SEPARATED bike lanes have been opened on either side of Hunter Street, offering cyclists a safer ride through part of the city centre.
The two single-direction lanes running between Worth Place and National Park Street have been installed on a trial basis, after Newcastle council received a $525,000 grant from the NSW government's Streets as Shared Spaces program.
Their installation has reduced the vehicle lanes to only one in each direction with parking moved out from the kerb and buffer zones placed between the parking spaces and bike lanes.
Hunter Street's speed limit through the area has also been reduced to 40 km/h, in line with the existing limit to the east of Worth Place.
Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said cycling on Hunter Street had been "considered daunting for less confident riders" but the lanes would provide cyclists with "more room and safety".
"Cycling is a genuine transport option for families, commuters and recreational users, which is why expansion and improvement of the cycleway network is essential and stands as one of the city's Priority Projects," she said.
"It's important our cycleways and shared paths cater to all riding ability and this project achieves that. We hope it encourages more people to consider swapping their car for their bike when travelling around the city."
Papa's Bagel Bar owner Johno Quinn said the cycleway's installation caused barely any disruption and he viewed it as a "great" addition. He said he had seen "plenty of close calls" involving cyclists during his seven years operating the cafe and he expected the new lanes and reduced speed limit to make the area safer for all.
"A lot of businesses in the area, we have young families and a lot of people that frequent our places are young families," he said. "It's making it so much safer for everyone; cyclists aren't in with the traffic ... no one is getting frustrated by a bike that isn't going fast enough, I see it as a really positive thing, but I know some people aren't keen on it being slower.
"I think ... putting the infrastructure in now to encourage people to use other means of transport is only going to make our city more efficient in the long run."
Mr Quinn said he hoped the lanes, which run along about 500 metres of the street, "were only the beginning" of a longer network.
"We'd be following amazing cycling capitals like London and all through Europe," he said. "It's a build it and they will come situation.
"If it's not safe, people don't want to take a risk."
The council on Friday also launched a consultation process about possible cycling routes in Mayfield.
"We want to hear from residents, students and anyone who has an interest in cycling in our city, especially those who would use new routes," Cr Nelmes said.
A plan for the area will aim to link key nodes of activity such as Mayfield's commercial area, Steel River, Hunter TAFE, the Waratah and Warabrook train stations, and the University of Newcastle's Callaghan campus.
To provide feedback visit newcastle.nsw.gov.au/yoursay before Friday, October 1.
Feedback from engagement will be presented back to the community early next year and will inform the development of concept plans and staging plans, which are expected to be exhibited mid-2022.
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