The construction of Heysen Street has finally been announced. This project has been discussed for many years, and was promised by ACT Labor at the 2016 Territory election, and again in the 2019 Federal election.
“Great news. It always feels dodgy riding heysen street through there due to the lack of shoulder and the hill which reduces sight lines. Now if they can just do something about the 2 heysen street magpies!”Dane Roberts 9:30 pm 13 May 20, comments to the annoucement in The RiotACT.
Heysen Street is one of the “missing links“. Missing links are strategically important gaps in a cycling network. A missing link is often not very long but lies between two areas which could be frequently used by cyclists, and may be a high priority because of safety concerns. Cyclists are normally fussy about finding the shortest route, but should the route be unsafe, the cyclist will avoid it.
“Fantastic that this missing link will be completed finally. I have had many frights going over there and have been concerned about the safety of the many school age children walking over there.”Bill Gemmell 7:51 pm 14 May 20, comments to the annoucement in The RiotACT.
Heysen Street is one of these missing links. This “country standard” road lies on the northern edge of the Oakey Hill Nature Reserve and passes under the Tuggeranong Parkway. The cyclist needs to ride up a hill, on a road without a shoulder or lighting. When a car comes from behind it will need to cross the centre line to provide the required clearance to the cyclist. Unfortunately, from the bottom of the hill, the driver cannot see if a car is coming from the other direction. As the cyclist is slow, the driver could wait but is not likely to. The cyclist gets nervous – and for a very good reason!
Heysen Street has long been known to be an issue, and is considered a short cut between Woden and Weston. Heysen Street is an example of a project that is important enough to have its own page on the ACT Government website. These pages do not get updated much as is good practice. Design and environmental approvals can take quite a while, and then the project might still be stalled by a lack of funding. Interdependencies in the planning may hold a project up for years. Until everything is worked through, nothing will be done. The ACT Government is concerned that the work might have to be done twice. The ACT is short on cash as our territory is not particularly well funded.
Heysen Street should have been straight forward. It was supported by the equestrian association, Pedal Power ACT and the Weston Creek Community Council. The reserve was a minor one and degraded. The initial suggestion for a bike lane was rejected, however, finally the ACT Government has committed to building a separate bike path. The ACT Government Fast-track stimulus package pushed it over the line. Nevertheless, it was not until this month that it was finally announced. Hurray – this is excellent news!