Cyclists across the Clarence Valley would love integrated bicycle routes.
Cyclists across the Clarence Valley would love integrated bicycle routes.

RIDE TO NOWHERE: New cycleway labelled ‘dangerous’

CYCLISTS frustrated with disconnected cycleways can hold out hope things could change after a push to review the region's bike paths.

Clarence Valley Council will review their Bicycle Plan after a successful motion was brought by Greg Clancy, acting on behalf of local cyclists.

Created in 2015, the original bike plan covers Grafton, South Grafton, Yamba, Maclean, Iluka, Woombah, Ulmarra and Lawrence.

However, it did not take into account a number of key infrastructure projects since completed including the new Grafton Bridge and the Maclean Pacific Highway interchange at Ferry Park.

The interchange includes a brand new cycleway "connecting" Townsend and Maclean.

However, the Transport for NSW-built path abruptly ends either side of the highway, leaving cyclists with no connections to existing cycleways.

To make matters worse, on Cameron St the cycleway finishes on a bend and riders can choose to dismount and cross on the corner or use approximately 10cm of verge to ride into oncoming traffic.

VISIONARY: There is nothing quite like brand-spanking new infrastructure that seamlessly disconnects with the old. The red lines highlight the stretch of road without a safe cycle path.
VISIONARY: There is nothing quite like brand-spanking new infrastructure that seamlessly disconnects with the old. The red lines highlight the stretch of road without a safe cycle path.

Cyclist Judith Little said riders and pedestrians were left with "nowhere to go" after riding "a beautiful piece of tar".

Riding from Ilarwill to Maclean everyday, Ms Little said while there were many more disconnected pathways and unsafe sections of road in the area, Council might have been more proactive given the highway project was in the works for many years.

"They are dangerous disconnections and it's not like (the cycleway) is a big surprise … they have had so long to plan," Ms Little said.

"You have got to ride right on the edge of the road three or four blocks before you get on the cycleway."

Her biggest concern was young kids who might not have the same presence of mind to make safe decisions while crossing the road or riding on it.

Mr Clancy's motion to review the plan was part of a raft of actions which could go some way toward improving the safety for cyclists who have raised similar issues.

Cr Greg Clancy.
Cr Greg Clancy.

"One (cyclist) has told me it appears to be 'open season' on people who ride bikes on our streets," he said.

"People are concerned about unconnected bike routes throughout town as well as poorly designed shared-use paths associated with the new Grafton Bridge.

That was backed up by Grafton cyclist, Claire Aman, who uses her bicycle as her primary mode of transportation.

Ms Aman welcomed the review and said it was important that council consulted the people who rode the streets and were familiar with the dangerous areas.

And she said improving connectivity was similarly important and didn't necessarily mean spending huge amounts of money on laying kilometres of designated cycleways.

Claire Aman
Claire Aman

"People are riding bikes much more now and there are some who won't ride because of the danger (of riding on the road). If we had more routes people would ride.

"It's as simple as painting a line on the road."

Ms Aman said roundabouts were also of particular concern, as cycle routes often disappeared as they approached them, putting cyclists in precarious positions.

But there were ways to retrofit roundabouts to give cyclists room and Ms Aman encouraged those involved to get on a bike and ride the routes to ensure they actually worked.

Cr Clancy's motion will now see Council undertake a cycling connectivity and safety analysis of the entire cycleway/shared use pathway network in the Clarence Valley along with publishing updated maps to promote cycling and walking routes. 

The issue will be brought back to council in October to ratify any funding arrangements with a view to it being completed in May 2021. 

While acknowledging the importance ensure cyclists could be kept safe in the region, Mr Clancy said it was wasn't going to happen overnight.

"Like many, I believe an improved network of cycleways is essential for cyclist safety," he said.

"But this will take some time to deliver, a process that will start with an amended Bicycle Plan. In the meantime, I urge motorists to remember to look out for cyclists and to respect their right to use the road."   The motion received unanimous support from councillors.