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Sydney CBD finally gets 'missing link' bike lanes ahead of traffic turmoil

Alia Parker's picture
Cyclists on Sydney's newest bike lane on Castlereagh Street. Source: Sydney Cycleways

Sydney finally has a connected route of separated bike lanes through the city centre following the opening of two crucial missing links.

On Monday, 2.5km of new separated bike lanes opened on Castlereagh and Liverpool Streets, linking to the existing Kent Street bike lane.

The new lanes mean cyclists can now safely cross the central business district (CBD) from north to south between the Harbour Bridge and Central Station.

The good news comes with a grain of salt for cyclists with the opening coinciding with the official closing of the College Street cycleway, which has reverted to vehicle traffic ahead of the major renovations set to begin on George Street on October 3, 2015.

The state government has said College Street will be needed for buses and other vehicle traffic with Sydney's main artery – George Street – to be shut down for the construction of Sydney's new light rail network.

While the closure of the College Street cycleway has been a step back for cyclists, the connected link between Central and the Harbour Bridge is definitely two steps forward.

City of Sydney council says about 7,000 people ride to work in the city centre each day, removing the need for 116 full public buses or seven full trains. It is expected that the new safe cycling route will provide an attractive means of commuting to work in Sydney's CBD, especially with the city about to descend into traffic chaos during the transport renovations – a project that is expected to take four years to complete.

New routes

Sydney's future bicycle network. Cycle Traveller

The new separated bike lane of Liverpool Street runs between Liverpool Street and the Kent Street cycleway, while the Castlereagh bike lane runs from Belmore Park next to Central Station to Liverpool Street.

The Liverpool Street bike lane will be extended to Sussex Street in the coming months, with a link also planned to Darling Harbour.

Meanwhile, the NSW government has said it will extend the Castlereagh bike lane further to King Street once the major construction works are complete in four year's time. However, cyclists are wary of this promise with uncertainty over whether this lane will be separated, or operate on a part-time basis. At the same time, the government says it will build a separated bike lane along Park Street, which connects Castlereagh and Elizabeth.

One of the most important additions in the future will be a safe separated bike lane between Belmore Park and Prince Alfred Park, creating a means of cyclists getting around the current bottleneck at Central Station.

Cyclists who have previously accessed the city via the College Street cycleway to the east are now recommended to either continue to use College Street in the traffic lane, or to travel down a few blocks to the new Liverpool Street cycleway and enter the city centre from the south.

The city council also runs a free bike bus from Taylor Square – accessible on the Bourke Street Cycleway – each Friday morning at 8am, helping less confident riders enter the city safely.

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