New South Wales
The proposed changes to the active transport links at the Rozelle Interchange are major and entirely negative and hence do not adhere to the Future Transport 2056 Strategy published by the NSW State Government. Further, the proposal itself concedes that the benefits the changes provide are minor and cannot therefore justify the compromises made to the active transport links. In light of this, the proposal should be soundly rejected.
In this response I will explain what the proposed changes are, why they are unsatisfactory and why they contravene the Future Transport 2056 Strategy. The conclusion drawn will be that the proposal should be rejected.
Changes to active transport links
To summarise, the proposed changes to active transport links are:
* Realignment of the Green Bridge to the west of The Crescent and alongside the Rozelle light rail station
* Addition of a long, shared path that spans from the east of The Crescent, over a newly added overpass along with several lanes of traffic, and meets the northern end of the Green Bridge
Why they are unsatisfactory
First, it’s necessary to mention that the proposal is light on details regarding the Green Bridge and the shared path, and so this response is based on the available information. This concession by no means weakens the response as the burden of details should be placed on the party seeking amendments to an already approved proposal and not those providing feedback.
Largely there are only minor objections to the changes of the Green Bridge. It appears that the width of the path on the southern side of the Green Bridge is insufficient given the gradient. This gives rise to safety concerns with cyclists riding downhill conflicting with pedestrians walking up the ramp.
The main concerns of this response are with the shared path and the claim of the proposal that it provides an equivalent link as that of the approved Green Bridge, from the eastern side of The Crescent to the Rozelle Rail Yards (Executive Summary p. xiii). The concerns are summarised as:
* The shared path is some 500m (10 min walk) longer than the approved green bridge (estimated, as this detail is not provided in the proposal)
* The shared path is too narrow, considering its gradient and curvature, to be safely and comfortably shared by pedestrians and cyclists
* Its shape makes navigation difficult and frustrating
* The distance between the entrance and exit points, combined with poor line of sight along the path, would make it feel unsafe at night
All of these compound to make a shared path that is unsafe, frustrating and annoying to use, for both cyclists and pedestrians, which would drastically hinder its uptake. This is in direct conflict with the claim of the proposal that the amended design provides equivalent active transport links. They are equivalent only in the sense that both designs join the same points on a map, but are entirely different in every pertinent way.
Future Transport 2056 Strategy
The Future Transport 2056 Strategy emphasises the need to encourage uptake of active and public transport:
“The provision of safe and accessible footpaths, designed for all ages and abilities…” (p. 19)
“A successful transport system that encourages greater active and public transport can deliver positive outcomes in terms of physical and mental health, social capital and social and economic participation (p. 41)”
“Deliver complete cycling networks, pedestrian space and interchanges that safely support a wider range of devices (p. 63)”
“Walking and cycling have significant benefits for customers and the wider city (p. 88)”
“The NSW transport network will support healthy communities and encourage active transport like walking and cycling” (p. 88, emphasis mine)
“Complete walking and cycling networks to and within centres and invest in safe, direct and continuous green corridor connections…” (p. 88, emphasis mine)
“Encourage customers to use the transport system differently by shifting to walking, cycling or public transport” (p. 97)
It is clear that the NSW State Government and Transport for NSW have an objective to increase active transport participation, and future infrastructure should be in line with that goal.
The best way to encourage active transport is by building safe, accessible, convenient green links and infrastructure. The approved EIS design achieves this, the proposed changes do not. The proposed changes are expected to have negligible impact on traffic and congestion (Executive Summary p. xi), and while it is claimed that the active transport links are equivalent, I have above shown that to be demonstrably false. I cannot see nor fathom what reasoning would justify modifications that have no benefits, and produce outcomes that fly directly in the face of Sydney’s future transport plans. The proposal must be rejected.