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Byron Shire
May 8, 2021

Bangalow’s character and the impacts of more cars

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It is interesting to watch the Bangalow community assess the rail trail and its impacts.

The late Keating speech writer and virtual Bangalow mayor Michael Molloy (God rest his soul) was the architect of the Bangalow revival. He saw the opportunity for a heritage village that would provide the community glue as well as be the foundation for a sustainable economy.

He was vehemently opposed to more through traffic in Bangalow and fought for no exit to the new motorway as the way to control car numbers. He organised a well-attended public meeting that voted 100 per cent in favour of no highway entrance to Bangalow.

After he sadly passed away, the RMS convinced local member Don Page and select community representatives to endorse a highway exit that will add more traffic to the village. This is currently under construction.

I never discussed rail trail with Michael who I was fortunate enough to work with closely on the Hinterland Way plan.

Michael was not the type to want to rule from the grave, he was much more humble and realistic to wish for that.

However my guess is that he would have believed that tourists on bikes can bring more net positives than more cars. He was often talking about how quality tourists are vital to Bangalows prosperity.

I suspect he would have been a rail trail advocate as part of his vision for the village of Bangalow.

Tony Gilding, Bangalow

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  1. Ripping up the tracks for a rail trail will bring more cars to Bangalow, not less In addition , and more importantly, it will stop forever the real alternative to cars in Bangalow, a light rail option, which is th truly connecting towns. Far worse, a rail trail in Bangalow on top of the existing track, as opposed to next to the tracks, will hack into the integrity of the whole line from Casino to Murwillumbah and will affect other areas in the region as well. There is a better alternative to traffic and transport. So do not advocte a Rail Trail on top of the tracks.

    • It is also arguable that light rail will actually increase traffic in Bangalow. Look at the majority of people visiting Bangalow I’m sure you will find the majority of them do not live along the current rail corridor. How will they get to the light rail station? Drive their cars so where do they park then? LIght rail is viable for urban high density areas such as the Gold Coast etc, Melbourne etc. Sorry but Byron and Banaglow are not such areas.

      I’m sure the late visionary Michael would support the rail trail. Rail trails in other states and overseas have been hugely successful and popular. The Casino to Muriwllumbah rail trail with it’s beaches and stunning rainforest scenery will easily become a world class tourist attraction. After 10 years of trying and two governments, isn’t it time to accept the train is not coming back and do something viable with the corridor rather than letting it rot for another 10 years.

  2. Tony are you suggesting that the Rail Trail tourists will be biking to Bangalow or Byron to join the rail trail? Good luck along the highway. The fitness required to bike up St Helena will see most people prefer to start the trail in Bangalow. Im pretty sure they will drive in their cars and unload their bikes once here, thereby creating more pressure on Bangalow. With over 200 housing lots released in the last few years, with no new infrastructure to support the increase in population Im not sure our village has the capacity to take a whole new load of tourists. Personally I value my community more than the mighty tourist dollar.

    • The train line has a gradient of 1 in 50 ie 1metre rise in 50 metres. This is a very slight grade for walkers,cyclists , aged care scooters or horses but it actually quite steep for trains.The trains could not gain traction during heavy rain when heading up the St Helena grade and would have to wait for the rain to stop before attempting. Don’t forget that the majority of the population in the Bangalow area do not live within the 800 metre maximum walking distance from the train station,as such cars and buses will be heading into that narrow Station St to pick up or drop off the residents . There is no large permanent public parking area near the train station (the show grounds could be bitumenised and turned into a paid parking area – shock ,horror) . You would need to provide a large public parking area for the people from Nashua,Newrybar,Rifle Range Rd ,Clunes to park .

  3. I would suggest looking at what they have done at Eumundi as it is very much like Bangalow ie huge markets,train line, heritage status and with Noosa Heads close by.
    The train line originally went straight thru the heart of Eumundi and actually right thru the middle of what is now the market place. The trai line was deviated around the south east corner of the town ,taking the noise and buses away from the heart of the town. The train station was moved to the southern end of town with bus and car drop off and parking. Using the old train station at Bangalow would mean many buses and cars heading into Station St for drop/pick ups. There also would need to be a very large parking station cars close by .
    Michael was also a long time friend ,when he first arrived from Canberra in the early 90s? ,don’t think I ever saw a bike in his garage but I to believe he would have preferred the train line not cutting thru the middle of Bangalow.
    Work towards a best outcome train line that follows the Pacific and Bruxner Highway with interchanges at the major turn offs. Bus terminals and large carparks at these interchanges . Keep these transport hubs away from the hearts of the towns and keep the noise away from the hearts of the heritage towns. Noise from trains at 2am will be very disruptive to the heart of Bangalow.
    Go and see Eumundi to get the feel of what would be a good outcome for Bangalow

  4. Tony I would like to send you information about the Eumundi transformation and protection. My contact email address is [email protected]
    I can also send you reams of other information about railway construction and compliance ( although it won’t have to comply with the latest noise regulations as it is existing) both pros and cons.
    And also have reams of info about rail trails ,both pros and cons (although the cons are very small!)

