Wollongong council to push for bikes to be allowed on footpaths and buses
Greens councillor Cath Blakey, said the changes would help get more people using bikes and were supported by the city's adopted cycling strategy.
Cr Blakey said she was in favour of all ages being able to ride on footpaths as it would especially allow more young people and women to feel safe while riding in busy areas without shared paths or cycling infrastructure. She said cyclists were allowed on footpaths in most states and territories, with NSW and Victoria the only two to outlaw riding on footpaths as a rule.
"I recognise some people are concerned about risks to pedestrians, and it is really important to give way to pedestrians, but this is mostly about formalising what already happens when people feel unsafe riding on the road anyway," she said.
"The problem with the rules now, is that police can apply them with discretion, which leads to some people being targeted and fined, while others are left alone."
She said allowing cyclists to ride of the footpath was just one of the improvements needed to encourage cycling, and needed to be combined with investment in dedicated cycling infrastructure.
"Personally, I don't actually like riding on the footpath - because you have to contend with driveways and other infrastructure - but there are some places you just don't feel safe riding on the road," she said. "This is not a perfect situation, and if we could retrofit cycleways on every single street I'd love to do that, but there's budget constraints and we can't change it overnight - so if we want people riding bikes now we need to change the rule."
Bike racks on buses makes public transport more viable: Cr Blakey said allowing bikes to be carried on buses would make public transport more viable for many people in Wollongong.
"I've ridden to work and then in the afternoon it's raining and you then have to leave your bike at work - so being able to have those mixed modes where you can put a bike on a train or on a bus would be really helpful," she said.
"In Wollongong, we've got lots of suburbs that are really hilly, so we can cycle down them but not necessarily back up - so having bike racks on buses would be great. "It would open up the catchment of people that are likely to catch the bus, because you can go so much further on a bike than you can walking, so there would be more people being able to get to the bus stop." She said bike racks could be installed as the bus fleet was upgraded, and would be able to be used on a first come, first served basis.
Media Release: South Coast call for secure bike sheds at train stations after resident has 7 bikes stolen
31 July 2023
South Coast call for secure bike sheds at train stations after resident has 7 bikes stolen
Fairy Meadow resident Phil Balding has expressed despair and frustration after having 7 around the illawarra, with 3 incidents of stolen parts.
Mr Balding said
“Riding my bike used to be a quick way to get to the train station for the commute to Sydney, but after having 7 bikes stolen, I’ve given up riding. I've tried using 2 d-locks, handlebar brake locks, Disc-brake locks, anti-theft skewers and an AirTag tracker, but still my bike would be stripped of parts or be stolen. By registering my bike on the Property Vault, and using the AirTag tracker the police were able to get a warrant to seize my bike, and I got it back. I want a Transport for NSW bike shed at the station to keep my bike safer from theft.”
“The car parking spaces at North Wollongong train station including street is full by 7:15am some mornings for the Sydney commute. Surely if there was somewhere more secure to lock up bikes there would be commuters that would ride instead of driving”.
Cr Blakey, who has a notice of motion on bike parking security for Monday night’s council meeting said:
“Council transport staff are currently developing an integrated cycling strategy, and it’s important that it includes advocacy for bike sheds at train stations so that residents can ride to the train station, and be confident that there bike will be there after a day at work for their return trip home.”
“Riding to the station is quicker and easy to go further than walking, and less space-intensive than car-parking. As e-bikes have grown in popularity, increasing the ease of riding for residents with escarpment foothills to navigate, the attractiveness to theft has also increased. We desperately need more secure ways to park bikes at the train station.”
“Since 2016 there have been 36 bike sheds installed across the City Rail network, but none in the Illawarra. I’m calling on the state government to make the Wollongong local government area the next location for a bike shed.”
“Bike theft is a rife in Wollongong, and a serious barrier to riding to the station, the shops, work or school – or anything other than recreation. PropertyVault is a partnership between Crime Stoppers, the Police, bike owners and the wider community – to expose and defeat the illicit trade in stolen bikes. If someone sees a bike for sale, they can check if it’s been stolen, removing pathways to profit from stolen bikes.”
END MEDIA RELEASE
Wollongong City councillor Cath Blakey has a motion at Monday night's council meeting to write to Transport for NSW requesting secure bike sheds at Illawarra stations. The priority stations would be North Wollongong, Wollongong, Thirroul and Dapto.
Cr Blakey said a lack of secure places to leave a bike discourages people from using them.
"I've done it myself - I avoid riding to the station unless I take my bike on the train with me," Cr Blakey said.
"But I know people complain about that sometimes because our trains aren't really designed to have lots of bikes on them. You can block access to the stairs and the exit. I've seen people abuse cyclists for it but when there's no safe place to leave your bike that is the problem. It's a real barrier for people to ride to the station. A secure bike shed would be quite a cheap and really effective way to improve integrated transport."
Wollongong residents have made their way through three electorates on foot or by bike, calling on state election candidates to commit to actions they say will make streets safer and more people-friendly.
Safe Streets to School spokeswoman Lena Huda said about 50 people came out over the course of the event to show their support, including Greens candidate for Heathcote Cooper Riach.
Labor's Paul Scully, Ryan Park and Maryanne Stuart and Liberal candidate Lee Evans sent their apologies, she said.