After many years the missing link on the Upfield Bike Path is about to be built from Box Forest Road to the Western Ring Road Path, according to the state budget papers.
The 2017/2018 State Budget has allocated $3.5 million to upgrade and fix the existing Upfield Bike Path, remove bottle necks, and improve crossings and lighting and do the extension to the Western Ring Road Path next to the M80.
“I welcome this funding of the Upfield Path extension to the Western Ring Road”, said sustainable transport campaigner John Englart, “but I am disappointed there is no funding to extend the path further into Hume Municipality where there is high car dependency and a growing population and need for dedicated cycling infrastructure”.
“This funding does nothing to resolve the dangerous cycling conditions at Campbellfield where there is no safe direct north south cycling route alternative to using Sydney Road,” said Englart, “Instead cyclists who brave this suburb have to break the law and cycle on the footpath which poses it’s own safety risks from numerous driveway crossings.”
“It is intensely disappointing that VicRoads has not sought to address the blackspot problem of cycling at Campbellfield in this budget.” remarked Englart, who is campaign co-ordinator of the Extend the Upfield Bike Path to Upfield Campaign.
The government also failed to include any budget funding for upgrading the Upfield line between Gowrie and Upfield stations to dual track. Single track limits the frequency of service on the Upfield Line. When trains breakdown or delays occurr, trains are often short shunted at Coburg Station causing even longer waits between service for customers further up the line.
The budget papers also mention that the Upfield, Somerton and Wallan service enhancement planning study was completed in the 4th Quarter of this financial year. This report investigates extending the Upfield line through Craigieburn to Wallan, but no details have been released.
Upfield Bike Path in Brunswick to be upgraded
The investment in fixing the southern section of the Upfield Bike Path in Brunswick is vital as this path already suffers substantial congestion during peak times with increased path use by both pedestrians and cyclists.
“Cyclists have told us that competing with traffic, parked cars, pedestrians and trams on Sydney Road can be dangerous and stressful – so we’re investing in the Upfield Bike Path to give people a real alternative.” said Roads Minister Luke Donellan in his media release.
However, cyclists will continue to need to use Sydney Road as the shops and cafes along this strip shopping centre are also an important destination for cyclists. “Fixing some of the problems of the Upfield Bike Path does not resolve the need to revitalize Sydney Road and also make this safe for cyclists, ” said John Englart.
Coburg to Glenroy cycling route along Cumberland Road funded
Money is also being allocated for a new on-road cycling path for Cumberland Road in Pascoe Vale, linking Glenroy and Coburg.
“The Coburg to Glenroy cycling route along Cumberland Road is a much needed link” said Englart, “Local cyclists in the Moreland Bicycle User Group have long advocated with Moreland Council and Vic Roads for this route to be built and it is pleasing to see it is finally being funded.”
Craigieburn Road Upgrade
According to the Hume Leader, Craigieburn Rd will be duplicated from two to four lanes along a 5.5km section from Mickleham Rd to the Hume Freeway. Long sought-after shared cycling and pedestrian paths will also be built on both sides of this road.
Active transport a meagre 0.36 per cent of total transport infrastructure budget
In total, the Victorian Budget 2018/19 includes $22.7 million to connect missing links in Victoria’s walking and cycling network. The Andrews Government has committed to a one-off TAC-funded Safe Cycling and Pedestrian Fund of $100 million for active transport.
However, this funding falls far short of what cycling lobby group, Bicycle network, was calling for.
In Bicycle Network’s budget submission to the Victorian government they requested the establishment of a $126 million annual bike infrastructure fund, the equivalent of investing $20 per person, per year into bikes annually.
The United Nations Environment Programme has recommended that countries should invest at least 20 per cent of their transport budget in walking and cycling infrastructure to save lives, reverse pollution and reduce carbon emissionsm according to the Bicycle Network budget submission. Their submission cites that London has also committed to invest $23 per person on active transport.
According to the budget papers the Victorian Budget 2018/19 includes almost $4.3 billion for upgrading or new roads around the state which is 69.1 percent of transport infrastructure budget funding. The overhaul of Victoria’s public transport network will get $1.9 billion which is 30.5 percent of Transport infrastructure budget funding.
In comparison, and a long way behind, the active transport budget for cycling and walking is just 0.36 per cent of the total transport infrastructure budget.
“The Andrews Government active transport budget falls far short of what we require to address long standing issues for the needed modal shift to low carbon and sustainable cycling and walking infrastructure.” said Englart.
“We need to invest far more in cycling and walking infrastructure to make Melbourne a more sustainable and liveable city, and to reduce our transport greenhouse gas emissions as a solution to climate change.” concluded John Englart.
Media Release, 1 May 2018, Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Building Safer Cycling And Walking Paths.
Victorian 2017/2018 Budget Papers
Budget Information Paper: Budget Overview
Budget Information Paper: Suburban
Bicycle Network 2017/2018 Budget submission