Sydney asserts bike paths reduce congestion

By Paul Hemsley

Clearing motor vehicle congestion is the City of Sydney's economic development reason given to the NSW Government for building bicycle lanes throughout the central business district.

A news story by The Daily Telegraph reported NSW Department of Transport director general, Les Wielinga said the City of Sydney will need to defer all decisions on CBD roads for his committee to approve.

This would include the council proving that every new bicycle lane contributes to the state’s economic development.

A Department of Transport spokesperson said Sydney’s Traffic and Transport Committee has been established to make sure major transport decisions are properly coordinated between the NSW Government and the City of Sydney.

"The committee will have particular focus on better integration of all the transport modes, dealing with traffic congestion in the CBD – in particular the movement of buses in the northern part of city, and the development of Barangaroo," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said Mr Wielinga will chair the Central Sydney Traffic and Transport Committee.

It will also include an additional three members nominated by the NSW Government and three by the council.

The Department of Transport could not comment on how this would affect the City of Sydney's existing or future contracts on building bicycle lanes.

A City of Sydney spokesperson said every dollar spent building an Inner Sydney Regional Bike Network will generate an economic return of $3.88 in congestion, health and environmental benefits compared with an average of two dollars for roads.

“Sydney's cycle way network is designed to reduce congestion and improve mobility,” the spokesperson said.

According to the spokesperson, congestion costs Sydney businesses and residents $3.5 billion a year; instead, this will double to $7.8 billion by 2020 "if the council does nothing".

The spokesperson told Government News the council is working with the NSW Government to “free up valuable road space” for commercial vehicles, public transport and those with no alternative to driving.

“Sydney needs an integrated transport system that will reduce congestion, provide economic benefits to businesses and make the city function better for everyday users,” the spokesperson said.

She said it is “essential that we improve” the public's ability to move across the city through public transport and sustainable transport options, such as walking and cycling.

“We know that more people are choosing to ride a bike to beat the morning and afternoon rush hour,” the spokesperson said.

“Counts carried out in the past 12 months tell us that bike trips have doubled and tripled in areas where we have built our bicycle network.”

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