25 January 2018

Submission to Inner West Council on Lilyfield Rd Cycleway

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Inner West Bicycle Coalition recognises the regional significance of the Lilyfield Road corridor. It provides a direct cycle link to the Sydney CBD from the inner west suburbs ranging from the Cooks and Parramatta River catchments. Currently Lilyfield Road caters for fitter commuter and recreational cyclists who are prepared to cope with the steep hill from Hawthorne Canal to James/Mary Street, Lilyfield, and cycle long distances of 20 km or more.

Sydney’s Cycling Future 2013 aims to provide a regional link to the CBD through the inner west of Sydney. It purports to encourage the 70% of the population that have said in surveys they would use bicycles if the conditions were made safer and more convenient.

As so often with cycling infrastructure, the devil is in the detail. This is covered in the following submission and Appendix A.

The Lilyfield Road Cycleway as currently proposed by GHD Woodhead is unlikely to be attractive to many of the current commuter users, who favour the present relatively fast and un-constrained facility (uphill bike lanes only). The section west of James and Mary Sts will not provide an attractive route for many new cyclists, because of the 8-10% gradient of the hill from Hawthorne Canal to Lilyfield. However the proposed two-way path east of James St could provide a safer, more attractive facility for new or risk-adverse cyclists.

In the long term the City West Cycle Link (Bike Sydney, 2011, and Leichhardt Bike Plan, 2015) in the rail corridor would overcome this difficulty. This would require a coordinated approach by Transport for NSW, RMS, Department of Planning, Sydney Motorway Corporation and Inner West Council, as part of the M4-M5 Link project.

We support the proposed one way sections, which will restrict resident motor vehicle access to an extent but will reduce through traffic and improve safety at Victoria Rd for pedestrians.

We strongly recommend that the path should be a minimum 3.0 m throughout, to conform with Austroads standards and for improved safety and convenience, except on the steep section mentioned above, where we recommend against a two way bike path.

We recognise that retrofitting cycle infrastructure to suit all road users is a compromise. However we believe this project could provide greater benefit to all the community if our recommendations for its improvement are adopted.


Comments on Suitability of Lilyfield Rd as a Regional Bicycle Route Route

Lilyfield Rd is a mainly commuter bicycle route to and from the City of Sydney. Around 200-300 cyclists use it in peak hours during the week, predominantly eastbound in the morning and westbound in the evening. It is also used by recreational and training cyclists on the weekend and during the day, again mainly to and from the City. Local usage is not high as there are a number of other east-west routes to cross the area such as Allen St/Booth, Brenan/Railway Sts, Victoria Rd and Collins or Albion St. It has no schools on it and few shops and one park so it is not a major attractor in itself. Access to Lilyfield Rd is poor at Norton St and Balmain Rd (discussed later).

A survey conducted by in December 2017 by Bike Leichhardt and IWBC at Balmain Rd revealed morning commuters came from a wide range of suburbs west of Hawthorne Canal, including Ashfield, Summer Hill, Croydon, Burwood, Concord, Canada Bay and some from Parramatta and even Ryde. Few were from Leichhardt or Lilyfield.

The number of riders from Ashfield and Summer Hill was a little surprising but riders said they found the route overall more enjoyable than battling the heavy traffic through Lewisham and Petersham. This may change as new cycle routes such as the Lewisham to Newtown route RR7 is developed by Inner West Council, or the Allen St/Moore St/Whites Ck to The Crescent or Glebe route, EW05.

Riders surveyed were generally what would be described as “fit and fast” or “experienced”, used to road traffic and able to cope with the significant gradients on the route to the City, including Lilyfield Rd itself but also Anzac Bridge and Miller St etc. Most cyclists were attracted to Lilyfield Rd by its directness and possibility of a higher average speed than on other routes, plus the general standard of existing bicycle facilities, which include marked uphill bike lanes, shared traffic lanes downhill, extensive signage and pavement marking, including use of BMUFL signs (Bicycles May Use Full Lane), developed by Leichhardt Council in collaboration with Bike Leichhardt.

The road has a reputation as a “bicycle road” and motorists are generally aware of the presence of cyclists, although there are points where conflicts arise, generally at intersections and squeeze points where motorists cut corners across the path of cyclists, e.g. near Lamb St.

