Will you feel safe Cycling the LXRP detours for Upfield bike path?

Bike Path closure notice

This post provides an assessment of the proposed detours for the Upfield bike path. The conclusions are that both proposed detour routes:

  • add substantially more distance and time to the north-south route, and LXRP underestimate this extra time.
  • add additional cycling effort through change in elevation in comparison to the Upfield path.
  • increase risk of collisions/accidents between cyclists and vehicles at numerous intersections
  • increase risk of accidents during poor light or at night (especially problematic for evening peak during winter)
  • do not provide for range of users, especially those with low level of on-road cycling confidence

Update 25 January: an alternate more direct route with gradual elevation change using Hudson, Loch, Station streets and Cassels Road, is also considered.

In an information note to residents dated 9 January the Level Crossing Removal authority announced the detours during the constructtion of level crossing removal from Moreland Road to Bell Street.

So where would they have cycists and other wheeled users divert too?

They have identified two routes: one on the east side of the rail way line, and one on the west side of the railway line, from O’Hea street to Tinning Street/Albion Street.

Both these routes are substantial deviations either east and west. But both also involve substantial change in elevation, so an increase in hills because they fail to follow the ridgeline that the Upfield railway line is built on.

There is no provision for Sydney Road to be used as a detour, although it is likely many cyclists will choose to use this high traffic direct route, rather than the convoluted backstreet routes that involve negotiating numerous intersections and hills.

here is what LXRP say:

Upfield Bike Path detours
As we prepare to build the new rail bridge, a section of the Upfield Bike Path between O’Hea Street, Coburg and Albion Street, Brunswick will be closed from Thursday 6 February 2020 until mid-2021. We have worked with bike groups and VicRoads to develop detour routes east and west of the existing path.

In our submission to the Planning Scheme amendment dated 7 September 2018 we clearly stated:

4.2.7 to 4.2.9 changes to the access of the Upfield Bike Path need to be done in conjunction with VicRoads and Moreland Council well ahead of time for the establishment of arterial cycling detours which meets the needs of cyclists and flow of pedestrian and cycling traffic. Public notices of the route change need to be advertised and circulated

The routes proposed are instead highly circuitous, increase the level of dangerous risk, and do not meet the needs of regular users of the Upfield Path.

No consultation with local cyclists

Level Crossing Removal Authority have not stated which bike groups have been consulted.

The Extend the Upfield Bike Path campaign has been putting in submissions since the start of this project. We have nearly 250 members, mainly in the north of Moreland and Hume municipalities, many of whom use the Upfield bike path regularly.

Level Crossing Removal Authority have failed to contact us or liase with us over a safe detour route. Not one email, written or phone request, to consult or meet to work through problems.

LXRP proposed bike detours

Assessment of Detour routes

The following assessment of the proposed detour routes was made on Sunday 12 January.

The Upfield path will be closed from 6 February 2020 for at least 18 months according to the January 9 announcement by LXRP. 2 detours have been proposed by Level Crossing Removal Project. Today I cycled them from O’Hea street to Albion Street, and also did the Upfield path as a control. I gathered time, average speed and distance for each north and south leg.

Here are the elevation profiles of the 3 different routes. I think I am an average cyclist, but probably a little slower than many commuter cyclists.

Upfield Bike Path elevation profile

Upfield path elevation profile from O’Hea street to Albion Street

Distance: 2.66km
South Time: 10m 41sec Ave speed: 15.1kph
North Time: 10m 37sec Ave speed: 15kph

For cyclists elevation profiles matter, and both detour routes add additional cycling effort as shown in the elevation profiles, as compared with the steady change in elevation of the Upfield Bike Path.

The measurements were done on a Sunday afternoon when traffic was light, weather was fine with a southerly wind. I note a lot of intersections on both detours causing me to slow down and occasionally stop for the traffic. Some of the streets on both detours had parked cars either side, so effectively one lane for traffic both ways. I note traffic had to bunch behind me a couple of times on both detour routes.

Upfield Bike Path West Detour elevation profile

LXRP proposed Upfield bike path west detour elevation profile from O’Hea street to Albion Street

Route: West along O’Hea street path, left into Bourke street, Suffolk Ave, Vincent St, Shaftsbury st, left into Reynard, right into Willow Grove, Haig Avenue, Garnet St, left into Tinning st, right onto Upfield Path to Albion Street and Anstey Station.

