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HomeLatest NewsWhat’s happening with the cycleway at Curl Curl and Freshwater?

What’s happening with the cycleway at Curl Curl and Freshwater?

Council contractors have been told to temporarily stop work on a new cycleway in Curl Curl and Freshwater and return line markings to their original position, following community backlash citing  safety and consultation concerns.

A well-attended last minute community meeting was held with residents at Harbord Scout Hall last Monday night, 19 June, allowing locals to air grievances with, and ask questions of, the team directly responsible for the project.

While the project had been discussed on and off for two years, its final form was not known to most stakeholders and the project works commenced suddenly the week before last, taking affected residents and road users by surprise.

A resident shows a video of buses having to cross to the other side of the road to maneouvre through the changes at Curl Curl.

The 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, nor information of what changes were temporary (such as reduced lane width) and which were permanent.

This sentiment led to two community meetings at the local scout hall, including one attended by Council’s most senior staff in transport, Jorde Frangoples, Director of Transport and Assets, as well as the manager of the council’s transport network, Phillip Devon.

But before we recap the meeting, let’s do our best to summarise the plans:

What’s the actual plan here?

Council had commenced works to install a cycleway between Lawrence Street, Freshwater and Bennett Street, Curl Curl with the aim of improving cycling connections and encourage active transport connecting with Freshwater Village.

The project design, approved by the Local Traffic Committee in April last year, has been funded by the NSW Government as part of Schools Precinct Funding.

It involved changing the lanes along the popular thoroughfare to allow for a two-way cycle path on one side of the road (switching to to the other via a crossing), which would provide riders protection from traffic and car doors.

The cross section shows the allocation of road space planned for Oliver Street.

While there are existing shared cycle paths along Oliver Street, the bicycle lanes on this route do not have an adequate buffer between parked vehicles and the bicycle lane.

Bicycle lanes without adequate ‘buffer zones’ are no longer considered safe or suitable as part of the Safe Cycling Network.

The plans also include the introduction of a number of pedestrian crossings and some traffic calming measures.

Council said the project included the following features:

  • On-road bi-directional separated cycleway on the northern side of Bennett Street and eastern side of Oliver Street.
  • 20km/h safe street environment on Park Street in Curl Curl.
  • Seven new and improved crossings for people walking and bike riding.
  • A zebra crossing upgraded to a raised pedestrian crossing.
  • Three new bus stop platforms that will be disability compliant and enable quicker boarding and alighting of bus passengers.
  • Kerb and gutter extensions around Harbord Public School on Oliver Street and Wyadra Avenue to increase space for people, particularly kids and families during school pick-up and drop-off time.
  • Way-finding signage and line marking upgrades.
Plans showing proposed road changes in Curl Curl and Freshwater.

The meeting

At a packed meeting at Harbord Scouts on Monday, Mr Frangoples calmed the crowd by confirming at the outset that work would immediately pause on the project, with line markings restored. Residents will observe workers still busy on site but this will largely be to return things as they were, he said. We understand the concrete dividers will remain.

A Council statement provided this evening, 26 June confirmed the project was on pause.

“Following a meeting with residents last week, Council has paused works to allow for further community input. We are committed to ensuring that this project meets the needs and expectations of the community, and staff are currently finalising the next steps to present the project and changes made to the community,” the statement read.

Mr Frangoples explained to the 50 or more attendees that the works had been provided by the NSW Government as part of the school precincts funding to encourage more children to cycle to school.

“One lady here said she wouldn’t let her kid ride to school because is not safe enough, well that’s what we are trying to fix. Now whether we make a compelling case as to whether our proposition is, in fact, safer, than doing nothing or do something else, I guess that’s what we’re here to discuss.”

“It’s now just ridiculous,” one commentator interjected. “It feels like all these little mistakes being done, the [lines] don’t follow the radius of the corner and these little mistakes being done are compounding into the whole thing being a bit of a go-kart track.”

The crowd murmured in agreement.

“This project is part of the regional link between Dee Why and Manly,” Mr Frangoples explained.

He said originally it was proposed to have a shared path running through but the feedback was that this was not a safe option.

A cohort of residents at the meeting questioned the value of building bike paths when they are used less frequently than vehicles.

However, many appeared in favour of safer bike lanes but considered the final plan was not understood and poorly executed. One resident said the vehicle lane outside his house had measured far less than agreed-on plans and was too small to allow the safe carriage of vehicles. A number of those living on Oliver Street were concerned about now having to reverse from their driveway directly into a cycle path.

Transport Manager Phil Devon talks through plans with a resident.

Disagreements arose regarding the proposed route of the new bike lane, the way the bike lane switched from one side to the other (eventually via a crossing), and the lane sizes.

With a considerable amount to explain and viewpoints to consider, Mr Frangoples reiterated that work would stop and an onsite walk- through or similar organised.

There will still be work underway to either reinstall what had been removed, but an undertaking was given to give the community more time to understand the project and give feedback.

A council statement to Manly Observer confirmed:

“Over the next few weeks, residents may see further activity along Bennett and Oliver Streets as we make the work site safe. Our next steps will include returning the line markings at the northern end to their original state, installing a new pedestrian crossing at Adams Street and Park Street, removing No Stopping signs that were erected for the construction, and making minor changes to line markings where kerb barriers have been installed. We will also be painting the islands at the southern end of Oliver Street, between Lawrence Street and Surfers Parade.

In coming months Council will be consulting with affected residents further and preparing updated plans and artist impressions of proposed works.”

You can learn more about the project and stay up to date by visiting https://yoursay.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/curl-curl-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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