Time to rev up bike riding investment, government told

There should be a major and immediate expansion of bike riding facilities in Melbourne and major regional cities, according to Victoria’s independent infrastructure advisory body.

In its 30-year strategy review released this month, Infrastructure Victoria (IV) has urged the state government to "transform cycling in Melbourne, Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong.”

"In the next five years, deliver separated cycle ways and invest in train station bicycle parking facilities to expand the cycling network in Melbourne, Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong,” the draft strategy says.

"Immediate priorities include connections within and between Melbourne CBD and surrounding suburbs, and connections to the Monash, Latrobe and Sunshine National Employment and Innovation Centres.”

The draft report and associated documents are now available.

The government is seeking feedback on the recommendations and you can have your say here.

The report points out the stingy share of transport investments that has gone into developing a network for bike riders.

"Victorian Government cycling investment has been small compared to roads and public transport,” Infrastructure Victoria says.

"Although the Victorian Government has been investing in bicycle infrastructure alongside major projects and the St Kilda Road bicycle network, dedicated investment across the broader cycling network has been small at $100 million over five years in the Victorian Cycling Strategy 2018-2028.

The review says that connections with high potential for bike riding include trips from Richmond, Carlton, North Melbourne and South Yarra to the CBD, including allowing access through and around the CBD.

"Better cycling connections can help activate urban renewal precincts, like Fishermans Bend. Connections to Monash, Latrobe and Sunshine National Employment and Innovation Clusters also have potential, with many trips to Monash from Clayton, Springvale, Oakleigh and Huntingdale potentially convertible.

"Rapid population growth in Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong is likely to present significant opportunities to encourage locals to switch to cycling.”

IV says the government should increase direct funding to cycling infrastructure given cycling can help manage demand on the road network and improve urban environments.

"It should expand the cycle network, starting by investing in safe, high quality, separated cycle ways for these priority places in the next five years, including along Strategic Cycling Corridors.

"The Victorian government should also incorporate long-term cycling infrastructure into the Victorian transport plan.

"Using tools like the Movement and Place Framework and reallocating road space towards preferred transport modes, cycling corridors should include connections to train stations, National Employment and Innovation Centres and CBDs.

"At train stations with car park pressures, the Victorian Government should invest in bicycle storage facilities and support development of the surrounding bicycle network. This encourages behaviour change and helps relieve parking pressure.

"Planning work should begin immediately with identified priority investments delivered within five years. More investment will be required once further opportunities are identified through better network planning using improved modelling tools.

IV gave the state government a similar hurry up in the first 30-year strategy issued in 2016. The result was a big yawn.

This time it could be different.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has generated increased interest in cycling,” the review says. "About 60% of Victorians are curious about cycling, but many feel unsafe."

See the strategy

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