CYCLING advocates have stepped up their push for a path from Charlestown to the Dudley coast, with in-principle support from Lake Macquarie council despite this term’s bike advisory group having yet to meet.
Buoyed by an inner Newcastle cycle plan released this week, advocacy group Cycle Safe Network wants a five-kilometre path built from Charlestown so cyclists and walkers can avoid busy thoroughfares such as Dudley Road.
“If you look at Whitebridge High, Lonus Avenue is one-way in, one-way out,” the group’s Deborah Moore said.
“So many parents are forced to drop off their kids in single file. Five schools would be less than 200 metres from the track, with Kahibah Public about 600 metres away.”
The group’s proposed Charlestown to Coast path, or “C2C”, would occupy an old rail corridor through Dudley and be close to schools and a public swimming pool, as well as bisecting the Fernleigh Track.
Such a shared path – at least through Dudley – has been mooted for years, but Ms Moore said a growing section of the community was tired of local infrastructure being built around cars.
In promoting the C2C, Cycle Safe Network cites the popularity of the nearby 15-kilometre Fernleigh Track, built with a combination of council, government and private money.
Having Lake Macquarie council enshrine the C2C within its overall cycling strategy, Ms Moore said, would remove a barrier to approaching other tiers of government to fund it.
In 2014, Liberal councillor Jason Pauling clashed with then-Lake Macquarie mayor Jodie Harrison about the projected cost of a future Dudley cycle route.
Cr Pauling said the advocates of the C2C “have got my sympathies”, and that Lake Macquarie “is a pretty difficult city to navigate on a bike”.
But any ability to asses the proposal’s merits, he said, is being hampered by the fact the council’s cycling advisory group (which includes Cr Pauling) has yet to meet this council term.
“While we don’t have a cycle advisory group, it’s very hard to resolve these issues,” Cr Pauling said.
The council said it had noted the C2C proposal in the spirit of encouraging cycling in the community, and would “prioritise proposals such as” the C2C.
“The Charlestown to Coast proposal is recognised as a connection with high community interest,” a spokeswoman said.
“The cycling strategy currently identifies key routes that align with this proposal, and council will continue to work with [advocates] to undertake the implementation of this connection, in the context of the delivery of the overall cycling strategy.”