GLENROCK State Recreation Area is feeling the strain of increased visitation during lockdown.
The Herald (Our patch of paradise at Glenrock State Recreation Area starting to feel strain, 11/9/21) reported "illegal bike tracks, off-leash dogs and parking congestion are threatening to turn a visit to Glenrock into a headache rather than a joy."
Ain't that the truth? The area has become a victim of its own success. It's free, accessible, and offers terrific views. Now in the top 15 visited national parks in NSW, Glenny is feeling the love.
And it's not the only part of the coastline under pressure from an increase in action during the past 12 months.
I can't recall seeing Merewether ocean baths more crowded than last Saturday week. There may not have been a more glorious place to be, given the large swell had eliminated a safe dip at the Bogey Hole - the earliest known example in the nation of a purpose-built ocean swimming pool.
On that Saturday, Merewether hosted a warm north-westerly fanning big waves that offered surfers stand-up kegs off third reef. Bare-footed kids clutched inflatables and danced across hot bitumen even before the temperature rose above 30 degrees for the first time since last summer.
Shared paths that don't have dividing lines result in people stumbling around like a drunk aunt trying to bust YMCA moves at a wedding.
The ocean washing into the baths was an energising 17 degrees. Fresh, but not cold, unless you are a Queenslander.
Latecomers - all of whom must have presumably lived within the Newcastle LGA and were citing exercise as a reasonable excuse for leaving home - were complaining about being forced to park as far away as Janet Street. That is an unheard-of imposition for the Novocastrian.
But on the bright side, the five-minute walk required to get to the baths was taking place in the fresh air. And the fresh air, according to NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, is the safest place to be. I guess that might explain why masks and social distancing were largely absent.
But it wasn't just the ocean baths that were feeling the strain of people wanting to be in the safety of the fresh air. The shared paths around Throsby Creek, the harbour and the beaches were teeming with runners, walkers, leashed and unleashed dogs, cyclists and a variety of electric apparatus riders.
Huge numbers of people were making use of one of this city's great leisure tracks. The biggest group was runners and walkers. Those who do their thing individually are barely noticeable. But those in groups of three or more who walk in a blocking formation and drift across the imaginary or actual dividing line on the path are painful.
Although it appears that many of those running or walking can't be arsed to cross the road just west of the Loom apartments and insist on walking in the lanes that are clearly marked for cyclists only. That painted green road is not a shared path, people. Painted dividing lines on shared paths? Yes please and more thanks.
The path along the water at Wickham has the dividing line and generally people walk on the left of the line. Whereas the shared paths that don't have dividing lines result in people stumbling around like a drunk aunt trying to bust YMCA moves at a wedding.
There's no shortage of walkers wearing headphones. Those listeners sometimes don't hear the ding of the cyclist's bell. Polite cyclists anticipate this and slow down when there is no room for overtaking.
Most of the dog walkers comply with the requirement to leash their dog. But those with flexi-retractable leads that permit a hound to suddenly take flight are downright dangerous. Combine a human with headphones walking a dog on a retractable lead and there's an accident waiting to happen.
Most cyclists do the right thing, but more than a few are going way too fast for a shared path where there are dogs on retractable leads. It's weird that vehicles on Wharf Road are limited to 30kmh, but there is no speed limit on the shared path. I've seen dudes flying on the path outside the fish markets at way more than 30kmh, but there is no guidance other than a few painted signs on the paths instructing cyclists to slow down. To what speed?
Shared paths are great in theory. The painted line marking division of direction might seem another over-reach of the nanny-state, but both walking and cycling experience on the shared paths with and without dividing lines convinces me that all users are more likely to keep to the left when that dividing line is clearly marked.
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