Bicycle Network: Metro Routes
Inner: Footscray Rd path
This path is part of the Western Rail Path Route
This path is part of the Western Rail Path Corridor
Bridge decline could trigger bike fix
27 February 2014. The severe deterioration of Shepherd Bridge over the Maribyrnong at Footscray—a nasty pinch point on one of Melbourne's busiest bike routes—could force authorities to rebuild the bridge with proper facilities for bike riders.
It has emerged that VicRoads reported in 2012 that the structure had cracked pedestals and corroded steel bearings and needed modification and strengthening to deal with the massive freight movements from the Port of Melbourne.
The organisation proposed installing a new bike facility on the Bridge at the time of the proposed repairs. The rehabilitation is considered urgent, otherwise lanes may have to be closed and load limits applied.
The route along Footscray Road is one of the fastest growing bike routes in Melbourne with more than 2000 riders a day. Many more would be using it but for the risky crossing at Shepherd Bridge.
The report said making the crossing safer for cyclists was VicRoads' top cycling project for Melbourne's west. It proposed strengthening the bridge and installing a wide, separated bike path at a total cost of $13.5 million.
"There is a significant strategic opportunity to improve the bicycle priority at this key location approaching Footscray, in order to more efficiently bring people into the centre of Footscray and the CBD and reduce the impact of traffic congestion on the road", the report said.
Colleen Hartland, Greens western suburbs MP, said the government had compromised cyclist safety to save a few million dollars.
"Cyclists in the western suburbs are being put in danger on a daily basis because the government won't commit to making the bridge safe," Ms Hartland said. "They can talk about $8 billion for the east-west link but they can't make cyclists safe."
The state government has remained mute on the prospect of new bike facilities across the Maribyrnong. However the route becomes more important by the day as new office development blossoms in Docklands, and draws ever-increasing bike traffic.
Given the rider numbers expected to be using the route in the next decade, the government could comfortable justify an even better solution than that contained in the VicRoads report.
Signals get the green in west
22 October 2013. More than $1.8M has been committed to new signals for bike riders in Melbourne's west, including the risky Whitehall-Parker intersection in Footscray, and Footscray Road in Docklands.
Roads Minister Terry Mulder said $1.8 million would go to improve safety and access to and from the popular Footscray Road shared path at three locations.
Traffic signals and bike lanterns will be installed at the intersection of Whitehall Street and Parker Street, near wher it feeds into the Footscray Road path in Footscray, at a cost of $1.1 million, which will give cyclists priority access through the intersection.
$700,000 will also be invested to signalise the slip lanes where Footscray Road intersects with Pearl River Road and Waterfront Way to improve safety during the morning and afternoon peaks.
"The Footscray Road path is a popular commuter route, heavily used by cyclists travelling between the city and Melbourne's west," Mr Mulder said.
The City of Melbourne is currently widening the off-road path between the Moonee Ponds Creek and the city.
When completed the improvements by the City and the State Government should result in a much improved rider experience through the western precinct of Docklands.
This was once a high quality route, but was made less attractive by numerous poor design decisions as Docklands developed.
VicRoads starts Footscray Road upgrade
8 February 2012. The $475,000 Footscray Road bike path upgrade is underway with the aim of improving safety and efficiency on the busy route.
The upgrades are to various sections from Docklands Drive to Maribyrnong River.
The works include:
- widening and reconstructing parts of the existing path under CityLink,
- line marking with pedestrian and bicycle logos,
- installing pedestrian fencing,
- installing new pedestrian operated signals on the westbound service road, and
- improved street lighting and vegetation trimming.
The project should be finished by mid-year.
The Minister for Roads Terry Mulder said: “The Footscray Road shared path is a priority route on the Principal Bicycle Network and provides an important link between Melbourne and the western suburbs,”
“During the morning peak from 7am and 9am, up to 1,000 cyclists use this route to commute to and from central Melbourne.”
Mr Mulder said in the five year period ending 30 December 2009, there were 13 crashes involving cyclists on Footscray Road.
“Upgrading the shared path on Footscray Road will minimise impacts on other road users and provide increased safety, capacity and priority for cyclists and pedestrians,” Mr Mulder said.
The Members for Northern Metropolitan Region Craig Ondarchie and Andrew Elsbury said the works were important.
“This is a particularly busy area for commuter cyclists during the week and family cyclists on weekends. This upgrade will provide improved safety for those riding to the city for work and encourage greater recreational cycling for inner city residents and families,” Mr Ondarchie said.
“The infrastructure announced today will be warmly welcomed by cyclists throughout the Footscray, Seddon, Yarraville and Tottenham region. Combined with our committment for the Westgate Punt, this is further evidence that the Coalition Government is delivering for the cyclists of the West,” Mr Elsbury said.
