A draft bike plan with a focus on in-town infrastructure that comes with vague funding sources has some riders disappointed and critical of its process and proposals.
Council’s draft bike plan and Byron Shire Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plan (PAMP) are on exhibition until July 26.
This is a chance to take a look at the future design of your local towns, as new cycle paths, including the new on-road but separated cycle paths, are recommended throughout towns like Mullumbimby, Brunswick Heads and Byron Bay.
It appears local towns and urban centres like Ocean Shores have taken all the ‘priority A’ bike path recommendations, with linking towns by bike paths falling under category U for uncategorised, otherwise known as the bottom of the list.
Links suggested from Mullumbimby to Main Arm Village Ocean Shores or Uncle Tom’s and the connecting link from there to Brunswick Heads hit the U section.
Dave Martin, owner of True Wheels Cycles in Mullumbimby, says, ‘Not providing links from Mullumbimby to Uncle Tom’s and on to Brunswick Heads as a priority is not addressing the cycling issues of our Shire. This is the major arterial route for linking towns in the north of the Shire to the coast’.
The lack of priority for linking and rural routes was also an issue for the Main Arm Bike Group (MABG).
MABG spokesperson and former councillor Duncan Dey said, ‘We are disappointed to see that the bike plan focuses on in-town infrastructure by putting it in Category A while demoting rural routes from Mullumbimby to Main Arm, to Shearwater school and to Brunswick Heads below Category C, in Category U.’
‘Despite our group’s lengthy discussions with Council, none of what we said has been heeded.
‘For example, the bike plan shows an on-road route to Main Arm Village and ignores our deeply researched proposal for a scenic, flat, safe route that leaves Main Arm Road at Durrumbul School and uses Durrumbul Road instead, to avoid a very dangerous section of Main Arm Road.
Dey continued, ‘The plan as drafted renders pointless all the meetings we had with councillors and staff, and all the time and effort the Main Arm community has put in.
‘MABG agreed to several handy causeways being removed on the basis of our bike route being published ready for completion with replacement light-weight crossings. If the correct bike route appeared in the bike plan, we would be able to work with Council and secure external funding for the crossings.’
Another keen local cyclist, who asked to be known only as Robin, says there is little hope that any of the in-town, let alone town-linking, bike paths will come to fruition.
‘Last Thursday morning I rode out to the Cavanbah Centre to the farmers market from Byron, and the 6km of the few shared bike paths is in appalling condition,’ he said.
‘There are tree roots and cracks in the path every half a metre as a result of the path not being maintained. Then you get to the only crossing on Ewingsdale Road to reach the Cavanbah Centre and it is so small that only one bike can cross at a time on a road of around 30,000 car movements a day. The actual refuge island isn’t big enough for an adult bike to safely wait on to cross.
‘This is a joke. It is supposed to be the cycle path that links Byron town centre to the Arts and Industry Estate and Cavanbah.
‘The Council have zero credibility on even maintaining the current bike infrastructure let alone building more.
‘This area has some of the worst cycling infrastructure that I have seen in the world.’
Funding the infrastructure in the draft bike plan centres around vague statements of possible grants and that Council ‘may’ use internal sources such as ‘Section 94 and/or 94A contributions’ or Council footpath and road maintenance and upgrade programs. Council staff were asked to comment whether there is allocated funding in future budgets, but are yet to respond.