Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Railway easments for bike paths

The Brumby government's Victorian Cycling Strategy is welcome though long overdue. $115 million might sound like a lot of money, but this is less about one quarter the cost of the interchange between Eastlink and the Monash Freeway.

While several good initiatives are listed, it is disappointing that the plan does not provide for many safe and convenient cycle routes outside of the 10km radius that would be used by commuters, for local trips and for family outings on weekends.

The opportunity of using existing rail easements that could accommodate bike paths throughout Melbourne has been largely overlooked. For example, a good bike path route could be constructed along much of the railway easement from Box Hill to the Yarra via Camberwell and Hawthorn where it would connect with the Capital City trail and upgraded inner city bike paths. Thousands of people would use such a path if was available.

Possible Eastern rail trail route

Many people don't feel safe cycling with only a line of paint between them and cars on busy roads. Dedicated and direct bike paths across Melbourne are required to really mainstream cycling as a safe, legitimate and climate friendly transport mode.

I cycle a lot, and use bike paths to avoid cars when I commute. The huge increase in numbers cycling has now stretched the ad hoc "recreational meandering bike path" approach past its safe limits.

What we need in Victoria is:
  • Dedicated bike paths - either as Copenhagen style lanes or dedicated paths free from cars
  • Designated commuter paths should not allow pedestrians. Bikes travelling at 30 km/h do not safely mix with walkers. Unfortunately nearly all bike paths are designated by default as pedestrian too. Existing paths such as Gardiner's Creek are now too narrow for the several thousand cyclists that use them every day.
  • A minister for cycling. Responsibility is currently shared in and unclear way between the Roads Minister (Tim Pallas), the Public Transport Minister (Lyn Kosky). The Health Minister (Bronwyn Bishop) and the Environment Minister (Gavan Jennings) both have an interest too. Bike paths that cross local council boundaries are often problematic. There is no minister clearly accountable for all cycling, including all bike paths and lanes, racing, commuting and recreational riding.
  • More funding. Serious cycling infrastructure would require more than $50 million per year for at lease 10 years. Drip feed funding just doesn't deliver.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good post as usual, Peter. And spot-on.