After a decade-long battle, the notorious Black Forest Drive through Macedon and Woodend will be transformed from a four-lane death trap into a traffic-calmed, two-lane road with separated bike lanes.
The former Calder Highway from Melbourne to Bendigo became redundant when the nearby, parallel freeway opened, but the excess lanes were never removed as intended, resulting in a spiralling crash rate, and death and serious injury for riders on the road.
In 2010, when moves were made to make the road safer by deleting redundant lanes and adding bike infrastructure, local opposition during an election campaign resulted in a reversal of those safety plans, with deadly consequences.
Now, Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Melissa Horne, has acted decisively to bring the 12km stretch of Black Forest Drive up to safety standards with a $6 million upgrade.
Work is expected to begin early next year.
The width of the road will be reduced by a painted median for vehicle turning lanes and pedestrian refuges, and separated bike lanes in each direction.
The road will be re-sealed and the bike lanes will be separated by a wide, marked chevron and vibraline.
The right-hand turn lanes for accessing side roads will be added at 13 locations in the new centre median to reduce the risk of nose-to-tail collisions.
The new centre median will also be able to be used by all road users to safely turn into properties without the need to stop in a traffic lane.
Pedestrian islands will be built at key locations to boost safety, especially for school children using bus stops.
“Following extensive community consultation and the examination of different design options, we’re confident we will deliver safety improvements for everyone who uses Black Forest Drive,” Minister Horne said.
“We thank the Macedon Ranges community for their feedback during the consultation periods.”
Bicycle Network CEO Alison McCormack welcomed the decision.
“This upgrade will make a significant difference to the safety of Black Forest Drive and shows that the government is serious about making our roads safer for all road users.
“I am particularly proud of the way Bicycle Network and the Macedon Ranges Cycling Club have persisted over the years to keep this issue on the agenda and have never given up, despite the contentious political environment."
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.