Epping Road cycleway proves its worth in new usage study

In summary: 
  • Nearly four years after the NRMA called for the Epping Road shared-use cycleway to be scrapped, a new count has shown healthy numbers of commuting cyclists and pedestrians using it
  • The survey is part of a UTS PhD study of how motorists responded to the reduction in traffic capacity on Epping Road after the opening of the Lane Cove Tunnel

Criticism of the Epping Road cycle/pedestrian path as a white elephant can now be consigned to history after the latest survey of its use has revealed substantial numbers of cyclists using it on a weekday.

UTS traffic researcher Rosemary Sharples, assisted by three volunteers from local cycling groups Bike North and Bike Macquarie, recently undertook the first count of cyclist and pedestrian usage of the shared-use path since a survey by the NRMA in 2008.

The NRMA count registered only 25 cycle trips a day and the motoring organisation immediately called for the cycleway to be scrapped "to allow lanes to be widened for trucks and cars."

That's not the case now Ms Sharples says.

"In 12 hours on 16 November (an overcast day) a total of 271 cyclists and 164 pedestrians were counted on the shared-use path or road just east of Mowbray Road West," she said. "In the two-hour peak period in the morning, 136 cyclists were counted on the path or road near Elizabeth Parade.

"We repeated the morning peak count on Monday 28 November, with 143 cyclists counted on the shared-use path or road near Elizabeth Parade between 7am and 9am."

Ms Sharples said a good deal has changed since the NRMA survey, not the least being the completion of the cycleway.

"The fact they found 25 cycle trips on the shared-use path before it was complete gives an idea of how keen some cyclists were to use the path," she said.

"The strong peak flows in our count suggest that most cyclists are commuting to work or university, although there appears to be a small amount of recreational use as well.

"Macquarie University and firms in the business parks nearby have been active in encouraging staff and students to use alternatives to their cars, including cycling, to commute. The City of Sydney – along with local councils – has also been encouraging people to cycle more often, which may account for some of the cyclists headed east in the morning."

The cycle count will provide background information for inclusion in Ms Sharples' PhD thesis. Her field study is looking at the effect on motorists of the introduction of bus lanes and a shared-use path on Epping Road in Lane Cove after the opening of the Lane Cove Tunnel, and the consequent reduction in traffic capacity on Epping Road.

She wants to find out how motorists reacted when modifications to the surface road were made which reduced the capacity, firstly in August 2007 and then further in March 2008.

Her work will help road authorities plan how and when to intervene when they have to deal with road closures and how to more thoroughly asses the impacts of trying to change people's travel behaviour.

See more about the study at: www.reductioninroadcapacity.info

My husband and I regularly use this cycleway, which is wonderful, as it separates cars from cyclists and we would never ride on Epping Road any other way. We use it most weekends as a recreational ride, to cycle from North Ryde to Cammeray/ Crow's Nest and intend riding to North Sydney too. We always encounter other cyclists and pedestrians on that path. It is clearly well used. It has been wonderful to have a dedicated cycle path for recreational cyclists like us, otherwise we would be limited to riding around safer cycling places like Centennial or Bicentennial park - not very challenging!