Hornsby Council is attempting to develop a more integrated town centre, located around key public spaces, as the Council flyer says “where the city meets the bush; an active, thriving centre that exhibits economic diversity, design excellence, liveability and sustainability”.
The eventual goal is to create one cohesive, connected and complementary Centre.
To this end Council invited a number of key decision makers and stakeholders, including Bike North, to a Co-design Workshop last Friday which provided a very useful opportunity for ideas and concerns about the future of Hornsby’s town centre to be aired.
Inevitably, it was recognised that Hornsby’s role as a key metropolitan transport hub has a significant impact on the configuration and construction of any integrated town centre.
It was also acknowledged that for cyclists and many others Hornsby is not just a destination. It is also a transit thoroughfare and the fact that significant rail and road ways compete for space along the same geographical ridge presents special challenges for cyclists, the most vulnerable of road users, getting to and through Hornsby C.B.D.
Everyone agrees that making it easier for people to walk from the east side of the current town centre to the west side and vice versa would be a good thing. However, as they are presently configured, the railway lines and two main road thoroughfares [George Street and Peats Ferry Road] running north/south represent considerable barriers to better east/west movement.
Long story short, to achieve better east/west integration, the north/south divide has to be better bridged and contained. The ultimate form of this containment will no doubt be the subject of some interesting design work.
In this context, Bike North has made it clear to the reviewers that we would like to see a more seamless and separated cycleway thoroughfare through any unified Hornsby town centre and we would also like there to be more accessible bicycle parking for people choosing to cycle to Hornsby. Access to the current designated bicycle parking and storage facilities in Hornsby is difficult to say the least, given that it often requires you to ride to them via very busy and circuitous routes.
For the immediate future, Council will continue to consult with the community about this issue. Bike North therefore urges its members in the Hornsby area to watch the town centre development closely and not to hesitate to make your views known to Council if you have any concerns.
Justin Holmwood, 3 September, 2019