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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“21 hours ago ·
In a statement to the Innerwest Courier, Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne said: “I have referred the matter of council's expenditure and oversight of the Lilyfield Rd Cycleway project to the independent ...”

The Mayor was very critical of the management of the old project under the Administrator before the formation of IWCouncil. He claims the Administrator failed to keep a proper oversight, and was also critical of Jamie Parker and the Greens for obstructing. There were long periods where nothing happened, so the first charge might be correct. But it took a while for the Mayor to realise the old plan was not satisfying cyclists or the residents. The new brief looks to me to be more capable of producing a result, if Council now doesn’t decide to pull Because there is a big public stink.

Perhaps I was wrong about the reason for the RMS surveyors, it was really about Westconnex:

"Over the past few days we have noticed the ongoing presence of surveyors in the vicinity of Darley Road but also on nearby local roads who say they are contracted on behalf of RMS.  These same surveyors were out front Jennifer's building at 11.30pm last night. She went down to ask them what they were doing and why they were doing it under the cover of darkness. And again they told her that they were contracted by RMS but nothing about what they were doing. I noticed a whole heap of white markings nearby and they pretty much seem to resemble the planned route of the tunnel (as recently realigned)."

Neverthless, the RMS has a new survey of the Behind the Sound Wall route which we should be able to access.

Council has just told us that they have investigated the area behind the soundwall west of Charles and it is private property, and they won’t be pursuing any cyclepath along the soundwall there. Can’t all be private property, but some is no doubt.

Interesting how the word "resumption" doesn't seem to be a problem for fixing road issues, but is unheard of to make things safer for cyclists!

And how its impossible to loose one parking spot for cycle infrastructure yet there is no issue declaring a road a peak period clearway

Thanks Bob for suggesting   as a source for cadastral plans.

The City West Link (CWL) occupies DP1045624 and is bordered on the north side by DP1070825 (the old army base, now owned by the Department of Fine Arts with the Art Gallery, Legs on the Wall etc as tenants, and DP1127969 Lot14 which is Billy Kids child care.

The borders of the City West Link DP are smooth curves parallel to the CWL spaced 26m apart, of which 16m is the actual road delineated by unbroken lane markings, with 5m on both sides for sound walls and shrubbery. (At the extreme eastern end this 5m tapers to 4m adjacent to Charles Street.)

In the existing section of sound wall pathway from Charles to James Streets, sound wall and supporting structure, kerb, gutter and excess road surface take up 2m, leaving a 3m corridor. As mentioned this narrows to 2m right at Charles Street and this in fact mirrors the existing section of noise wall pathway at the point where it reaches Francis Street.

I have walked the section between Canal Road and Charles Street and the northern boundary is marked by a chain wire fence along the western section and then by the Billy Kid building and boundary wall along the eastern section. Only along the middle section is there no boundary fence before the sound wall. I think that Predrag Gulej from the Inner West Council has incorrectly assumed that the sound wall is the boundary at this point.

 I would think it a shame that a promising solution to the east-west cycleway dilemma should be neglected simply because a Council officer has been deterred by thick, overgrown jungle in this section of the corridor. If it became necessary, I would happily clear a path for Predrag with my anvil loppers and bow saw.


[1] Predrag Gudelj

[2]  DP1070825 is the old army base and is now "The Parachute Ground", owned by Create NSW and used by "11 arts organisations and major cultural institutions" including Legs on the Wall.

Looking at the Six map for the land north of the railway cutting, I would say that the bike corridor would have to rely on a steel deck from about four houses before Balmain Road.

Examining the cutting from the Balmain Road bridge, it seems that the top of the cutting visible in the aerial photo is actually the top of an almost vertical  concrete facing to the batter, the top of which is perhaps 3m below the ground level of the nearest house backyard. In the 6m between the backyard fence and the concrete, the slope gradually increases.

Of course one would need to walk the route to be sure.

DG - An excerpt from something I wrote in March 2016:

"The Grant:
The grant is $500,000 from Transport for NSW, via the RMS, to Leichhardt Council to develop a plan for a separated 2.7km two-way cycleway along Lilyfield Road from the western side of Victoria Road to the Ashfield Boundary at the Hawthorn Canal. The design is to be completed by June 30th 2016 and suitable for tender and construction in the 2016-17 financial year.

The project helps meet Goal 8 of the NSW State Plan 2021 to increase the number of bicycle and walking trips in the Greater Sydney area.

The grant first came up at the Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting in June 2015. In December the Council staff gave the job to GHD Consultants who attended the BAC meeting of 10/1/16 to brief the meeting on progress.

The real problems with the Lilyfield Road route are at either end and outside the scope of the project. At the Victoria Road end, there is a very narrow, steep and tortuous shared pedestrian bridge over Victoria road which has often led to accidents but this is outside the remit of the proposed cycle plan. There is also a tight, blind corner at the junction with the horseshoe bridge.

At the Hawthorn canal end the wide bridge ends at a narrow and steep connection to the Ashfield bike path and to a path beneath the bridge going south along the canal on its western side - also outside the plan's scope. These are the areas requiring immediate attention.

A much better focus for the grant would be Victoria Road itself between the Iron Cove Bridge and the junction with the Crescent which has a shared footpath which is a continuing safety nightmare of side roads, driveways and pedestrian pinch points and which affects a greater number of commuting cyclists than Lilyfield Road."

The new grant:
Amazingly the RMS has come up with another $300,000 for yet another preliminary design (the fourth so far!). The new design brief has been revealed to the IWBC executive but is not publicly available (Bob, Neil and Col, how about giving us the details?).

According a Transport for NSW spokesman quoted in the Courier, funding has been released for the design of a "segregated, bi-directional cycleway on Lilyfield Road". (Will they never learn?)

Mayor Darcy has referred investigation of the previous half million dollars to the Ombudsman (who?) and also to the Council's Audit and Risk Committee. $514,000 is more than ten times the $50,000 cost of the entire 2015-2020 Leichhardt Council Bike Plan done by consultants GTA. One day we may find out where all this money went.

Council has an Internal Ombudsman to investigate complaints.  Darcy did say in May there would be a review of the process, so I guess this is it. Probably should blame TfNSW for dumping this project onto Leichhardt Council in the first place. 


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