There was some discussion at the last IWC Bicycle Working Group meeting of a cycle route behind the sound wall along the northern side of the City West Link.

This would avoid the notorious hill in Lilyfield Road and offer a gradual climb eventually ending up crossing at James Street, then Norton Street then ducking behind the sound wall again to reach Derbyshire Road and emerging onto Lilyfield Road at the top of the Balmain Road ridge.

Alternatively you could stay on the CWL itself using the (diminutive but beautifully smooth surface) breakdown lane to get to Balmain Road (I do this) and benefiting from the favourable traffic light timings that the cars get. At Balmain Road you can rejoin Lilyfield Road (again a favourable traffic light timing) or do a RHT using the pedestrian crossing or a J-turn to travel south down Balmain Road.

Most of the route, at least from Charles Street to James Street and also the Norton to Derbyshire section is on (de facto) shared 2.5m wide path, but the western section between Canal Road and Charles Street is scrub. I did a some bush bashing today to measure the available path width in this section which travels behind the old army base (now Dept of Fine Arts, Legs on the Wall, Art Gallery storage, Opera House garbage transfer station) and the Billy Kids childcare centre. See plans below.

There are three distinct sections. The western-most section is below CWL deck level, has no noise wall and is formed by the batter supporting the CWL. This would require leveling the foot of the batter and installing a chain wire fence along the top at the CWL. This section is about 10m wide and finishes at  chainwire fence where the noise wall starts about half way along the old arrny base southern boundary.

The middle section has a noise wall about 2.7m from the CWL kerb and the Dept of Fine Arts uses the noise wall as its boundary fence. At the narrowest point (at the rear of the Legs on the Wall building) there is at least 5m to the existing noise wall.  I suspect that the Department is using a bit of RMS land at this point but anyway there is sufficient space if the noise wall was actually at the CWL kerb. The land in question is now level with the CWL deck and slopes up gently towards the east.

The eastern section is adjacent to the Billy Kids childcare centre and is the narrowest section but even here there is at least 1.3m even before the sound wall is moved. Billy Kids' front fence is built right to the noise wall in Charles Street but this would be partly on RMS land.

Summary: Once the noise wall is moved to be adjacent to the City West Link, as is the case for the section from Charles Street to James Street, there would be at least 2.5m available for a cycle path.

Gradients would be similar to the CWL and the route would bypass that hill and the slow traffic lights at James/Lilyfield. The James/CWL and Norton/CWL lights are much more favourable to east-west travel. The recent increase to three lanes on the CWL in this region has caused the speed limit to be reduced from 70 to 60kph and the lane squeezing finishes at James Street. Dropped kerbs exist at James and Norton and the section of footpath between the two could be made a shared path as few pedestrians use it.

The section of Lilyfield Road between Derbyshire Road and Balmain Road remains but might yet be avoided since there is railway land behind the back yards of the adjacent houses to the north of the rail cutting all the way along until the last house before Balmain Road. This one house might be purchased or perhaps a platform perhaps 12m long by 3m wide overhanging the cutting could be constructed. This would bring cyclists out at the northern end of the Balmain Road rail bridge and could link to an off-road continuation of the path along the northern side of the rail yard down to Catherine Street where the promised Westconnex rail yard bike path will start. This path will lead under Victoria Road to join the shared path to the Anzac Bridge.

This “Behind the Noise Wall” route combined with the foreshadowed Westconnex rail yard bike path would avoid all of Lilyfield Road and thus the anger of 400 local residents directed at last year's ill-fated Lilyfield Road Cycleway.

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We put this to the Council and the consultant about 2 years ago Bill. John Stephens was supposed to investigate this option. Not sure if he did, but he said they wouldn’t do it anyway.

Fig trees have lifted a lot of the path and drains east of Charles so big dollars to fix those, but should be done anyway I guess, by RMS or whoever planted the figs. 

You can see the kink in the sound wall on Google maps. Wonder why it was done.

Yet another example of how the Council will never actually tell cyclists who want things done to "F-Off" but their actions speak louder than words.

It's gum trees that have lifted the footpath running up the inside of the noise wall, but if they had put any steel matting in the slabs, the footpath would still be OK. Don't let them bullshit you Bob, it's not an expensive thing to fix, even now.

The kink in the noise wall marks the point where the path inside the noise wall started and needed the extra width. I was on the original Western Arterial Road (WAR) committee with the RTA and Leichhardt Council and we originally asked for an underpass to join the two bits of Charles Street under the CWL but the RTA decided that the underpass was too difficult and opted for a bridge plus the walkway from Charles Street, emerging at James Street. In retrospect we should have asked for a continuation down to Canal Road then. The necessary width has always been there.

I remember that the Council's committee members were mightily amused that they were on the Council War Committee.

The kink in the soundwall is to the west of the bridge, Bill, so your theory doesn’t quite explain why it is there, except to allow some tree planting. But the soundwall could be moved closer to the road and allow more width behind Billykids, at the expense of the trees on the CWL side. 

