Sydney has a unique chance to use the current lockdown period to rapidly expand its cycle network, says the Committee for Sydney.

The think tank is calling on the NSW government to bring forward a scheme to upgrade its current network, accelerating the current 40-year plan to be built in just three years.

This, it says, would take advantage of streets and roads being largely empty during the current lockdown period, which would allow construction to take place faster, adding that it would also help to support and create jobs in the infrastructure and transport sectors, as part of Sydney’s economic recovery. 

For its part, the NSW government committed to delivering a Principal Bicycle Network in its 2019 Future Transport Strategy, covering over 5000 km of cycling infrastructure in three tiers of importance, from separated bike lanes to neighbourhood shared streets.

The plan is currently scheduled to be completed around 2056.

Cycling currently only makes up 1 percent of Sydney’s mode-share. This isn’t due to a lack of interest, as according to the Future Transport Plan, 70 percent of NSW residents say they would cycle every week if it was safe. 

In addition, cities all over the world – including Paris, Milan, Berlin, Vancouver and Budapest – are using their lockdown period to expand urban cycle lanes. 

“There is an immediate need during the COVID-19 ‘transition’ period, while physical distancing requirements are still in place, to transport large numbers of people. For many reasons, including. parking capacity in CBDs, this cannot only happen in cars – we will need much greater cycling capacity to cater to this,” says Committee for Sydney CEO, Gabriel Metcalf.

“Investing in cycling infrastructure would involve a broad program of lots of little projects in every area – every community would benefit from it. The scale of each of these projects means supporting small firms to access a pipeline of work from the project.”