Closure of the M2 cycle lane: call to action
I was alarmed to hear that the west-bound M2 cycle lane between Deli Road and Beecroft Road is being closed. Bike North have been very active in opposing this in a constructive manner, and our hats are off to them for their good work :-)
We need to do our own bit; in particular, we need to write to the various people who are involved in decision-making here. See the Bike North web site for details.
Letter from Dr Keith Lapthorne
Members and guests.
Many of you use the M2 cycleway on a regular basis, particularly for time trialling as the gradients are user-friendly. What you may not be aware of is that Transurban, the owner of the road, has decided to close it to cyclists and construct a third vehicle lane westbound, no doubt to increase traffic and revenue streams. This has been done without consultation with any of the cycling groups. Reproduced below is Bike North's record of their meeting with the relevant parties in an attempt to find an acceptable alternative. The original Transurban deadline to remove cyclists from the M2 was 4 February 2007 but as Keith Griffin's letter points out, that is impractical if a viable alternative is to be found.
Just be aware that the next time you head off on your favourite M2 training run, the way may be barred.
Bike North Member M2 Update: meeting 17 January 2007
This is a special NEWS to bring Bike North members up to date on the meeting we had with Transurban and the RTA. These notes represent Bike North's understanding as a result of the meeting but may not represent the understanding of other parties involved. The meeting went for over three hours and quite a lot was discussed. It is possible that some items discussed have not made it to this bulletin but we will do our best to keep the web pages updated as soon as anything changes.
The meeting was held on Wednesday 17 January to discuss M2 cycle issues.
Garret O'Connor (Transurban Project Manager), Tanya Baini (Transurban Manager Government and Community Relations), Ray Trovato (RTA Project Manager for M2), Brad Donaldson (RTA Bicycle Manager), Alex Unwin (CEO Bicycle NSW), Graeme Edwards (President Bike North), Jennifer Manefield (Regular M2 training cyclist, Elite Level Australian Representative Athlete), Fran Griffin (Regular M2 daily commuter cyclist for 10 years) and Doug Stewart (Bike North Ryde area convenor)
- During the introductions it was ascertained that the Transurban Staff and RTA Project Manager, were not regular cyclists and were not personally familiar with riding on the routes we were discussing. Transurban had engaged a consultant (cyclist) to provide the audit report, which was undertaken on 22 December 2006. Note that this was before Christmas.
- It was clear that we were not there to review the decision to implement a 3rd vehicle lane, although there was some discussion on this point, including approvals, options etc. the decision had been made and no one at the meeting had the authority to [un-make] it.
- After some discussion it became clear that there were two parts to the cycle project. Part A. Provide an agreed safe and reasonable alternative to M2 Westbound for cyclists. Part B. Longer term to provide an equivalent cycle facility to the M2 as part of the overall widening of the M2.
- The interim solution (Part A) will be in place for a minimum of three years. This was only discovered after a great deal of questioning on Bike North's part. Both the RTA and Transurban were reluctant to put a time frame on how long the interim solution might be in place.
- One concession that we were able to get from the RTA and Transurban was that cyclists cannot be removed from the M2 shoulder until a safe, signposted and reasonable alternative is available. It will be interesting to see how quickly Transurban can correct the deficiencies of the proposed route given that it usually takes years for this type of thing to happen through the normal Council process.
- Initially the 4 February 2007 was the deadline to remove cyclists but it was agreed that this deadline was probably not possible, given the work that needs to be done and approvals that need to be sought.
- We sought clarification on the proposed route and Transurban stated that the proposed route through Macquarie University was now off the agenda, replaced by the route along the eastern side (Talavera Rd) and that the proposed route up Norfolk St Epping and down Somerset St Epping was off the agenda and been replaced with a proposal to use Essex St and the Bus Underpass of the Railway and then Beecroft Road footpath to the M2.
