Cycleways to get toppriority in Byron Shire

Byron Shire Council is committed to providing cycleways across the shire and with this in mind, has allocated matching funds in the sum of $202,975 to a NSW Government initiative known as the NSW Coastline Cycleway.

This initial funding is for three projects that form part of the planned Coastline route through Byron Shire.

Council has placed on public exhibition plans for the three current stages of the planned cycleway through the shire.

Submissions have closed, however, as these plans show the proposed route for the whole Coastline Cycleway through the shire, council welcomes any comments from the public even after the formal closing date for the current three stages.

The three stages planned for construction over the next 18 months are:

* Byron Bay (south): Along Tennyson Street from Browning Street to the recreation grounds. Through the rec grounds by widening of the existing concrete footpath. Along Cowper Street to the end of the existing gravel track leading to Gilmore Street.

* Suffolk Park: Clifford Street from Broken Head Road to Alcorn Street as an off-road concrete footpath. Alcorn Street to the northern end to link to existing track on-road with additional traffic calming devices and appropriate signs and delineation.

* Broken Head: Broken Head to Suffolk Park along the old road reserve through the re- serve.

It is planed to start work on these cycleways early in the new year.

The plan to build the NSW Coastline Cycleway running about 1500km along the entire NSW coastline is the long-term vision of Dr Elias Duek-Cohen.

The proposal was first put to the Federal Government more than 20 years ago.

After an initial small project was built with Federal funds in Nowra, little else has happened.

In 1983 a survey of 25 non-metropolitan coastline councils showed that whilst most of them favoured the idea in principle, there was no commitment made without special outside funding being provided.

In 2000 studies along the coastline of individual local councils were commenced into the feasibility of the planned route for the coastline cycleway.

The study included a series of meetings between participating councils, with representatives of Bicycle NSW, Roads and Traffic Authority, National Parks and Wildlife, Department of Urban Affairs and Planning and Dr Duek-Cohen.

The former Minister for Planning, Dr Andrew Refshauge, announced the NSW Coastline Cycleway project in March 2003, which will provide $6 million in seed funding as part of a larger Coastal Protection Package.

The $6 million was to be made available from 1 July 2003 and is to be spent at $1.5m per annum over the next four years.

The funding is available for project management and grants for cycleway projects and is to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the participating Councils along the route.

The route aims to avoid major roads and highways and link together the string of communities along the NSW coastline.

Approximately 12% of the route already exists in the form of council-provided cycleways, while other parts of the route follows existing back roads and fire trails.

The key benefits include bicycle transport, bicycle-tourism and the growth of bicycle-tourism industries.

In late 2003 the Department of Infrastructure Planning and Natural Resources (DIPNR) made contact with Councils along the coast seeking submissions to up-date the plans that were previously developed in 2000.

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