Woden Valley Community Council and the ACT’s cycling lobby have joined forces to oppose a proposed through road in the CIT Woden project that they say is unwanted, will be unsafe and prevent the best use of the land.
The council and Pedal Power ACT have lodged submissions with the ACT Government and despite it being unmoved about the road that will connect Bradley Street in the south to Bowes Street in the north, the two organisations will continue to fight for a green space and plaza at the western end of the CIT site.
Council president Fiona Carrick said a much better outcome instead of a road at the bottom of the Town Square stairs would be a community space where events, concerts and markets could be held, as well as alfresco dining.
She said the shared road would run through the heart of Woden, be unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians and separate the CIT from the Town Square.
“We need to raise awareness in the community that we could have better outcomes in the heart of Woden and for the people,” Ms Carrick said.
She said no one had asked for the road but plenty had told the council they didn’t want it.
The government has said the road is needed because of the new transport interchange on Callam Street to provide a north-south connection but the Easty Street Diversion and Melrose Drive already did that, Ms Carrick said.
Cyclists and pedestrians were already able to access the centre of Woden and move from one side to the other.
Asked whether the use of bollards to block off the road from events would be a compromise, Ms Carrick said that would not be ideal.
Pedal Power ACT executive director Simon Copland said his organisation believed the road would be dangerous.
“We’re talking about a central plaza that will have high pedestrian and cycling activity and to cut a road right through the middle of that creates real potential conflicts between people in cars and those pedestrians and that creates a dangerous situation,” he said.
“People who are walking and riding won’t be expecting cars to be coming along. They’ll be walking and riding and hopefully to do so safely and having a road cutting through here is not what’s needed. That’s not the safest option.”
Mr Copland said people were doing fine without the road, which was not even in the original plans for the CIT development.
He suggested that pressure had been applied from somewhere for a through road.
The government was contradicting its own policies proposing a road that nobody wants in a high pedestrian and cyclist area.
“The government is currently rolling out active travel policies that talk about prioritizing safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists and prioritizing that above the needs of motorists,” Mr Copland said.
“We have a strong network of roads around the town centre, and this goes against their own priorities to create these kinds of safe spaces.
“We want to have a central plaza here that is a popular place for people to walk to cycle to sit to have events to have fetes to have fairs, whatever it is, and putting a road through that reduces the capacity to create a central lively plaza.”
Mr Copland said these kinds of people-friendly, car-free spaces were actually good for business, which had been shown around the world, including in Sydney’s George Street.
“There are cases for looking at streets both in Woden and around the city that could be pedestrianised,” he said.
“It’s not closing up, it’s opening up to pedestrians and cyclists and creating more vibrant spaces.”