Wollongong is one step closer to its goal of becoming a renowned cycling city, after councillors voted to fast-track $4million worth of infrastructure, including major commuter bike links, a pump track and criterium circuit.
They also agreed to place the city's new draft cycling strategy on exhibition - with residents now being asked to have their say over a 10-year plan to install more bike lanes, cycle friendly streets and encourage almost double the number of regular riders.
The strategy and budget were both unanimously supported, with many councillors saying it was "the perfect time" for Wollongong to embrace cycling.
Mithra Cox, who criticised the council several months ago for not spending enough on cycling, said she was thrilled to support the strategy going out for public comment.
"This is the exact right moment for this to happen," she said.
"There's been a lot of dreadful things about the lockdown... but one of the truly wonderful things is how many people are walking, riding and appreciating our beautiful city.
"We can seize that energy and use it to transform our city."
Speaking in support, Cr David Brown said he expected a big response about the cycling strategy, but reminded people that this was a strategy for the whole city, not just the "fanaticists" and "the lycra brigade".
He also said the new cycleways laid out in the plan were not "gold plating of infrastructure", but simply "joining gaps to provide a minimum level of service".
area, we don't need to use our car."
However, the school run is not without its challenges, which is why Ms Whittaker - one of dozens of residents who campaigned for more investment in cycling infrastructure - is pleased to see Wollongong City Council's commitment to developing a more cycle-friendly city.
Leigh Colacino said he thought "Wollongong [was] perfectly placed to become the bike riding capital of Australia", but warned that "pedestrians and motorcars" must be equally considered..
Only Dom Figliomeni seemed hesitant to support the initiatives laid out in the plan, saying said he had not seen the many cyclists which other councillors spoke of, and worried people would stop riding their bikes once COVID-19 was over.
He said he would support the strategy going forward for a community response, but said he thought the existing cycleways in Wollongong provided good infrastructure for bike riders and wanted there to be a similar focus on pedestrians.
Under the draft strategy, there will be more separated cycle links between residential areas and town centres and new east-west riding routes along Elliots Road, Fairy Meadow, Railway Street, Corrimal, Military Road, Port Kembla and Fairy Creek in Wollongong.
The city centre will become a "cycling district", with bike riding incorporated into building designs and other planning decisions, and the council will use a NSW Government grant to trial pop-up bike lanes.
Over the next decade, there will be 85 kilometres of new cycleways constructed including of 50km on-road cycling routes and 35km of off-road cycling routes.
The council will work with the NSW Government to fund significant cycleways alongside regional and state roads, including the Princes Highway, Crown Street and Lawrence Hargrave Drive.
It also will focus on connecting residential areas to the city centre and towns and villages by delivering missing cycling links, and work on developing more positive perceptions of bike riding.
The council will also promote cycling using phone apps, e-bikes and bike share schemes, and lobby the government to change the rules so cyclists can ride on all footpaths, unless signposted otherwise.
With these measures, the council hopes to increased weekly cycling participation, from 12.9% to 20% by 2030.
Cycling to and from work trips will rise from 0.7% to 2% and the number of transport cycling trips will increase from 20.6% to 25%.
Cycling will also become safer, with a target to reduce cycling related crashes reported and more women - who currently make up a minority of cyclists - will be encouraged to participate.
Almost a third of all submissions received on the council's budget related to cycling, making it the second most commented on issue (after climate change).
The 47 submissions requested the council further invest in cycling related infrastructure and programs throughout the local government area.
In response, the council has increased its 2020/21 footpaths and cycleways spend by $1.8 million - including $875,000 from government grant - and will design and construct 15 new cycleway projects in the next three years.
The council will also design and build the new regional pump track at Cringila Hills ($650,000) and a new multi-use criterium track ($1.6 million) at a location to be determined.