THE ban on cycling along the mixed-running section of the Newcastle light rail line appeared to make little difference on Wednesday as cyclists navigated their way through the city's east end.
During a two-hour period in the middle of the day, the Newcastle Herald witnessed a mishmash of cycling activity on the 340-metre exclusion section of Scott Street.
Some cyclists rode in either direction on each of the two Scott Street footpaths, one of which has been designated as a shared pathway, while others appeared unaware of the ban and continued to ride along the mixed-use lanes in both directions.
A few others dismounted and walked, for part of the route, along the footpaths.
The ban was the chief recommendation of a safety review conducted after the death of a cyclist in July.
The review found "intolerable" risks in the mixed-running section, which were "exacerbated by the lack of permanent advisory signage".
The government installed fixed signs on Tuesday night, but only two have been put in place on Scott Street to indicate cycling is prohibited.
One is located near the Newcastle Beach light rail stop on the westbound approach while the other is at the Watt Street intersection on the eastbound approach.
There are no signs on Scott Street near Market Street lawn to warn eastbound cyclists of the approaching exclusion zone, nor any road-based markings.
And despite not detailing an alternative option for cyclists when it announced the ban on Tuesday, Transport for NSW has installed small shared pathway signs on Scott Street's northern footpath between Watt Street and Telford Street.
City of Newcastle had expressed its concerns about the potential conversion of the footpath ahead of the ban's implementation, saying it would "simply shift the risks from the light rail route to adjacent paths".
One Scott Street resident, whose driveway intersects with the shared path, said they had not been told it would be converted.
Their property is undergoing extensive renovations with tradesmen using the driveway regularly.
The resident, who preferred not to be named, said the footpath was not suitable for cycling.
"I understood the footpath was to be completely replaced between Telford Street and Watt Street as part of the rail upgrade works - that's not been done," the resident said.
"So no in its current state it's not going to be suitable for a cycleway, it's not even suitable as a pedestrian-way."
The resident, who raised concerns about colliding with a cyclist when driving out of their property, said there were a number of aged residents who use the path.
"It's not actually going to be compatible with a cyclist who wants to do 40km/h ... and I really don't want the idea of collecting a cyclist on the way [out]," the resident said.
The resident said the ban was a "very poor solution" and the city needed a dedicated east-west cycleway.
"A better solution would have been to have designed a cycleway and incorporated it into the roadworks at the time," the resident said.
"I don't think [a dedicated cycleway] necessarily needs to be on Scott and Hunter streets, it just needs to be somewhere parallel and close to those streets."
To the west of the mixed-running section on Wednesday, some cyclists crisscrossed the traffic lanes and light rail line at will.
Others rode on the footpaths and crossed Scott and Hunter streets at signalised pedestrian crossings.
It was obvious the lack of a dedicated cycleway from Newcastle's west to the east end has left cyclists confused about how to best ride through the city.
There are a range of routes being used.
The main available routes from one end of the city to the other - Wharf Road, Hunter/Scott Street, Hunter Street/Hunter Street mall, and King Street - are all being used.
Laura Kebby, who works at Secret Book Stuff inside the old Newcastle station building on Scott Street, chooses to ride on the footpath down Hunter and Scott streets when she rides to work.
The 29-year-old rides on the road from her home in Bar Beach until reaching Hunter Street via Darby St.
"I just come down the path towards The Station," she said.
"I would never even dream of cycling down Scott Street near the trams because there's no room. It's really unsafe.
"You're either completely holding up traffic or putting yourself in danger, so it's a lot safer to ride on the footpath."
Ms Kebby, a keen cyclist, said "poor city design" had led to the range of east-west routes being used by cyclists.
"We should be encouraging people to ride their bike more," she said. "I think that making it safer will make it a lot easier for a lot of people.
"My partner doesn't feel comfortable riding on the road at the best of times, let alone now. The beach is the main attraction for Novocastrians, so being able to get there and get home without congesting the roads [by driving], is really important."
Don and Pat Look, an American couple who were wandering the east end on Wednesday after disembarking from a visiting cruise ship, said they were astounded there was no segregated bike paths in the city.
"Generally in urban areas there's a lane, a special space for the bicycles to go," Mr Look said.
The pair remarked at the wide nature of the footpaths on Hunter and Scott streets.
"As wide as this is, I'd just put it over to the side," Mrs Look said of a cycleway, adding their hometown of Houston was "cyclist-friendly".
"Most of the cycle lanes are through parks and dedicated areas. They're very long, you can cycle from basically the suburbs to Downtown."
State Labor's active transport spokesperson Jo Haylen said the government must "fix its abhorrent stuff up" and identify, fund and build a safe east-west cycling route "as a priority".
"This was a fatal error and the minister must explain how this was allowed to happen on his watch," she said.
"The government needs to ensure that these recommendations don't end up in a bureaucrat's drawer and that they're acted on quickly, including investing in alternative routes for cyclists through Newcastle."