When discussing the merits of using the Byron rail corridor for an effective public transport system, Byron Council and state planning authorities would do well to remember that Byron Shire isn’t just about Byron township. Nor does it only extend to Sunrise, Ewingsdale and Suffolk Park.
Byron Shire includes Bangalow, Mullmbimby, Ocean Shores and all those properties on the hills in between. It is these residents who urgently need an effective public transport solution that caters for all – not just those capable of cycling unencumbered up a hill in all weather conditions, with forty minutes to spare.
Catch the bus one of your readers urges? What bus would that be? From Bangalow to Byron buses are few and far between on weekdays and do not exist at all in the evenings or on weekends. They are a viable option only if you have four hours to spare in Byron waiting for the return trip and not at all practical.
Byron township is where Bangalow children go to high school. Byron pool is our local pool, it is where we go to the movies, it is the location of our major banks and supermarkets, it has our library and it’s where our kids go for swimming lessons, ballet, surf club, netball training and AFL training, to name a few.
Byron is where we embrace the beach lifestyle many moved here for. We go for a swim, we surf, we walk the lighthouse and we go out for dinner in Byron.
For many of us living in Bangalow, Byron township is also where we work, it’s where our kids find after school jobs, it’s where our friends live and it’s where we spend our time doing countless car trips a day, in and out, on Ewingsdale Road or Broken Head Road.
We wait patiently – or not – in ever increasing traffic, knowing that when we get into town we won’t get a park and hoping that our 12 year old is still waiting for us outside the pool.
While a cycle track is a great idea and no doubt a tourist attraction, Byron is no longer a sleepy beachside haven. As they give the nod to more and more housing developments, it’s time planning authorities catered for the growing population who live here and pay rates. We need a public transport system that caters for all ages and physical abilities.
A cycle track isn’t going to help pick up young kids from after school activities or jobs, it’s not practical when carrying beach shelters and surf boards, it isn’t going to get me home from dinner in Byron and my young daughter is not going to cycle home to Bangalow with her friends after seeing a movie.
Even my 14-year-old with endless energy would be hard pushed to ride home to Bangalow after a full day on surf patrol at Main Beach.
More buses are not the solution either unless someone is prepared to put in bus lanes, as they will simply sit in traffic along with the rest of us.
Imagine a light rail system that travels down the old rail corridor and goes from the centre of Bangalow to the centre of Byron and then on to Mullumbimby and Ocean Shores. Regular, effective transport straight into Byron and out again.
The population of the area is only increasing. None of us like sitting in traffic, so design and deliver a public transport system that caters for everyone and both adults and children will use it.
Lisa Peacock, Bangalow