The first stage of a key cycleway linking the city centre to Merewether Beach has been fast tracked in recognition of the city’s newfound love for cycling since lockdown measures were introduced in March to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The project has been given a $3.1 million funding boost under Newcastle’s COVID-19 stimulus budget, allowing for completion of construction of a 1.1km section that stretches from Merewether Beach to Glebe Road at The Junction.
Plans include a 2.5m-wide, bi-directional shared path along Watkins Street and Coane Street, between Watkins and John Parade, with new and upgraded crossings for pedestrians and cyclists.
“By prioritising our investment in Newcastle’s cycleway infrastructure we hope to help encourage this surge of interest to continue beyond the current climate, enabling cycling to play an even larger role within Newcastle’s transport mix now and in the future,” Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.
“The cycleway will create an important connection with one of the city’s favourite coastal destinations and encourage more people to make the switch to pedal power.
“We are committed to promoting cycling as a genuine transport option for residents, families, commuters and recreational users, which is why expansion and improvement of the cycleway network is one of the City’s priority projects.
“Improving and expanding Newcastle’s cycling network is an important investment in the future of our city, in line with the adopted Newcastle Cycling Strategy and Action Plan.”
Almost $5 million has been allocated to cycleways projects under the revised 2020-21 capital works budget, including $3.1 million for the Merewether to The Junction cycleway, as well as funding for a missing cycleway link on University Drive between Blue Gum Road and the inner-city bypass in Birmingham Gardens.
Councillor and cycling enthusiast John Mackenzie welcomed the funding.
“Cycleways deliver a range of benefits to the community by reducing pollution and congestion on our roads, improving a person’s health and wellbeing and reducing their environmental impact,” Cr Mackenzie said.
“I am pleased to see these cycleways projects being prioritised within the revised budget and look forward to seeing them progress during the next 12 months and beyond.
“Our community has been very clear in stating that improved cycleways throughout the city would encourage people to swap the car for the bike in their daily commute to work and school.
“This initial stage is an important step towards the completion of the overall City Centre to Merewether Beach cycleway project, which will provide a first-class route between the inner city and one of our most popular beaches.
“In recent months, as a result of COVID-19, we have seen increasing numbers of residents making use of our city’s cycleways for both transportation and recreational purposes.”
Concept designs for the Merewether Beach to The Junction cycleway will go on public exhibition from Monday 29 June until Monday 27 July via the City of Newcastle website.