Mr Mulder said the Coalition Government was investing around $14.5 million in bicycle improvement works across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.
Slip lane nightmare fix promised
18 November 2010. The notorious left turning slip lanes on the Appleton Dock overpass, which encourage speeding heavy vehicles transports to cut across the path of riders on the Footscray Road bike path, will be signalised.
The move has been long awaited by the many riders who use the path each day to commute to the city.
The announcement was contained in the ALP's state election commitments list.
Two million dollars has been pledged for the move, which also includes signalising of other left turning slip lanes from Docklands to the Maribyrnong River.
Footscray Road shemozzle tackled
29 April 2010. Traffic signals are to be installed at the hazardous intersection of the Footscray Road bike path with Appleton Dock Road, remedying one of the most embarrassing road engineering blunders in recent Melbourne history.
The intersection was part of the massive overpass project required to provide new rail access into the docks.
Initial expectations were that the project would improve bike access through the area, eliminating a tricky rail crossing. But as the project neared completion it became apparent that the design had completely ignored the danger introduced by placing a slip lane across the bike path.
The overpass and intersection is just one of number of negative changes made to the bike route in recent years as new development has been completed in Docklands.
The path, once one of Melbourne's best, has been compromised so badly by recent changes that riders are looking elsewhere for less stressful commuting routes.
Once VicRoads took control of the project of the Melbourne Ports consortium, a commitment has been made to revisit the design of the entire route into the city with a view to returning it to an attractive and high standard.
Bicycle Network is being consulted in the review. And the many riders who persisted in writing and badgering elected officials and the bureaucracy should feel validated now that progress appears to be underway.
Intersection goes from bad to worse
28 August.VicRoads have completed an audit of the Footscray Rd path however we are still to hear or see what this audit will deliver on the ground for riders. The Footscray Road / Appleton Dock Road situation has become even worse than before due to the opening of the eastbound right hand turn lane for vehicles being opened up. This means that the westbound left turning trucks now have to not only negotiate the corner, look for bikes or pedestrians but also now have a vested interest in not looking at the crosiing point as they may come into conflict with an oncoming righ-turning vehicle from the other direction. We will continue to ask VicRoads to signalise this crossing as we fear the consequences of doing nothing. City of Melbourne have also budgeted to do an audit of the Footscray Rd path in the 2009/10 year.
The results are in; Signalise the intersection now
18 November 2008. Two months of review and discussion on the troublesome Footscray Road / Appleton Dock Road intersection appear close to delivering an acceptable re-design.
Thus far a number of welcome steps have been taken which have resulted in marginal improvements, including installation of mirrors, additional signage for both vehicles and shared path users and cyclist stop hold bars at the Footscray Road / Appleton Dock Road intersection, further reduction of the containment barriers, additional linemarking at the Footscray Road / Appleton Dock Road intersection, removal of two existing access driveways across the shared user path (west of the outbound bridge) and reinstatement of the path, the removal of steel / concrete bollards that were a hazard and located adjacent to the existing path, and relocation of the western shared path crossing a further 30 metres west of the outbound bridge.
Bicycle Network met with the Dynon Rail Project team on Friday 14 November and discussed the GTA Consultants Report on the current and projected traffic scenario and the implications of signalising the entry and exit lanes of Appleton Dock Rd. If followed through, this would result in a vastly improved design which would be acceptable to bike riders.
The report has taken into consideration the expected growth in freight vehicles by the year 2025 and shows conclusively that signalising the intersection will not congest or exceed the traffic engineering guideline, DOS ( the 'Degree of Saturation', where 1.00 is considered to be the maximum level of traffic a route should carry).
The projected DOS factor for the westbound sliplane in the 2025 AM peak is 0.68, which according to VicRoads provided data represents 313 vehicles. The DOS would become 0.89 if signals were introduced and thus still be acceptable. Given the same data tells us the current vehicle volumes is 179 in the AM peak, basic math tells us that the DOS in 2008 is 0.39. The current and projected PM peak is far lower.
The study has also assumed that the rider number will not increase beyond 750 riders per hour based on the width of path. Given the last two year's rider numbers have increased by 37% and 23% respectively, this may prove to be a misguided assumption.
In January the inbound half of Footscray Rd is due to be completed. This will introduce a new level of complexity to the interesection as eastbound right hand turning vehicles will be under signalised control and left turning vehicles still free to turn at will. This will likely see westbound drivers having a far greater vested interest in watching the right-turning vehicles and not the path users. Signalising the intersection will thus not only be good for path users but for road users also.
