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East-west bikeway punctured as city councillors bicker

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The Adelaide City Council’s plans for its long-overdue east-west bikeway have again stalled, as councillors demand more reports and voice concerns about a cycling corridor’s impact on council-owned car parks.

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During an eight-hour Town Hall meeting last night, councillors aligned with the Team Adelaide majority faction and independent Jessy Khera voted to examine how a separated bikeway could “limit traffic flow along the three proposed east-west corridors and how they may affect the city’s U-Park revenue”.

They also requested that the council analyse the economic return of the Frome Street bikeway, how it has impacted real estate prices in the city and whether a bikeway along Grote and Wakefield streets could boost spending at the Central Market.

Opponents described the move as a delay tactic that would make building the east-west bikeway “impossible” to achieve by the June 2021 deadline.

Since 2016, the council has stalled on choosing a route for the $5 million State Government and council-funded east-west bikeway.

The former council endorsed Flinders and Franklin streets as the preferred route in 2017 – an option also favoured by the council’s transport planners – but that corridor has since been sidelined by current elected members aligned with Team Adelaide, who last night expressed support for building the bikeway along Grote and Wakefield streets.

Team Adelaide councillors rejected a motion put forward by non-Team Adelaide affiliate Helen Donovan that asked the council to progress with the Flinders-Franklin option “to ensure this (the bikeway) can be achieved within the timeframes declared by the bikeway funding deed”.

Area councillor Robert Simms said it was “very important” to focus attention on Flinders and Franklin streets as staff had “already indicated that they’re done a lot of work… behind the scenes”.

But Deputy Lord Mayor Alexander Hyde, who is part of Team Adelaide and who amended Donovan’s motion, said further analysis was needed to ensure the council made an informed decision about the location of its second separated cycling route.

This is a series of barriers and hurdles that essentially blocks the progress of this and takes it out of any reasonable timeframe

He said a bikeway along Grote and Wakefield streets would attract people who are “probably a bit of a hipster with a baguette sticking out of their basket” to the Central Market.

“I’m not trying to frustrate this, I’m trying to give you a way out of the woods because time and time again people don’t compromise in this place and when you don’t compromise you become so brittle that you can’t bend, you break,” he told the chamber.

“I can tell you now – Flinders-Franklin, nah uh.

“I’m rescuing it (the motion) for you.”

Deputy Lord Mayor Alexander Hyde. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Hyde said the council needed to scrutinise how much car parking could be lost if it built an east-west bikeway after a report found building the route along Pirie and Waymouth streets could result in a $750,000 per year loss in parking revenue.

“What about the UParks that are bringing in a substantial wack of our commercial revenue, how is it going to affect that?” he asked.

Independent councillor Jessy Khera praised Hyde for raising “eminently sensible questions” that would “overcome the lack of political will to actually deliver a bikeway along Wakefield (street)”.

The council’s transport planners have previously said that a Grote-Wakefield bikeway would provide a “lower-level of service for bike riders than a bikeway along Flinders-Franklin”.

The noose is tightening around the east-west as we speak and I am trying to give you a way out

Donovan last night described Hyde’s move as making a “joke of the whole process”.

“This is a series of barriers and hurdles that essentially blocks the progress of this and takes it out of any reasonable timeframe,” she said.

“This is impossible to achieve.”

South ward councillor Helen Donovan. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Simms added that he was “horrified” at the “shameful” and “utterly embarrassing” request to bring the east-west bikeway plan back to the drawing board.

“His excellency (Hyde) is continuing the quest for a Goldilocks bikeway – not too hot, not too cold.

“The reality is the perfect option doesn’t exist and he just doesn’t want to see the bikeway happen.”

But Hyde insisted he supported an east-west bikeway.

“Your extremism in pursuing the Flinders-Franklin option has made it so, so difficult to support you,” he told his opponents.

“The noose is tightening around the east-west as we speak and I am trying to give you a way out.

“If I wanted to kill this it would be dead already.”

Hyde’s amendment passed with the support of Khera, Franz Knoll, Arman Abrahimzadeh, Mary Couros and Simon Hou.

The amendment asked council staff to ensure that the east-west bikeway be delivered within the June 2021 deadline.

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