Leading Sydney cycling advocate Fiona Campbell has received the Unsung Hero prize at last month’s Committee for Sydney annual awards.
Fiona, the manager of cycling strategy at the City of Sydney council, has been central to a change in cycling culture in Sydney, which eight years ago was regarded as the nation’s worst city for cycling and is now considered its best.
“With a lot of tenacity and hard work, a well-resourced and talented team and tireless political support from Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Fiona has led the transformation of cycling in central Sydney,” according to a statement from the award.
In particular, Fiona and her team have brought several new and upgraded cycleways to Sydney’s central business district and surrounds. It has now become a role model for other Australian cities, for the planning and advocacy to get them approved and funded, and for the designs of the city’s separated cycleways.
In a video produced for the awards ceremony, Fiona says the Unsung Hero award was greatly appreciated because there had been so many battles to get the infrastructure in place.
“I’ve been there for 15 years and it’s been my dream job, my mission,” she explained.
“In the early days there has been resistance to us building cycleways and in a way that’s been a positive thing because their opposition to the cycleways bolstered support among the community.
“When those anti-bike stories have come out, it’s really galvanised the support but it’s also meant we’ve had to be much more rigorous in what we do and we make sure we’ve got lots of research to back up the effectiveness of what we’re doing, which has made us stronger.
“What motivates me is just seeing the benefits for the community, seeing kids riding to school but also the people who write and say I never thought I’d ride a bike in Sydney, I’ve just done your cycling course. I’ve starting riding to work each day and it feels great,” she added.
“To me it really recognises the importance of the bike in achieving a liveable Sydney and I hope it inspires other areas to lift their game and get those benefits for their community.
“To be honest, it’s not really about the bike. It’s just that the bike is such a good tool for improving a city.
“It allows a place to become more human scale, more liveable, cleaner and quieter.
“Seventy percent of people who live across greater Sydney want to ride, or ride more, but only if they’re safe.”
City of Sydney’s cycling network received another boost, with a recent council meeting approving three new cycleway projects along O’Dea Avenue in Waterloo, Wellington Street in Zetland and connecting riders between Ultimo and Surry Hills through the city centre.
All three projects will link to existing cycleways.
The O’Dea Avenue project will extend the two-way separated cycleway on the northern side of O’Dea Avenue towards Bourke Street and its connections with Alexandria and Erskineville to the west, and Waterloo and Surry Hills to the north. This link will also help people travel to the University of NSW in Randwick by bike.
The project will reallocate one eastbound lane of traffic, remove some time-restricted parking spaces and relocate one bus stop.
The proposed Ultimo route will connect Omnibus Lane in Ultimo to the extended Castlereagh Street cycleway, and run along sections of Ultimo Road and Campbell Street with a shared path connection on George Street. The scope of the project also includes a shared path along a section of Darling Drive.
On parts of this cycling connection where vehicle traffic is low, the council plans to build a ‘quiet way’ where people riding and local traffic can share the space while accessing properties and providing opportunities for widening footpaths and planting large trees.
The project will also link with a new cycleway about to be constructed on Mary Ann and Kelly Streets to the city’s west, offering a key east-west link through the southern part of the city.
The Waterloo link completes an important missing part of the cycleway network and will connect people riding from the George Street cycleway to the Metro station at Waterloo, which is under construction.
It proposes a separated cycleway on each side of the road. The State Government has plans to construct the cycleway to the west of Cope Street as part of the Metro station works.
City of Sydney council will soon begin the Oxford Street West cycleway project between Taylor Square and Castlereagh Street and begin constructing the Glebe to Ultimo separated cycleway on Mary Ann and Kelly streets.
Cycling Luminary Awards Extention
Nominations for this year’s Cycling Luminary Awards, held by national advocacy group We Ride Australia, have been extended to 29th September.
The annual awards shine a spotlight on the people, places and programs that are getting more people riding across the nation.
They include numerous unsung heroes and initiatives in isolated communities.
Enquiries about the awards and nominations can be directed to We Ride’s director – national advocacy, Stephen Hodge, at email@example.com or 0411 149 910.
We Ride is the official light electric vehicle partner of the eMOBILITY Live event at Sydney’s International Convention & Exhibition Centre on the 11th and 12th October.