The dreaded switchback ramp at the Walmer Street Bridge in Richmond—thought to be condemned to history—has been born again to continue its curse of the bike riders along Melbourne’s Main Yarra Trail.
Riders thought they were rid of the ramp when plans were finalised for a new plaza at the end of Walmer Street as part of nearby property developments.
Those plans, now ditched, showed a much more refined connection to both the proposed plaza, and to the trail along the river eight metres below.
The changes have come as a result of the decision to grant Heritage protection to the bridge, thus restricting opportunities for improved connections to the trail and local walking and cycling networks.
The consequence is that unacceptable switchback ramps have made a return to the design, ramps where only walking your bike is permitted
Ramps are inevitable on bike routes where paths on differing levels need to be connected. When properly designed they are a welcome asset.
But there should never be a 'rectilinear' switchback. If there has to be a switchback, it has to be 'curvilinear' because, saying the obvious, bikes turn on a curve.
That is why this latest deficient design will require riders to dismount.
There is a chance that this amended design could be reviewed as it is currently with the City of Yarra for approval.
Go to the link here and object, making sure you explain that the switchback is not acceptable. And please do it fast—comments close on 27 July.
Even if we can get a better design, the trouble is not yet over, as the heritage protection essentially means the bridge will never be upgraded or supplemented.
That means the ongoing squeeze point between riders and people on foot will continue, and get worse in the future as more riders and walkers explore the Yarra.
Bicycle Network is already investigating these implications and will report our findings soon.