It is open to argument if the proposed changes to bicycle facilities, in particular the introduction of a two way bike path on one side of the road only, will attract significant numbers of new cyclists, improve safety overall or improve convenience and average speeds. On a flat or gently sloping road similar to Bourke Rd Alexandria and Bourke St Surry Hills they might. The main impediment in this case is the steep gradient of about 8% average, maximum 10%, between Hawthorne Canal and Mary/James St, which far exceeds recommended gradients on bike routes (section 7.5.5, Cycling Aspects of Austroads Guides).

There have been no surveys of potential new cyclists to the west of Leichhardt and it is entirely wishful thinking to say the new facilities will attract many from the claimed 70% of so called “undecided” cyclists, who “would cycle if the roads were safer”.

It it is also unknown how many new cyclists will be permanent converts if the new facilities are actually slower or less convenient or even less safe and only slightly less stressful than the present facilities, (or updated present facilities).

The impact of Westconnex on the Rozelle and Lilyfield Railyards and surrounds is a big unknown at this stage, but it seems highly likely a flat, near sea-level bike path or paths from Justin St (near Catherine St) to Anzac bridge and Glebe Foreshores will be built, thereby reducing greatly the need to use Lilyfield Rd. (Active Transport Network, Appendix N, Westconnex M4-M5 EIS 2017). If Westconnex stage 2 is approved it would be entirely feasible to construct the further flat link from Hawthorne Canal to Catherine St through the railway cutting under Balmain Rd as outlined in the City West Cycle Link (CWCL) proposal by Bike Sydney, and supported by Inner West Council (Integrated Transport Plan 2015 and Leichhardt Bike Plan 2015 route EW 16).

The CWCL would indeed remove a major obstacle for increased bicycle use in the Inner West. It would provide a viable regional route and complement the successful Greenway by directly connecting it to the CBD using equivalently modest gradients.


Technical Points and comments on the Proposed Design

Two way bike paths

The general position (for instance TN 133, TMR Qld 2014, or Cycle note 21, VicRoads, or guides from countries like The Netherlands and Denmark) is that one way bike paths on both sides of a road are the preferred option, because cyclists usually need to access both sides of a street and motorists expect cyclists to ride in the same direction as traffic and do not always look for cyclists travelling in the other direction at intersections in particular. But two way paths are a reasonable option if there are long distances between intersections, few access points on one side, or attractions are on one side, or road width is constrained, or for reasons of consistency.

Some of these conditions apply to Lilyfield Rd, such as the lengthy non residential side between Balmain Rd and Denison St, next to the railyards and the lack of side streets or access points on that side. The other reason, corridor constraint, is mainly irrelevant now that the one way sections and removal of parking on one side in other sections has been proposed.

Two way paths in general cannot be made as smooth as a length of street where heavy rollers and pavers can provide a very smooth surface, as evidenced after a resheeting of local streets.

Few examples exist of a two way path on a steep gradient, and Campbell St in the City of Sydney is an example of the alternative treatment of an uphill bike lane and a downhill shared with traffic.

It should not therefore be concluded that a two way bike path is a desirable or only option for Lilyfield Rd, and it was disappointing that other options were never entertained.

Steepness

Guidance from Austroads is that roads of over 3% steepness  are not suitable as bike routes and that many cyclists will not cycle more than about 100 metres uphill at a gradient over 5%. (Cycling Aspects of Austroads Fig 7.2). Lilyfield Rd has several sections over 5% and averages about 8% on the western section from Hawthorne canal to James/Mary St.

Cautious cyclists may be reluctant to descend such gradients and design guidelines suggest it is highly important to have wide, straight paths with no sharp bends or obstacles, and good sight lines on steeper downhills, with attention paid to intersections. The design speed should be based on the path or road function. On a major bicycle route this should be around 30 kmh and 40 kmh would be desirable and expected on downhill sections.

The proposed two way cycleway between James St and Hawthorne Canal will not meet these requirements, as it is too narrow (although the width has been increased to 2.8 m from the original 2.4 m), will not allow safe passing of cyclists, will require almost continual braking and constant vigilance for oncoming cyclists when descending to avoid handlebar clashes. Car doors and residents accessing their cars will be a problem, with only a narrow 400 mm median strip separating bikes and cars. The bent-out crossing of Maliyawul St introduces a hazardous bend for downhill cyclists, and places them facing away from right turning traffic off Lilyfield Rd.

