Work is underway on the feasibility planning for the proposed new bike route from Box Hill through to Hawthorn.
Envisaged as a trail generally following the rail corridor, the route addresses the critical shortage of bike facilities to get riders to the city from Melbourne's eastern suburbs.
The 11 kilometre route's catchment houses a demographic that suggests it could generate many more bike commuters than are currently counted.
The under-provision of decent bike facilities is clearly suppressing the growth of riding in Hawthorn, Camberwell, Canterbury, Surrey Hills, Mont Albert and surrounding suburbs.
The $370,000 feasibility study was first announced more than a year ago, and will examine all aspects of the proposal.
It will complement work already undertaken in previous years by the cities of Whitehorse and Boroondara.
Both municipalities have identified the potential of the corridor in their own bike strategies.
Local MP’s Paul Hamer and John Kennedy have also thrown their weight behind the concept.
The existing on-road options from the east such as Burwood Road, Canterbury Road and Riversdale Road are only suitable for the brave, experienced and skilled riders.
A new, dedicated trail from the east would be expected to be free of stress from high volumes of fast and large vehicles, and suitable for a wide range of everyday riders.
The rail corridor is seen as a good prospect for such a route, being relatively direct, and with adjacent streets suitable for prioritising active transport.
Such a route would also improve the attractiveness of riding to local railway stations.
The region is also dense with schools, and an attractive, safe, east-west route would help ease the daily mayhem of school drop-off.
The concept of the trail has been on the transport planning agenda for about 25 years, and formed part of the bigger project known as the Eastern Rail Trail, which also incorporated the trail further east from Box Hill to Ringwood.
Hopefully, with serious work now underway, the pioneering advocates will get a chance to ride the future trail before they are in wheelchairs.
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