(Wimbo Park, Devonshire and Bourke Street)
Thank you, and good morning, everyone. How fantastic to see you all here. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and I pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.
For those of you who don't know, WOOP stands for the Woolloomooloo to Waterloo cycle Loop, and today the WOOP celebration is to thank all those businesses and residents who put up with the inconvenience of its construction and to alert Sydneysiders to this great new connector through our city.
It's celebrating completion of this cycleway and at the same time raising money for a great cause - the NSW Cancer Council/Bourke Street School.
The completed cycleway links Woolloomooloo, Surry Hills, Redfern and Waterloo, providing safe travelling for bike riders, pedestrians and motorists over three kilometres. In time, it will link into Bourke Road at Alexandria, providing a vital 7.4 kilometre corridor to Botany Bay/City.
As you know, there was plenty of uninformed criticism as the City began building this section. In fact, the I Love Sydney Bike Lanes & Cycle Ways group was formed on Facebook following Allan Jones' vicious broadcast attacks, and I'm pleased to hear that it's going from strength to strength - with over 4,400 supporters to date.
I'm also told that Bourke Street Bakery just opposite has handed out over 2000 copies of the City's Cycling Guide and Map so far this year, which is some indication of the interest in cycling.
The cycle network is attracting ever more commuters and our latest survey showed an average 60 per cent increase in bike trips in the morning period, and an average 48 per cent increase in the evening period. And of course the more people riding, the less car traffic and congestion.
We've built over 10 kilometres of separated cycleways so far and not a single traffic lane has been lost.
Here at Bourke Street, the cycleway construction was incorporated with street improvements including widening footpaths, new street furniture and improved lighting, stormwater treatment and new gardens.
We've also started work on improvements to Bourke Street Park in Woolloomooloo which will include a purpose-built space for a future community garden.
Meanwhile, despite the predictions of the shock jocks, construction of the cycleway has actually encouraged new businesses to open - at least half a dozen since the start of construction, including a bicycle cafÃ© and two bicycle shops.
The City also supported a Buy Local retail campaign in October to encourage the local economy.
Today, I Love Sydney Bike Lanes & Cycle Ways has organised an array of activities along the entire route from Woolloomooloo.
You can ride the full length if you want, or join in where it suits you but events range from a Bourke Street Public School sausage sizzle to vintage bikes at St Margaret's to roving entertainment at Taylor Square - with of course the wonderful diversity of shops and cafes along the strip.
So have a great day, everyone, and enjoy bringing our Bourke Street cycleway to life.