Photo shows trees taking up the narrow space beteeen Billykids and soundwall, at west end of Billykids. Figs and gum trees. Definitely a fig causing damage in the second image, which is a lot worse now than the Google view shows. 

One thing I forgot to say is that in the new brief for the tender ( which council let us have a look at) for  Lilyfield Rd Cycleway the new consultant will be asked to look at the soundwall route. The council said only from Charles St, but we have asked they check out the route from Canal Rd. 

Council engineer thought it was impassable at Billy Kids but admitted he hadn’t had a good look and was unaware of the kink in the soundwall or the wide areas in the remainder from Canal Rd. 

I have a feeling that the footpath route was envisaged to start immediately below the bridge so the kink needed to be to the immediate west. Of course Billy Kids (built 2007) did not exist then (1998?), it just was an open plot of land intended for sale.

There is a minor constriction on the sound wall route at Francis Street because the block alignment is at an angle to the CWL but the gap is still 2m wide and the house in question is used as a tenancy so the RMS could buy a metre at the corner and the landlord would still be able to rent it at the same rent.

What do you think about running the route right up to Balmain Road, between the backyards of the Lilyfield Road houses and the rail cutting? Perhaps only a house short of making it? Check out the 1/31/2014 image on Google Earth.

The gap at Francis Street is 2.4m wide from the house boundary fence to the wall support post, so perhaps no need for any resumptions.

While I was down there I spoke to a bunch of surveyors who were surveying the pathway along the noise wall for the RMS. Bob, you should ask the RMS when you next talk to them for a copy of the latest survey.

I have just climbed the fence at Derbyshire and had a walk along the rail corridor as far as seemed safe which was where the level seemed to reduce to a couple of metres wide.  This spot is opposite the metal gates on the access ramp to the Bus Depot and is 9 houses shy of the corner and 138m short of the footpath on Balmain Road.

Viewed from the footpath on Balmain Road, the corridor adjacent to the bridge is about 1m wide to the back fence and then drops steeply to a ledge about 3m down and about 3m horizontally from the back fence. Using this ledge, I am sure a 3m or 4m wide bike way could be constructed in steel work.


I Think I recall someone saying the bridge on Balmain Rd is owned by the railways. They might be hard to convince that a cyclepath could join to the bridge through a gap in the bridge parapet, otherwise it looks feasible with some structural work on the uneven cliff top. But I’d take the Henry St option which Council is offering, and nothing stopping you using Derbyshire either, since there is a good path from Henry to Derbyshire already and a large bit of open space. Derbyshire is however narrow and steep at the end, not a great place to come out onto LF Rd. 

The brick fence on top of the Balmain Road bridge is not a necessary part of the bridge structure, it would simply be another load. If the corridor was OK by the railways then the connection at the bridge would be too. Actually the RMS seems to have taken an enormous amount of railway land beyond Catherine Street for Westconnex and the cycle path there so why not further up the hill?

Are you proposing a cycleway along Lilyfield Road between Henry and Balmain Roads? This will have exactly the same problems as in last version of the cycleway. A bidirectional cycleway would be much more likely to get past the locals if the only part of the cycleway was the bit from Balmain Road on the southern side of Lilyfield Road down to wherever the RMS cycleway starts which, if it was on the western side of the Catherine Street bridge, would avoid having traffic lights there.

Even better would be a bicycle underpass of Balmain Road suspended in the rail cutting and linking the corridor with a descent to ground at the western end of the rail yards, north of the rail lines. It would be a lot cheaper than the City West Bicycle LInk.

A gap in the wall on the bridge might allow an errant vehicle to crash onto the railway, have heard that from road engineers, but I don’t know.

its difficult to go under the bridge due to supporting works for the large pipe on the east side, but again, maybe it’s possible. It’d be a long cantilevered sort of path over the railway below.

the Cycleway along LF Rd from Henry St could just be like it is now, but the bike lane could be swapped over to the north side from Henry to the high point near Rayner St so it is really an “uphill” bike lane.

The new consultancy  should be a fun process again, but hopefully residents will shut up since no parking spaces outside their homes will be harmed. Council will be the biggest impediment, if they insist on retaining parking on the non residential sections. Also depends on how long RMS will take to do the Railyard path.

I take your point about the bike lane which really should be uphill to Rayner from both directions. West bound cyclists could divert down Derbyshire

This Behind the Noise Wall route has the potential to avoid having any loss of parking or any one-way sections anywhere. Otherwise the local residents will be up in arms at about the same time the Council elections are happening. 

I think the new brief is excluding any one way solutions. 

Speaking of the new consultancy - i saw this today regarding the old  - "cycleway project has been referred to the council watchdog amid revelations more than $500,000 of taxpayers money has been spent". Don't have a Telegraph subscription, and don't want one, but anyone know details?


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