NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell has vowed that there will be no more “crazy” bike lanes on the city’s main roads if he wins the State election on March 26.
Mr O’Farrell said Lord Mayor Clover Moore – also an Independent MP for an inner city seat – had “deliberately set out to inconvenience motorists” with the city’s 200km bike network.
Mr O’Farrell also said he would hold urgent talks with magistrates and urge them to crack down on anti-social and disrespectful behaviour, the Sydney Daily Telegraph newspaper reported in a wide-ranging interview.
He is widely tipped in opinion polls to defeat the Labor Government of Premier Kristina Keneally.
“I don’t believe it was just about providing safe bike paths into the city,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“I think it was also about trying to stop cars coming into the city.
“Whether you want to come into the city by pogo stick, cycle, jog or whatever, we should encourage everyone who is able to, to leave their cars at home or use public transport – but that’s not real life for people.
“You can’t ride your bike to the city each day if you live at Penrith (60km from the city centre).
“I think we can deliver better bike access to the city without getting in the way of cars, absolutely.”
Ms Moore said Mr O’Farrell’s statement “will be alarming to the thousands of bike riders who support and use our cycleways every day – freeing up space on roads and public transport for others,” Ms Moore said.
Ms Moore commutes by bicycle, as does Premier Kristina Keneally.
Ms Moore said no traffic lanes had been taken out for cycleways or shared paths and that the numbers of bike riders had doubled and tripled in areas where links had been built.
“The cycleways are there to provide another transport option for those who live close to the city centre,” she said.
“Once the network has been built it will take 300,000 car trips daily off the road – easing congestion and freeing up valuable road space for those who do need to drive.”
Bicycle NSW said Mr O’Farrell’s statement that he would scrap Sydney’s cycle ways was tremendously disappointing.
It said recent Coalition statements fully supported a more balanced view of commuting and transport options and investment. This statement was in response to a Bicycle NSW questionnaire, available at http://www.bicyclensw.org.au/content/election-special
“We believe that even those who live in Penrith should at least be provided with the choice to ride a bicycle to a train station, take the train and walk or cycle at the other end to their destination. It would certainly be quicker, healthier – and much cheaper. We must also recognise that not everyone in Penrith commutes to the city central business district,” a spokesman said.
“Cycling has grown by more than 40 per cent in inner Sydney in just six months and bicycles have outsold cars for a decade. Yet less than 0.2 per cent of the State transport budget goes to supporting cycling infrastructure. The City of Sydney developed the cycleways by getting federal funding.”
Bicycle NSW said it endorsed Ms Moore’s vision to encourage diverse forms of transport. Sydney could not continue to operate effectively unless the government was committed to reducing congestion, environmental impact and parking problems. Providing cyclists a safe and efficient way to get around the city was a highly constructive step in the right direction.
“With the anticipated population growth of 60 per cent by 2050, greater Sydney simply cannot afford to keep just building more roads and bridges. The lessons from cities in Australia and around the world are that building more lanes and roads just brings more congestion. The M2 is already calculated to be just as congested as it is now once the third lane is opened in two years.
“People who bicycle today are helping to ease congestion. If the thousands of people who cycle today chose to drive instead, they would add tens of kilometres to commuter traffic and the need for thousands more car parking places. Fortunately, over 85 per cent of those commuting to the Sydney CBD already do so without a car and most commuters today cannot afford the cost or time involved in driving. Yet the Lord Mayor and cycleways have somehow come to represent all that is frustrating about a car-centric transport focus that has now run its course. It is time for critics to take aim elsewhere,” Bicycle NSW said.