The cyclists of Sydney, Australia are up in arms about traffic calming proposals mooted for Centennial Park, one of the few places it's possible to ride in relative safety in the inner city. On Thursday morning, around 500 cyclists rode two laps of the park in protest against the proposed changes.
The park is a mecca for cyclists, roller bladers, horse riders and joggers, with its unbroken 3.8km Grand Drive circuit being used heavily by the former. However the Centennial Parklands Trust, who manage the park's facilities, are concerned that as cycling becomes more popular, the park is becoming less safe for everyone.
The CPT have identified a section of Grand Drive near the children's learner track as one of the major accident blackspots. This is where parents and children have to cross the road in order to reach the track from where they've parked their cars, or in some cases park in the cycle lane and unload from there – creating an obvious hazard. The CPT have proposed introducing speed humps, a 20km/h speed limit and a pedestrian crossing zone there.
Cyclists, represented by the Cycle Centennial group, are of the opinion that these changes will both negatively affect cycling and not achieve the aim of reducing the risks to pedestrians. They've proposed, among other things, that the learner track be moved to the other side of the road where cars are parked.
"The Trust should act on its decision in 2001 to relocate the children’s cycleway to the agreed location between the Education Precinct and Loch Avenue," said Cycle Centennial in a statement. "The proposed location is removed from the high traffic levels of Grand Drive, close to safe, easy parking and in close proximity to amenities including toilets."
Cyclists have received support from the NSW State Government, with Premier Barry O'Farrell tweeting: "Govt won't support any changes that threaten continued use of the park by cyclists". Robyn Parker, NSW Minister for the Environment and Heritage, issued a statement saying that "Centennial Park must remain cyclist friendly".
"I'm aware the Centennial Park Trust has a six-point plan to improve safety at Centennial Park along the Grand Drive and the Trust has called for input from the community," she said. "While the plan is there for the public to consider, any final decision will not adversely impact on the thousands of cyclists who enjoy Centennial Park every year."
"Safety for all users of the park is important," she continued. "However there already is a strong voice against some aspects of the plan, including cyclists’ concerns about planned changes to Centennial Park’s main thoroughfare, Grand Drive." Parker said submissions on the plan to the Centennial Park Trust should be made through firstname.lastname@example.org, with the deadline being 13 April.