Bourke Street Trees

There’s trouble brewing for Clover Moore over a series of trees in Bourke Street, Surry Hills. As I wandered off to meet my friend Colin for brunch this morning, I noticed a small group of people standing underneath a tree on Bourke Street, opposite Cafe Nikki.

“She only likes photo opportunities when it’s good news”, one member of the group told me, indicating their attempts to meet with the Lord Mayor had been unsuccesful. “Maybe you could go to the local state member”, I thought to myself. And yes, I’m being ironic, as Clover Moore is also the local member of state parliament.

According to the bloke I spoke to, a planned Bourke Street cycle-way is likely to mean a number of car spaces and up to 12 or 13 trees might have to be sacrificed. According to the council response so far, it’s only in extreme cases they would have to go. I don’t know if he’s right or not, and maybe it’s just another one of those NIMBY community groups, but I know I do love those trees on Bourke Street and would hate to see them go.

When I first moved to Surry Hills in 1995, Bourke Street was still a very busy street. In those days, it was two-way traffic all the way to Kings Cross. And then when the Eastern Distributor was introduced, and traffic conditions were changed (to make us all use the distributor), Bourke Street became a one-way street.

In the years since, this particular part of Bourke Street has become a little oasis in many respects. With the opening of a number of nearby restaurants like Bistrode and Il Baretto – though we sadly lost the Bourke Street Pantry when Matt and Catherine went overseas – and with the trees, and the reduced traffic levels, it’s become a favourite part of the suburb for me.

  1. Guy Ollivier May 4, 2008 at 20:13

    The issue is the threatened loss of several trees and 14 consecutive parking spaces from the 3 blocks on the western side of Bourke Street between Davies Street and Phelps Street; to be replaced by more traffic lanes, in this case for cycles.

    The loss of 14 parking spaces is more than are normally available around here even at relatively quiet times. It will guarantee permanent parking problems for our wider neighbourhood. It will also effectively isolate many properties from local parking, directly affecting the amenity of those properties, guaranteeing any items or services at very least will need to be carried across 2 lanes of motor traffic and a 2-way lane of cycle traffic, and/or from several blocks away, if parking can be found at all when needed.

    This is an attractive residential area and we should be calming the traffic through-flow rather than cramming more into it with additional lanes, perhaps looking at the solution already used in the section of Bourke Street between Devonshire Street and Cleveland Street that accomodates cars and bicycles. trees and parking.

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  2. Guy Ollivier May 29, 2008 at 14:59

    Just an update to my initial thoughts about the cycleway and a solution.

    There are 6 side streets on the few hundred metres of Bourke Street between Devonshire and Phelps Streets. Any cycleway would not be separated from vehicles. Instead it will be a collection of dangerous intersections where cars will be cutting across cyclists. Drivers looking for parking, and others rat running, will confront cyclists coming unexpectedly from both directions. A recipe for accidents.

    A far better solution that many residents support is to share the narrow part of Bourke Street, (preferably from Devonshire to Phelps) paint it green, and educate motorists that cyclists are equal road users here, with equal status. Cyclists would then have good clearance from intersections and parked cars. Residents keep the trees, parking, and road access to their properties. Everyone wins.

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