Richard Grzegrzulka, Lennox Head
I am a fairly keen older cyclist and ride from Lennox to Byron at least once a week, which affords me intimate knowledge of the state of the Coast Road in Byron Shire. Unfortunately the section from the Ballina/Byron boundary to Suffolk Park can only be described as a cycling hazard and also has implications for the safety of motorists. I know a number of more casual cyclists who simply will not chance to ride that route.
The most risky section is from ~400m south of Sugar Cane Rd to the foot of the hill before Broken Head Hall. There is mostly little or no verge, particularly on a series of bends and slopes. I had a heart-stopper on this section recently on my way to Byron when I was passed on an upslope and nearing a bend by a large quarry truck pulling a big trailer. He gunned past me, no doubt trying to get through before meeting the bend, given his length. Thankfully there was no car from the other direction. It felt like the truck was too close; maybe he wasn’t; I was too preoccupied with the need to focus on keeping a straight line right on the edge in the face of considerable wind and noise from the truck’s passage. Regardless, the condition of the road had created this scenario – a decent verge would have allowed me to be off the road and the truck would not have needed to speed or go as close to me.
Riding north near that section is even worse as it places a rider on the inside of an uphill curve, with less forward vision for the motorist. The verge there is inadequate or non-existent and parts of it slope away at 45 degrees.
I was bemused by the debate on the Broken Head section of the road. It may be straight but it is clearly too narrow and has mostly inadequate or absent verge. What recently existed was a series of either potholes or very irregular lumps of bitumen as ‘patches’, much of it on the edge of the road. I note this section is now about to be resurfaced, but does not appear to be any wider. I hope there will be accommodation of a reasonable verge that is not sloping off the road. This is the opportunity for improvement.
The section from Broken Head to Suffolk Park is also too narrow with little opportunity to ride off the road in either direction.
I appeal to Byron Shire Council to attend to the conditions of this road at first opportunity. This is not some back lane but a major local and tourist road and is heavily used by motorised vehicles as well as many cyclists. It’s a great, but unnecessarily dangerous, ride.