More on planned ‘redevelopment’ of Perth city cycle routes.

Waterfront Development

The recently released government plans for the redevelopment of the Perth foreshore show the Esplanade, favoured site of Circus de Sole and Perth Festival Music Box, being excavated to create a river inlet.  As a consequence Riverside Drive between Barrack Street and the Narrows bridge will be removed with vehicle traffic previously accessing the Freeway and Stirling Highway having to wend its way around the inlet through the ‘new’ road system, or by pass the area altogether by using the Graham farmer Freeway tunnel (hence talk of enlarging the tunnel to 6 lanes), or by continuing down Canning Highway to join the Freeway at the Canning Bridge.

The cycleway along the rivers edge will also be rerouted around the new river inlet.  Mooted plans will see the cycle path redirected up Barrack Street, along the Esplanade (construction permitting), then along Mounts Bay Road to rejoin the existing path at the Narrows Bridge.  The route will be disrupted by traffic lights at the junctions of the Esplanade with Barrack and William Streets, and Mounts Bay Road with Mills Street, Spring Street and the Kwinana Freeway off ramp.  Those cyclists rejoining the original path must also negotiate crossing the Freeway on ramp.

As part of the inlet construction, a bridge is planned across the inlet entrance, however this is intended for pedestrians so I would expect that cyclists will be required to dismount and walk their bikes across or be subject to $100 fine, as is currently the case of the Trafalgar Bridge over the East Perth inlet.  Still this could prove to be faster than the traffic light infested Esplanade/Mounts Bay route, although I have been given the distinct impression that there is an unspoken aim to significantly reduce cyclist volumes along this section of river front, so expect the bridge to be but one of a number of discouragements to cycling along this route.

Sinking the railway

Further to Cycle Snails previous post on the Perth Arena and reply from EPRA to an enquiry letter from the BTA which can be found here http://btawa.org.au/campaigns/principal-shared-paths/perth-arena/

we can report that the reinstatement of the cycle path behind the Perth Arena is NOT going to happen.  This is the result of a number of factors including

  • the relocation of the Perth Fremantle railway line from the northern to the southern side of the railway reserve,
  • the construction of an underground bus station that will be accessed from Milligan Street
  • the crossing of the lowered railway at Milligan Street is being built for pedestrians only. (all steps with a supplementary lift.).

The cyclepath between the western side of the Arena and the Freeway off ramp, between Market and Wellington Streets is planned to remain. However as Market Street will be the only access to the Arena for both car parking and service vehicles, there is potential for severe conflict where the cycle path crosses the vehicle entrance to the Arena. In fact this section of Market Street is too small to adequately cope with two way traffic, let alone pantechnicons bringing in stage props, so I will not be surprised if this section of the cyclepath is removed altogether to widen Market Street and cyclists have to use the path between Harbour Town and the Freeway on ramp.

The masterplan for the area, which can be found on EPRA’s website http://www.epra.wa.gov.au/ states ‘Wellington Street to become a grand boulevard with 14 metre northern promenade, a wider southern footpath, on-steet parking and cycle lanes in a slow-speed environment’.

So expect to see the existing path terminated in Market Street just before the Freeway overpasses, with cyclists required to cross Market Street on to the existing cyclepath that leads, past the RAC building to the George Street intersection with Wellington Street.  Cyclists will then use the planned Wellington Street cycle lanes to access the city.

There will be no access for cyclists to cross the railway between City West station and King Street, which, as part of the redevelopment, will be extended across the sunken railway to Roe Street.

The planners have succeeded in rerouting to a main cycle path (250,000 trips annually) that had no ‘at grade’ vehicle crossings between Station Street in Subiaco and Barrack Street in Perth, so that it now crosses the main vehicle access to the Arena, a Freeway on ramp, a Freeway off ramp, the intersection at Milligan and Wellington Streets and who knows what other planning ‘gems’ in the King Street crossing.

However there is also talk about a new cyclepath on the other side of the railway starting from the intersection of Thomas and Railway Streets, travelling down the hill, across Sutherland Street and then along Roe Street to join with the existing Roe Street cyclepath at Milligan Street.  Cyclists will still have to wait at the traffic lights at the Sutherland Street underpass, although I have been advised that there are plans to enlarge the underpass at some future date, and the reconstruction of the new rail bridge might include provision for a cycle path that would allow cyclists to ‘fly over’ Sutherland Street.  The intent of this option is to reduce the large volumes of cyclists riding past the Arena. (we have been noticed!).  Coincidentally it may also to ease the pedestrian/cyclist congestion that occurs next to the City West station at peak travel times.

Timeframes

For the Waterfront Development it seems unlikely that much will happen for some years, and it’s anyone’s guess what the final plan will actually look like.

For Sinking the Railway, work is already in progress.  The most imminent change will be the opening of the Arena and this is likely to result in changes to the existing cycle route.  In what order works proceed from that point is currently unknown.  We do know that the operators of the Arena are not happy with the thought of large numbers of cyclists circulating around it, so it would seem likely that this could accelerate the changes to Wellington Street, and possibly the construction of an alternative cycle route from Thomas to Roe Street.

We will keep you posted

About Peter Bartlett