Newcastle City Council is dusting off a five-year-old cycleway plan for Hunter Street which was shelved when the NSW government launched its light-rail project.
The two-way cycle path, separated from traffic, would run west from Union Street to Gordon Avenue to join up with an existing riding route to Hamilton and beyond.
It would replace one westbound lane and some parking on the southern side of Hunter Street.
The council voted unanimously last week to start consulting with the community about the plan, which will go on public exhibition in February.
The Newcastle Herald reported last month that Newcastle Cycleways Movement had criticised the government’s Revitalising Newcastle project for not providing room for cyclists beside the tram in Hunter Street.
The council started planning in 2010 for significant changes to Hunter Street and three years later published concept plans which included narrowing traffic from four lanes to two and a separated cycleway.
“I think it was right for council to wait and see what the state government would introduce as part of its quote unquote ‘revitalising’ program given they said that it would include cycleways,” Greens councillor John Mackenzie said.
“I think the evidence now is quite clear: it includes nothing, which is why we need to resuscitate this particular plan.”
A Revitalising Newcastle cycling strategy issued last year said cycle paths were the council’s responsibility but offered options to “consider the interface between light rail and a cycleway network”.
That strategy showed a separated cycleway in Hunter Street from Gordon Avenue to Worth Place and another in King Street from Union Street to Perkins Street.
“As this strategy demonstrates, a well-connected city centre-wide cycleway network can be delivered and can co-exist with Newcastle Light Rail,” it said.
But Cr Mackenzie said the government project did not provide a safe way for cyclists to navigate the inner-city.
“We didn’t get the dual passing lane [in Hunter Street] we had anticipated,” he said.
“That is now a double yellow line, which makes it illegal for cyclists to be passed by drivers.
“That creates a whole series of future anguish and future issues that were entirely foreseeable but under-realised in the Revitalising Newcastle plan.”
Independent councillor John Church said Hunter Street was the “most appropriate” route for cyclists compared with King Street and Honeysuckle Drive.
“This would be the first part of hopefully a number of links that might take us all the way to the inner-city. Maybe even Auckland Street,” he said.