It must be an election year: great bike projects are coming under attack as the politically ambitious desperately scramble for a handful of extra votes.
And the victim could be one of Melbourne best recreational assets – The Bay Trail.
This week, opposition leader Matthew Guy chose the location of the proposed Bay Trail extension to attack the project and promise to rip it out if elected.
The $3.2M Bay Trail extension is a project by the City of Kingston that has been years in the planning. It will get the Trail though to Mordialloc where it will link to a future project that will connect though to Frankston.
Few other projects have been so carefully assessed, with such detailed attention given to design.
With protected coastal vegetation on one side, and the iconic Beach Road riding route in the other, Kingston City was obliged to ensure that important community assets were not compromised.
Fortunately the Beach Road cross-section through the area was sufficiently wide, with an unformed verge that has been periodically used for informal parking.
By redesigning the coast-side road reservation, formalising parking, and avoiding destruction of valuable vegetation, space was found the get the Bay Trail extension through the area.
This week Mr Guy, and his candidate for the marginal Mordialloc seat, Geoff Gledhill, attacked the proposal claiming that it was dangerous, and would hurt local sporting clubs and businesses because of reduced parking.
These fanciful and groundless claims have been fully canvassed in numerous council reports, by council’s highly regarded engineering consultants, by VicRoads, and by Bicycle Network and our own expert advisors.
The road configuration being proposed for this project is common, is well understood, exists already along Beach Road, and has never been considered to be a safety risk.
Why would this section of road suddenly become a safety risk when identical sections of the same road are not?
But in an election year, facts don’t matter. What matters is making the unsuspecting public believe that their interests and safety are threatened when they are not.
But it is not going to wash.
The bike riding community has over many years had to push back against numerous attempts to compromise the south-ward extension of the Bay Trail, and the upgrading of Beach Road safety.
We have prevailed in those battles, as we will this time.
To ensure that riders who use the Trail and/or Beach Road have an opportunity to fully understand what is planned in the project, and what is at stake if it fails, Bicycle Network will organise briefings for riding groups and members to ensure that they are made fully aware of the facts.
Details of these briefings will be made known in due course.