The Tasmanian Government has released its report into the Channel Highway corridor but has not allocated any funding to seeing the recommended projects realised.
The study was conducted by consultants GHD in 2019 and focused on four issues:
- what is needed now and into the future
- safety at the Howden Road intersection
- how to improve the accessibility, travel time reliability and safety of the corridor
- how to improve connectivity for all types of transport.
It covered the length of the highway between Margate and the Algona Road roundabout at Huntingfield.
The report notes that the current use of the corridor is mostly by recreational road cyclists, despite there being varying shoulder widths, pinchpoints and traffic moving at speeds of up to 90km/h.
The only dedicated treatments for cycling are at the Algona Road roundabout with painted lanes through it and leading in and out of it.
Because the corridor between Sandlfly Road and Algona Road is part of the popular Commando route there are significant numbers of cyclists using it. Strava users alone account for an average 80 cyclists a day on weekends and 62 in the morning weekday peak, but peak numbers of 120 on weekends and 140 on weekdays in some months.
The study didn’t look at unmet demand from people who would like to ride in the area but don’t because of the lack of separated cycling infrastructure.
The many residential development lots being built in the area will contribute to traffic congestion and make the argument for alternative transport options stronger.
Dedicated consultation with council and Department of State Growth staff, local riders and the wider community found there was strong support for a dedicated cycleway along the corridor.
There were also concerns about safety along the corridor for people who want to ride on the road in terms of the condition of the road shoulders and poor passing behaviour by people driving.
Other options supported included a better crossing for people walking and riding over North West Bay River and cycle infrastructure leading to and secure parking at bus stops to encourage more people to “ride and ride”.
The good news is that the three top issues of shoulder widths, separated cycleway, and safe crossing over North West Bay River all rated highly on the project short list and have been marked as high priority.
The study found that shoulders along the length of the corridor could be widened and sealed to 1.5 metres, although there are two pinchpoints where more investigation is needed – opposite Howden Road and at the Kingborough Bowls Club.
The two options for North West Bay are to widen the existing bridge or build a dedicated cycling and walking bridge. However, previous strengthening investigations on the bridge have indicated that it’s unlikely to be possible to widen it, so a new bridge will likely be the preferred option.
A feasibility study is the next step for an off-road cycleway to continue the Snug–Margate path through to Kingston. The report suggests this could follow the North West Bay foreshore until Howden Road and then along Coffee Creek behind the golf course and into the new Huntingfield development. Such a path could be used by children going to school, older riders and less confident riders for transport and recreation, while confident riders will likely keep using Channel Highway.
There are proposals to improve security of bicycle parking at bus stops and new park and ride facilities, but no plans yet for infrastructure connecting the stops to residential areas.
The report has been released by the Tasmanian Government but no funding has yet been assigned to implementing any of the recommendations.