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City council to consider fast-tracking bikeway start date

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Progress on the Adelaide City Council’s bikeway project has been “painfully slow”, south ward councillor Dr Helen Donovan says, prompting her to call for the council to bring forward its consultation for the new east-west route.

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Donovan will move a motion at tomorrow night’s meeting calling for the council to start consultation in April on the delivery of the new $5.5 million separated east-west bikeway through the CBD.

The council decided in May last year that work on the second bikeway, to be located along Flinders and Franklin Streets, would be put on hold until completion of the highly-contested north-south bikeway on Frome Street.

That bikeway opened in early 2014 and was immediately the subject of intense political debate – pitting motorists against cyclists – until parts of it were ripped up and rebuilt in a new, thinner design last year.

It is unclear when the north-south route is likely to be completed, with works currently stalled due to the ongoing construction of the 36-storey Frome Street Adelaidean hotel complex on Frome Street between Rundle Street and North Terrace.

The council’s director of operations, Beth Davidson-Park, told InDaily this morning that work would begin this year on the sections along Lefevre Terrace in North Adelaide and Frome Road between War Memorial Drive and Melbourne Street.

She did not give an updated timeframe for when the whole project would be completed, despite telling a council meeting in May last year that it was possible work on the east-west route could be pushed out to 2020 or later.

The route for the separated east-west bikeway through the CBD.

Councillor Donovan told InDaily this morning that “the number of metres of separated bikeway that has been completed over the past six years indicates very slow progress”.

“The delivery of the overall project has been painfully slow,” she said.

“Of course these ideas do take a long time to progress and we had to work to get State Government support, however, the amount that has been achieved hasn’t reflected the time it’s taken to get to this point.”

Donovan said while it seemed “reasonable” to wait until the north-south bikeway was completed before starting work on the east-west route, delays brought on by the construction of the Adelaidean and Adelaide Botanic High School on Frome Road had meant there was an imperative to start work on the second bikeway sooner.

“It now seems like the east-west (bikeway) is still a long way off,” she said.

“The 100 per cent completion date is still unknown and it’s still unclear when the north-south (bikeway) is likely to be finished.

“What I’m trying to do is to kick-start work on the east-west, because the longer we keep on stalling it the further off the finishing date is likely to be.”

Davidson-Park said the likelihood council would continue to hold-off on starting consultation for the east-west bikeway until the completion of the north-south route was dependent on the outcomes of Donovan’s motion on Tuesday night.

In 2017 the council initiated at the request of central ward councillor Houssam Abiad a survey of local residents, property owners and business owners – excluding other stakeholders – asking: “Do you support an east-west separate bikeway along Flinders and Franklin Street”.

But Davidson-Park told InDaily this morning that survey was never undertaken.

Donovan described the survey as “a truly bizarre and limited attempt at consultation that was shaped by one of the councillors”.

She said a more extensive survey was required seeking responses from “all Adelaide road-users, not just those who own businesses along Flinders and Franklin streets”.

“We have whole team of advisors that specialise in doing those sorts of surveys to gauge robust input from the community so I would feel more comfortable turning to them to develop a model for feedback,” she said.

“We need to work under the assumption that all road-users and cyclists need a say, because really bikeways are about improving cyclist safety.”

Area councillor Anne Moran, who was initially in support of waiting until the north-south bikeway was completed before beginning work on the east-west bikeway, told InDaily this morning she was “totally in favour” of Donovan’s motion.

“Now that the Frome Street bikeway is near completion and we can actually see that it has a lovely aesthetic with landscaping and the like I am more inclined to go ahead with the east-west bikeway,” she said.

“There were a lot of business owners along Flinders and Franklin Streets who were concerned about a lack of parking so I wanted to ensure we knew what it was going to look like before proceeding.

“We are now at the point where we have an attractive prototype to show what a bikeway can look like.”

But Moran said she would prefer the east-west bikeway to not be located along Flinders and Franklin Streets, as she said business owners continued to express concern about the bikeway’s potential impact on their business operations.

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