This is from the other side of the street, looking back up the hill, the traffic island you see above is behind the white car …And this is looking downhill, towards Westfield …The map below hopefully makes the position of the new track clearer, it crosses Park Ave at Dibbs St and runs along the North side of Park Ave to the lights at Northcott Drive in the lower left hand part of the map. If you turn right at Northcott Drive lights, there is a nice wide shared path not shown on the map. This joins up to the track running behind St Pius and crossing the blue drain to go onto New Lambton and Adamstown crossing. Crossing at the lights at Bradford Close takes you on to Raspberry Gully, thence to Lake Macquarie …
When I first saw this track, I couldn’t really see the point of it, as using it to gain access to Westfield (just off the map near McDonalds on the map) from Fernleigh Track means crossing Park Avenue twice, first at the crossing in the first photo, then at the large set of lights at the bottom of the hill. This would deter many people from using it for this purpose, no doubt, as the track itself is only about 80 metres long. The other side of the road would have been a better choice from this point of view, but the footpath there is narrow and there is not sufficient room to widen it.
When I was talking to a Council official recently in relation to another matter, I also asked about this new track. I had read the Works Program of the Council Cycling Strategy to see if the track was listed and what its purpose was, but it did not appear there, so asking seemed like the next best bet. I was told that it has been built to link Fernleigh Track with Raspberry Gully, the cycleway that goes behind St Pius College and beyond to New Lambton. It’s not listed in the Works Program as Council does a certain number of short paths every year additional to the overall cycling strategy.
I rode the path for the first time today and it is top quality, easy to ride along with the smooth entry to and from the road and the slight wind downhill to the traffic lights adds a gentle flip flop to the ride. I also like the fact that it is beside a road while being completely separate from it. This would make riding it at night feel safer than Fernleigh, which goes mostly through bushland. The higher visibility also raises awareness of bike riding which I like, especially when riding alongside heavily congested traffic, a commonplace occurrence in this area. Whenever I am in the car here I am usually cursing the traffic and hope that others will do the same and wish they were on their bikes too. The only fault I could find is the width of the island in the first photo, which fits my Speedwell nicely and only just, but would not be suitable to use with a tagalong, cargo bike or tandem. The traffic can be both heavy and fast there and I had to wait on the island. 9/10 Newcastle City Council!