Newcastle Cycleways Movement president Sam Reich has welcomed the implementation of a 30km/h speed limit and "pop-up cycleway" on a stretch of foreshore road but says it is disappointing it took COVID-19 for the changes to be made.
The speed limit along Honeysuckle Drive, Wharf Road and Shortland Esplanade is set to be reduced to 30km/h after signage is installed in coming weeks.
A bike path will also replace on-street parking on the north side of Honeysuckle Drive between Steel Street and Worth Place to improve access for cyclists and pedestrians along what has been a tricky section to navigate after the closure of a section of shared path early last year.
The NSW government is funding the $100,000 project, which Newcastle council will deliver, as part of its roadside public spaces program.
Similar pop-up cycleways have recently been established in Sydney to help keep public transport patronage low during the pandemic.
"It's important that we continue to free up capacity on the public transport network by making it easier for people to travel by foot or bicycle," Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Catherine Cusack said.
"A reduced 30km/h speed limit will be trialled from Hannell Street along Honeysuckle Drive, Wharf Road and Shortland Esplanade to the Watt Street intersection to improve safety on this popular walking and cycling route."
Newcastle council applied to Transport for NSW to change the speed limit and establish the cycleway, which will connect the existing shared path running alongside the harbour.
Construction of residential developments has blocked access to that section of the path for more than a year and the works have made riding along Honeysuckle Drive a tricky task.
Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the new cycleway and speed limit came as a result of advocacy from the community to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety through the precinct.
"As development continues along the harbour, the 150-metre cycleway will provide a vital connection between the existing off-road shared paths," she said.
Mr Reich said the section where the cycleway will be established had been a potential "meat grinder" for cyclists during the recent period of construction.
"We're very pleased," he said.
"It's too bad that it took COVID-19 for this to happen because we've been having issues with east-west access along there since they cut the foreshore path.
"But we're getting a great outcome.
"The 30km/h trial along that road is great ... it should be less because as these buildings get built along there, there's going be a lot more pedestrians."
The works are expected to be completed by mid-July.