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‘Win-win’: Drop in speed limit on one of Sydney’s most congested roads

“Removing the right turns and lowering the speed limit are the most effective ways to improve safety for all road users, including pedestrians,” the department said in a letterbox drop to nearby residents over the weekend.

Traffic often banks up behind vehicles turning right, including eastbound onto Bourke Street and westbound onto Crown Street, causing drivers to dart between laneways.

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According to Transport for NSW, there were 217 reported accidents on Cleveland Street, resulting in 42 serious injuries and one fatality, between 2014 and 2019.

“Around 12 per cent can be attributed to motorists turning right and over 30 per cent were rear-end crashes,” the department said.

An Uber Eats cyclist died after being hit by a truck at the intersection of Cleveland and Chalmers Street in Surry Hills at 6.40pm on November 23, the fifth food delivery rider to die on NSW roads in a three-month period.

Bicycle NSW’s general manager of public affairs, Bastien Wallace, said food delivery riders were forced to navigate complex roads between the restaurants they were picking up from and the homes they were cycling to.

She also said with the new Inner Sydney High School, on the same intersection as the fatal collision, Cleveland Street was no longer a place “to put your foot on the gas”.

However, Ms Wallace said to properly attract cyclists to use the roadway, the speed limit would need to be reduced to 30km/h and separate cycling lanes would ideally be installed.

As part of the upgrades, traffic lights will be installed with turning arrows to hold vehicles at intersections while pedestrians cross.

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Nicole Badstuber of urban think-tank Committee for Sydney described the speed reduction measures as a “win-win” by getting rid of stop-start traffic and improving safety for cyclists.

“Anyone who’s inched their way through Cleveland St traffic knows as soon as you speed up to 50 km/h, you have to hit the brakes at a traffic light,” she said.

City of Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore said while she supported lower speed limits, she shared residents’ concerns that by blocking certain turns the government may be creating “circuitous” rat runs.

“I will be asking the Minister for Transport to put an immediate hold on the works and properly engage with the community and council before settling on a solution,” she said.

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