gipps street steps ramp
Final step to remove the cursed steps

Could this really be the end? The City of Yarra last night approved plans for the removal of the embarrassing obstacle on Australian’s most attractive bike route—the steps on the Main Yarra Trail at Abbotsford.

The announcement to remove the stairway at Gipps Street was made in 2006, but here we are years later and bike riders on the trail still confront the barrier every day.

The Parks Victoria plan to replace the steps with a ramp—submitted to the City of Yarra earlier this year—should now have a clear path forward.

This should mean the project can proceed early next year when drier conditions will be conducive to construction in the river environment.

The Parks Victoria design comprises a long, gently sloping ramp that will link riders and pedestrians from the trail connection and Collins Bridge at Gipps Street down to the trail proper at river level.

This solution will enable a connection to a future addition to the trail along the west side of the Yarra through Abbotsford.

The steel ramp will have mesh decking with balustrades that angle out to provide more room for handlebars, and will be set on piles placed in the embankment.

Several late changes have been made to the design, including widening the deck to 3.5 metres.

The project will be required remove more than 130 weed species trees in the area of the ramp and replant with appropriate native varieties.

Melbourne Water has approved the design in terms of impact on flooding and silting.

When completed, the new ramp will provide much better connections to other routes in Melbourne’s ever expanding trail network.

And locally will improve access to attractions including Dights Falls, the Collingwood Childrens Farm and the nearby Merri Creek Trail.

The project is on a difficult site and will be a tricky build.

Matters have not been made any easier by the astonishing 150 conditions the City of Yarra has placed on the construction of the ramp. Many are routine and acceptable.

According to the City’s planning report, one condition is that Park Victoria must reline a nearby brick drain as part of the project. This appears to be an example of an all-to-common council practice of raiding the budgets for bike projects to fund unrelated council services and assets that are properly the responsibility of ratepayers.

Let’s hope the newly appointed Monitor of the City of Yarra squashes that sneaky move.

Next year when construction is underway there will be an extended closure of the Main Yarra Trail between Gipps Street and Clarke Streets, requiring a detour through local streets. Bicycle Network will keep you up to date with those developments.

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