NCM is sponsoring a Tweed Ride in Newcastle in conjunction with Newcastle City Council. Meet at Islington Park at 10am, then ride along the Throsby Creek cycleway. Bring morning tea to eat at The Foreshore and wear your tweed or vintage gear. Vintage bikes preferred but not necessary.
There is a plan to extend the Fernleigh shared path into Dudley along a corridor that once was the rail line into the Dudley mine. This branch line into Dudley was built in 1892 extending from the Fernleigh rail line in order to service the coal mine which was located at the site of the sports fields. After the rail line closed in 1939 it became an access route for Dudley residents who would walk down the track to get passenger trains which ran till 1967 on the Fernleigh line.
In 1977 a Newcastle residents group (NCM) was formed with the aim of ensuring that these rail lines would not be submerged by urban development. Work commenced on the Fernleigh cycleway as a joint venture between Newcastle and Lake Macquarie City councils. In 1999 a draft plan was completed which detailed all the routes, including the one into Dudley along the rail corridor. The Fernleigh track is now considered to be one of the best 10 Cycleways in the world, largely due to the almost unspoilt natural environment of the track which isolates it from the urban surroundings. Its popularity amongst residents and tourists shows that there is a great need for more of this type of facility, especially if it services schools and connects community facilities.
After the Dudley branch line closed part of it became Foxdale Ave. and the cutting at Burwood road was filled in as a replacement for the bridge that used to take car traffic over the rail line. The path from Burwood Rd to the Fernleigh Track and the Railway to Ocean St. cuttings have became overgrown with weeds and choked by debris. Pedestrian traffic is now small and those that do walk through use rough walking tracks on top of the cuttings.
LMCC conducted a survey in 2012 that overwhelmingly showed support for extending the track along the old railway line into Dudley. There was also a belief by council that there should be a path into Charlestown and to accommodate this the pathway group submitted a modified plan that meet this requirement. See the attached Maps. The new plan uses all of the proposed Dudley to Fernleigh path but extends this by using existing pathways from Whitebridge school and safe streets along the Flaggy creek reserve. This amended plan as shown now connects with 3 schools, the Charlestown swimming pool and shopping center. For the more serious bike rider it would provide an alternative loop that could take in Dudley and Redhead with visits to the Awabakal Nature area for the nature lovers or a choice between the pubs in Dudley or the Churches in Redhead.
The benefits that would result from this path are numerous: it would provide a safe path for students to the schools, encourage healthy activities of walking or cycling, decrease car usage and road congestion, and with continued landcare work will convert what was once a waste land into an attractive natural bushland setting. The actual pathway will be the old rail line which will only occupy about 3m of the corridor owned by council. This corridor ranges from 15 to 25m in width which means that the planned regeneration program will see a 5 to 10m buffer zone between residents and track users. Within the cuttings the track will be up to 5m lower than the adjacent houses and residents will be unable to see people on the track .
Principals at the schools have been supportive of the plan as were the Cycleways movement and most residents. There are some issues to be resolved, everyone wants a cycleway and council does not see this one as important as others. We have suggested that LMCC should use a low impact approach to the construction, minimizing fencing and using compressed gravel rather than tar or concrete for the path. However some would prefer a harder surface, which is more suitable for prams and wheel chair use. Opinions on this approach and to other issues differ so please let us know your thoughts.
When riding the Fernleigh Track in Newcastle, it is advisable to ride at a speed that will allow you to safely negotiate pedestrians and other cyclists on the Track. While much of the Track will be unoccupied, allowing for faster safe travel by bike, there will inevitably be sections where there are pedestrians and multiple bike riders competing for space on the Track. When you are confronted with a situation where you may end up 3 abreast, it is best to slow down so you can safely pass other users of the Track. Also, use your bell as a warning to those in front of you who may not be aware of your presence.
Newcastle Cycleways Movement is supportive of the recently announced plan to install separated bike lanes along Hunter Street. This will link the major bike tracks such as Route 6 which goes from the centre of Newcastle to the Callaghan University campus and the designated onroad route to Fernleigh Track. The current onroad connection to Fernleigh Track will also be further upgraded by Newcastle City Council with improved signage and infrastructure as part of this initiative, making Fernleigh track more accessible from the city centre. Plans for this upgrade include lights at the crossing of Brunker Road and Melville Road, although the problem of a safe crossing of Glebe Road near Teralba Rd has not yet been solved. This will make it possible to ride from the centre of Newcastle to Fernleigh Track in about 20 minutes.
Newcastle Cycleways Movement is a bicycle advocacy group based in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie LGAs, and has the vision of cycling as a safe and attractive form of transport that has widespread health, social and environmental benefits. The urban renewal strategy has been discussed by our members and views are summarised in this submission.
