Lyneham and O’Connor: 1 and not 2

Brindabella Christian College parking area

Lyneham and O’Connor could be thought of as 2 suburbs but are better thought of as 1 suburb centred around Lyneham Local Shops. A few big roads surround the area but between them, the roads and footpaths are generally well suited for children cycling. The CBR Cycle Routes are the icing on the cake. This is the 2nd article on Lyneham and O’Connor.

O’Connor

O’Connor lies unfortunately across the busy Macarthur Avenue. The suburb is in itself quite flat and relatively permeable due to the many pedestrian paths and parks. Pedestrian crossing facilities on Macarthur Avenue are totally inadequate – best to not let children anywhere near it. The best option is the signalised crossing on the ANU to Dickson bike path, which is unfortunately rather out of the way down one end of the street. Direct routes are always best for walking, which is why the safest option is often not the road most travelled. 🙄

Suburb of O’Connor, ACT with Macarthur Avenue through the middle.

Lyneham

The suburb of Lyneham lies to the north of O’Connor and has the same split personality, with Ginninderra Drive cutting through it. Such road designs do little for the continuity of the suburb or community building. There is at least a bridge across Ginninderra Drive. The CBR Cycle Route C1 on the south side of Ginninderra Drive is makeshift. Recommended: cross Mouat Street and ride beside Lyneham Playing Fields, as the path is much better. Children, however, can hardly be expected to do this. North Lyneham is arguable too difficult to get to for most children – except for those in high school years.

Suburb of Lyneham, ACT with Macarthur Avenue through the middle.

Suitability for bike riding

For children to safely and happily ride a bike to and from school, we need quiet and narrow roads as well as good and well maintained footpaths, at least on one side of the street. The paths need to be relatively flat, with no sustained climbs with gradients greater than 5%. This is true for the orange area below surrounding the shops (in the middle).

Cycling around Lyneham shops, ACT. Map from Basecamp with data from OpenStreetMap and contributors.
Cycling around Lyneham shops, ACT. Map from Basecamp with data from OpenStreetMap and contributors. canberra.bike, 20 March 2022.

The area to the west of the orange belt can be steep in places, as it lies at the foot of O’Connor Ridge. Wattle Street from the Miller Street roundabout goes straight up the hill and is too steep for most cyclists, let alone little children. The park provides a green space and could include a better bike path with lower gradients that would provide direct access to the top of the suburb. Currently, Archibald Street is less direct but has lower gradients.

Footpaths are generally only 1 m wide and lie close to the boundaries of the properties or built directly on the kerb. The later are more favourable for cycling. Gardens on the edge of properties will overgrow the path, narrowing it down. On the whole, the paths are cracked but maintained. Some sections have been replaced.

The ACT Standards (MIS05 for Active Travel but also MITS-08A, MIS10, MIS17) say that footpaths should have a minimum width of 1.5 m and for bike paths 2.5 m in retrofit (replacing old footpaths). Most of the community paths in Lyneham and O’Connor are not this wide and would benefit from greater width and separation from property boundaries.

Good tree cover through the whole area guarantees good shading. The roads are overall narrow with tree lined verges and few parked cars on the road. We saw quite a few people walking on the day we cycled through the area.

On the whole, Lyneham has great potential for turning tiny tykes into future active travellers – both for walking and cycling. The path infrastructure is old and needs renewal, however, that is typical for many older suburbs and something the ACT Government is going to have to come to terms with as Canberra ages.

Schools in the area

There are many schools in the area. 3 in particular surround a large green space, with 2 pedestrian bridges crossing Sullivans Creek canal. Schools in close proximity in the Lyneham and O’Connor area are:

  • Lyneham Primary School
  • Lyneham High School
  • Brindabella Christian College
  • Saint Josephs Primary
  • Lyneham Preschool.

Hard boundaries

The space suitable for cycling for children has hard boundaries formed by Northbourne Avenue (east), Macarthur Avenue (south), O’Connor Ridge (east) and Ginninderra Drive (north).

Lyneham playing fields and golf course signal the end of civilisation for quite a distance further north – after that comes the racecourse and Crace Grasslands Reserve.

College years and later

Dickson College must make Lyneham and O’Connor attractive for teenagers. Dickson College has a shared bike path to the front door and is only 2.8 km away. Add the benefits of the light rail, and colleges further afield could be considered.

Cycle path between Lyneham Local Shops and Dickson College, 3.8 km and almost flat. Map OpenStreetMap and contributors. canberra.bike, 22 March 2022.

Block sizes

The block sizes in Lyneham and O’Connor behind Brigalow Street are not that big. That said, the block sizes are the same size 17 km from Civic in the new suburbs of the Ginninderry Estate (Strathnairn and Macnamara). Living on the edge of Canberra does not make the blocks bigger. Lyneham and O’Connor have generally a favourable location. Denman Prospect had large blocks for sale a few years ago, but they were too expensive for most.

Considering that congestion is going to get much worse in Canberra, one would think that the suburbs of Lyneham and O’Connor are more than attractive for a buy/rebuild, particularly for young families.

Woden Town Centre celebrated its 50th birthday and now moves into the phase of urban renewal. Lyneham and O’Connor cannot be far behind for the renewal wave. The shops are conveniently located but a bit tired, and surely a renewal of this precinct is overdue. Lyneham and O’Connor would seem to have a promising future.

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