It is the strong opinion of IWBC and most cyclists consulted on this issue that the existing layout of a wide 1.8 m uphill “climbing lane”  and shared with traffic downhill lane is safer than a two way separated bike path between parked cars and the kerb, on this steep section.

 

View of wide 1.8 m climbing lane on Lilyfield Rd hill up from Hawthorne Canal.

Elsewhere the two way path is more acceptable, since gradients are less or there is no residential parking on one side of the road, and other considerations such as the number of side street crossings avoided comes into consideration. However, the width proposed between Balmain Rd and Justin St is not adequate at 2.4 m. It appears to be possible from the cross section diagrams in the proposal to move the kerb and light poles a further 600mm south (it is already proposed to move the kerb and poles a little) to allow widening to a full 3 m. If parking was removed in this section (see Appendix A Item 9) then a 3.0m width would be achieved with much less cost of moving kerb and light poles.

The two way path does have its own issues, apart from width, such as how do cyclists turn into side streets on the other side of the road from the path? They can stop in the bike path and wait for a gap in motor traffic, thereby blocking the bike path if there are many other users, or risking their lives in crossing two lanes of motor traffic. A similar problem exists for cyclists from side streets trying to access the bike path on the other side of the road, such as would occur at all the side streets between Helena St and Denison St, where the bike path is on the (opposite) south side of Lilyfield Rd. Treatment at intersections is also crucial for safety and maintenance of priority. There is also the issue of the proposed “crossover”, where the bicycle path changes from one side of the road to the other near Edward St.

Car Parking

We note that parking is proposed to be removed on the south side between Justin St and Gordon St. but retained in the section Balmain Rd to Justin St. The stated reason by Council staff is so some light rail users can drive and park near Catherine St station. This is counter to Council policies on encouraging walking and cycling to the light rail and providing mainly kiss and ride or disabled parking for motorists. (Integrated transport Plan 2015, Service Delivery Plan 2013, etc). Studies in other areas (“Cycling beats a path to the future”, Public Transport Authority, WA, Jim Krynen) have shown many motorists drive only a km or two to use light rail or other public transport. It would be much cheaper to provide the cyclepath (and less of a subsidy to motorists, estimated at perhaps $20,000 per car space given the cost of relocating the kerb) if car parking was removed from the south side of Lilyfield Rd in this section, similar to what is proposed east of Justin St, where a 3.0 m path should be easily achieved, although a cross-section is not shown on the plans.

Width

The initial 2016 proposal for a 2.4 m wide path was widely criticized and we appreciate that the path design has been modified to achieve a 3.0 m width in places, but it remains 2.4 m for the lengthy section from Balmain Rd to Justin St and possibly Gordon St as far as we can tell, in the absence of any cross section data for this section. Austroads guidance in Cycling Aspects of Austroads Guides Table 7.5 (2017),  is that 3.0 m is the desirable minimum width for a regional route, with up to 4.0 m on “major routes.” Wider paths, even by small amounts, can improve level of service and or greatly increase capacity, according to Technical Note 133, Qld TMR, Widths of Shared or Separated Paths (2014). That document recommends 4.0 m paths for peak hour volumes greater than 500 cyclists.

As discussed above the plan shows (drawing sheet 7 and cross section C)  the kerb being relocated slightly south between Balmain Rd and Justin St  to achieve 2.4 m, so we cannot see why the kerb could not be located even further south onto the largely unused southern footpath to achieve an even wider (min.3 m) bike path.

Unused 3.6 m footpath on Lilyfield Rd looking West towards Balmain Rd. Kerb is to be relocated to the left.

We note that this extra width could also be achieved in this section by removing car parking, as on the other sections. The need to retain parking between Justin St and Balmain Rd is questionable in our view, and very expensive per parking space. The cost of relocating the kerb could be saved if car parking was removed.

Increase in traffic on Quirk St

If Left turns are banned at Victoria Rd more motorists may use Quirk St. This is a bike route that provides an alternative to Victoria Rd. It is also narrow and steep at the Victoria Rd end, and fast left turns off Victoria Rd may catch cyclists unaware. We would advocate a turn ban there.

Intersection treatments.

