Do not ban Bicycle Riders from Sydney's George St.

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NSW State Government announced that Bicycles are now banned from George Street between Hunter and Bathurst streets. The main objective of the Ban is to avoid bicycle incidents (a cyclist died in Newcastle in October due to the fall caused by the wheel getting stuck in the tram rail).

Most European Cities have large tram networks, and cycling is one of the favourite transport options in these cities. The issue of bicycle wheels getting stuck in tram rails is well known, and banning bicycles from tram lanes has never been an option in Europe. Cycle riders can easily learn the safest way to ride across rails.

Transport NSW could also try the SafeRail technical solution, a material that can support a parallel cycling bicycle wheel,  deforming elastically only when the tram passes.

Moreover, the best way to improve Bicycle Safety is to have separated lanes from car traffic and pedestrians. George st give us the perfect opportunity to achieve this. Pushing bicycle riders out of George st will increase bicycle incidents as they will have to use roads without cycleways.

The proposed Pitt St cycleway could provide an alternative way to travel from Central to Circular Quay, but construction hasn't even started yet.

George Street is the city's natural north-south corridor and the most logical and direct route from Central to Circular Quay, similar streets in cities all around the world, including Swanson Street in Melbourne, are able to combine light rail and bikes without any problems.

Cars, trucks and motorcycles, will all still be permitted on George st. Only bicycles will be banned. The government says residents, workers and businesses need to be able to get to their premises along the street, so they will be allowed in and out – if they have a motor vehicle.

However, if you are a resident, worker or delivery person on a bike, you will be banned and could face fines.

It is evident from the previously full bike racks that line George Street, bike counts and the busy end of trip facilities in the precinct, that bikes are important to the street’s commercial health.

The bike ban also undermines actions of the freight division of Transport for NSW, who have provided a courier hub to transfer items from vans to bike couriers to deliver to city businesses more quickly and efficiently. With a bike ban in place, these deliveries will still need to be made by van on George Street, creating spaces where delivery drivers continue to mix in pedestrian spaces.

For more information about the government decision, check this SMH article