Newcastle is an unusual town in many ways, it started out as a coal mining town and that has shaped its growth. The coal brought BHP steelworks here and this shaped the culture, and still does. The town revolved around BHP – the pay days, the shifts, as well as the pollution that fell out of the sky and onto the surrounding suburbs.
Nowadays, Newcastle has a network of drains, disused coal train tracks and abandoned industrial areas, often beside waterways, and these form the basis of our bike track network. Some of the off road tracks are old train lines, others run beside drains and others are developed “goat tracks”. An example of the last one is a beautiful and scenic bike track running around part of Lake Macquarie. The Fernleigh Track is our best example of a converted train line. One day these two will be joined, making it possible to ride on top class bike tracks from the far side of Lake Macquarie, nearly all the way into town. Town is, of course, right beside the beaches and harbour, making the recreational and beautiful spots all accessible by bike:
It has been the experience here that as soon as a new bike track has been opened, it gets many users flocking to it. Our city council has targeted an increased number of bike users as a priority. There is not yet a seamlessly integrated network of bike lanes and tracks, but Newcastle has the beginnings of this and is on cusp of making changes which could change it into a biking city.