Candidates Respond to BMCSF Letter for improved cycling infrastructure
Cycling infrastructure is poorly developed in the Blue Mountains and our local Council could do much more to leverage the surge in cycling uptake in the community, the availability of Commonwealth and State covid recovery grant funding, and share in the $1.93B of direct economic benefits generated by cycling in NSW every year (including $347M in tourism) and 18,744 jobs.
The time has come for BMCC to join other LGAs and invest in cycling infrastructure to improve liveability and build a resilient and sustainable local economy. Put simply we need to set our horizons higher and plan bigger. Council has made a start by accepting an offer of grant funding from the NSW Government to remediate and plan for the future use of the Glenbrook Tunnel and the planned construction of an upper mountains cycleway by TfNSW between Katoomba and Blackheath is starting point for Council to build and plan connected cycling infrastructure throughout the Mountains. The Australian Cycling Economy Report in 2020 found that an investment of $1M in cycling infrastructure can generate around $8.4M in post construction economic benefits, 32 additional full time equivalent job and 49,000 additional visits to the area per year.
The BMCSF recently asked all the lead candidates in the upcoming Council elections to support three cycling projects in the Blue Mountains including:
Opening the Glenbrook Rail Tunnel for public recreation and secure grants to complete the lower mountains cycling and walking network,
Developing a cycling and walking network across the Mountains connecting town centres and schools with defined stages over ten years ,and
Identifying and setting aside suitable open space with relevant plans of management for off road trails to cater for all levels and abilities of mountain biking.
We received 18 responses including from most of the lead candidates in each ward representing all political parties. The candidates were supportive of the projects and expressed a desire to work towards achieving these outcomes if elected.
Independent, Daniel Myles, who is recontesting Ward 3, strongly supports all the projects. Councillor Myles is a strong proponent of the Glenbrook Tunnel opening and associated networks and chairs the Council’s Cycling Advisory Committee of community representatives. Peter O’Toole and Andrew Curnow, both Independents standing for election in Ward 4, recognise the link between well-built safe cycling infrastructure and increased participation; and emphasised the importance of accessible cycling walking infrastructure for all abilities and providing more recreational opportunities and wellbeing for lower Mountains residents.
David Clark, Independent, Ward 2, was very supportive of more planned designated mountain biking areas in the buffer areas between the town centres and the national park. No response had been received from Chris Van Der Klay, Independent, Ward 2, at the time of the publication of this press release.
Brendan Christie, Liberals, Ward 4, indicated his support for the projects and pointed out his advocacy for opening the Glenbrook Tunnel and its future use as part of a network of shared cycling and walking trails linking Glenbrook and the River Walk. The Liberals’ Roza Sage, Ward 3, Jo Bromilow, Ward 2, and Kevin Schreiber, Ward 1, were very supportive of developing a cycling and walking network across the Mountains with linkages to places of interests and saw merit in planning for ‘end to end’ cycling tourism with cycleways and other built infrastructure supported by accommodation and other businesses to help grow the industry in the Mountains.
The lead Labor candidates in Ward 1, Suzie Van Odrop, Ward 2, Romola Hollywood, and Ward 3, Mick Fell, all supported the projects. Mark Greenhill’s Labor team in Ward 4, provided unqualified support for all three options and pointed out the ‘enormous tourism and economic opportunities from developing this infrastructure for the Blue Mountains’ and ‘need to capitalise’ on available grant opportunities to achieve this. During the current term of the Council, Councillor Greenhill set a up Cycling Committee of community representatives to oversee the opening of the Glenbrook Tunnel project and drive better cycling outcomes in the Mountains.
The Greens, Brent Hoare, Ward 2, Kingsley Liu, Ward 3, and Sarah Redshaw, Ward 1 provided a comprehensive response with strong support for sourcing funding for cycleways development and opening the Glenbrook Tunnel and its linkages. The Greens also said the ‘increasing popularity of mountain biking as a recreational activity… demands … a carefully developed plan of management, and effective engagement with the community, the needs of mountain biking enthusiasts can be balanced with sustainable and environmentally sensitive ways of protecting the unique and often threatened native flora and fauna of our public lands.'
The BMCSF is proposing transformational projects which will bring economic opportunities to the Mountains, increase participation in cycling and walking, build slow tourism and improve wellbeing, liveability and the environment including by leveraging existing natural and built assets and encouraging less car trips. We are keen to build a consensus around our proposals because they make so much sense for our community.
 We Ride Australia, Australian Cycling Economy Report in 2020, October 2021. https://www.weride.org.au/australiancyclingeconomy/  Ibid