Tackling the climbs in the Dandenong Ranges is about to get a little easier thanks to progress with the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road safety improvements project.
No, the hills will be just as steep—but they will be easier and safer to get to.
The project, being undertaken by the Department of Transport with Federal Government funding assistance, is aimed at reducing friction between bike and motor traffic on several of the narrow, uphill sections of the route.
Riders have flocked to the hills in recent years to enjoy a collection of great climbs, descents and loops.
On weekend mornings bikes can far outnumber motor vehicles on some routes well into the day, becoming the predominant road user.
However, these changes have been disconcerting to local drivers and unsafe behaviours have become a concern where riders travel more slowly on the uphill grades.
The Mt Dandenong Tourist Road became particularly fraught.
The proposed improvements to the road will create more riding space clear of traffic for riders on selected uphill sections:
Tremont between Janiesleigh Road and Churchill Drive Sassafras between One Tree Hill Road and The Crescent
The key features include:
- Adding a 1.5m wide sealed shoulder along uphill sections
- Reconfiguring the lanes to create more space for road users and avoid tree impact
- Installing new cycling meet up-catch up areas near One Tree Hill Road and The Crescent
- Improving or reshaping existing drainage
- Rebuilding impacted property driveways
- Investigating the possibility of cyclist activated signage
Importantly, trees along the road should be able to the retained.
Extensive investigations were undertaken along the route to ascertain the most effective measures that could be delivered within the funding. The funding could only be used for the Mt Dandenong Tourist Road.
At 22km from Upper Ferntree Gully to Montrose, the Tourist Road is a substantial distance, however analysis showed that most riders were on the southern sector, and were accessing popular roads running off the main route.
After detailed surveys of the routes, and after consultation with riders, the DoT focused on the uphill section in Tremont as far as Churchill Drive, and the uphill section in Sassafras’s between One Tree Hill Road and The Crescent.
The upgrades will enable riders to more comfortably reach Churchill Drive before linking to One Tree Hill Road and then back to the Tourist Road, where they could peel off to the 1 in 20. In addition the Sassafras connection enables better access to the The Crescent and Perrins Creek Road was well as variations of The Wall loop and The Crucifix climbs.
Local community response has been strongly supportive, particularly due to efforts made to preserve tree cover.
Before works starts the project will need to undergo a stringent environmental assessment, likely to take many months.
After completion there will also be a need for increased enforcement of car parking controls. During investigations for the project it was noted that the increased incidence of illegal parking along the road was raising risks for road users.
Feature image: theclimbingcyclist.com