Airport master plan on board with better bike connections

Melbourne Airport has released a draft master plan to guide airport development over the next 20 years and beyond and it seems possible that at last people will be able to ride to the airport for work or to take a flight.

It seems incredible that in 2022 one of metropolitan Melbourne’s biggest employment hubs is almost impossible to get to on a bike.

In fact, some options that were available 10 years ago are now closed off.

But change appears to be on the way with the new draft making pleasant sounds about active transport as part of the airport’s future.

One important factor that will surely make a difference, and force the reluctant hand of airport management, is the forthcoming airport rail project.

This draft plan was written in advance of the final plans for the airport station, and so could not take full account of the impacts that will follow, as the station will likely have extensive bike parking and will require bikes access routes within the airport.

And the Airport Rail project will deliver a connection from the M80 Trail in Airport West to the airport boundary where it should connect with the airport’s internal network.

You can the full detail and provide feedback on the master plan here.

The master plan draft notes that Melbourne Airport is located reasonably close to two strategic bicycle riding routes in the surrounding area: the Western Ring Road Trail and the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail, both part of Melbourne's Strategic Cycling Corridors (SCC) network.

"These shared-use paths connect across northern and western metropolitan areas; and link with other strategic bicycle routes in Melbourne,” the draft says.

Currently, there are gaps in the external network infrastructure to connect these paths to the airport, resulting in bicycle riders having to ride on the road and sharing with traffic. Therefore, only confident cyclists may feel comfortable cycling to the airport.

"Within the airport precincts there is some bicycle infrastructure, notably a shared-use path on Airport Drive between Sharps Road and Mercer Drive (part of an SCC Main Route).

"As with the external network, there are gaps in the internal network (for example cycling to the terminals requires around one kilometre travel on the road, sharing with traffic.)"

The master plan indicates that Melbourne Airport is interested in enabling safe bicycle riding access to the terminals and employment areas.

"This could be achieved by ensuring that bicycle riding infrastructure is provided on key routes within 10 kilometres of the airport, e.g. as per the Department of Transport’s Strategic Cycling Corridors network. This also requires the provision of suitable bicycle parking and end-of-trip facilities at the airport, the master plan reports.

"Key measures needed to provide safe bicycle riding infrastructure involve addressing those gaps in the existing network infrastructure that exist in off-airport and on-airport segments.

"Proposals to expand the bicycle riding network in the surrounding area include the Northern Regional Trails Strategy (2016) which includes trails that would address the off-airport gaps. Timeframes are subject to funding availability. Melbourne Airport supports the strategy’s implementation and encourages government funding.

The report mentions the possibility of a new bike link into the airport from the north that would enable riders on planned new routes to the north to connect via a new airport link on Oaklands Road in Bulla.

"Progressive improvements to the on-airport bicycle riding network will be sought when implementing other upgrades to the roads and precincts. Melbourne Airport will seek to use these opportunities to improve the connectivity of the internal shared path network and address the on-airport gaps."

The Airport seems sceptical that airport workers will use bikes. However, at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, where about 60,000 people are employed, 10,000 are expected to be riding to work in 2024.

Like our articles?

Become a Member and help fund our advocacy work.

Join Now