February 24th, 2011

The RTA's Sydney (Formerly "Clover Moore's Sydney")

NOTE: I changed the title of this post, in response to a very good suggestion made in the comments section below. All will become clear.

I spent Thursday and Friday "test riding" Sydney. I'm still waiting for my free "thanks for cycling" chocolate bar on arrival at Central Station. I blinked and missed the big sign on the main concourse showing me where to chain my bike for ten minutes while I freshened up, filled my water bottle, and grabbed the cycleway plan. I saw signs to taxis and car parks. The big sign reading, THIS WAY TO CYCLE PATH NETWORK, must be in planning. To be honest Clover, your city gave me a leper's welcome, shunted me onto Regent Street, where traffic forced me left onto Cleveland. No way to turn right without using a pedestrian crossings. Okay, cool, heading toward Newtown, where I want to be, though with speeding cars up my cloaca. I've been in Sydney for 5 minutes and already I'm running with bulls! Glad I didn't bring the family along.
Sure, if I survived, then after a year of testing out routes I would know how to get about safely. I might even shell out $35 for a cycling guide book like this one. But on day 1, I'm like anyone else contemplating the big shift from car to bike transit. My advice: don't do it. Honestly, don't throw yourself in there. 0.0001% of Sydney's roads have been given to cycling, to lour you into a death trap. When all of Sydney's cyclists and would-be cyclists are dead, they can go back to their lives driving cars without us slowing them down.

Tired of living? Try the marked route heading North along O'Sullivan Road, that without warning throws you into the line of traffic. Clover thought, "Anger a few drivers by taking some on-road parking spaces, or kill a few cyclists? Ah, kill the cyclists!" Lanes that cut out may as well lead into pits, those ones with sharpened bamboo spikes in the bottom. Left onto New South Head Road, sends you uphill with no lane at all. So what was the point of the O'Sullivan route? Oh, I was meant to ride into the harbour! In good faith I battle forth to Rushcutters Bay, though I'm sure Burke and Wills had an easier time surveying this country. The aboriginals, by all accounts, were fairly benevolent. Mercedes drivers in this part of town, would kill me in a wink.

My cycleway map, that I picked up Thursday from a rare bike store with copies, tells me Waratah Street in Rushcutters bay will get me onto the William Street cycle path, back to the city. I get to the top, and see the scene above left. I mean, come on! Sydney, you are a joke! 0.0001% of your road space has been given to cyclists. 0.0001% of your signage helps cyclists. My hope is that 0.0001% of all journeys be taken by bike, to reflect this. That would require the cyclists out there risking their lives for this cause, to cease and desist, to move away to some city that is more cycle friendly. Cyclists, take your skills, courage and concern to a city more worthy. You're welcome here in Newcastle, where an active cycleways movement has been getting a better deal for cyclists since the late 1970s.

I urge you to look at the comments. I've received deserved flack for some ill-informed notions behind what I've written about Sydney.