gain the confidence to eat out and enjoy busy spaces in a post-Covid environment,” he said.