To win, there must be an increase in the numbers of people using the path or facility, the path or bridge or tunnel has to pretty safe, good looking and fun to ride. It doesn’t have to be long if it connects existing trails better.
1st Place – Carlingford Rail Trail
The Carlingford RT is a wide concrete path that follows the old train line that will soon become the new Carlingford to Westmead light rail. It starts at Carlingford at an altitude of 100m and heads down and over the Parramatta River to the edge of Parramatta. A distance of nearly 6km. It is a great smooth ride, the path goes under busy roads, it connects well with the super popular Parramatta River trail and soon will connect well with the M4 cycleway and Granville Station. Connecting into Parramatta is its one flaw, hopefully that will be resolved in the next few years. Easily the best completed cycling infrastructure in Sydney in 2023.
Usage: Medium by both cyclists and local walkers
Cost: Compared to the light rail, modest.
2nd Place – Doncaster Avenue and Houston Rd Cycleway
1.6km of pretty good separated path down a busy road on a street that is very popular already with cyclists. There were a lot of sceptics on the usefulness of this path compared to riding on the road. Now that it is built, riders are gravitating to the path. Delays in finishing of this path this seemed to be caused by the drainage in the area. There are number of steel drains across the path in the south which detracts from the look. The slowest bit on this path is crossing Anzac Parade which can take upto 2 minutes and the whole path takes about 6 minutes. One issue is the start near at the corner of Allison Rd. Cyclists tend to ride diagonally across Doncaster to the crossing at Alison Rd which is not ideal. One other interesting point is there are dual cyclist and walker lanterns which are a good saving of infra dollars and I have not seen these before.
Personally I rarely rode Doncaster before as I hated the busy road and the potential for car dooring. Now I ride it a lot. It is a worthy second place in 2023, other councils should look for roads this wide and see if they can replicate the model. Randwick Council writes about it here
Distance: 1.6km starting from south Centenial Park.
Third Place – Rozelle Parklands
Rozelle Parklands is the key to connecting Annandale, Leichardt, Rozelle and Balmain to the city and all those places are within comfortable riding distance, especially on an eBike. The infrastructure into the city from Rozelle is very scenic and fine with the very big Anzac Bridge and the good cycle paths through Pyrmont into the city. So they built a decent big park with great paths, a fantastic big tunnel under Victoria Rd and a terrific bridge over City West. This took a long time but cyclists should be very happy with the park. But for some reason, the councils and the State Government just plain forget about every single exit from the park except for Anzac Bridge and the exit to Blackwattle Bay. There are complicated bollards heading towards Whites Creek Lane, a broken plastic ramp for Lilyfield Rd cycleway, a dangerous crossing to Gordon St and a disgraceful surface with many obstacles on the Victoria Rd path around to Balmain.
And right at crunch time the State Government realised that all the car tunnels to bypass Victoria Rd were not going to work so they reneged on their promise to make Victoria Rd a peoples road and kept the current 6 lane monster as is. In summary, Rozelle Parklands was a good chance to WIN but they didn’t do any planning with the councils or even think thru the design of the car tunnels and now we will be waiting till 2028 to gain the full benefit of the park if at all. And Victoria Rd will continue to be a blight on the cycle network of Sydney.
Video of the park starts at 1:30 into this video.
Distance: 1.5km of bike paths in the park
Usage:: Was high until the asbestos issues in the garden mulch in early 2024.
Cost: Negligible compare to the 24 billion spent on the badly organised tunnels underneath.
See photos of the parklands See on map >>
Honourable Mentions for 2023
The bridge across Hawthorne Canal got a fancy upgrade and so did the trail under the bridges. The path on the canal was never mentioned in past dispatches but makes this a great little zone of cycling rejuvenation. See on map here. Kudos to the council for taking the time to make this area better. Now we need the Lilyfield Rd cycleway to be converted into the cycle highway all the way to Rozelle Parklands. Read more about Iron Cove here
Upgrade Of the Cup and Saucer Creek Trail
This is in Earlwood. 1km of new track just south of the Cooks river added near the end of 2023. Well done Canterbury Bankstown council. I have loved this track long before it was upgraded. It is a fun way to head towards the M5 Cycleway.
Riding down Cup and Saucer Creek to the Cooks River (youtube.com)
Not Really New Cycling Infrastructure BUT
a) Sydney Transport has almost completed adding lifts to every single station on the Greater Sydney network. No more do you have to carry your bike up and down stairs to take your bike on the train. Sure you have to wait until other commuters leave a big space in the lift but this is generally not a problem. Sample Central Station lift here
b) It was a really big year for the Greater Sydney BikeTrail (web page) with the Facebook group swelling from 700 to 2000. The ride got a two page spread in the Sydney Morning Herald thanks to some terrific publicity at Bicycle NSW. Given that this ride follows trails of 220 km (or 150km) around the city with the odd bit of road connections, people can see that connecting Sydney by bicycle infra is possible. When are you going around ?
Other Projects in 2023
Some of those changes were done in previous years, some last year. It just highlights that inner city projects take a lot of design work to get correct. City of Sydney is the guiding light to all the other councils.
Here is Ashmore and Harley which is mentioned in the City of Sydney notes.
Meadowbank. After a long and an annoying detour, Meadowbank is now open again and has a better gradient path and a good looking creek with the stone and plant finishes that are all the rage these days. Find on the map here
Sandringham had the same long pause but now will be capable of handling the large numbers of walkers and cyclists that pass thru. This used to be a narrow concrete path. Many casual cyclists would pass thru here every day. Road riders head further west.
Best Project in NSW
The best project in NSW in 2023 was the 22km long Northern Rivers Rail Trail with a patronage that has already past 75,000 in less than a year. Work continues on that project to make it much longer. Proof that Australians love cycling
Infrastructure that will be fully completed in 2024
Alfred Street Bridge in Parramatta
The pedestrian and cycle bridge at the north end of Alfred St in Parramatta is fantastic. It certainly is finished but as it will be part of the partially completed Alfred St Cycleway, it will be considered during 2024. Here are two pictures of the bridge. Find the bridge on the map here
Muddy Creek still has lots of fences and it looks like the next section to the south and the A6 motorway might start early next year. Muddy Creek will be added to the crop of new infra that will be looked at in 2024 when it is officially opened and very likely could win the lot.
West St in North Sydney will be considered in 2024 as it needs a more work to be useful.
How was 2023 ?
If you look at the winning projects and add up the total kilometres it was barely 15km of paths. There are usually small projects that are parts of new suburbs and new cycleways that are attached to big roads but we didn’t see them this year. Soon we will see Cronulla to Sutherland, Muddy Creek and the A6, the A12 to the airport in about 3 years, paths to the domestic airport. But 15km this year is not very much. At that rate I will have given up mapping before any real network is put in place. Less talk and more action please.