The long-planned and soon-to-be constructed Queens Avenue shared path in Caulfield East has come under threat from residents who have recently discovered tree removal will be required.
Some residents want the project (pictured above) stopped, and have demanded a new consultation, which has just been launched by the City of Glen Eira.
The Queens Avenue bike facility is a vital section of the strategic cycling corridor running from Frankston to Caulfield and was due to begin construction this month.
At the 11th hour, the council is seeking feedback on an additional option produced by LXRP that narrows the two-way bike facility and places it on the road. To squeeze it in requires the removal of 61 car parking spaces on the other side of the street. But the existing trees remain.
If you live in the municipality or ride through the area, you can express your view on the importance of the project here.
The new bike facility, as first proposed, is a two-way, off-road, three metre-wide concrete path along the east perimeter of Caulfield racecourse and forms the vital northern section of a strategic cycling corridor being established from Frankston to Caulfield, mostly along the Frankston Rail corridor.
The corridor, one of many that will be added across Melbourne, connects numerous popular destinations, links to other key routes, and critically, will provide safe riding and walking routes to railway stations along the line.
It is being constructed as part of the Glen Huntly Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP), which is building a new station, removing level crossings, building new tram infrastructure, and improving bike links in other nearby locations.
This large, complex and expensive project underwent extensive public consultation in 2021 and has progressed steadily and much of the major engineering is complete.
A bike facility has been provided between Glen Huntly Station and Neerim Road, which connects to the next section south, along Royal Avenue.
As in all transport projects, trees have been in the way of works and have been removed and replaced. The Glen Huntly LXRP will replace two trees for every one that is removed.
The additional option proposed by LXRP requires the bi-directional bike lane (behind an 800mm kerb) to be narrowed to 2.5 metres, or 1.5 metres in each direction.
The northbound direction will include the gutter, which no rider will venture into. The southbound direction, will mean riders face on-coming traffic. This means the safe, effective rideable width of the lane will be less than the provided 2.5m.
The provided illustration for option 2, (above) which shows the rider closest to traffic heading in the same direction as the car is incorrect. The rider will actually be facing the oncoming traffic.
This dubious concept has not to our knowledge been previously acceptable in Victoria. We believe there are unacceptable safety risks in this configuration and it is likely to be avoided by riders.
If this proposal was approved, similar compromised proposals would inevitably follow in other parts of Melbourne.
Option 1, however, is acceptable: the three-metre off-road path has been successfully used in many instances and meets current standards for these facilities.
Bike riders appreciate trees and Bicycle Network has worked over many years to achieve increased tree cover along bike routes wherever feasible.
The Option 1 plan will increase the number of trees in the area, with more than 400 new trees planted.
Trees are an essential weapon in the fight against climate change. So are bike riders. The Option 1 being offered by LXRP gives us a lot more of both.
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