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$12m deal to make Adelaide "the cycling capital of Australia"

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The State Government and the city council have struck a funding deal to upgrade cycling infrastructure across Adelaide’s CBD and expand the free bike-share program.

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They will each spend $6 million to extend and modify Frome Street bikeway and build a new, dedicated east-west cycling corridor through the city, as well as extending the bike-share scheme across inner-metropolitan Adelaide.

It is “the single largest investment in cycling infrastructure in the history of the City of Adelaide”, Lord Mayor Martin Haese told InDaily.

Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan said the plan was designed to encourage more people to cycle, which would, in turn, help reduce traffic congestion by taking cars off the street.

“We should get a marked improvement in cycling infrastructure,” he said of the spend.

“Hopefully, we’ll boost cycling participation throughout the city. We’re [already] seeing more and more people riding their bikes, particularly … [to] work.”

Last night, a confidential council meeting endorsed the plan and instructed Haese to begin negotiations with all the councils connected to the City of Adelaide about rolling out a consistent bike-share scheme across inner-metropolitan Adelaide.

Haese said he agreed with Central Ward councillor David Slama, who told the meeting the plan would put Adelaide in a position to be known as “the cycling capital of Australia”.

The bike-share scheme, for which the council and the Government will each contribute $500,000, will involve bikes that can “click out” of specially designed bike racks at one “point”, and “click in” to similar infrastructure at another “point”, allowing people to borrow bikes for one-way trips.

South Ward councillor Priscilla Corbell, who proposed the bike-share scheme, said the council would “work with neighbouring councils and our current Adelaide Free Bikes partners, and I believe this scheme will greatly improve services for city residents, workers and visitors, as well as bring our bike share scheme up to international standards such as [those of] London, Paris and our Sister City of Austin”.

Options for the east-west bikeway, and the planned Frome Street-Frome Road cycling route. Image: supplied.

Options for the east-west bikeway, and the planned Frome Street-Frome Road cycling route. Image: supplied.

“A point-to-point bike-share scheme fits in well with our strategic plan objectives of being a smart, green and liveable city.”

Three options are being considered for an east-west separated bikeway cutting across the city: Pirie Street / Waymouth Street, Flinders Street / Franklin Street and Grote Street / Wakefield Street.

The $12 million fund will also be used to remove several concrete planter boxes on Frome Street that form part of the barrier separating cyclists from cars, with the current carparking lanes on both sides of the road to be turned into peak-hour traffic lanes.

Mullighan said a redeveloped and extended Frome Street bikeway, and a new east-west bikeway, would separate cyclists from other traffic without unnecessarily inconveniencing motorists.

“We’ll try and settle on a design that meets the needs of cyclists but which can live quite comfortably with [cars],” he said.

Mullighan said the current design of Frome Street’s controversial separated bikeway was a “pretty aggressive infrastructure design” which “got the balance a bit wrong” between cyclists and motorists.

“There was a lot of frustration with how radical and significant the changes were.”

Cyclists at the opening of the controversial Frome Street bikeway in 2014. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Cyclists at the opening of the controversial Frome Street bikeway in 2014. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

InDaily understands the current separated bikeway on Frome Street is to be redeveloped to allow for two driving lanes in each direction, while maintaining a form of “separation” from motor vehicles, which will be extended to the riverbank.

Mullighan said the separation between cyclists and other traffic involved in both the Frome Street and east-west bikeways would involve “a physical barrier [that is] more than just a line on the road”.

Haese conceded that “the current design of Frome Street is not everything it should be”.

He said the bikeway was “a very well-intended trial” but it would be improved on. His “lingering concerns” about the current design involve “safety”, “aesthetic” and “peak-hour traffic”.

Haese said there would be “modifications to the current design of Frome Street so that we then set … a new standard for cycling infrastructure, which we will use as a template [for the] rest of the city of Adelaide”.

“We must have a [bikeway] template that has wide public acceptance.”

Area councillor Anne Moran said: “My prime motivator has always been to fix the Frome Street bikeway by extending it all the way to North Terrace rather than just spitting cyclists out into an unsafe situation which currently exists.

“It is very important to get the design right for Frome Street bikeway in its entirety as well as to get the balance right for both cars and bikes.”

A council report last week warned that parents would not let their children cycle to the new city high school on Frome Road (the northernmost continuation of Frome Street) because cycling routes to the school would not be considered safe enough for young high school students.

Haese said the new infrastructure would “ensure it’s safe for students” to travel by bike to the school, which is designed to feature 170 bicycle storage spaces and only three individual car parks.

Mullighan told InDaily that “once we have the north-south [Frome Street /Frome Road] connection … we’re going to be able to provide a lot more comfort to parents”.

Urban Development Institute executive director Pat Garace told InDaily in a statement that: “We applaud the State Government and the Adelaide City Council for working together on this initiative, but a truly successful bike network will need to traverse multiple council regions, so collaboration with other metropolitan councils will be critical to the ultimate outcome”.

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