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Government bans bikes on Scott Street

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Cyclists have labelled a state government ban from riding on one of the main streets in Newcastle’s CBD as a knee-jerk reaction.

NSW Centre for Road Safety Executive Director, Bernard Carlon, announced last week cyclists would no longer be allowed to ride on the 340-metre mixed running section of the Newcastle Light Rail along Scott Street.

The decision was influenced by a safety review, which was launched following the tragic death of cyclist Danny Egan in July.

The review examined crash statistics, road user behaviour, and existing road safety mechanisms.

Newcastle-based cyclist and bike shop owner Bernard Hockings believed it was a lazy response, claiming the government had been aware of the risks since the planning stages of the light rail.

“It’s just a symptom of a bigger problem,” he said.

The government had provided a shared pathway where cyclists could avoid riding on the light rail, but Mr Hockings alleged it did not comply with Australian standards.

“We are crossing multiple driveways and that is an accident waiting to happen because they have no sight line, they cannot see someone on the path as they reverse out of their driveways,” he said.

“They’ve just transferred the problem from here to there.”

Mr Hockings added that, even as an experienced cyclist, crossing the tram tracks took a lot of skill and could be “quite scary”.

He claimed there should be an alternative path for cyclists who want a safer route.

“You have to put yourself in front of traffic and make sure they don’t try to pass you as you negotiate that manoeuvre – you have to be very confident to do that,” he said.

According to Mr Hockings, there is little point in focusing on what the government should have done but there is value in having a conversation because active transport is a vital part of the future of the city.

“I think the value in pointing out the current short comings is that the state government has to acknowledge their mistakes, adopt some humility and start talking and working with local stakeholders to fix the problems we are left with,” he said.

Mr Hockings said that, moving forward, the government needed to create an environment where all forms of transport could thrive.

“Where you have that good mix of public transport, good car access as well as safe cycleways and pleasant street scapes for pedestrians, that’s when you’ve got a great environment,” he said.

“If people feel safe, they will ride.”
As part of the safety review, Transport for NSW will investigate new technologies that may be trialled in the future to help protect cyclists when they interact with light rail networks.

New warning signage and supporting road markings will also be installed along the light rail network, which aim to assist bike riders to cross the tracks at a safe angle.

Visit transportnsw.gov.au for more information or read the review.

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