A section of the Bay Trail in the City of Kingston remains incomplete and faces some local opposition.
What is the Bay Trail?
Winding it’s way along the beach, the Bay Trail is a great route for people riding bikes to work and for people taking a leisurely bike ride on the weekend.
For the most part, the trail is off road. However, there are a few gaps in the trail where bike riders must leave the path and negotiate local and sometimes main roads before reconnecting to the path.
Currently, a 3.3km stretch between Mentone Life Saving Club and Mordialloc Creek is a crucial missing link in the trail.
When completed, Kingston residents will finally be able to access an off-road network that can take them as far as Sanctuary Lakes, Craigieburn, Ringwood, and Mt Eliza.
Complete the missing link in the Bay Trail between Mention Life Saving Club and Mordialloc Creek, Mordialloc
Extending the Bay Trail and connecting this missing link with a 3m wide shared path is a good outcome for the community.
It further improves Melbourne’s network of bike paths and gives an option to people who want to ride off the road.
For years, Bicycle Network has been campaigning for the completion the Bay Trail.
The biggest challenge the Bay Trail faces is in the City of Kingston where local residents are opposing the current design and back-of-kerb alignment of the trail.
Last year, wide-ranging community consultation found the vast majority wanted Council to ‘get on with it’ and build a back-of-kerb path next to the road, ending years of delays.
Here’s a snapshot of the campaign over the last two years as reported on Bicycle Network’s website (since archived).
City of Kingston opens community feedback on proposed Bay Trail alignments.
In 2016, wide ranging consultation found the vast majority wanted Council to ‘get on with it’ and build a back-of-kerb path next to the road and to end years of delay. Read about the 2016 consultation and results here.
VicRoads approves Kingston Council’s initial designs for the trail.
At the time Bicycle Network wrote on their website:
In a welcome move the new design will get rid of the informal car parking along the gravel verge that in many places created a hazard for riders.
The result will be that the weekend morning parking restrictions—6am-10am— can now be extended to the foreshore side of Beach Road, which should reduce the incidence of dodgy drivers illegally parking partially on the road.
By removing some of the car parking completely, and formalising other parking areas, the council will be able to place the Trail close to the kerb and avoid removing coastal vegetation, a contentious issue in previous Bay Trail projects.
In some sections the previously broad traffic lanes will be brought closer to compliance with the VicRoads standards. This has helped generate the space that is needed for the Bay Trail to fit.
See the full article 27 April, 2017.
Community feedback sought on the next stage of Bay Trail from Mentone to Mordialloc
At the time, Bicycle Network wrote on their website:
“Bicycle Network has assessed the proposal and finds it worthy of support. It will also result in better conditions for riders on adjacent Beach Road.”
Council meets to discuss and approve Bay Trail
Council acknowledges the concerns of local residents in the community. The issues raised involve general safety, traffic congestion, cark parking, road cyclist safety, protection of vegetation, the consultation process and cost.
Jul 2017 – Bay Trail plans get the green light
As reported on Bicycle Network’s website:
Plans to extend the Bay Trail to Mordialloc have been given the green light by the City of Kingston.
This will close a major gap in the popular trail which will now be extended from the Mentone Lifesaving Club to the Peter Scullin Reserve in Mordialloc.
As with every previous plan to extend the trail along various sections off the bay, the usual nimbys did their best to scuttle the proposal.
This resulted in some compromises being made to provide car parking that was not needed.
For almost the entire length the Trail will be 3 metre wide concrete, but in one section it will be slightly narrower.
Another compromise is that in some places there will be a reduced buffer between the trail and the road on one side, and the trail and the vegetation on the other.
These compromises would not have been needed if the local community had not been so obsessed with the provision of excessive amounts of car parking.
Surveys show that car parking in these locations is rarely used. In fact in some places cars are so infrequently parked that you can’t really call it car parking. Its just a road verge.
But still locals thought that empty car spaces were more important than a facility with actual humans walking and riding on it.
Detailed design work for the missing link through Kingston of the Altona to Frankston Bay Trail is now underway but construction may be delayed by a VCAT appeal lodged by Beach Road residents over the planning permit for removal of foreshore vegetation carpark changes. The hearing is expected this year.
VCAT has decided in favour of Kingston Council’s plan to extend Melbourne’s Bay Trail at Mentone.
Senior Member, Jeanette G Rickards, said in her decision: “The proposal will provide opportunities to promote more walking and cycling in an environment that is safe and attractive.
“The path provides accessibility to footpath-bound vehicles such as wheelchairs, prams and scooters and will contribute to and improve accessibility to the coastal area.
“There is in my view a clear net community benefit because of the proposed Stage 2 path works.”
Dispelling the myths
Given our own involvement in the process and the level of misinformation being circulated, we thought it was important to clear a couple of things up.
Extending the Bay Trail is a good outcome for the community and people who ride.
Our comment, which is publicly available, outlines why we support the design. It is the only comment on the design Bicycle Network made to council.
At a meeting with Kingston Council on 23 March 2018, Cycling Victoria and Bicycle Network came together and all supported the current design, agreeing that the extension of the Bay Trail was a good outcome for people riding bikes.
Beach Road will be reduced by approximately 30cm and 60cm in some sections. This makes it consistent with standards that apply in other sections of Beach Road. There are also no plans to remove any lanes of traffic.
We are satisfied that reducing the width of Beach Road in some sections, won’t compromise the safety of riders.
The reason that the width of Beach Road will be reduced is due to local opposition against the removal of car parking, despite strong protest from Bicycle Network and other groups.
In addition to bike riders expressing concerns about the proposal, Bicycle Network also wanted to ensure that the new road width would not put people riding bikes at risk so we asked at independent cycling safety expert about the plans.
They agreed that the plans would either meet or exceed state and national principles for engineering and design and not compromise rider safety.
Bicycle Network is confident that the risk for Beach Road cyclists will not be increased by the new Bay Trail extension design.
Bicycle Network has fought had over the years to make Beach Road safer for people who ride bikes and we will continue to do so.
When it comes to the Bay Trail in the City of Kingston it is important recognise:
- the width of the road will not change to anything less than already exists in other sections of Beach Road.
- Safe passing laws for drivers apply on all roads, regardless of width.
- The no stopping parking restriction will also be introduced on the kerbside lane along the foreshore side of the road between 6am and 10am on the weekend. This mirrors the existing no-stopping restrictions on the residential side of the road.
- Indented car parking will also help reduce the occurrence of vehicles haphazardly parked in the kerbside lane.
For 20 years, we’ve been campaigning for a connected Bay Trail. In that time, we’ve come up against many opponents—working with councils, VicRoads, the community and stakeholders to get the project across the line.
We often seek independent opinions from cycling safety experts to ensure that we’re not missing anything. And this is what we did here.
Given the nature of the debate in the community, our researcher has asked for us to protect their privacy and not reveal who they are.
To be clear, Bicycle Network did not conduct a ‘safety audit’, as has been claimed. Rather, we obtained an independent verbal opinion as outlined in our comments to council to address concerns some members raised with us.
We know that collective action makes a difference.
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