Black Forest Drive set for rejig

The notorious road with the darkest of histories—Black Forest Drive through the Macedon and Woodend districts—may finally have its problems addressed.

Regional Roads Victoria has embarked on a new redesign project that promises to make the former highway safe for all road users, including those riding bikes.

Black Forest Drive was once the highway to Bendigo but was orphaned when the parallel freeway was constructed nearby.

It was expected that standard practice would be followed and the four-lane highway decommissioned, modified and returned to the function of a low-traffic main road.

In 2004 an undertaking was given to Bicycle Network that the former highway would be reduced to two lanes, with a third for overtaking, and that facilities for bike riders would be added.

Eighteen years later we are still waiting. Meanwhile deaths and serious injuries have piled up.

While most traffic fled to the freeway when it opened, the drivers that chose to remain on Black Forest Drive turned reckless. Although the traffic went way down, crashes went way up.

Like any road with reduced traffic, Black Forest Drive was always bound to attract bike riders, but with the road never re-designed as intended, deaths were the inevitable consequence.

In recent years community consultation has repeatedly found that local sentiment favours a road design that keeps it deadly and does not cater for people riding bikes. The government consequently has ruled out installing bike lanes because of this opposition.

Regional Roads Victoria has publicly stated that in the new redesign now under way the road will be made safe for all road users.

What exactly that means is unknown at this early stage in the project, but there are available options to treat this former highway that can turn it back into a calm, safe corridor that serves the interest of all that use it.

Bicycle Network has offered to assist RRV meet these objectives and ensure that Black Forest Drive becomes a low-risk environment for the many riders that will be using it in the years to come.

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