June 6, 2016 – 8:35PM
Build them and they will come – by bicycle.
That is the hope for the first of more than 40 Opal-activated bike sheds to be built at train stations in Sydney and areas further afield over the next three years.
And for Matt Hearn, from Prospect in Sydney’s west, the opening of a new covered and secure bike shed at Blacktown Station is not before time.
Prospect resident Matt Hearn says the new covered bike shed at Blacktown Station is like Fort Knox. Photo: Louise Kennerley
His bike was stolen last year, and he only recently replaced it.
“This thing is rock solid – that is Fort Knox right there,” he said, pointing at the new shed where he now locks up his bike before taking a bus to work at Wetherill Park.
Cycling to a station to catch a train or bus is an option the state government is eager for local residents to consider, instead of them facing a daily hunt for car parks.
At Blacktown Station, the nearby car parks are full by about 7.30am on most weekdays.
Motorists who miss claiming a spot for the day often need to drive to the next station on the Western Line at Seven Hills in the hope of finding a parking spot.
Opened two weeks ago, the shed at Blacktown has room for 30 bikes and is free. Another was opened at Woy Woy on the Central Coast last month.
The next stations to gain bike sheds over the next year will be those at Campbelltown, Liverpool, Gosford, Hornsby, Parramatta, Penrith and Redfern.
To use the sheds, cyclists need to link their Opal cards through Transport for NSW’s bike lockers website. They can then swipe their cards to enter and leave without charge.
So far, the take up at Blacktown has been slow. Only two bicycles were in the shed last Thursday.
However, duty station manager Mark Rabbat said he expected the shed to be better used as more people became aware it was there, and especially in summer when the weather was more favourable for cycling.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the government wanted to encourage more people to cycle in order to help ease demand for car parking.
“Riding can definitely be more attractive and convenient when there’s proper storage available at the station,” he said.
Bicycle NSW chief executive Ray Rice said the sheds would encourage more people who lived within 5 kilometres of a station to cycle rather than drive.
“They are really good for people who commute. It is a big step up and a big encouragement for people to ride to the station and hop on a train,” he said.
“There is a huge amount of potential for growth [in cycling]. If facilities are provided, people will use them.”
Mr Rice said providing facilities for 50 bikes at a station was much cheaper and required less space than a car park for 50 vehicles.
The bike sheds are operated on a “first-in, first-served” basis.
Construction is also scheduled to begin next month on a new cycleway from Blacktown Station along George Street to Sunnyholt Road. It is due to be completed by June next year.
Source : The Sydney Morning Herald