Beware 'devils in the detail' of park and ride traffic solutions

IF anyone can speak with authority on the Byron Bay bypass debate, it's businessman Laurie Lynch. His involvement stretches back to the early 1990s and he has the files and records to prove it. Here he outlines the history of the discussion.

I have read with interest the reports on traffic congestion around Byron Bay CBD and beyond.

Having been involved with the so-called 'bypass' since before 1993, appointed to the Council Traffic Committee from 1993-1996, and active in following the issue ever since, I believe I have the background to effectively comment on many points raised by other commentators.

'Bypass', to many minds, infers missing Byron Bay completely, hence the oft-quoted and valid suggestion, 'stick to the Pacific Highway'.

But for those wishing simply to miss the area bounded by the Main Beach car park to Kingsley Street and the railway line to Middleton Street, the route via St Helena, or even a link road from adjacent to the Arts and Industry Estate to the vicinity of Old Bangalow Road, would be ineffectual. This is clearly shown by results of earlier traffic studies involving number plate counts, and the 2008 study looking at cars entering and leaving the CBD at the roundabout adjacent to the police station and the Browning Street roundabout.

These studies all fail to consider the number of vehicles wanting to access the growing town centre south of Carlyle Street, and the residential centre of the 'old town,' from Middleton to Paterson Streets .

This area is also being proposed to cater for the bulk of tourists' accommodation and cars in the future

Cr Tom Tabart highlights the lowest percentage, 15% of through traffic, to support the idea that a link road along Butler St to Browning St would be non-effective.

Yet TTM's 1993 traffic counts, Veitch Lister's report to council, and the 2008 figures, all clearly indicate that the further the link road is from the town centre, the fewer cars will use it.

For example, from the Arts and Industry Estate to Old Bangalow Road will only capture 4-7%, where a Shirley St/Butler Browning St option for those travelling along Bangalow Road, added to those choosing to avoid the previously described central zone would exceed 50%.

In 1993, 25% of cars passing the police station were noted at the southern end of Jonson St.

I listened with interest to Cr Tabart speaking on ABC radio about the holiday period traffic congestion.

He spoke strongly in support of a remote 'park and ride system' to ease congestion. Cr Tabart also accused Ed Ahern from Byron United of supporting the same old 'ho hum' idea of the town centre bypass, instead of being open to the 'fresh' concept of 'park and ride', which is so successful in other parts of the world, such as Europe.

He also wrote in favour of this in the Byron Shire News, January 22.

Park and ride as a solution for traffic around Byron Bay has been mooted at least as far back as the 'Big Picture' think tank, held in the early to mid-90's, at the then Epicentre.

In 2001, Veitch Lister Consulting reported to council on a remote park and ride solution. Cr Tabart has failed to reveal the 'devils in the detail' of that proposal, which include:

• A proposed fee to ride by bus to the town, with a suggested minimum of $2 each way, per passenger.

• A minimal fee to park remotely, plus the equivalent of London's Congestion Tax, where high fees are charged to discourage drivers from parking in the town centre.

• Extremely high punitive charges (parking fines) for those who dare to park in the central precinct and overstay their time limit.

A recent correspondent in this paper raised the impractical scenario of a 'simple' trip to the beach using the 'park and ride' model. I reproduce its main gist here, with editorial additions.

Mr and Mrs Citizen from Federal are taking their two-and-a-half children to the beach in Byron Bay. It will cost them a minimum of $16 in bus fares from the parking area on Ewingsdale Rd for the two-way journey (Mrs Citizen's bump will get a free ride). Added to this will be some undisclosed parking fee to establish and run the car park (consider security in such a remote location.)

As well as this, there is a logistic nightmare. The European 'parker and rider model citizen' of our Green councillors is not juggling the beach shade, the cooler bag, two boogie boards, sand buckets, a bag of miscellaneous towels, hats, etc, in addition to stopping the kids going under the bus.

If stage one of the town centre 'bypass' as proposed in 1993 had been completed by 1996, at a then estimated cost of $1.5m, imagine how much of our oil resources wasted by stagnant traffic on the approaches to and within the town centre, might have been saved, as well as the reduction in associated pollution.

Also the millions of hours, a human resource, wasted in drive time.

Consider too the thousands of trees that might still be growing by minimising the number of reports and letters to the editor on this subject in the local press. Add to this the many thousands of pages of reports/studies for council that have been prepared and printed from before 1985 up to the present.

 • What do you think? Send your comments to editor@byronnews.com.au

As well as thi,s there is a logistic nightmare. The European 'parker and rider model citizen' of our Green councillors is not juggling the beach shade, the cooler bag, two boogie boards, sand buckets, a bag of miscellaneous towels, hats, etc, in addition to stopping the kids going under the bus.


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