By Daniel Strudwick, Cairns Post
THE Esplanade bike path will not be touched until the council's new designs have been shown to the public and the State Government department that paid for most of it, Mayor Bob Manning says.
Back pedal: Cr Terry James has said council was under no obligation to seek feedback from cyclists before planning to rip up a section of the Esplanade cycle path. But yesterday Cr Bob Manning said the public would be consulted first.
The back-pedal came after weeks of protests and a strongly-worded letter from the Department of Transport and Main Roads slamming the council's plans to rip up 280m of the path to make way for car parks.
Cr Manning yesterday said plans were still being drawn up to alter the course of the bike path.
But Cr Manning said demolition would not occur on the path between Florence and Minnie streets until the plans had been released for public consultation.
"We'll go back with them (the State Government) and tell them what we're doing, because the new plans improve the outcome for everyone using the Esplanade," Cr Manning said.
"We'll go into further consultation with these plans. Councillors will see them too and we'll take them out to the public."
In a letter given to councillors on Tuesday afternoon, Department of Transport and Main Roads deputy director-general Mark Cridland blasted the council for neglecting public consultation on a matter affecting costly public infrastructure.
He urged the council to halt any change to the bike path until it could justify the work, saying claims about safety concerns had been overstated.
The compromise announced yesterday is a far cry from Deputy Mayor Terry James's insistence in recent weeks that the council was under no obligation to seek feedback from cyclists on the matter.
A bid by Cr Julia Leu to reverse the council's original decision did not have enough support in the council chamber yesterday morning.
But the Mayor's compromise effectively achieves what cyclists wanted -- a halt to any works until adequate public consultation is done.
The cycling community counted Cr Manning's compromise as a victory after the lobbying it has done since the decision in September to remove the section of bike path.
"Working with cyclists and taking their feedback on board -- that's how the council should make its decisions about infrastructure," Bicycle User Group member Brynn Mathews said, adding that the group would hold Cr Manning to his commitment.
Bicycle Queensland was initially furious about CRC's plans to devolve riding facilities in the city, but state manager Ben Wilson yesterday welcomed the council's new position.
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Dated - 1.11.2012