For these reasons we believe the intersection should be signalised without delay. Waiting to see what happens when the full road is completed will not help the already frustrated path users between now and January. Given the rider numbers already outnumber vehicle movements and far exceed the required warrant levels necessary to install signals we believe there is no time to waste.
West end improvements on the way
24 October 2008 Leightons have just sent through this update.
"We have finished the initial asphalting of the service road adjacent to the shared path outbound on
Having diverted this flow, we can now begin to improve the existing shared path by removing the old driveway access and also raise the level of the path at the eastern end so that the tie into the new, further westward, final shared path/service road crossing configuration can be completed.
Our foreman hopes to implement this change tomorrow, and it will be in place for a few weeks. We will have appropriate safety measures in place should there be a need to have any equipment or vehicles on the road from time to time."
So in summary, the west end of the bridge is being fixed as per our recommendations and the redundant driveways further west are being removed. We will continue to push for an improvement at the Appleton Dockyard Rd intersection.
Barrier modifications to start
3 October 2008. A significant change to the troubled intersection at Appleton Dock Road is expected to get underway this weekend with removal of a section of the road barrier.
The current height and size of the barrier is a major contributor to the safety problem on overpass because it restricts riders' vision of turning vehicles in the slip lane.
It is expected that the removal of the barrier section will improve sightlines, thus enabling the rider to see the position of vehicles further back the roadâ€”an important advantage as few trucks in the slip lane are currently signalling their intention to turn left.
Weather permitting, the work will be undertaken this weekend. Riders should expect some disruption.
Positive signs for Footscray Road overpass
26 August 2008. The State Government has ordered changes to the controversial design of the Dynon Rail overpass on Footscray Road.
Authorities have relented following a forceful campaign by Bicycle Network members, angry at the design and safety shortcomings of the bridge. As a first step the blind, sharp left turn road-crossing at the base of the overpass, heading west, will be moved about 30 metres further west.
The timing of this work step is yet to be confirmed. In the mean time care needs to be taken. The more critical issue -- the intersection with the Appleton Dock Road -- is yet to be resolved.
The Department of Transport has agreed to review the intersection design and examine options for improvement. This is a major achievement. Although Bicycle Network is involved, we have no indication yet whether or not the solution will be satisfactory.
As an interim measure temporary give way signs and cyclist stop-hold bars will be installed.
Million dollar bridge fails expectations
19 August 2008 We have received the following response from the Department of Transport. We have been conducting ongoing discussions at various levels of government over this issue.
Whilst our main focus has been on the Appleton Dockyard Rd intersection, the western end crossing appears to be progressing with potentially positive news coming soon. To be kept up to date, click on 'Email me updates' above.
4 August 2008. Serious design shortcomings have been revealed as the massive Footscray Road - Appleton Dock overpass nears completion.
As currently implemented, certain traffic engineering options have significantly and unnecessarily increased risks for bike riders and pedestrians.
An uncontrolled, busy crossing at the top of the overpass, and a sharp, restricted-visibility, right-angled turn at the base of an incline, are of particular concern.
Bicycle Network raised specific concerns about both of these issues during the consultation phase of the project. Our expectations that they would be addressed have not been met.
The good news is that modifications are feasible and an acceptable result is still possible. The overall project still has many months ahead of it.
Bicycle Network has been on site with representatives of the Department of Transport and Leighton contractors, documenting the problems. You can see the examples in the photographs on this page (right).
It is glaringly obvious to anyone who has ridden the overpass in recent days that the current design is far from satisfactory. We have had many reports from riders anxious about their welfare.
You can read the Sunday Age Story here.
The overpass is a serious piece of heavy engineering. It takes Footscray Road over the new rail line being built into the docks. At the top of the overpass there is a turn-off for Appleton Dock traffic. New local roads are also part of the complex mix. Major incline-piling was required because of the silt and gravel soils in the area. The huge cost of the project has been justified by the expected efficiency improvements at the port.
The Footscray Road bike path has been heavily used in recent years -- a popular commuter route from the west.
It was always Bicycle Network's objective to ensure that the replacement path was at least to the standard of the existing one, preferably better. Such an undertaking was given by the Government.
As the project progressed many design elements were the subject of comment by BV, and the design was improved as a result. The style of fencing, sawcut concrete and a non-tiered surface was achived through these discussions. Right angle crossing points are a necessary element to allow riders to adequately sight oncoming traffic and vice versa. Rider safety, not necessarily speed is paramount in these situations.
The blind right-angle problem
In November last year, as part of the consultation process, we raised concerns over the design of the service lane crossing, as the path descends from the new overpass and heads west. A right-angled (left) turn at the bottom of an incline is unwise and in fact contrary to the guidelines.
