Riding trails in Melbourne’s east could get a whole lot better following the completion of a strategy to guide the future developmentof new and existing trails in the region.
The Eastern Trails Strategy establishes the shortcomings and opportunities for improvements, and provides a systematic approach for councils to follow in funding the expansion of the network.
The 137-page document is comprehensive and thorough and well worth a read by trails enthusiasts.
Councils and the state government no longer have excuses to dither, and should be getting on with investigating the feasibility of, planning for, constructing and maintaining these important assets.
Trails have long been a vital recreational asset across Melbourne, proving the opportunity for healthy physical activity by the full cross-section of society.
Now, with bike commuting rising rapidly in popularity, many trails are playing an important transport role, aiding the economy in addition to community well-being.
The eastern strategy is one of several that have been developed around metropolitan Melbourne in recent years, where the government and councils have worked to become more coordinated and effective in the development of a Melbourne-wide network of trails for bikes and walkers.
The strategy comprises seven local government areas – Boroondara, Knox, Manningham, Maroondah, Monash, Whitehorse and Yarra Ranges, with Sport and Recreation Victoria being a funding partner.
The document defines regional trails are those "shared trails that accommodate multiple potential user groups (particularly pedestrians and cyclists), are mostly off-road, have a relatively long and continuous length and have a regional scale, purpose and/or impact."
Twenty-two existing or potential trails were identified and assessed as a part of this study, undertaken by consultants Fitzgerald Frisby Landscape Architecture.
"The assessment of the existing trails involved ‘auditing’ them by riding their length. This allowed accurate mapping of them to occur, as well as allowing observations to be made about the trail use experience across the regional trail network,” the strategy says.
"The majority of the regional trails identified already exist, although more than half of these existing trails have incomplete sections.
"Regional trails provide a range of benefits to the community, including social, health, environmental, and economic/tourism. This study provides a summary of these benefits that can be used to support business cases for regional trail network improvements."
The study included a community engagement process, centred around an online questionnaire that attracted almost 700 responses.
The top five regional trails most frequently used by respondents were: The Main Yarra Trail, Gardiners Creek Trail, Eastlink Trail, Capital City Trail, and Anniversary Trail.
The top five trail improvement preferences of respondents were:
Improved connectivity between the trails; More trails Improved route maps; Improved on-trail directional signage; Separated pedestrian and cycling trails in high use areas.
A wide range of potential trail improvement projects were identified. The potential trail improvement projects have been mapped and assessed against weighted criteria to establish a prioritised action plan.
The full action plan includes a wide variety of other trail improvement projects, including directional signage, road crossing improvements, and trail surface improvements.
The top ten construction projects identified were:
- Yarra Valley Trail - Construct the Yarra Valley Trail
- Warburton Rail Trail- Continue the Warburton Rail Trail south from Lilydale to the Tarralla Creek Trail via the Melbourne Water Pipe Track Reserve.
- Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail - Extend the Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail east from Ringwood Station to Croydon Station and to connect to the Carrum to Warburton Trail.
- Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail - Extend the Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail west from Box Hill Station to Hawthorn Station.
- Main Yarra Trail - Extend the Yarra Trail east to connect to Warrandyte.
- Waverley Rail Trail - Close gap in the Waverley Rail Trail from Beatrice Avenue (east of Jordanville Station) to Stephensons Road (west of Mount Waverley Station).
- Waverley Rail TrailComplete the gap in the Waverley Rail Trail from Coleman Parade to Kingsway (Glen Waverley Station).
- Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail - Complete the gap in the Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail from Middleborough Road to Blackburn Road.
- Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail - Complete the gap in the Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail from Nunawading Station to Walkers Road.
- Anniversary Trail - Complete the gap on the Anniversary Trail between Riversdale Road (Fordham Avenue) and Prospect Hill Road
The relevant councils have already convened one joint meeting to plan their next move.
Melbourne riders will surely be interested in the outcomes, and would no doubt be keen to lend a helping hand when the funding taps need turning.DOWNLOAD EASTERN REGIONS TRAIL STRATEGY