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Byron Shire
March 2, 2021

Push for new cycleway to be named in memory of ‘true local’ Ben Donohoe

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When Byron youth Ben Donohoe lost his life in a road accident in July 2010 his family was amazed by the outpouring of love and support from the community.

Now the community is rallying behind a plan would ensure the young man is remembered for generations to come.

Hundreds of locals have lent their support to a campaign to have the proposed Byron Bay to Suffolk Park cycleway named in Ben’s memory.

A Facebook page devoted to the push jumped from 400 to 900 members in the past few days and is continuing to grow.

‘When Ben died, it wasn’t just our family that lost him, the whole town did,’ his mother Yvonne Donohoe says.

‘He was born in Byron and grew up in Suffolk. He played football, he was in the board riders club.

Suffolk Park 20-year-old Ben Donohoe lost his life in a road accident in 2010. Supplied

‘We think this would be a lovely way to remember Ben, and to remind people of the fact that we are a community at a time when our sense of community is diminishing.’

Naming a cycleway after Ben would be particularly poignant because some of Ben’s family and friends believe that if the young man had had a bike on the night of his death he might still be alive.

The 20-year-old was hitch-hiking back to Suffolk Park on Bangalow Road after an evening in Byron when he and a friend were picked up by a drunk and drug-affected driver.

‘Within 500 metres they had run into a tree,’ Mrs Donohoe says.

‘They hit the tree so hard the engine flew out of the car and nearly hit a taxi coming the other way.’

‘Now with the cycleway there’s going to be a safe way for young people to get home.’

The Byron Bay to Suffolk cycleway is part of a broader plan by Byron Council to reduce the number of cars in the Shire by encouraging cycling through improved infrastructure.

The Byron Suffolk plan is currently on public exhibition, with three different layouts open for discussion.

The stretch from Byron Bay to Suffolk Park along Bangalow Road is a very popular, but perilous, route for local cyclists.

Those leading the campaign for the path to be named in Ben’s honour are encouraging locals to make a submission to this affect before the cut off date tomorrow (Friday) at 5pm.

Submissions can be made here.


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8 COMMENTS

  1. When Ben Donohoe, by accident, was killed on the road where he rode his bike his family in the silence had a long and lonely road to hoe without him.
    Someone or somebody had to speak up and put in a spoke for him, the young man who would not pedal his bike any more. A body of people came forward and made way, the community, and they put their foot on the pedal and pushed for Ben’s name to be remembered in a certain way, and the day came around that it be proposed that the Byron Bay to Suffolk Park cycleway be named in and for Ben in memory.

  2. I wish them well with the naming and the greater attention that brings. If it’s truly the wish of Byron Council to reduce the number of cars in the Shire by encouraging cycling and safer cycling through improved infrastructure then there’s a rail corridor right through the middle of the shire that could be useful.

  3. While I cannot possibly feel the pain and suffering of Ben family and friends as a result of his tragic and young death in a traffic accident on Bangalow road i feel that we should also remember other local men who have lost their lives reasonately as a result of push bike accidents
    Colin Hadwell a man born and raised in the Bay and lived in Suffolk Park, a very keen bike rider , long term active Surfclub man who held executive positions at the club he co-authored the history of the Byron Bat surf club , he was a renowned and published poet, member of the Byron Bay historical society, Apexian, always working in and for the community he was and still remembered as a respectied and gental Bay man.
    On the 4 th of July 2017 in his seventies Colin died in a bike accident on Bangalow road. He road his bike all over Australia and the world and was alwayse lobbying for improvements to bike tracks in the shire
    Michael Pinkerton also in his seventies born with a severe hearing impedament lived on bangalow road all his life road the same bike he road to school in the 1950s. Every day Michael road his bike to the induatrial estate where he worked he never had a car licence. Michael was an iconic figure in the Bay. Four years ago he also died in a pushbike accident he was hit by a car on his way home.
    How do we pick which of our beloved community members to recognize and acknoledge on a much needed safe bike path from Suffolk into the Bay?

    • I very much agree with your suggestions Don. With due respect for a young man who was tragically killed and obviously well liked, naming the path after a cyclist from Byron Bay would be more appropriate.

      I was at school with Colin at Mullum High but I did not know him. By your account and others it would be eminently fitting to name the path after him. Michael parked his bike with mine on the fence in front of St Finbarrs school, and I remember him in class struggling with his hearing to complete Intermediate Certificate. It would be wonderful too if Micheal, a disabled cyclist, were remembered by a path that as Tim says will make cycling safer for all of us.

    • A difficult subject when discussing family members lost and having a memorial in their honour but possibly installing public bench seating along the Cycle way with the names of the many people killed on our local roads would better honour them .
      The Suffolk Park to Byron Cycle/walkway should be named in honour of an advocate for more cycle/walk paths or another high profile volunteer community member .
      Or even better still calling it the Jimmy Kay or Harry Bray Walkway . Jimmy and Harry (indigenous custodians living along Bangalow Rd and Broken Head Rd) would often wait outside the Literary Institute and guide them home at night once the movie had finished .
      King Bobby , his father and Harry Bray are all buried along the stretch between Byron and Suffolk Park so it would be fitting (if approved by their descendants) to name it after them .
      Anyway just my thoughts that I hope will be considered .

  4. Byron in particular, needs really good bicycle infrastructure to rival and indeed eclipse locals’ car traffic, to radically reduce congestion.
    Many sections could be named in honour of those that passed away due to poor infrastructure in past years.
    Being able to safely traverse on cycleways, needs to be highly valued for the vast benefits to our towns, now choking with cars.
    Our town’s livability will improve greatly and become a cultural source of pride.

  5. Bens the best legend you have ever meet in Byron bay we need to have this up for him and he’s family to remember he’s good vibes xx

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