No budget bounty, but fat pipeline still flows

There are no eye-catching new bike projects in the Victoria's abstemious 2023-24 State Budget this week.

However, a fat pipeline of ongoing projects across the transport sector will continue to deliver active transport outcomes.

A $694 million top-up was announced for key road and intersection upgrades and another $62 million was allocated to deliver better local roads and safety upgrades.

Fortunately, under the state's integrated transport policy, bike facilities must be considered in the plans for all new transport infrastructure.

This means that all new projects — level-crossing removals, bridges, tunnels, arterial upgrades — are taking opportunities to create and improve bike routes across the state.

For example, the next stage of the Barwon Heads Road upgrade, now in the planning stages, will continue the construction of a high quality bike route to the south of Geelong.

And the removal of the eight level crossings through Brunswick will create a new section of the Upfield Trail under the elevated tracks.

At the local level, funding will be provided for councils to bid for active travel upgrades at every local government area across the state.

The announcement that another 23 new V/Line VLocity trains will be built for regional Victorian routes will have significant benefits for touring bike riders and commuters.

The early generation VLocity trains have inadequate bike storage, and much of the space is often occupied by luggage.

The most recent designs have better bike storage and six accessible spaces on each train, which allows more flexible storage options for bulky luggage.

Twelve of the new trains are under construction and the next 23 will follow.

The $650 million upgrade and electrification of the Melton rail line will indirectly benefit bike riders in future years.

For significant distances along the rail line there will be a future strategic cycling corridor and while much of that may be built by developers as new suburbs spring up in Melbourne’s west, the rail upgrade will need to make provision for essential crossings and underpasses.