MIDCOAST Council has responded to requests from the community for improved footpath and cycleway connections, developing a draft plan to guide the future development of pedestrian and cycle routes across the region.
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Council is currently seeking feedback from the community on a draft Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plan/Bike Plan, that includes detailed projects for different communities according to ideas shared during extensive consultation across the region late last year.
The issue was also raised at a number of Council’s Community Conversations, with towns and villages united in their desire for greater pedestrian and mobility access, and improved footpath and cycleway connections, leading Council to develop the draft plan.
The Public consultation session at Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens was held at Tea Gardens Baptist Church and was attended by 20 members of the community.
Issues raised at the consultation included the narrow pedestrian pathways on the Singing Bridge, a lack of pathways connecting Peter Sinclair Gardens to shops and local facilities, streets with no formal pathways, conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians at peak times, the lack of a walking and bike link to Winda Woppa and inconsistent waymarking.
Gordon Grainger of the Hawks Nest Tea Gardens Progress Association said that action on the Singing Bridge had been long awaited by the community.
“We are still awaiting a decision on the Singing Bridge here,” he said.
“The footpath is too narrow. We have an increasing age group here, many of whom are in wheelchairs.
“The problem we have is that when two wheelchairs meet in the middle, one of them has to back back.
“You also have bike riders using the path. We are trying to get a one way system for motorized wheelchairs.
“We have been waiting four years for a decision,” said Mr Grainger.
In the Public consultation session at Bulahdelah, community members discussed the need to link existing pathways particularly in the core area by the shops and locations including the Tourist information Centre, Museum and Recreational Vehicle Park.
MidCoast Council’s Director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services, Rob Scott, said the Council understood the importance of improving pedestrian and mobility access across the region.
“This draft plan has been 12 months in the making,” he said.
“We’ve really taken the time to collate the feedback we’ve previously been given and work out how to best cater for each area within the MidCoast.
“COVID-19 has really highlighted how beneficial getting outside and exercising is, not just for our physical health but mentally as well. By improving accessible footpaths, shared pathways, cycleways, bike facilities and community pedestrian / cycle systems we hope it makes it easier for everyone to get out and enjoy our beautiful region.
To view the draft plan and provide your feedback, head to www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/HYS. Submissions close on Friday 11 December at 4.30pm.
“The next stage is for our community to review the draft plan and tell us what they think of it,” said Mr Scott.
“These links will contribute to health and wellbeing outcomes of our communities through active recreation, and encouraging the incorporation of active transport networks into future development will promote positive environmental and social outcomes.”
By Doug CONNOR