Bicycle Network: Monitor & Evaluate
Shared paths: Audits and Works programs
It is important that councils audit the shared paths in their area and establish a prioritised works program
In 2005 Bicycle Network Victoria was engaged by City of Whitehorse to undertake a path audit in conjunction with GTA Consultants on the Koonung Trail.
Good access, connectivity, gradient and user safety are all key features of a successful shared path. These encourage a greater number and wider range of users. Path audits identify the areas which can be improved or modified.
Key findings are then ranked in order of priority to enable the responsible authority to carry out works in a manner that will add the most benefit.
Access for all
Following a discussion on talkback radio, Bicycle Network Victoria received an email from a paraplegic person who gets around on a hand-cranked trike.
Unfortunately, this person is unable to pass through many of the entrances to shared paths, and is therefore unable to use them.
At right is an example of a slow down point installed on a path which severely restricts rider access. Path audits identify and help resolve such issues.
Get it fixed
Many riders have also had success in improving paths. We recommend a photo and a Melway map reference if you are addressing a particular issue. It is more work but more worthwhile to encourage your council to do a formal audit of the shared paths in their area and establish a prioritised works program. See our Get it Fixed page for more
Trail Audits & Works Programs
It is important that councils audit the shared paths in their area and establish a prioritised works program for the asset.
A flawed path will not achieve high usage reducing the recreation return on the asset. Steps, kerbs and steep sections will reduce usage especially for novice and weaker riders. An audit will identify any such flaws and ensure the path meets disability and other standards.
Unsealed surfaces will reduce usage. Tallangata, for example, has a path that goes 10km to the east and 10km to the west. The sealed east section gets 5 times as much use as the unsealed section.
An audit can identify how usage can be increased through connections to new catchments of users.
Poor navigational aids will reduce usage. A painted centre line is a useful navigational tool and has been shown to reduce conflict between users.
Decay through cracking of sealed surfaces as well as damage from poor drainage can significantly reduce the life of the path, reducing the return on Council's investment.
An audit will identify any permanent features, which might injure riders. These include bollards, barriers, fences and furniture as well as blind corners and squeeze points. Centre of path bollards, for example, have been identified in the national guidelines as a hazard and should be removed to prevent injury and reduce the Council's exposure to litigation and increased insurance premiums.
A maintenance program and planting policy can help keep the path clear of overhanging plants, mulch, grass, mud and gravel.
See our Shared Path: Guidelines page for more information.
Bicycle Network Victoria can help
Bicycle Network Victoria has completed path audits, for example with Arup and GTA consulting, for the Cities of Boroondara, Whitehorse and Yarra among others. We are available for this service to work alongside consultants for Councils.
For more information contact Mike Willamson at Bicycle Network Victoria on (03) 8376 8848 (1800 639 634 country callers) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.