[CAMWEST-announce] [m2] Brief report on todays meeting on the M2 project

John Holstein jonhol2 at netscape.net
Thu Sep 23 08:48:40 EST 2010

Doug, Bike North & CAMWESTies,

It was indeed an interesting meeting and it was very refreshing to have Omar Kalifeh, CEO of Bicycle NSW present and very actively involved. His attendance & input, I believe augers well for the future of cycling in NSW & indeed BNSW.

Recent press reports have forewarned of the likelihood of High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes, and although the Premier has commented and stated they are not going to happen, that comment was qualified with a further statement she would watch what was happening in the USA, where these lanes have been implemented by Transurban.

Premier says no to HOT lanes 

From: AAP 
August 19, 2010 2:32PM 

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally says the Government has no plans to introduce separately tolled express lanes on Sydney's motorways. 

The idea was proposed by Transurban chief operating officer Brendan Bourke at a Sydney road pricing conference yesterday.
Adopted by some roads in the US, the so-called HOT (High Occupancy Toll) lanes guarantee users a faster trip than other motorists on the tollway.
Transurban - which owns Sydney toll roads such as the Eastern Distributor, the Lane Cove Tunnel and M5 - has even suggested time of day tolling, to better manage traffic flow in the express lanes.
Ms Keneally said her government would monitor the success of the roads in the United States, but had no plans to introduce HOT lanes in Sydney.
"Our priority is on providing bus lanes and transit lanes, our priority is to tackle pinch points, to increase road infrastructure and to expand public infrastructure," she said.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/business/breaking-news/premier-says-no-to-hot-lanes/story-e6frfkur-1225907338797#ixzz10IV87c7C

Transurban also opposed having cyclists on their toll roads in a recent submission to the Staysafe Committee's inquiry into vulnerable road users 

where they stated at Page 3

 " Consequently Transurban have made representations to the State Government, RTA and more recently the Minister for Roads proposing a policy change to prohibit bicycle access on all of Sydney's Motorway Network. Individual assets including Westlink M7, have also made direct representations seeking to have access rules reviewed."

Further press from Transurban uncovers this little gem:

No `Hot lanes' for Sydney, says Transurban

Transport & Traffic

27 Aug 10 @ 12:40am 

Lane Cove Tunnel: Picture: BRAD HUNTER

ROAD toll operator Transurban said it won’t be building US-style ``hot lanes’’ in Sydney.
In the US, hot lanes are separate from current motorway lanes and provide motorists with a non-stop journey.
The toll increases as more cars join the lanes.
Transurban, which also owns the M2 and Lane Cove Tunnel, is considering opening the breakdown lanes in peak hour to ease traffic jams.
Motorists would be told when they could use the lanes through overhead traffic signs.
Transurban believes Harbour Bridge style time-of-day tolling would also help traffic flow better. 

(My underline & bolding)

Transurban, Leighton's & RTA all denied that HOT Lanes would occur & also denied there was enough room to allow the use of breakdown lane unless drastic speed limits were introduced. When fronted with the information the lanes would be the same width, or slightly wider than those on the Harbour Bridge, the RTA response was "Drivers on the Harbour Bridge are experienced in driving on that width lanes" (and drivers on the M2 which ultimately crosses the Harbour bridge don't have that experience?)

The interesting issues here are that Transurban currently have interests the following Sydney Motorways

M2 - 100% Transurban owned

M7 - 50% Transurban owned

Eastern Distributor - 75.1% Transurban Owned

M5 - 50% Transurban Owned

Advertisements in the Daily Telegraph on 22/9/10 announced the public display of the Environmental Assessment for the widening of the M5 West, so is there going to be a similar battle fought by our counterparts in the south west?

My opinion of the end result of these discussions is as follows:

Transurban appear hostile towards cyclists and this whole process has not been one of consultation but of conflict. Transurban has publicly stated its future intentions for their Toll Roads, being the consideration of HOT Lanes, Time of Day Tolling & the possibility of opening up break down lanes at times of peak traffic congestion. I would consider the release of this information by Transurban to the press to be a "softening up" process to get Motorists used to the idea.(Transurban's claim was "They were misquoted by the press - Their submission to Staysafe however is in their own words)  They have also publicly stated in their submissions to Staysafe they have approached the authorities, up to the point of direct lobbying of the Minister for Roads, to have cyclists excluded from their Toll Roads. Given their ownership levels in other Toll Roads, I can see a time when cyclist could be barred from all of them, thus leading to greater congestion.

