Proposed removal of Matilda St bike lane by Hellenic Club is audacious and self-serving

31 Jan 23 | By pp-admin | Media release, News Wheel

Pedal Power ACT has condemned plans by the Hellenic Club in Woden to move a $1million bikeway to the southern side of Matilda St as part of their redevelopment proposal. As part of their development application, The Hellenic Club has sought to move the bikeway to the southern side of Matilda St in order to build a taxi bay in its current location. The bikeway would not be immediately rebuilt, with the Hellenic Club claiming that it would be done at the future cost of the developer of block 7 opposite.

While generally supportive of the redevelopment project, Pedal Power said that a plan to move the bikeway would cut off a key link for cyclists, with no realistic plans for it to be redeveloped.

“The Hellenic Club’s proposal to move the bikeway is audacious and self-serving,” says Simon Copland, Pedal Power’s Executive Director. “To suit their own convenience and take advantage of the widened verge constructed for the bikeway, the Hellenic Club wishes to inconvenience riders and pass on the cost to another, yet unidentified, developer at some, unspecified, time”.

“The existing dedicated bikeway was constructed in 2017 at a cost of $1m from the Government. It involved widening the verge at the expense of road width and landscaping the full length of Matilda St,” Copland explained. “Moving the bikeway would mean it would no longer line up with the spur path and bridge across Yarralumla Creek and the proposed protected crossing of Callam St being built as part of the Woden Interchange.”

Matilda St is a Main Community Route and is the primary east-west active travel route from the east to the northern part of the Woden Town Centre. It links the suburbs of Hughes and Garran to Yamba Dr and the hospital. It also links to the C4 north-south Principal Community Route along Yarralumla Creek. At its western end it links across Bowes St through the under croft into the office precinct and the Woden Town Centre square. It will become more important when the improvements to public transport hub on Callam St are finished and when light rail arrives. These improvements include a protected crossing of Callam St to the northern side of Matilda St.

“It is also important to note that bike riders will tend to ignore a route on the south side of Matilda St as it means diverting away from the most direct route,” says Copland. “Rather, they will tend to cycle straight on, putting them in danger and making the re-located bikeway redundant.”

“The problem is of the Hellenic Club’s own making and it should not be rewarded by moving the bikeway at somebody else’s cost. Under this proposal it is not even clear if and when the bikeway would be redeveloped, nor who would pay for it. There is high risk that even if the developer of block 7 agreed to take on this task, the timing would not occur simultaneously thus leaving the community with no bikeway, for a time at least”.

As the peak cycling body in Canberra, Pedal Power ACT campaigns to make Canberra a more bike-friendly city to encourage more Canberrans to ride. Maintaining path connectivity is an important part of this work.

Pedal Power’s submission to the Hellenic Club proposal is available here.