The proposal does not give full details of treatments at intersections but it is assumed that the final design will include best practice treatments at intersections and crossings of side streets to ensure safety but also to reduce delays to cyclists, who generally should have priority at unsignalised crossings and the minimum possible waiting times at traffic lights.

Threshold treatments on low traffic side streets like Maliyawul, Rayner St, Edwards, Gordon Sts should be raised with long, shallow ramps for cyclists on the path and steep ramps for crossing motor vehicles in both directions, with holding lines for motorists and bike logos on the pavement indicating to look in both directions marked for motorists. Pedestrian crossings on side streets such as Maliyawul St and Catherine St should be installed where possible to give greater protection for path users.

A straight bike lane (one way east) at Maliyawul is recommended, rather than the bent-out two way path design proposed, blending in to an uphill bike lane similar to the existing facility (see image). Car parking should be removed opposite Maliyawul St to remove car door hazards for west-bound cyclists, who would continue on as now to access the bike path on the old road bridge over the canal. Measures to reduce speed of cyclists as they cross the flat section west of Charles St onto the bridge could be introduced, with a speed limit of say 20 kmh, and/or low profile speed humps or suitable low rise vibra lines. The exit from Maliyawul St should be made more of a right angle to Lilyfield Rd and the throat narrowed to lower exit speeds, with median lines or a raised median in Lilyfield Rd to slow right turners into Maliyawul St.

Side streets between Charles St and James St should have Stop signs facing exiting drivers and warning signs to watch for descending cyclists. Sight lines should be checked and car spots removed near corners, such as at Francis St, where any tall vehicle blocks sight lines uphill. BMUFL signs (Bicycles May Use Full Lane, as currently used in other sections of Lilyfield Rd) should be installed to encourage downhill cyclists to ride well out for better visibility.

At Balmain Rd cyclists should have the same green time as motorists, as is the case now, and the total time for a complete cycle of the lights should be minimised. Currently Balmain Rd gets much more green time than Lilyfield Rd. Bike lanterns should be installed on all four legs of the intersection to facilitate turns, particularly the right turn for southbound cyclists into Balmain Rd. Advanced storage boxes should be provided on Lilyfield Rd to facilitate right turns.  This would also allow the crossover to occur at the lights, not near Edwards St.

The eastern side of Balmain Rd footpath over the rail bridge should be made a shared path and a bicycle crossing installed at the City West Link on the eastern side to link with the existing bike lane on the east side of Balmain Rd. The footpath on the western side of Balmain Rd (shown in the image) over the rail bridge needs widening at the corner of Lilyfield Rd  and/ or the poles relocated, to allow safe access to Lilyfield Rd from the south, where the current wide shared path on Balmain Rd past the bus depot ends abruptly at the City West Link. (see later discussion too)

At James/ Mary St intersection,  we advocate west bound cyclists on the proposed two way bike path cross over to the west bound lane on the south side of Lilyfield Rd using a bike light crossing, into a holding area, before proceeding on green westbound down the hill to Hawthorne canal in the traffic lane, as discussed earlier. Eastbound cyclists would proceed as now, crossing on green from the uphill bike lane. Again, green time for cyclists should be maximised. The cycle time for all phases to complete should be minimised, to give cyclists a shorter wait.

The “Crossover” near Edward St.

Cyclists should have priority at this raised crossing, which is allowed under the road rules we believe. Motorists need a Give Way sign, holding lines set well back and the approach ramp for motorists should be fairly steep to enforce slowing.

The bus stop before the crossover seems unnecessary, why not put it after the crossover? Cyclists and bus patrons would then be separated and conflicts avoided. Cyclists may decide to use the road from Balmain Rd if they have to stop for bus patrons.

The bus stop east of Trevor St could be relocated to Catherine St bridge where it was once located, to provide room for the layover position.

Alternatively and probably preferably the “crossover” could be located at Balmain Rd, if advanced storage areas were installed at the intersection.

