Monday, April 22, 2024
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Walk-able, bike-able, accessible Erko

Over a number of years now, at Friends of Erskineville (FoE) we have advocated successfully for a range of projects that improve mobility and make it easier to walk and cycle. The support of the City of Sydney Council has been pivotal.

With transport the fastest rising source of carbon emissions, the case for these changes is urgent. But even without a climate emergency, there are many benefits such as improved health, safety and neighbourly streets that justify them in any case.

The biggest single project is the new southern entrance and lifts at Erskineville Station. Our resident survey in 2014 found the need for lifts was a top issue. WalkSydney’s Professor David Levinson spoke at a public meeting about how an extra entrance would effectively bring the station closer to the thousands of new residents in the Ashmore estate development.

A petition quickly gained steam and was submitted to NSW parliament with the support of Council and local MP Jenny Leong. The project was then announced in 2021 and is nearing completion.

When Covid struck, pop-up cycleways were installed. When the time came to consider them becoming permanent, FoE held a community bike ride to show support. The section along Henderson/Railway/Bridge St is now essentially complete. For a while the bike lane on the Swanson St rail bridge was under threat, but now looks to be saved, thanks to the dogged efforts of local expert Dr Chris Standen. Linking these bike lanes is critical, as it multiplies greatly the number of useful destinations that can be reached safely.

Walkability improvements pushed by FoE in collaboration with local residents include “continuous footpath treatments” and raised pedestrian crossings on Coulson St and Macdonald St. Along with the new signalised crossing of Sydney Park Rd at Bamal Way, there is now a pleasant walking route between Sydney Park and Erskineville Station.

Some of these changes encountered resistance due to the loss of a few parking spaces. We held an outdoor meeting with residents on Macdonald St that brought differing views together in a respectful way that balanced the pros and cons and allayed concerns.

In the longer term, it is hoped that as public and active transport improvements occur, a higher proportion of residents may choose not to own a car, thereby reducing the demand for parking spaces. Safer walking routes also mean parents have less reason to drive kids to school, avoiding long and frequently chaotic drop-off zones.

More needs to be done.

The Sydney Park Junction improvements will calm traffic. Speed limits on local streets should be reduced to 30km/h in line with UN recommendations. A number of intersections have “missing legs” where pedestrians have to cross the road multiple times when one crossing should suffice.

Our #buildabridge campaign in conjunction with REDWatch and Alexandria Residents Action Group for an active transport bridge across the rail corridor at Eveleigh is proving popular at the stalls we’ve held. Residents are frequently shocked to find out that it was promised under the previous government in 2006. We want action, not excuses.

These small steps are adding up to a giant leap towards a sustainable and connected community.

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Andrew Chuter is the President of the Friends of Erskineville. The #buildabridge petition can be signed at: actionnetwork.org/letters/build-a-bridge

 

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