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Key electorates riders need to watch this state election

We've officially hit state election month and the campaigning is well underway.

Bicycle Network has already kick started its election campaign, which included the release of our ‘Three Priorities for Bike-Friendly Candidates’ election paper.

Naturally, all state electorates can do better to provide for bikes. But we all know that the real stakes this election are in the marginal seats.  

A marginal seat (or marginal electorate) is one that is held by an incumbent with only a slight majority over other parties, often only a couple of percent. This means that the seat is very competitive and that the vote could easily swing between different parties.

Unsurprisingly, marginal seats are often targeted for increased campaigning by parties and are, therefore, common locations where funding announcements are made, as candidates busily try win the support of local voters.

And, as bike lovers and advocates, we can all use that to our advantage to see better outcomes for riding.

The electorates we have listed below are all marginal seats. But more importantly, they each contain critical bike projects that will help advance bike riding in our state. In no special order, here are our top 'seats to watch'…

WHAT YOU CAN DO
 

1. Hawthorn

Margin: 0.6%    

Incumbent: ALP

Suburbs and towns: Hawthorn, Hawthorn East, Camberwell, Canterbury, Glen Iris, Surrey Hills

What you need to know

The critical piece of infrastructure in this marginal seat is the strategic cycling corridor from Hawthorn to Box Hill, or the Box Hill-Hawthorn Trail. With this critical trail section completed, the majority of a 30km continuous path from Croydon to Melbourne’s CBD will be available for active transport.

In 2020, $370,000 was secured to conduct a feasibility study into the trail, but roughly $9 million is still required to deliver the project.

The construction of a trail that follows the railway line east from Hawthorn station to Box Hill station will create a safer place to walk and ride to access the existing ten train stations along the route, over 20 schools, and countless local business and workplaces.

The new trail would also bring together and link a number of existing trails such as the Anniversary Trail, Gardiners Creek Trail, Capital City Trail and the Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail. 

The question is: will Hawthorn candidates deliver the goods?

Running candidates

Liberal

John Pesutto

Australian Labor Party

John Kennedy

Greens

Nick Savage

Liberal Democrats

Richard Peppard

Independent

Melissa Lowe

Animal Justice Party

Faith Fuhrer

 

 

2. Box Hill

Margin: 2.8%    

Incumbent: ALP

Suburbs and towns: Mont Albert, Mont Albert North, Box Hill, Box Hill North, Box Hill South, Blackburn, Blackburn North, Blackburn South, Burwood and Burwood East

What you need to know

Like the Hawthorn electoral district, the key bike project here is the Box Hill-Hawthorn Trail, a section of which will run through the electorate. As mentioned above, the feasibility of the project has been confirmed, what is needed now is state funds to deliver it. 

Completion of this project will not only allow safe commuting into the city by bike; it will be a great way to target the uninitiated rider. Over 77.6 per cent of people within the electorate are ‘interested but concerned’ when it comes to riding a bike.

Surely this is a win-win situation?

Running candidates

Liberal

Nicole Ta-Ei Werner

Australian Labor Party

Paul Hamer

Greens

Joanne Shan

Independent

Cameron Liston

Independent

Wayne Tseng

 

3. Eildon

Margin: 1.0%    

Incumbent: LIB

Suburbs and towns: Mansfield, Eildon, Alexandra, Kilmore, Healesville, Kinglake, Yarra Glen, Warburton, Woori Yallock, Yarra Junction, Hurstbridge, Kangaroo Ground

What you need to know

The marginal seat of Eildon covers vast stretches of the Yarra Valley, as well as the Diamond Valley and Kinglake regions, all of which are popular with weekend riders. 

A critical bike project in Eildon is the Yarra Valley Trail. Construction of the trail is well underway. In 2018, $2.5 million was committed by the Andrews government to complete Stage 1a and 1b of the trail, which will connect Lilydale with Yarra Glen. 

However, there are numerous sections of the trail that are yet to be completed. Stage 2a and 2b of the Yarra Valley Trail will see the track extend from Yarra Glen towards Healesville, and Stage 3 will then link the trail with the highly popular Lilydale-Warburton Trail in the south at Woori Yallock.

You can view the entire Yarra Valley Trail project here.

The completed Yarra Valley Trail is estimated to bring 370,000 users each year and generate a whopping $33.5 million in income for the region per annum. It is expected to generate 222 jobs for the region, including at least 40 jobs in the construction alone. 

It could also be Victoria's first rail trail circuit.
 

Running candidates

Liberal

Cindy McLeish

Animal Justice Party

Chloe Bond

Greens

Wil Mikelsons

 

4. Melton

Margin: 5.0%    

Incumbent: ALP

Suburbs and towns: Melton and surrounding developments

What you need to know

Victoria's western suburbs are experiencing massive population growth and urban development. The Melton district seat is currently held by Cabinet Secretary Steve McGhie, who will likely to be in an all-intensive contest with Liberal candidate Graham Watt and Independent Ian Birchall this election.

As one of the fastest growing suburbs, providing adequate active transport infrastructure in Melton will be critical. 

Establishment of bicycle safe routes within a 2-2.5km radius of the railway station is essential for promoting active travel and hybrid work commuting. Even a station with sufficient bike parking facilities (Melton does have a Parkiteer cage) will not be attractive if it is difficult to get to by bike.

The precincts surrounding Melton station is often busy with cars, buses, and pedestrians, and providing safe crossings is essential. Safe routes can include a combination of dedicated bike paths and on-road bike lanes (with associated traffic calming solutions).

An active travel corridor between Melton Railway Station and the Woodgrove Shopping Centre would also provide accessibility to public transport and retail services.