Catherine St

This is the main conflict point with motorists introduced by the two way path proposal. Many near misses with left and right turning motorists occur here at this T intersection for westbound cyclists now, but will affect eastbound cyclists as well under the new proposal. The new plan should make every effort to resolve these conflicts. Details of the design of the crossing are missing in the proposal. Cyclists should have a raised priority crossing with shallow ramps onto it for cyclists and a steep ramp for turning motorists. A bent out design as shown in the drawings may be the best option so turning motorists have a waiting area, but a straight crossing may also work, as it gives better visibility, as discussed in Cycling Aspects for Austroads Guidelines, in the discussion on intersection treatments (section 4.6 p 100 ff)

Grove St is a bicycle route and there is no provision made in the proposal to have a  bicycle crossing near Catherine St so cyclists can access Grove St from the proposed bicycle path or from Catherine St. The new bike path on western side of Catherine St and how it would connect to Lilyfield Rd path is not shown in the plans.

Denison St

A safe crossing is needed here to access Denison St. The proposed crossing further east might be better located here.

Speed Limit

We support the proposed 40 Km/hr speed limit on Lilyfield Rd.  Slower motor vehicle speeds will allow safer connections to the bike path from side streets and turns off the bike path, where cyclists will have to use the road for any distance. Suitable speed reduction devices may be needed on some sections.

Connectivity

Of concern to IWBC is the lack of access to Lilyfield Rd from Leichhardt. For a Regional Route to capture cyclists, north south routes to Lilyfield Rd need to be upgraded. In  particular, Balmain Rd is a long standing problem. There is a good shared path from Moore St to the City West Link but no facility to cross the City West Link and continue to Lilyfield Rd. The problem is a long standing and well known one but should be addressed now as part of this project. We advocate use of the eastern side of the rail bridge by cyclists heading south, and an approach to the resident on the SW corner of Lilyfield Rd to purchase a small corner of his land to provide a useable footpath width on the west side.

Norton St also has no bicycle facilities leading to Lilyfield Rd, though the gradient from City West Link to Lilyfield Rd may deter many. An alternative route on the existing path behind the sound walls of the CWL from Norton St  to Henry St or Derbyshire Rd could be provided.

Grove St is used by some cyclists, but has minimal bicycle treatment, except for a contraflow lane at Balmain Rd. A bicycle crossing at Lilyfield Rd is needed. Bike lanes could be marked in Grove St.

Mary St and Perry St may need some better bicycle treatments to allow safer access to Lilyfield Rd from the Lilyfield precinct.

Ability to use the traffic lanes

It will remain legal for cyclists to use the road lanes, as the proposed bike path will be not be classified as a bike lane, based on City of Sydney and other precedents, and the road rules only require cyclists to use a bike lane if one is provided. Cyclists will have to use the road in any case to reach side streets or residences or businesses etc on the other side of the bike path.

We are also arguing that cyclists should continue to use Lilyfield Rd traffic lane downhill from James St to Hawthorne Canal, as is the case now.

This ability to use the road lanes needs to be made clear from the start and motorists clearly advised that cyclists may use the road lanes. We would request that Bicycles May Use Full Lane ( BMUFL) signs, as currently used on some sections of Lilyfield Rd, be retained and used generally throughout.

Lilyfield Rd cycleway plan in YoursayInnerWest December 2017

Appendix A: IWBC recommended modifications

Problem

IWBC suggested modification

1. Narrowness and steepness of bi-directional route from James St/Mary St to Hawthorne Canal could cause head-on collisions

Retain current wide uphill bike lane and downhill shared traffic lane layout and remove parking on the south side of Lilyfield Rd from Charles St to Canal Rd

2. Westbound experienced cyclists may wish to avoid bi-directional cycleway on steep section west of James St/Mary St, this manoeuvre is not catered for

Facilitate a cross over at the Mary St traffic lights using bicycle lanterns and advanced bicycle storage boxes

3. Quality shared cycleway adjacent to Sydney Buses depot in Balmain Rd ceases at City West Link restricting southern access to new proposed LR cycleway

Continue cycle lanes across CWL and Balmain Rd bridge by reconfiguring road space utilizing unused space on eastern side of Balmain Rd bridge and removing poles on south west corner of Lilyfield Rd and Balmain Rd

4. Poor southern access to the cycleway at Balmain Rd due to outdated, inadequate, one sided pedestrian crossing of City West Link

RMS to reconfigure intersection with bicycle lanterns on all sides of the intersection

5. Poor southern access to cycleway at Catherine St due to stalled IWC bicycle works on Catherine St/CWL intersection

Complete IWC works (provide dashed continuity lines to guide cyclists to western footpath) and activate bicycle lantern sequence

6. It is not clear as to proposed smoothness and inclination of surface of cycleway throughout proposed route. No cross section given for Gordon St to Balmain Rd.