* NCM applauds the inclusion of cycleways as a prominent part of the renewal process. A “dedicated” cycleway along the length of Newcastle will be a great community asset, however it should be built to a standard that primary school age children could be safely let ride along it unaccompanied, ie physically separated from vehicular traffic. Bidirectional cycleways are not as safe as two unidirectional ones
* The proposal for cycleways to be implemented promptly on a trial or temporary basis is somewhat alarming, as if a cycleway does not have to be properly planned.
* Connections are required: to Hamilton, to the Corlette St coastal cycleway route, to the East-West cycleway at the sports stadium, and to the Throsby Creek cycleway near the marina. The construction of a cycleway along Hunter St without these connections is not going to entice people out of their cars.
* The NCC Cycling Strategy and Action Plan is referenced and needs to be implemented in this Strategy: especially that cycleways shared with car parking is no longer regarded as acceptable.
* The proposal for Newcastle City Council to build a cycle parking centre similar to that at King George Square in Brisbane is not supported. Funds would be better spent on cycleways.
* Removal of the rail line is not supported as it does not encourage use of public transport.
* Civic Rail Station needs to be retained to transport students to the proposed City University hub.
* The illustration on Page XVIII portrays a cyclist cycling in an unprotected bike lane. Design faults like this should be excluded early in the planning process. Regulations that enforced that all parking was provided on a full cost recovery basis, even at supermarkets, would encourage alternate forms of transport.
The revitalisation of Newcastle CBD is welcome and needed. Revitalisation can be achieved with the rail service remaining, which would allow the money for a Wickham interchange to be spent more productively. Rail services at least as far as Civic should be a key element of the urban renewal.
There is sufficient space on Hunter St for the proposed cycleway to be built to world’s best practice, with space protected from vehicles, on both sides of the road. This will only be successful if it is connected to adjacent elements of the cycleway network, which lie outside the urban renewal planning area.
The recent Newcastle Now initiative has confirmed that separated unidirectional bike lanes will be installed along Hunter Street as part of a move to introduce new vibrant places into Newcastle’s city centre.
Newcastle Now last night hosted an exciting evening of speakers who are all contributing to the future of Newcastle. Jan Gehl was the keynote speaker and he has been contracted by Newcastle Now to design new separated bike lanes along Hunter Street, Newcastle. This, along with other initiatives, is designed to revamp Newcastle, making it a more liveable city. Gehl, in his modest, urbane European manner, gave a brief overview of the history of city planning, and how cities had grown to accommodate cars, especially since the 1950s. But cars are not friendly to the concept of a liveable city, and soon the piazzas of Europe became car parks. Over the past five decades, city planners gradually reduced the parking available for car parking and encouraged the use of public transport and bikes to create the more pleasant urban spaces now evident in all major European cities. Mr Gehl highlighted that this could also become a reality in Newcastle, with the promise of new bicycle lanes in our city centre to realise this wonderful vision for our city.
You will learn the impact and opportunities of the City’s Urban Renewal Strategy, and be inspired by world-renowned guest speaker Jan Gehl.
Jan is Professor of Urban Design and the inspiration behind public design in New York, Copenhagen, and Melbourne. He received a DOT’s Commissioner’s Award for exceptional contribution to New York City Streetscape and the Public Realm. His publications include Cities for People, Life Between Buildings, and New Urban Spaces.
Register here for this event.
At the latest NCM meeting the topic of roundabouts attracted a great deal of lively and informed discussion. The above photo shows the large roundabout in Wickham at Cowper St, with its quite expensive (so we were informed at the meeting) bike markings. It looks quite good in terms of providing a safe place for cyclists to ride, but appearances can be deceptive. The solid green areas designate where cyclists can ride, hopefully with safety, and the honeycombed area is where they need to be aware that they do not have right of way while alerting drivers that riders may be on the roundabout. As this is a roundabout where traffic speeds are high and there are two lanes of traffic, it would be difficult for all but the most experienced and fit vehicular cyclists to navigate safely.
This one is outside the Crowne Plaza on Wharf Road, where there is only one lane of traffic and much slower traffic. The cyclists share the space with cars and the sharrows are there to let everyone know that. This solution also costs substantially less than the green lanes in the first photo.
This one is near Marketown, the expensive green lane that feels quite safe to ride in as it appears to clearly designate a place for cyclists to ride. However, due to the small diameter of the roundabout and the fact that it is only a three way roundabout, cars which enter from two of the arms, then exit in the direction of the lane shown, will encroach into the green lane area, possibly side-swiping any cyclists there! And the bike lane is not very wide as you can see from the second photo.
This one is on Dumaresq Street and Beaumont Street and, as you can see, the roadway narrows as it approaches the intersection,greatly diminishing the area for cyclists to ride, and taking away the possibility of bypassing the roundabout altogether, which would be the safest option for those turning left.
It was agreed at the meeting that roundabouts are not cycle friendly and that traffic lights or stop signs or giveway signs are preferable. Every roundabout needs to be treated differently, depending on its nature and surroundings. Do you know of any roundabout treatments that are cycle friendly?
Here’s the lobbying video made by NCM members in 2005 in support of the Wallsend -Glendale idea.