Their offer of construction of an alternative route for cyclists during the widening period is only done because it was a requirement from the RTA  and Government and they are not prepared to provide adequate funds to build a safe route, instead it is constrained by budget and time frames & has little concern for the safety of users. Transurban, Leighton's & the RTA representatives believe it is not their role to lobby Government for more funds to build adequate facilities for cyclists.

In conclusion, my PERSONAL advice to cyclists, and this was stated publicly at the meeting with Transurban etc last night, is not to support the use of the alternative route as it is,in my opinion, inadequate and unsafe. I realise that it does traverse areas already in use by cyclists and in some cases may improve facilities, however, there are numerous areas where it is unsafe to direct less experienced cyclists which may cause conflict with pedestrians and motorised transport. Should you suffer any injury on this alternative route it would be highly advisable to seek legal advice re the injuries & circumstances in which they were received.

**The opinions expressed above are mine & do not necessarily reflect the views of other attendees at this meeting or the members of CAMWEST.

John Holstein 
Member of CAMWEST (http://camwest.pps.com.au) advocating for better cycling infrastructure for Sydney's West. 

"if we don't change direction, we will end up where we are headed" (Professor Irwin Corey 
American vaudeville comic and actor (1914 - ) )

-----Original Message-----
From: Doug Stewart <speedwell74 at yahoo.com>
To: M2 at BN <m2 at bikenorth.org.au>; Omar K <omark at bicyclensw.org.au>; Brian Fong <bfong at bicyclensw.org.au>
Sent: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 12:41 am
Subject: [m2] Brief report on todays meeting on the M2 project

Dear M2ers,

This evening we attended a project meeting with the M2 players. We being Omar and Brian from BNSW, John, Sandra and Michael from CAMWest. Graeme and myself from Bike North. On the other side we had Janet and Steve from Leightons construction, Debra from Transurban, Mal and Lawrie from RTA.

This was the most animated meeting so far in this project (although some of the meetings during the Westbound debacle were even more interesting). While most of the agenda was stepping through the alternative cycle route, we made it clear that cyclists were not happy with the poor responses to our concerns, the artificially imposed budget constraints and the obvious Transurban agenda to keep us off the M2 when all is done.

When asked if the planned M2 widening could take vehicles (i.e. designed to traffic standards) the only negative part of the response was that it was too narrow. We have 3 travel lanes at 3.5m plus a breakdown at 2.5m. With a slight rearrangement that would give 4 travel lanes of 3.25m, quite do-able. They may some silly remarks about reducing the speed limit to 40kph not being viable. They of course, were adamant that the alternate route was just during the 2 year construction and not forever. 

On the alternate route we still agreed that it had issues in may places. They expect us to leave the road way and become shared user path cyclists everywhere that it gets a bit tricky. i.e. almost every intersection. This along with the inevitable time delays due to poor light sequencing and triggering gives a poor outcome. 

The main sticking point we highlighted was the completely hopeless proposals between the Epping Bus Underpass and Kandy Ave. They propose we walk with our bikes, making us an even wider user, on the extremely narrow and proposed two way path.  We reiterated our request for an over bridge and they agreed that they had dismissed it without doing an estimate, although tonight Mal (RTA) ventured a sum of million.
The project is not yet approved but the RTA and Transurban will be getting briefings from DoP as to what is happening (unofficially). They indicated tonight that an October approval is expected, which means construction of the detour  immediately and M2 widening from Christmas.

The next steps are for us to lobby with DoP,  relevant councils and government departments and to meet back with approval is reached.

We also requested a meeting with the M2 people around their submission to StaySafe full of assertions and unfounded beliefs. Dates to be confirmed.

Special thanks to Omar and Brian for coming along from BNSW. We really appreciate the support on this one  "It has been a long road".

Comments from others??????

Ride and smile,
-- A day cycling is better than any day in the office --

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