Wollongong bike plan concern

Wollongong City Council’s vision for increasing the number of cyclists on the city’s streets is now open for public comment, but councillors have raised concerns over how the five-year plan will be funded.

Wollongong Lord Mayor (centre) with councillor Leigh Colcino  and Natalie Ryan. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Wollongong Lord Mayor (centre) with councillor Leigh Colcino and Natalie Ryan. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Councillors unanimously supported the exhibition of the 2014-2018 plan, saying it was recognition that cycling was an important way to reform the health and environment of the city.

The plan includes measures to double the number of cycling commuters by 2018, by constructing new pathways and bike lanes, marking new lines and installing signage to make the cycling network larger and easier to use.

The highest priority for the expanded network is the city centre which would benefit from at least two formal east-west and two north-south bicycle connections linking the CBD to surrounding areas.

Independent councillor Greg Petty questioned how long it would take to implement these high priority measures, with general manager David Farmer saying they were mostly dependent on ‘‘grant opportunities’’.

‘‘I just hope this bike plan doesn’t sit on the shelf and gather dust,’’ Cr Petty said.

Greens councillor George Takacs called on federal and state government to fund cycling upgrades, explaining their budgets would benefit most from improved health of Wollongong citizens.

‘‘The infrastructure identified in the documents amounts to $50 million, which is a frightening sum in respect of our budget,’’ he said.

‘‘But another perspective is that we live in a local government area that has one per cent of Australia’s population.’’

‘‘Over the next 20 years, this country will spend $2,700 billion on health care costs, and our one per cent of that is $27 billion. And what fraction [of that] is $50million? - it’s 0.2 per cent.’’

Ann Martin suggested the council consider developing an overarching development concept for the entire bike network, to make it easier to quickly lodge applications for state and federal funds, like NSW Resources for Regions.

The plan will be on public exhibition until May 19.

You can view the plan here.

A map of existing and proposed cycleways can be seen here.