Cafe de Wheels and a danger to walkers

The Daily Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2003



A FIXTURE on the late night scene for Sydneysiders for 65 years, Harry's Cafe de Wheels is under siege.

Since opening in 1938, the humble pie van on the Woolloomooloo foreshore has become one of the city's true gastronomic institutions.

Now, the cafestands accused of being a threat to public safety, with everyone from road safety groups to the Royal Australian Navy having a go.

The Pedestrian Council of Australia is campaigning for the parking restrictions near the caravan to be enforced more diligently to enable people to walk safely along the harbour foreshore.

The footpath outside Harry's is often- choked with customers lining up for a meal and drivers double-parking to grab a quick bite.

Pedestrian Council chairman Harold Scruby said his staff had been monitoring the site and it was an "accident waiting to happen".

"I'd like anyone to name any other cafe in Sydney where you can park at your whim on the footpath.

"There's no street light, it's on a blind corner - it's the most outrageous situation. Pedestrians just start walking along the street with cars swerving to miss them."

Mr Scruby said he had been lobbying the RTA and the City of Sydney to get bollards installed outside the Garden Island naval base.

"All we ask is they put retractable bollards up, like the ones in Pitt St Mall, to keep cars off the footpath forcing people on to the road.

"The same scene happens every night, on a dark blind corner, on a main -road with three pubs and six restaurants less than 200m away."

A Daily Telegraph survey of pedestrian danger at the site this week revealed dozens of people running across the road late at night, when visibility is at its worst. There were several near-misses as cars swerved to avoid the pedestrians.

City of Sydney spokesman Sasha Grebe said the council had put forward a plan for parking on the site, but it had been rejected by the navy over security concerns.

"Harry's Cafe de Wheels will continue to operate from this site," Mr Grebe promised,
"While council is fully aware of Mr Scruby's concerns, in response to his submission we've put a proposal together for alternative parking.

"The navy has had security concerns over this proposal.

"Council will be undertaking a traffic surveillance program in that area, even though it is not considered to be a particularly hot spot."

Harry "Tiger" Edwards opened the caravan cafe at the site in 1938 and, at the time, the local council decreed all mobile food caravans had to be moved a minimum of 12 inches (30cm) each day.

After returning from the war, Harry returned to his pie van in 1945, adding "de Wheels" to the name to-reflect his observation of the council ordinance.

Photo: No parking ... but they still flock to Harry's Cafe De Wheels in Woolloomooloo.


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Letter from Clover Moore MP re Harry's Cafe de Wheels approving bollards

Harry's Cafe de Wheels - Letter from Secretary of Defence re bollards

Letter from Clover Moore MP to CoS following representations from the PCA

Bollards finally installed February 2005 returning the footpath to pedestrians