Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cycling to and from Newtown I - Going West

In the previous post; I made some general observations about the state of cycle paths in Sydney and some of the issues with the current approach to planning and building cycleways. In the next few posts I'm going to focus on current and planned cycleways in and around Newtown, starting with the route from Newtown to Stanmore and further west.

View Larger Map

The route from Newtown to Stanmore is at least fairly well marked; known as L2 in the Marrickville council labelling scheme; this path flows up Mary Street, through the park then down Albermarle Street before turning at Baltic Street, past the Scientology School then down to the Liberty Road roundabout.

Sign on the return leg at the entry to the park

The Albermarle Street leg of this route is particularly problematic; a theoretically two way road not wide enough for even a car and bike to pass; it's also crossed with stop signs every second block; with limited visibility at intersections this is not conducive to smooth or safe cycling.

The alternative Bedford Street route is more spacious and has fewer stops; however it is more trafficked; and getting to it involves negotiating King Street at the dangerous Newtown Bridge. The solution for me is to make Albermarle Street one way with contra-flows and remove parking from one side of the road. To avoid it turning into a car rat-run; the one way system should change direction half way (say at Chelmsford Street) i.e. one way west from Australia Street to Chelmsford Street then one way West from Bedford Street.

Going further west (with an ultimate destination of Homebush for example) is another story. The marked 'L2' cycle path peters out after the railway line hugging laneway parallel to Douglas St - and for good reason, as the options are not much chop. Some guides recommend a complicated set of zig-zags all the way back to Parramatta Road; twice. This would also appear to be what the OpenStreetMap path is recommending; although it's noteworthy that L5 apparently just disappears somewhere in the vicinity of the Cockatoo Hotel.

View Larger Map

More seasoned riders (such as the Mayor) bite the bullet and take their chances on the narrow and busy Trafalgar Street and Railway Parade rather than the 10 minute detour, but it's not for everyone. The Sydney University guide, reproducing the Bike It map, suggests a split between that way going east; and a slight detour via Brighton Street cycling west.

This gap in the network really needs to be addressed if the government are serious in their commuting targets; if you agree please take the time to comment on the 'Missing Links' link below !

The next post will address cycling north towards the city; in the mean time here are a few more links for you:


  1. Interesting that the map shows a cycle path through Petersham Park parallel to Brighton Street. The park features a number of signs indicating that bicycles are not allowed within its confines (which always struck as a bit surprising in a park).

  2. @DD I tried cycling through the park exactly once; the paths are too narrow and too rough; I guess that means the signs offer sensible advice even if it seems unfair ! Just as easy and safe to follow Station Street around and squeeze through the road closure.

  3. I agree with you about the missing link of Railway Terrace and Trafalgar Street in Lewisham and Petersham. It's my least favourite part of my journey into the city from Summer Hill. I believe that this missing link is a major barrier to many people commuting to work by bicycle from Summer Hill and surrounds.

  4. Good to see the Open Street Map links! I have done a fair bit of work on verifying cycle routes for OSM. The L4 route is marked through Petersham Park, although I agree totally on the quality of the path. From Summer Hill to the northern part of the CBD I'd go along the cycleway next to Hawthorne Canal, through Leichhardt, and over the ANZAC bridge.

  5. I'm afraid I am going to have to contradict DD! The path through the park indicated as a cycle route does in fact allow cyclists. It is a shared pedestrian/cyclist path as you can see in this picture:

  6. Apologies, hard to argue with that. Will get the eyes tested.

  7. Thanks for the feedback - I think we're all agreed that the Petersham Park path is not really an alternative to properly fixing the 'missing link' !

    Would love making Railway Terrace one way with contra-flow cyclelane but not sure the RTA would buy it.

    @Eb - thanks for dropping by. I love the work that's been done for the Open Street Maps - a happy discovery.