Cyclists squeezed in state government's Newcastle CBD revitalisation plans

Newcastle Cycleways Movement member Bernard Hockings on Hunter Street.
Newcastle Cycleways Movement member Bernard Hockings on Hunter Street.

CYCLISTS could be the biggest losers in the state government's revitalisation plans for Newcastle CBD.

Last week the state government revealed it would develop at least part of the rail corridor through the CBD.

Planning minister Pru Goward confirmed the state government's new position, contradicting the previous planning minister Brad Hazzard who guaranteed the rail line would remain in public ownership and remain as a potential corridor.

Hunter cyclists have been banking on either Newcastle council creating a proper cycleway down Hunter Street or the state government turning the heavy rail route into a shared pathway with greenspace surrounding.

However, with the state government planning to develop at least part of the heavy rail line and light rail to run down Hunter Street, there may not be enough room for a complete dedicated bike path on either route.

A spokesperson for Newcastle City Council said council staff still had not been provided enough information about the light rail route to answer any questions about cycleways in Hunter Street.

In September last year Newcastle councillors voted to put a $1 million pedestrian and cycle-friendly upgrade of Hunter Street on hold, pending the outcome of the preferred light rail option.

The council proposed trial cycleways be built on both sides of a 1.6 kilometre stretch of Hunter Street between Bellevue and Perkins streets but a majority of councillors ruled to put the plans on hold.

Newcastle Cycleways Movement member Bernard Hockings said he was still optimistic it could be done.

He said whether or not the light rail needs a dedicated lane to itself would have a huge bearing on existing elements on the street.

"The one thing they haven't provided enough information on is what impact light rail will have on parking in Hunter Street," he said.

"The reason Hunter Street has not thrived is because it's used as a thoroughfare. People need to be able to move from one place to another, whether they are on foot or on a bike or in a car."

He said Hunter Street could be gridlocked like Stewart Avenue if it was not planned properly.

"It would be nice to have an express bike lane down the corridor. This would help with security along the route at night."