More than 600 improvements to Wollongong cycling infrastructure have been suggested in the past four weeks, as the council seeks feedback over its plan to turn the city into a cycling destination.
Last month, a draft 10-year strategy, designed to put cycling at the forefront of Wollongong's future, was released by the council and the city also agreed the invest an extra $4 million in cycling infrastructure in the annual budget.
Under the 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 - including one along Smith Street which will take out one lane of car traffic.
The council will 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.
It's all designed to increase bike riding participation at all levels, for exercise and recreation, and also as a means of getting from home to work, school, shops and the beach.
On an interactive map, which is one of the ways the council is collecting feedback, residents have identified 616 hotspots
where cycling could be better managed or where new facilities could be installed.
Most are in the city centre or central suburbs, but people have also highlighted how cycling along that Helensburgh fire trails could link Wollongong to the Sutherland Shire, and - south of the city - have asked for better links allowing them to cycle all the way around the lake.
Crown Street Mall attracted more than a dozen suggestions, including more bike racks, a dedicated cycling lane and a removal of barriers which prevent a clear passage through the mall.
"It's crazy to think pedestrians and cyclists can mix on some fairly narrow paths but they aren't allowed to on a (former) very wide street," one commentator wrote.
"In all the cycling cities I have visited you are allowed to cycle in areas like this but obviously you are expected to do so safely."
The Blue Mile has also been pinpointed as a place for improvement, with commentators suggesting better markings or dedicated bike lanes could help resolve the frequent conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians in the congested area.
People have also suggested a bike shed at Wollongong station, to prevent thefts from bike racks, and highlights that there is almost no cycling infrastructure in the area surrounding the hospital.
Feedback on the draft cycling strategy closes on August 17. The document will then be updated and will return to councillors for final endorsement.
Residents split on pop-up cycleways
A plan to turn a Wollongong CBD street into a one way road and build a pop-up cycleway has split residents, with many people welcoming the idea as innovative and forward thinking.
However, others reacted angrily to news of the council plan, which is set to begin construction in October.
The one-way trial is one of a series of pop-up projects for Port Kembla, Towradgi, Thirroul and elsewhere in Wollongong.
With questions flying about how the Smith Street proposal will work, the council's infrastructure and works director Andrew Carfield answered Mercury readers' most pressing questions:
How long is the trial for?
"Our thinking was that the trial would be in place for up to two years, however depending on feedback, we may made need to make adjustments. I would expect that at the end of two years, we would have some firmer views about whether that infrastructure has been effective to increase cycling rates."
How will roundabouts and bus routes work?
"There would need to be some barriers introduced, and this could include new signage, paint on the road and vehicle barriers. And we would need to work with bus operators to make some minor variations to the routes."
And garbage pick-up?
"Our collection services would ordinary go up both sides of the street, so we're going to have to work with our garbage collection service to make that work and we will need the cooperation of residents as well."
How did you decide to make the street one way, not remove parking?
"It's about balancing all the road users, and Smith Street has for a long time been identified as a very good cycling option because it helps connect the harbour and foreshore to our city centre as well Beaton Park and the university. Widening the street would include moving services and utilities... which is extremely high cost, whereas this intervention means we are able to retain parking and incorporate the cycle route."
Has Wollongong Public School been consulted?
"We will certainly work with Wollongong Public School, as we have in the past, to make sure pick and drop offs can be managed."