With Covid-19 inspiring more people to walk and cycle, it’s now time to make life easier for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists. And by coincidence, Hunters Hill Council has commissioned a consultant to recommend what can be done in this small part of Sydney. The consultant is preparing a new Bike Plan that will make it safer to children to cycle to school, for people of all ages to ride or walk for pleasure, for family groups to cycle through our back streets, for commuters to reach workplaces in Sydney or surrounding suburbs. More Active Transport will also relieve the traffic congestion around our many coffee shops. Council will be able to fund some of the local changes required, and can lobby Transport for NSW to fix our connections with neighbouring suburbs.
The biggest problem is that when building Gladesville Bridge back in the early 1960s cycling wasn’t very popular, so the designers didn’t provide a satisfactory way of connecting Gladesville Bridge with Tarban Creek Bridge. There could have been a simple overpass bridge, leaping over the slip lane that takes motorists from the Hunters Hill Overpass under Gladesville Bridge to Victoria Rd. It probably would have been similar to the lovely pedestrian bridge over Victoria Rd from Riverside Girls High School.
But they didn’t build a direct link between the two bridges; instead there is a narrow footpath that winds its way down to a flight of steps, through a scary tunnel under the slip lane then more steps down to Huntleys Point Road, from where there is a steep climb back up to Tarban Creek Bridge. Understandably, most cyclists and many pedestrians don’t follow this route, but instead brave the slip lane (in both directions)!
It’s not that the RTA didn’t realise there was a problem: in each of 2000, 2001 and 2002 they commissioned consultants to design options for a light pedestrian/cyclist overpass that would eliminate the steep descent/ascent. As recently as 2017 Transport for NSW wrote ‘While the design has been developed, there is currently no funding’. So we know that the solution is simple: just funding!
A similar problem exists should you wish to walk, jog or cycle between Hunters Hill and Lane Cove. To travel from the overpass, you’ll have to make the steep descent down Reiby Rd, followed by a steep climb back up to Figtree Bridge. Here the solution is simpler: a two-way shared path could be inserted beside the slip lane that brings cars from Figtree Bridge up to the overpass. That, too, was recommended to the RTA by another consultant in 2010, and also failed to secure funding.
We’ve been suffering these missing links for 55 years! Surely, with the growing awareness of a need to cater for people who chose to walk, jog or cycle, now is the time fund these simple lingering problems and help to make Sydney ‘a connected city’.