CYCLE ways and footpaths will be separated from traffic to keep people safe and help activate Hunter Street, according to a new plan released by the City of Newcastle, titled 'Connecting Newcastle: Our Urban Renewal Vision'.
The shared model will preserve space for parking on the edges of a dual-use centre lane and create room for wider footpaths and separated cycle ways. As well as providing a physical buffer for cyclists and pedestrians, parked cars will help create a quieter footpath environment in order to encourage people back to CBD shopfronts.
"The shared arrangement or what's called 'mixed running' will suit all commuters regardless of the mode of transport they use and help activate the city," Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.
"Separated cycle ways and quieter areas for pedestrians support plans to activate Hunter Street with streetscape improvements to attract people to inner-city businesses and the harbour foreshore.
"This will mark the start of an integrated public transport network with the potential to link our suburbs with the city centre, education and medical facilities as well as major transport nodes including Newcastle Airport and the Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange."
The urban renewal vision also calls for the light rail to loop from Scott Street in the east around Pacific Park via Telford Street and back west along Hunter Street Mall.
"The reinstatement of this unique loop will provide optimal urban renewal outcomes and reflect the city's character and heritage," Cr Nelmes said.
"Hunter Street Mall has long needed a boost and having the light rail run back along it will go a long way to restoring the area's heyday as a busy business precinct."
The adoption of mixed running and a loop through the mall would honour the guiding principles of the Newcastle Urban Transformation and Transport Project, the Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy and the Hunter Street Revitalisation Strategic Framework.
Input for the latter from 480 pedestrian surveys, 120 face-to-face interviews with Hunter Street businesses and 1734 survey respondents called for more people-friendly places, integrated transport, enterprise and greenways.
"Under Council's 2030 Vision for a smart, liveable and sustainable city, our transport networks and services will be well connected and convenient to all," the Lord Mayor said.
"Walking, cycling and public transport will be viable options for getting around the city.
"Only a light rail design that includes mixed running and a loop back through Hunter Street Mall will help the City achieve its long-term goals."
Starting at the future Wickham Transport Interchange, the light rail will follow the old rail line east before crossing onto Hunter Street at Worth Place near Civic. Rail cars will return to Wickham along the same route.