AustRoads Part 14 (Section 18.104.22.168 page 73) states:
"It is also most important that sharp horizontal curves or fixed objects do not exist near the bottom of hills, particularly where the approach gradient is steep (greater than 5%) and relatively straight. Intersecting paths, underpass access points and other circumstances that may result in conflict for cyclists, should not be provided at the bottom of steep grades, except in extreme circumstances. If these cannot be avoided then it is important that adequate sight distances be provided on all approaches".
Our expectation was that such an obvious design oversight would be corrected, especially as there was sufficient space to extend the path westward for a distance possibly as far as the next set of signals, placing the turn on the flat and in a high visibility location.
Regrettably, for whatever reason, this did not happen. Fortunately, the opportunity exists for this error to be corrected.
The uncontrolled intersection problem
A rider, heading westward, when reaching the top of the overpass where the slip lane takes a left into Appleton Dock, will experience a real, heart-in-the-mouth moment: Is that huge B-Double roaring up the road going to turn left across the bike path or not? Do I risk crossing the intersection only to find the truck suddenly turning straight at me?
This intersection presents complex engineering difficulties. Because the overpass traverses a rail line, the traffic barriers on the road are wider, higher and stronger than usual, consequently sight lines are reduced. But it gets worse: the road is on an incline and the slips lanes are curved, so you see even less. It is regrettable that the '60deg' slip lane, as recently showcased on the EastLink entry ways was not utilised.
The result is that it can be very difficult to see if small or low vehicles are indicating to turn left. And with larger vehicles it can be pure guess work as you cannot identify from your spot at the intersection whether they are in the turning slip lane or travelling safely westward.
So why isn't the intersection signalised -- the obvious solution. Herein is a sorry tale.
The engineers have consistently told us that the intersection does not meet the 'warrant' standard for traffic lights. This would require 60 peds/bike per hour, and 600 vehicles required to meet the standard.
So what do we currently have? The figures show 260+ bike/peds per hour and 180 vehicles. Although the numbers of bike riders greatly exceed the requirement for signals, that apparently does not matter, as the vehicle numbers are still below the number needed. How's that for logic?
At the moment there is a reluctance by the authorities to let common sense over-ride the sacred immutability of the 'warrant'. But it is inevitable. When the east-bound lanes of the overpass are constructed, signalisation will be necessary to enable turns in and out of Appleton Dock Road.
So let's get it done now, before some incident ruins the reputation of an otherwise worthy project.
We are in discussions with the Department of Transport to review this standard and this particular scenario.
What you can do
We need you to help us turn this situation around. Please write to the relevant stakeholders and be sure to make your letters constructive and helpful, and include details and photographic evidence if you have it.
Rail Link works cause temporary issues
25 July 2008 We have just been advised by the project team that the new path over the bridge will be opening on Tuesday 29 July before the afternoon peak. Some unforeseen delays to the completion of the new shared path due to inclement weather has meant regular riders have been teased over recent weeks watching the progress of the works and hopefully their patience whilst enduring the temporary path variations will be rewarded next week.
May 08 Leighton Construction have issued the following regarding upcoming short term issues around works on the path.
"As the Dynon Port Link project progresses, there is a need to temporarily divert shared path users along Footscray Road. Under traffic control, users will be directed onto a protected area of Footscray Road to divert around works necessary to facilitate the construction of a temporary access for the crane needed to lift the bridge beams into place. These works will be conducted from time to time on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week 5 to 8 May), commencing after 9.00am each day. At some stages users may be asked to wait for a short time while construction equipment traverses the user area. We would ask that the public obey traffic control instructions as we move toward finalisation of the outbound bridge.
At this stage it is anticipated the new structure for outbound traffic and the shared user path will be operational around July 2008."
Dynon Rail Link works starting
Dec 07 Bicycle Network have received a further update on the Dynon Rail link works.
The temporary shared path along Footscray Road is scheduled to open on Monday 17 December. Please note that road traffic entering and exiting the port at Appleton Dock Road continues to have right of way. Please giveway at this intersection and observe all signage.
The new shared path will be open in mid-2008.
Dec 07 Leighton Contractors have advised that that the work on the shared path will continue over the week following the major traffic shift this weekend (December 8/9). The temporary path should be operational by December 15.
Nov 07 Riders coming into the CBD from the west can expect changed conditions over the coming weeks as the Dynon Rail Link into the docks area gets reconfigured and a bridge to take all traffic over the rail line is built.
