Ballarat bike lanes bungle

Bike lanes have been stripped from plans to upgrade a busy Ballarat Street, and although there is a valid reason, riders are again short-changed.

Mair Street is a by-pass route to encourage heavy traffic to stay out of the city centre.

Earlier plans for an upgrade were accompanied by illustrations showing bike lanes on the route, lanes that appeared somewhat narrow.

There was consultation over the plans, and the venture was promoted as positive for riders.

But as Regional Roads Victoria (RRV) proceeded with the upgrade, the bike lanes did not materialise.

It turned out that the lanes planned did not measure up to the standard width that was required, so they were dropped.

Also dropping were the hopes of riders in Ballarat, who have been waiting a long time for not very much at all.

Of course there was room for wide bike lanes in Mair Street ... if the car parking was taken out.

But this is Ballarat, a city where people drive their car from the front door to the letter box to collect the mail each day, and where every car space is a registered sacred site.

The city is a hotspot for sedentary diseases for the very reason that sedentary travel is a God given right while active travel is banished.

Ballarat deserves nothing less than the same, high quality bike infrastructure that the government has promised to the rest of Victoria.

Bike lanes should not only be wide, and with protection where appropriate, but they should also be on the right routes. Perhaps Mair Street was not the best choice originally, but that it not an excuse to do nothing.

Ballarat BUG spokesman Matt Briody is annoyed. "This is deeply disappointing for a number of reasons,” he said.

"It makes a mockery of all of us who have been part of the various consultation processes.

"We were told in 2017 that increasing bike and pedestrian safety was a non-negotiable, we were told that the location of on-road bike lanes was a negotiable aspect of the project.

"Images published by RRV showed a painted on-road bike lane on Mair Street”.

Regional Roads Victoria said that a safety review determined that bike lanes would not work.

“After a safety review, we’ve determined that there is not sufficient width available for proposed cycling lanes on Mair Street to provide adequate safety for cyclists, so the lanes have been removed from the final project design,” said  RRV Regional Director (Western) Michael Bailey

“Cyclists will still be able to travel along Mair Street, and as part of the upgrade we’ll be installing on-road bike boxes at traffic lights to separate cyclists from traffic.”

“As well as this, the $9.3 million Ballarat Safer Cycling Connections Project is improving cycling infrastructure right across the city, including dedicated off-road paths in the central business precinct.”

Regional Roads Victoria has assured Bicycle Network that it will have alternative bike routes to take the place of Mair Street and will share them with us soon.

Here’s hoping the internet is not too narrow.

An illustration showing how Mair Street should look.

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