New Launceston bridge design needs work

The City of Launceston has released the development application for the University of Tasmania's new pedestrian and cycling bridge over the North Esk, but it’s not clear how cyclists will be able to use it on the Inveresk side.

The bridge is part of the campus move into the city as it will link the Inveresk campus with land the university owns on the corner of Boland and Willis streets.

On the southern city side there is a 3 metre wide ramp leading up from the levee shared path onto the bridge, but this is not replicated on the Inveresk side where the lower cycling path is only connected by a set of stairs.

There are two paths on the Inveresk side of the river with the upper narrower path for people walking and the lower wider path for people riding.

It may be that the University plans to request the City of Launceston swap the use of the paths so that people riding are permitted on the upper path, but it’s not clear from the application.

And if that was the case it would cause some issues as that path is narrower than the lower cycling path, so mixing people walking and riding would be less comfortable.

Regardless of the permission on paths, the design for the Inveresk side of the bridge looks like it’s been constrained by existing infrastructure, rather than the other side of the bridge which has more elegance and practicality.

Mirroring the ramp from the levee path on the southern side up to the bridge would fix part of the problem on the northern side.

In terms of accessing the bridge from the campus, It looks like the university has opted to keep the existing ramps up to the top path rather than creating a wide central path to the bridge.

If the top path is not opened up to people riding, it means that the only option to access the bridge on your bike will be to get off and walk it up the stairs. Having to dismount will deter some people from using the bridge and if it’s a genuine “pedestrian and cycling” bridge that shouldn’t occur.

There seems to be available land for a longer lead-in ramp rather than stairs, which would be more attractive to people on bikes or using mobility aids.

The university is to be commended for providing public infrastructure as part of its move into the city, but it needs to be done right.

By putting in stairs and long, narrow ramp access points, the bridge won’t be a comfortable riding experience and so people will be less likely to use it.

It would be a shame to lose the opportunity for a well designed bridge for cycling to be part of the university’s campus move. Especially as it will provide another handy eastern link between the north and south banks.

The development application (DA0312/2019) is open for public comment until 7 October, which you can do via the City of Launceston website