The lower Moonee Ponds Creek, where bike commuters are dense along the trail, is in the early stages of planning for a major upgrade that could transform the amenity of the area.
Not only is the corridor blighted with industrial, rail and freeway infrastructure, its function as a key bike route to the city is compromised by capacity constraints and safety concerns.
Now the city of Melbourne, along with other agencies, is aiming to make the corridor appealing rather than repelling.
It has launched a consultation process to seek community feedback on the just released Moonee Ponds Creek Strategic Opportunities Plan - have your say here.
Regular riders of the trail should have plenty of suggestions.
Since the recent development of Docklands as a major employment centre, bike numbers have steepled on the trail’s lower reaches, and the trail is no longer up to the job.
But the new vision is for much more than just an improved bike corridor. The creek has tremendous potential for improvement as open space, better water management, biodiversity habitat and recognition of Aboriginal heritage and local history.
A key goal is to "create safe, accessible paths that connect pedestrians and cyclists to local communities and facilities on either side of the Creek, as well as the Central City."
The background report states: "Much of Moonee Ponds Creek Trail passes under bridges, creating blind corners, low head heights and is subject to frequent flooding.
"The relatively narrow trail also often poses conflict between high and slow speed users. Where the trail doesn’t pass under bridges, often convoluted and at times unsafe connections are provided across roads, creating time consuming and sometimes unintuitive crossings."
"In the City of Melbourne, the amenity of Moonee Ponds Creek trail is far lower than other trails including the Capital City Trail and Maribyrnong River Trail. The corridor is poorly maintained and overgrown with weeds, creating an uninviting space for many community members."
"Whilst the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail provided opportunities to engage with the creek of the eastern edge, no formal connections exist along the western side of the creek."
A number of projects and plans for the corridor have provided a rare opportunity for changes.
The West Gate Tunnel Project will interface between Footscray Road and Dynon Road, the new Melbourne Metro underground station in North Melbourne, the future E-gate development and the City’s Arden-Macauley redevelopment plans all envision environmental improvements along the creek.
Each of these projects independently contain new or upgraded bike routes.
"Active transport, including walking, cycling and other non-motorised transport, is gradually becoming more popular in higher density inner suburbs of Australian cities, the report says.
"Some of the important factors driving an increase in active transport in inner city areas include:
- Increasing congestion, encouraging people to use alternative transport modes
- Increasing recognition of the roles of active transport in public health and environmental sustainability
- Improving provision of active transport infrastructure and end-of-trip facilities
- Availability of a wider range of bikes and scooters, including cargo bikes, e-bikes, folding bikes and share bikes, suitable to a broader range of people for a broader range of purposes.
"Moonee Ponds Creek Trail serves as a major recreational feature of the City of Melbourne, and contributes to its image as one of the world’s most livable cities. As the population surrounding the creek increases, there will likely be increased pressure on Moonee Ponds Creek Trail as a significant cycle commuter trail into the CBD.
"Opportunities will be created to strengthen and extend the offer provided along creek corridor, and its connections, and provide localised amenities for cyclists, such as picnic facilities, rest stops and bike hubs, which enable users to better engage with the environmental context of the trail."
As well as the online consultation, the City is conducting a number of pop-up consultation events.
Wednesday 20 March 2019 06:00 PM – 07:00 PM. Docklands Community Forum. Location: Yarra’s Edge
Tuesday 26 March 2019 04:00 PM. Macaulay Train Station Location: Macaulay Road, North Melbourne
Sunday 31 March 2019 10:00 AM – 04:00 PM. Kensington Community Festival. Location: JJ Holland Park
Monday 8 April 2019 11:00 AM – 01:00 PM. Errol Street Shopping Centre. Location: North Melbourne
Friday 12 April 2019 11:00 AM – 01:00 PM. Kensington Village. Location: Corner Bellair and Macaulay Rd