It might be shadier, quieter and more picturesque than braving the traffic of the Nambucca Heads to Urunga Motorway, but the newly named Giinagay Way comes with its own risks.
Cyclists say signage warning motorists of the presence of two-wheeled users is inadequate, as are warnings about the amount of wildlife around.
Valla’s Val Sims said in recent weeks she has pedaled past a koala, an echidna and a number of swamp wallabies dead on the roadside.
“It’s carnage – the animal fence stops them going onto the highway but it means they get caught between the two roads and are vulnerable,” Val said.
“If they can’t put up another fence, then they should at least have clear signs to alert people.”
Another beef she and fellow cyclists Rae and Brian Condon of Missabotti have, is the idiosyncracy of three separate speed zones along the route (* see below).
“It is a lovely route and more and more cyclists, including tourists, are using it – motorists need to be aware,” Rae said.
“It would help if there was one uniform speed … 80kph would be good.”
They also highlighted the perils of crossing Deep Creek Bridge, which has a very narrow shoulder.
“This is where they should have some signage reminding drivers about cyclists,” Brian said.
An RMS spokesman said new speed limits were implemented on Giinagay Way last year after the Nambucca Heads to Urunga Pacific Highway upgrade opened to traffic.
“Factors such as development, road improvements, safety and traffic flow were taken into account as part a speed zone review carried out in consultation with Nambucca Shire Council and Bellingen Shire Council,” he said.
Giinagay Way is due to be handed back to Nambucca Shire Council for future care and maintenance and the council is in the process of negotiating a good deal, given the many roads and bridges (expensive infrastructure) along the route.
General Manager, Michael Coulter, said significant headway had been made in discussions with the RMS from an asset management point of view.
“We have been advised and are awaiting formal notification that six of the larger bridge structures will be retained by the RMS,” Mr Coulter said.
“We presented a united front with Bellingen Council for this and I believe it has helped to get a good outcome. We were being asked to accept a huge liability and the RMS was receptive to the concerns we expressed. We are close to agreeing on a maintenance schedule for the next decade.”
The RMS said it would continue to work closely with both councils over responsibility of Giinagay Way. A date for this handover is yet to be fixed.
* The speed limits on Giinagay Way are:
· 100 km/h from 200 metres north of the eastern roundabout at the Nambucca Heads Interchange to 200 metres south of Valla Beach Road
· 90 km/h from 200 metres south of Valla Beach Road to 540 metres south of Ballards Road
· 80 km/h from 540 metres south of Ballards Road to existing 50 km/h speed limit south of Urunga
· 80 km/h from existing 50 km/h speed limit north of Urunga to 100 metres south of the eastern roundabout at Raleigh
· 60 km/h from 100 metres south of the eastern roundabout at Raleigh to Waterfall Way.