You may have noticed a new trail being built in the middle of Footscray Rd adjacent to the Melbourne Markets. During the week of 10 December all traffic will be moved to the north, with motor vehicles using the existing inbound (eastbound) side of the road and riders temporarily using the new path. The new path will be separated from traffic by a concrete barrier and by fencing from the construction site on the south side.
The Department of Infrastructure have consulted with us and the long term solution is looking promising however riders will need to exercise patience as temporary facilities are in place.
In future riders will not have to wait at the train level crossing (under CityLink) as the rail line is being relocated. Riders will be able to use a 3m concrete path on the bridge over the new rail alignment, which will have barriers on both sides. For more information refer here.
Oct 07 Construction of the Dynon Port Rail Link commenced in August 2007 and should be complete in 2009. During construction, a sealed shared user path will continue to be provided along Footscray Road.
A shared path will be included as part of the new overpass on Footscray Road. The 3m wide path will run along the southern side of the outbound bridge and will be separated from road traffic by a containment barrier.
It is expected that the temporary path will be in use from early December, with the deviation from the existing path commencing approximately opposite Gate 4 to the Melbourne Markets and reconnecting very close to the current rail crossing near Citylink.
Please note that to facilitate construction there will be a few minor variations to the track of the path during construction. Path users will be moved to the permanent new shared path once the westbound carriageway for the raised section of Footscray Road is completed.
For more information please see the Department of Infrastructure website.
Feb 06 The Department of Infrastructure (DOI) is currently planning to provide better freight rail access to the Dynon Port. This will be achieved by grade separating Footscray Road and the rail lines which currently cross it to enter the Port precinct. This also means that the Footscray Road Shared Use Path will require relocation.
DOI have considered many options for the relocated shared use path, the two preferred being:
- A new 3m wide path on the southern side of Footscray Road, on a cantilevered structure to the side of the new elevated section of the road;
- A path located on the northern side of Footscray Road adjacent to the elevated road, passing under the rail lines in an 80m underpass.
Bicycle Network has indicated its preference for the shared path to be constructed adjacent to Footscray Road and over the rail lines. During construction of the path, there may be some temporary realignment required to enable cyclists to continue to commute in along Footscray Road. Bicycle Network will work to ensure this route is kept open during construction of this new section of road.
Harbour Esplanade gets revisited
Nov 07 Docklands historically has not been a happy place for cyclists. Poor design, conflict points and a confusing layout of the shared trail network have elicited many concerns from all users so it is encouraging to see the Capital City Trail get a rework between Wurundjeri Way and Bourke St.
Currently the path travels along a winding path through the centre of a park, designed for pedestrians and going past a children's playground.
The new path (right) looks like the alignment and clearances will work well. The approaches to Webb Dock Bridge and Bourke St however look more complex. Bicycle Network will be seeking more details to ensure a good outcome for riders along this very popular trail servicing large numbers of commuters in peak periods and equally high numbers of recreational numbers during off peak and weekend periods
The path adjacent to the park and tram line is getting upgraded in conjunction with a one lane traffic lane plus parking to service the recent developments in this region of Docklands.
May 04 As of May 2004 the waterfront at the north side of the new National Bank building is accessible for walkers and cyclists. The Capital City Trail has been constructed parallel to the tram line along Harbour Esplanade and the Capital City Trail is completed through Docklands Park to the Webb Bridge.
This means that for the first time in five years people can follow the Capital City Trail continuously through Docklands, though the navigation, safety and continuity of the path could be improved.
We are especially concerned with works at the Conder apartment development site and the intersection of Bourke St.
Rail crossing gates under CityLink
Jun 05 For some time now, riders have had to endure a temporary, circuitous shared path under CityLink adjacent to Footscray Rd to negotiate the on ramps and train crossing.
This detour has added minutes and plenty of frustration to many a rider’s commute to/from the west. Thankfully, an electric gate crossing has now been constructed across the rail line, allowing riders to pass unimpeded, with separation from trains and cars at this busy intersection.
Sims Street intersection
Jun 05 An upgrade to Sims Street in West Melbourne adjacent to P & O Ports has now been completed.
The new construction does involve bike riders heading west having to stop and check for trucks before proceeding, however, based on the limited space and the high number of trucks using Sims St, it is the safest option.
Sep 03 On 30 September 2003 the 110m-long Webb Bridge over the Yarra River was officially opened by the Hon. Steve Bracks. It completes a gap in the Capital City Trail for cyclists and walkers, but we are not happy with the installation of railings and barriers inside the "eel trap" section of the bridge.
The bridge has been divided into three narrow corridors which is likely to lead to collisions. Click here (PDF 23.4k) to view our email to the Docklands Authority.