This is a plan to rehabilitate waterways, let cycling and e-bikes serve us for transport, and to relieve Newcastle’s shortage of affordable housing. It turns Styx and Cottage Creeks from drains into more enjoyable and healthy waterways, with bike and pedestrian paths by their sides. The mouths of each creek-route will be connected by the existing Throsby Creek promenade. In the West, they are to be joined by Melville Rd in Broadmeadow, that will be calmed, and eventually have a bike/pedestrian bridge built over the rail line (until then, bikes will cross the rail line at Lambton Rd).
Together, Styx, Cottage, Throsby and Melville make a 6.86 km active transport loop, passing schools, the TAFE, Broadmeadow Station, most of the city’s sporting facilities, the farmer’s markets and Market Town shops. It will also be the primary means of transportation for new residents of affordable housing, to be built on the many poorly utilised industrial sites that the loop intersects. The map below is available for anyone who wants to help identify destinations linked by the loop.
View Newcastle Waterway Discovery Loop in a larger map
The Throsby Creek path helped Maryville and Carrington achieve bike-to-work rates triple the city-wide average. The proposed loop promises an even greater boost to bicycle transport, across many more suburbs. It enhances the City to University bike route, the East-West cycleway to Lambton, and the City to Fernleigh Track route.
The loop will give an opportunity to those living along it, to make bikes or e-bikes their main transportation, as these are for many people in Holland and Denmark, and increasingly in American cities, like Portland, Minneapolis, and even New York. Redeveloping brownflields flanking the loop, consolidates population growth around active transport, rather than roads that are already congested.
Ensuring developer infrastructure contributions go toward improving the loop (and are not syphoned off, to support driving) would in time see the loop become a world class piece of bike infrastructure, with landscaping, water attractions, separation of bikes and pedestrians, overpasses to rail lines and roads, and perhaps covers to protect cyclists from the sun and the rain. Over time the loop will gain better defined tendrils, and thus extend safe bike travel into more suburbs. As well as waterways, new tendrils might follow historic rail routes, eg the Glenrock line, and the c1830 AAC line—Australia’s oldest.
The sites that have been identified for Bicycle Oriented Affordable Housing Developments (BOAHDs), while they are not near to train stations, could nonetheless be developed with minimal car parking. That is because residents could rely primarily on bikes or e-bikes—augmented with share-cars and train travel. Without the burden of parking provisions, these sites become far more attractive to developers, as well as future residents seeking a healthier and greener lifestyle.
Summary of key benefits: brings safe bicycle transport to all inner suburbs; consolidates population growth around active transport; addresses a shortage in affordable housing; mitigates sprawl; provides a recreational amenity mid way between the bush and the beach; finds developer funding for bike paths and the rehabilitation of waterways; opens up new sites for non-car-depenedent development; provides safe bike routes to schools; provides a new attraction for tourists.