Four level crossings are also set to be removed in Melton, and a new station built. These projects must ensure connection to the Strategic Cycling Corridor network that has been planned for the region.

With fierce contest likely to occur in Melton this election, infrastructure that improves walking and riding could be a stimulating chess piece.

Running candidates

Australian Labor Party

Steve McGhie

Liberal

Graham Watt

Greens

Praise Morris

Independent

Ian Birchall

Animal Justice Party

Fiona Adin-James

Freedom Party Victoria

Tony Dobran

 

5. South Barwon

Margin: 3.7%    

Incumbent: ALP

Suburbs and towns: Highton, Waurn Ponds, Grovedale, Mount Duneed and Armstrong Creek

What you need to know

South Barwon covers the southern parts of the Greater Geelong council area, which includes the rapidly growing Armstrong Creek area.

Given this growth, connecting Geelong's southern suburbs with the CBD is becoming more critical with time. The key bike project in South Barwon is the Geelong Southern Link, a major strategic cycling corridor that will connect central Geelong with Waurn Ponds that coincides with plans to duplicate the rail line. 

The project includes the removal of the notorious Fyans Street level crossing, which is an important connection to the Bellarine Rail Trail.

The project has been massively delayed for years and should be expedited to accommodate southern Geelong's population boom.

South Barwon has a history of marginal swing, and the pressure will be on candidates to demonstrate how they will steer the ship and deliver this important transport link. 

Running candidates

Australian Labor Party

Darren Cheeseman

Liberal

Andrew Katos

Greens

Genevieve Dawson-Scott

 

6. Benambra

Margin: 2.6%    

Incumbent: LIB

Suburbs and towns: Rutherglen, Beechworth, Corryong, Tallangatta, Yackandandah

What you need to know

Benambra covers the picturesque hills, farmlands and bushlands of northwest Victoria. And when it comes to bikes Benambra has one key asset: rail trails.

There are massive opportunities for bike tourism in Benambra, which contains sections of the High Country and Murray-to-Mountains Rail Trails

Both rail trails would benefit massively from state government funding. As we highlighted in a recent article, the High Country Rail Trail is in dire need of repairs from bushfire-related damage. There is an opportunity here for candidates to support these importance pieces of local heritage. 

Another tantalising prospect for candidates is to support the connection of the rail trails via an off-road path running between Osbornes Flat (Yackandandah) and Huon. The 30km stretch of path would allow for family-friendly active travel across Benambra's regional cities, resulting in a healthy population, not to mention healthy injections into the tourism economies!

Benambra candidates should definitely have this on their radars...

Running candidates

Liberal

Bill Tilley

Independent

Jacqui Hawkins

Greens

Luke Brady

Animal Justice Party

Mike Fuery

 

7. Kew    

Margin: 4.7%

Incumbent: LIB

Suburbs and towns: Kew, Kew East, Deepdene, Balwyn, Balwyn North, Surrey Hills, Canterbury

What you need to know

There's a common bike issue that pops up in the Kew electorate: crossing the Yarra River. And the 2022 state election seems the perfect time to solve it.

As many riders will know, the century-old and notoriously narrow Walmer Street Bridge is currently unfit for accommodating the hordes of riders that use the Main Yarra Trail. 

As we've said before, a 5 metre wide new bridge is desperately required to cross the Yarra. Several fantastic opportunities exist to improve the crossings of the Yarra River along the Main Yarra Trail, including building better bike riding facilities across Studley Park Road and even building a new bridge at Church Street in Abbotsford.

Most parties have had a crack at solutions. Labor funded a feasibility study in 2018 to scope out a new bridge. The Libs recently announced that, if elected, they will fund a second bridge at Walmer Street. 

This critical piece of community infrastructure should be at the front of Kew candidates' minds.

Running candidates

Liberal

Jess Wilson

Australian Labor Party

Lucy Skelton

Greens

Jackie Carter

Independent 

Sophie Torney

Animal Justice Party

Ruby Schofield

 

8. Croydon

Margin: 0.9%    

Incumbent: LIB

Suburbs and towns: Croydon, Croydon Hills, Croydon North, Croydon South, Kilsyth, Kilsyth South, Bayswater North, Mooroolbark

What you need to know

Croydon has one of the tightest margins in this election, less than 1 per cent swing to the Liberal Party. So campaigning is likely to be fierce.

The key project that will shape Croydon's active travel future will be the establishment of a continuous 35km bike path along the rail line from Hawthorn to Lilydale, which has long been recognised in active transport planning.

Indeed, parts of this infrastructure have been completed, with numerous station upgrades along the Lilydale line now providing active transport links.

The next stage will be to in-fill the remaining gaps along the rail corridor with purpose-built bike facilities. And Croydon is a great place to start creating this 'Great Eastern Bikeway'. 

There is already active transport links in the works, coinciding with the new rail bridge construction at the to-be-upgraded Croydon station, which will deliver a vital connection for a future bike route between Ringwood and Mooroolbark.

What we need is strong political will to advocate for these bike links.

Running candidates

Liberal National

David Hodgett

Australian Labor Party

Sorina Grasso

Greens

Brendan Powell

Animal Justice

Harley McDonald-Eckersall

What you can do

Don't underestimate your voting power! Reaching out to your local candidates this election will help push the changes we all want to see. And candidates want to hear from you. They want to represent your needs. 

Have a read of our article on writing to candidates here. You can figure out which electorate you live in via the Victorian Electoral Commission website, and candidates can be found through the websites of each political party. 

Don’t forget to cc campaigns@bicyclenetwork.com.au in your correspondence. Any responses that you receive will be published on our campaign tracker!