The 11 kilometre shared cycle-walk path being built between Sutherland and Cronulla is expected to change the lifestyle of many Sutherland Shire residents.
Casual cyclists, including family groups, children, seniors and existing regular riders in the shire, are expected to be the main users of the Sutherland to Cronulla Active Transport Link (SCATL).
Transport Minister Andrew Constance said it was not expected to attract “professionals on their $5000 bikes”.
“It’s not the Tour de France – it’s the Tour de Cronulla,’ he said with a laugh as he stood on the route along President Avenue, Sutherland.
Mr Constance announced the start of work on the first stage between Sutherland and Kirrawee, which is to be built over the next 12 months at a cost of $5.3 million.
He said, during that period, planning would continue on stage two, from Kirrawee to Cronulla, for which $4.3 million had been allocated.
Mr Constance said stage two would be progressively opened from 2021 and completed by 2023.
Mr Constance said the final cost had not been determined, but would be “greater than $30 million”.
He said Sutherland Shire Council had indicated it was prepared to contribute $5 million to the project, which would be “gratefully received”.
“It has been spoken about for long enough – it’s ‘crack-on time’,” he said.
The project will connect key destinations, including train stations and transport interchanges, schools, shops, parks, business precincts and the beach.
Mr Constance said the project tied in with the government’s “strategy of getting active kids out and about”.
“Twenty-two per cent of kids in NSW suffer obesity and the more we can do of this the better,” he said.
Mr Constance said there would be “some challenges” with stage two, particularly working in an active rail corridor, where safety was paramount.
“If we can put a light rail down George Street, I am pretty confident we can put a pathway down the T4 Line,” he said.
A Transport for NSW official said “the majority” of stage two would be in the rail corridor.
Cronulla MP and Attorney-General Mark Speakman said the initial plans were for only about four kilometres of the route to be in the rail corridor.
“We are looking at much greater than that,” he said.
Mr Speakman said research had revealed only 30 per cent of people in the shire felt safe riding a bike along the road.
“This is a great chance for off-road safety, with great social benefits of parents riding with their kids, as well as the environmental benefits,” he said. Visit: transport.nsw.gov.au/projects