- It was interesting that the RTA stated that there were no funds from the Major Projects Section (Ray Trovato) or from the Bicycle Budget (Brad Donaldson) to pay for any M2 cycle detour. Transurban indicated they had only budgeted for very minor works such as installing signposts and making an access through the M2 sound wall. Other than that the budget was zero. Transurban (Garret O'Connor) also stated that the NSW Government had not provided any funds at all to Transurban in relation to the project to widen the M2 or to provide for alternate access for cyclists. Those that are familiar with working with Councils to get cycling facilities will be aware that nothing ever happens without a budget, so it remains to be seen how the required improvements will be funded.
- One of the concerns we had was the number of cyclists that are unaware of the impending closure. Our fear is that cyclists will enter the freeway just as they always have and then find themselves without a breakdown lane to cycle in. We raised this at the meeting and Transurban indicated that they would provide information to community members and cyclists that access would be banned on the M2 and that an alternative will be signposted.
- It was agreed that the processes employed were very rushed and that consultation with major stakeholders, such a Cyclists, Ryde Council, Hornsby Council, Macquarie University, Residents of Somerset St Epping and Emergency Services was only happening that week. All this after the closure had been announced.
- We highlighted that there were at least three different groups of cyclist clients using the M2 but that Transurban had not done any work to identify these groups. They had no travel data for cyclists and had no idea where cyclists were entering and leaving their motorway or how long their journeys were.
- A large part of the meeting was used to discuss in detail the proposed alternate routes. With the aid of many photographs (Thanks Doug Stewart) the meeting went on a photo tour of the route and it was agreed that the route could not be used by cyclist in the present form as it is severely deficient in a number of ways. Some of these had been documented in the audit report from the cycleway consultants, SMEC, and that report was now with the RTA (Brad Donaldson) for assessment. Transurban agreed to provide a copy of this report to Bike North and Bike North agreed to provide a detailed route analysis to Transurban. This is not yet complete and will be available for them next week.
- Bike North highlighted that the requirements of a regional route (as per the NSW Bicycle Guidelines Table 3.1) should be met for the alternate route, as it will be in place for at least three years. We also remarked that the proposed route did not, and could not comply with these requirements. The alternate route had increased distance, difficult grades, increased hill climbing, increased delay time, increased travel time and different physical effort requirement. Additionally there were very significant safety issues with the route. All these points were backed up by research (thanks Doug and Scott Ratcliff).
- Transurban indicated that "for safety reasons" cyclists were to be removed from the M2. However it was agreed that the alternate routes were less safe than the M2 would be, given the nature of the traffic, the roads and the route. Although it takes the safety risk off the M2 it loads it on the cyclists and the RTA and Ryde/Hornsby Councils.
- As the alternate route does not offer a safe
alternative Bike North proposed 6 other options for
consideration. They are:
- Eastbound dual direction cycleway on the M2 (Thanks to those who raised it on chat)
- Time sharing, tidal flow with the third lane only operating during PM peak on weekdays. The rest of the time the lane operates as breakdown cyclist lane. (Thanks to those who raised it on chat)
- Off road veloway along the M2 easement matching the grades of the M2
- Closure of Epping Road kerb lane (or only closing it for PM peak when 3rd lane available on M2) (Thanks to those who raised it on chat)
- Significant upgrade of alternate road route to regional standards.
- Significant upgrade of alternate road and off road routes to regional standards.
- Transurban agreed to consider the alternative solutions, re-consider the timelines and re-consider the budget allocation for the whole process.
- Transurban will be discussing all the issues again at the Ryde Council Bicycle Advisory Committee on Monday 21 January 2007 and further meetings between all the parties will be held as soon as possible.
So there you have it.
If you have any suggestions then please send them in to us. We will consider all suggestions.
If you would like to help but don't have any experience or would like to help but don't know where to start then please let us know. There are lots of things that need to be done and you might be just the person we are looking for.
If you have any questions please look at our website to see if it has the answer you are looking for. We will update the website whenever new information becomes available. If you can not find the answer to your question then send it in and we will try as best we can to respond.
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