  5. A rail trail in Bangalow will bring bikes not cars. Cyclists will be riding through Bangalow and stopping to support the local businesses.

  6. Unless there is a train service to take cars off our roads more traffic congestion in our towns is inevitable. 85% of the Northern Rivers population live within 5Ks of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line.

    Thousands of people know this that’s why they keep signing petitions demanding train services, not a cycleway. Ripping up a valuable train line for a cycleway is appalling vandalism. As Don Page said in 2004 ‘we need more trains, not less’. We desperately need public transport for locals and 4.6m tourists. not an expensive cycleway.

    Road transport is one of the major contributors to global warming.

  7. The figure of 85% living within 5km radius (not driving or walking distance which is significantly more) is only for Byron Shire.
    The No rthern Rivers population figures drags in the Clarence Valley also.The train line does not go near the booming growth towns of Ballina,Cumberland,Alstonville,Wollongbar ,Tweed Heads but to name a few.
    Please give correct info Louise as there are a lot of readers of The Echo newspaper,misleading info can leave mud on the face when quoting this info.

  8. I suspect, as you say Tony, that Michael would have supported the rail trail and would have probably been an active campaigner for it.

    The opposition to this brilliant idea is weak. There is absolutely no chance that the train will return on this corridor. There are two options only : a world-class rail trail or nothing at all, which is what train advocates are really favouring.

    The rail trail will greatly benefit towns along the route especially Bangalow and Mullumbimby, which will thrive with older visitors willing to spend money in the towns. Most will begin their rides at either Murwillumbah or Casino when the whole trail is completed, and stay overnight in towns and villages along the way.

    Its a winner for everyone. Let’s get on with it!

  9. Many Northern Rivers people have been researching the accurate costs, viability and expected patronage of a commuter train service on the Casino to Murwillumbah line for residents and 4.6m tourists for many years.

    The only ones misleading people are those who claim ‘a cycleway is public transport’ and ‘a cycleway will save the train line’. No it won’t. THE VALUABLE TRAIN LINE WILL BE RIPPED UP and replaced with a very expensive cycleway that most people won’t be able to use. Especially the 20% to 30% of the local population aged over 60 years.

    Ballina, Wollongbar Alstonville haven’t had trains since the line was ripped up in 1949. To use that as an excuse rip up the line we still have is beyond nonsense. Branch lines can be added to connect Ballina and Tweed communities to the main line. Our governments are NEVER going to spend billions unnecessarily rebuilding the whole line. The line we have is perfectly placed for most of the population and goes to the centre of towns where the tourists want to go.

    Again, road transport is one of the major contributors to global warming.

  10. Louise please do your research about history for this region before going to print.The train line did not go thru Alstonville or Wollongbar (although there was talk of it).The train line veered off at Booyong and went thru Teven onto the Buttery in Ballina.
    When you say billions won’t be spent I think you are short changing our future generations by not wanting the best possible train system for this region.
    No Labor,Liberal,National or Green would be crazy enough to put a forever slow train in a low population corridor.Surely you have seen the population growth regions of Tweed,Ballina,Richmond and Byron Shires? Most of the population is not within a 10km stones throw from the old corridor.
    A quick drive between Pottsville and Kingscliff or Lennox/CumberlandBallina/Alstonville /Wollongbar will soon show you the growth areas.
    Aim much higher than you are now,we deserve it.

  11. Louise!

    No-one is claiming that a rail trail is public transport!
    Many/most of the cyclists will be over 60!
    The train never passed through Alstonville or Wollongbar as Geoff says!

    Reasoned argument is fine but you are playing fast and loose with the facts!

  12. Louise I would suggest you start talking to more of the over 60s crew living in this shire,a hell of a lot of them are out riding every day in our shires.I travelled to New Zealand with 20 other Byron Shire folk,the majority over 60.I took a bike tour group up to Glen Innes,I was the only one under 60.Head down to Ballina on monday mornings and you will see a group of 35 riders over 60 years of age riding .I have been on multiple QLD and NSW group rides and the majority are over 50 .Keeping healthy is not just for body but also for the brain,bike riding in groups for the over 60s gives you both.I have ridden with ex Olympic and Commonwealth Games bike riders at Noosa that are over 70,what a very positive and healthy bunch of people.They have not let age become a barrier,they have embraced it and enriched their retirement years.


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