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Hawkesbury Road Cycling and Pedestrian Safety

Hawkesbury Road needs improved pedestrian and cycling connections to Winmalee Shops, Springwood and Hawkesbury Heights Lookout including a shared path for families and off road cyclists and also road shoulders for touring and experienced cyclists.

The 2022 Federal Election is an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their commitment to making Hawkesbury Road safer for pedestrians and cyclists of all abilities.

The Blue Mountains Cycling Forum is campaigning for the development of active transport networks (including cycleways and safe shouldered local roads) to destinations or places in the Mountains that people want to visit. The aim is to improve liveability for residents and also to promote slow tourism which will make our economy more resilient. Winmalee Shopping Centre and Hawkesbury Lookout are places people want to go, for different reasons, and both destinations need to be supported by active transport infrastructure which encourages visitation using forms of transport other than motor vehicles. 

An active transport network must cater for all levels of cycling ability

Well-designed active transport networks provide safe and amenable places to ride and walk for all abilities and levels of experience. That means not only separation between pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles but also separating experienced fast cyclists, who require flow as well as speed, from pedestrians and novice cyclists. A sealed 2m wide road shoulder is required in both directions along Hawkesbury Road to ensure that fast cyclists have a separate safe refuge to ride and also to protect and other vulnerable road users such as broken down motorists. 

Our Objective

Labor's Pledge does not go far enough

The BMCSF welcomed the announcement from Susan Templeman in November that an Albanese Labor Government, if elected in 2022, will fund $1.8M towards a shared path from Winmalee High School to Hawkesbury Lookout. However, funding is also needed for road shoulders for the same section of road so that on road cyclists have a safe place to ride and other vulnerable road users such as broken down motorists have a safe refuge in emegencies.

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Road shoulders make it safer for motorists and cyclists

On-road cyclists between Winmalee High School and Hawkesbury Lookout must share the traffic lane with motor vehicles because there is no sealed shoulder and this causes conflict and near misses. Heavy vehicles and buses on Hawkesbury Road and speeding motor cars increase the risk of crash with cyclists. According to TfNSW crash data, there has been a total of 6 crashes (including all vehicle types) in this 3.8km section of road between 2018 and 2020. Two of these crashes (e.g 1/3) resulted in cyclists being seriously injured.

Without road safe road shoulders, emergency vehicles and broken down motorists have no safe refuge and must occupy the traffic lane (see picture right). This can have catastrophic consequences if speeding or heavy vehicles are unable to slow in time to avoid the hazard.

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Cyclists must compete with trucks and buses on the shoulder-less section of Hawkesbury Road

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Emergency vehicles attend an injured motorcyclist on Hawkesbury Road near Roberts Pde on 21 Dec 2016 (photo courtesy of the Blue Mountains Gazette)

Human fallibility and safe road systems

Without road safe road shoulders, emergency vehicles and broken down motorists have no safe refuge and must occupy the traffic lane (see picture right). This can have catastrophic consequences if speeding or heavy vehicles are unable to slow in time to avoid the hazard.

What will the project cost?

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The distance between Winmalee High School and the lookout is approximately 3.8km. The BMCSF has verified Labor's estimate of $1.8M for a 3.8km shared path with road engineers and confirmed that the amount is a reasonable estimate of the cost of a shared path for this distance. The engineers have also costed road shoulders in both directions of the same section of Hawkesbury Road at around $4.4M (this includes a generous contingency of around 30%). 

A 2 metre shoulder (with AC10 surface) costs around $200 per square metre. Therefore,  $200 x 2m x 3,800m = $1.52M PLUS an allowance of 15% ($228,000) for design and approval costs additional contingency of 30% ($456,000) = $2.2M

An artists impression of a section a new shared path and road shoulders showing how it will be used by on road and off road users

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We have an opportunity to take a holistic approach to active transport and road safety on Hawkesbury Road

A holistic approach to active transport on Hawkesbury Road will not only benefit local residents but attract visitors to Hawkesbury Heights and Winmalee. Hawkesbury Road is also a cycling touring route to and from the Hawkesbury popular with local and visitor experienced level cyclists. A holistic approach which packages a shared path and road shoulders as part of an active transport and safety solution, will ensure that any expenditure of public funds is more equitably spread in the community, provide support for existing and new businesses as well as improve safety and user experience for all levels of cycling ability. 

Cycling contributes $1.93B per year to the NSW Economy

The recently published Australian Cycling Economy 2021 Report found that cycling added $1.93 billion (equivalent to $235 per capita) in direct benefits to the NSW economy, 18,744 jobs with $347.4M attributed to cycling tourism. Governments are investing in cycling infrastructure to improve liveability and economic growth. Research has found that an investment of $1M in cycling infrastructure can generate around $8.4M in post construction economic benefit and 32 additional full time equivalent job and 49,000 additional visits to the area per year. It is time to start investing in cycling networks and amenity in the Blue Mountains and stage further projects which enable safe linkages to the Hawkesbury area.