IWC/GHD Woodhead to confirm satisfactory standard of surface meeting Cycling Aspects of Austroads Guides Section 7.5.6 for crossfall, Section 10.2 for pavement standard (maximum 5mm variation over 3m requirement)

7. Access to the LR cycleway from side streets does not appear possible due to an apparently continuous median

IWC plan to provide gaps in the median and storage areas at all cross streets to facilitate safe cyclist access to/from the cycleway. Example: Kent St right turn at King St.

8. Motor traffic modelling of the effects of one-way sections (Victoria Rd to Gordon St, Norton St to Balmain Rd) have not allowed for the cumulative effects of WestConnex and Western Harbour Tunnel over the next 10 years. The fact that Quirk St is a bicycle route needs to be considered in this modelling

IWC/GHD Woodhead to revise traffic modelling in local streets, taking into account local rat-running to avoid the WestConnex etc. works

9. Current LR design has an obsession with ‘consistent’ 2.4m width of the bi-di cycleway over the entire route, despite obvious potential for head on and passing collisions due to narrowness. Refer to Cycling Aspects of Austroads Guides Table 7.5 where minimum path width standard is 3.0m, or up to 4.0m on Regional Paths.

IWC/GHD Woodhead to explore ways of making the route as wide as possible in sections where there are no constraints such as heritage trees, parking etc. Remove parking from Balmain Rd to Justin St in view of Council policy of providing only Kiss and Ride and Disabled Parking at public transport nodes. This would enable a 3.0m path width and save costly kerb/pole reconfigurations

10. Cross over at Edward St does not show Give Way sign to allow cyclists right of way

Provide Give Way signs for motor vehicles to comply with Cycling Aspects of Austroads Guides Figs 7.9 & 7.10

11. It is not clear if a 40km/h speed limit will be imposed on entire route, this would be consistent with overall theme of calming Lilyfield Rd

IWC/RMS to provide assurance that a 40km/h speed limit will be imposed as part of the works

12. IWBC doubts whether any increase in bicycle usage will result due to the steep section from James St to Hawthorne Canal

IWC to undertake before/after cyclist counts to ascertain changed usage levels

13. Narrowness of the cycleway does not take account of future usage by cargo bikes, child trailer bikes and heavier electric assisted bikes

IWC/GHD Woodhead to explore ways of making the route as wide as possible where in sections there are no constraints as in Item 9 above

14. Design at Catherine St intersection a)does not allow space for (one) car storage to wait to cross cycleway, b) have a raised crossing, c) have Give Way signs applicable to motorists turning across the cycleway. Note: this intersection has a history of westbound motorists on LR turning left straight across the path of westbound cyclists

Design should comply with Cycling Aspects of Austroads Fig 7.9 or 7.10, also including W8-200 signs. In addition placing a zebra crossing directly south of the cycleway across Catherine St would assist pedestrians accessing the Lilyfield Light Rail station

15. Cycle lanterns on LR at Balmain Rd intersection will have separate phase. This will encourage avoidance of the cycleway as is the case in Edward and Union Sts Pyrmont

IWC/RMS to improve phasing to less than 90 seconds to give cyclists less waiting time.

16. LR cycleway project does not include any improvement to the obviously inadequate ‘footbridge’ crossing of Victoria Rd. Noted that WestConnex may in future (IWC advised could be up to 10 years) provide alternative underpass in former rail yards

IWC/RMS to upgrade/duplicate current inadequate ‘footbridge’ over Victoria Rd as part of this project

17. Following Item 16 we are seeking as an interim measure that a section of the former rail yards from Justin St to the Anzac Bridge be employed as an alternative to Lilyfield Rd and the inadequate overhead crossing of Victoria Rd

IWC to investigate access to the northern section of the rail yards with RMS/WestConnex to enable a path to be installed to connect to the existing Anzac Bridge cycleway from Justin St/Lilyfield Rd

18. It is not clear how eastbound cyclists can turn right into Norton St and Balmain Rd to access Leichhardt

IWC/GHD Woodhead to investigate right turn storage on bi-directional cycleway eastbound