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A vanilla budget for bikes

Today’s Victorian State Budget is a vanilla budget for bikes and Bicycle Network fears it falls short of harnessing the recent growth and interest in bike riding.

The 2021/22 budget has a theme of creating jobs and caring for Victorians and includes $21 million to improve the safety and access of our walking and bike riding networks.

This funding is in addition to the government’s current commitment to deliver 100km of pop-up bike lanes and includes:

  • Early works for a new shared trail between Eltham and Greensborough
  • Development and design of a bridge with shared bike and walking lanes along the Kew to Highett Strategic Cycling Corridor at Toorak Road as part of the Anniversary Trail. 

There was no further mention of St Kilda Road bike lane upgrades. However, Bicycle Network has been told that the business case is underway on this long overdue and critical project that was committed to in the 2019/20 state budget off the back of an election commitment.

Bicycle Network is also still awaiting news on the Ride2School program.

Employing six people in Victoria, the successful behaviour change program which works with schools to increase physical activity among children and young people has had bi-partisan support for more than a decade. At this stage, the future of the program remains unclear. 

Other areas of interest in the budget which may benefit people who ride include:

  • $386 million in a new Road Safety Strategy to develop and deliver new safety technologies and improvements. Funding will tackle the most dangerous behaviours on Victorian roads, including drink driving, speeding and mobile phone use. 
  • As part of the Regional Roads Upgrade, Black Forrest Drive in Woodend, a notoriously treacherous road for bike riders, has been earmarked for safety upgrades. Bicycle Network will provide an update once we get more details.
  • Funding has also been earmarked for the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity program.

From the outside, the budget is not the transformative transport budget we had hoped for as outlined as part of our budget submission.

But with many of the major bike commitments in the delivery phase it’s not entirely unexpected.

While there has been some progress in the delivery of 100km of pop-up bike lanes, Bicycle Network is not entirely confident that this budget does enough to recognise the sudden burst of participation and interest in bike riding and active transport.

Only with confident, strong investment in both building more places to ride and behaviour change programs like Ride2School that support and enable more Victorians to ride, can we accelerate the trend towards the government's goal of sustainable transport and healthy, active communities.

Anniversary Trail bridge funding announced

The 2021 State Budget has earmarked funds for the Anniversary Trail bridge over Toorak Road in Camberwell.

The awkward, misaligned Toorak Road crossing will be eliminated by a new elevated structure that takes bikes above the road, alongside the existing rail bridge.

The budget allocates an unspecified amount  for development and design work for the bridge.

Funding for construction is expected to be contained in future budgets.

The existing road crossing has been a blight on the popular trail for many years.

In 2018 the City of Boroondara approved a concept design following a feasibility study into a bridge solution.

The Trail is a Strategic Cycling Corridor and links to a number of railway stations and schools.

The 30-metre-long structure is proposed to go on the west side of the existing railway line.

The preferred outcome of a bridge on the west side importantly met the requirements of all technical stakeholders in the area, namely Yarra Trams, VicRoads, Metro Trains Melbourne, Public Transport Victoria and VicTrack.

The council concept incorporated an increased landscape buffer between the Jickell Avenue property boundaries and the existing Anniversary Trail with new landscaping, fencing and trellis.

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This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.