Distance: 4.05km
South Time: 15m 31secs Ave Speed: 15.6kph
North Time: 15m 20secs Av speed: 16kph

On the west detour crossing Bell Street was slightly problematic with a small diversion to a pedestrian crossing. A dog leg along Reynard Street was required, which might be problematic and dangerous during peak times with the amount of traffic. Crossing Moreland Road also required minor diversion at a pedestrian light. A hill up Garnet street wasn’t much fun.

Upfield Bike Path East detour elevation profile

LXRP proposed Upfield bike path east detour elevation profile from O’Hea street to Albion Street

Route: East along O’Hea street path, along Pentridge Boulevarde shared use path, cross at pedestrian lights at Bell street, then left along footpath, right into Barrow Street, right into Albion St shared path, onto Albion Street at Sydney Road to Anstey Station.

Distance: 4.2km
South Time: 21min 0secs Av Speed: 12.3kph
North Time: 17min 53secs Av Speed: 14.1kph

The east detour follows Pentridge Boulevarde (the north ride was a little challenging up this hill). Long wait to cross Bell Street, and then riding along the footpath along Bell Street to Barrow Street some care needed. Care needs to be taken crossing Moreland road, or a longer detour to pedestrian lights outside the hospital. Crossing Moreland Rd during peak times would be quite dangerous. Albion Street has a shared use path but need to take it slowly with pedestrians and cross street intersections.

For measurement purposes I used shared paths where available (Along O’Hea street, on Pentridge Boulevarde, along Albion Street), and the same starting and end points.

LXRA claim the western route will take an extra 3 mins travel time. By my timing this is more like 5 minutes extra time than using the Upfield path.

LXRA claim the Eastern route will take an extra 5 mins travel time. By my timing this is more like 7 minutes extra than using the Upfield Bike Path.

I suspect the difference in times might also increase even further for commuter cyclists during peak times with much more traffic to negotiate, especially crossing major roads. Much more traffic at minor intersections also likely during commuting times.

With the detours needed for at least 18 months, this includes two periods of winter when navigating these detour routes at night during evening peak periods will become even more dangerous for cyclists, posing a high risk of collisions with vehicles and pedestrians.

My personal view is that both these detours substantially increase both time and the risk of accident to most cyclists. If no better route is provided, I will be riding down Sydney Road from O’Hea Street to at least Albion Street, even taking into account level of traffic and risk of being car doored. I suspect many other cyclists who possess reasonable road confidence will make the same decision.

What the proposed detour routes really mean is that cyclists who do not have confidence for cycling in traffic will probably give up in exasperation. This is an atrocious outcome. There should be a safe detour provided for ALL users of the Upfield Shared Use Path. The path is an arterial cycling route used by a huge variety of people with different levels of cycling confidence. They should all be adequately catered for over the 18 month period of construction. Level Crossing Removal Authority has failed to do this.

Any cycling accidents on these detour routes or on Sydney Road should be highlighted as the fault in poor risk management and planning, and lack of consultation with local cyclists, by LXRA. They may be liable for civil claims, in the case of any accident, for failure to do due diligence and provide safe and timely detour facilities.

Public safety has not been adequately considered with these detour routes.

Update 25 January: a safe and direct alternate detour route

Thanks to Chris Summerfield (see comments) for this detour route suggestion.

Most cycle commuters will not use the proposed east and west detour routes proposed by Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP) as the route deviation is far too great and involves more change in elevation. Similarly, local cycle traffic such as to destinations along or near Sydney Rd will also avoid using the proposed detours as the deviation is again far too great and involves elevation change (hills) .

Most confident cyclists will probably choose to cycle on Sydney Rd.

But is there an alternative for those people perhaps a little less confident in their on-road cycling abilities? A backstreet possible alternative detour route that could be utilised with perhaps a few traffic management changes?

LXRP, VicRoads have not consulted with local cyclists at all on detour routes. And Moreland Council invested hope in a separated bike path on Sydney Rd that has been rejected out of hand by Vic Roads in a politically charged atmosphere.

Given detours are needed for at least 18 months one would think all these organisations would talk to actual local cyclists and consult with them on route possibilities and needs. But none of this consultation has occurred other than a very superficial level. It is no good doing a desktop google maps exercise for detour routes without actual knowledge of local street conditions, elevation, and cyclist destinations.

One possible route that follows backstreets west of the railway line. These are residential streets so access will need to be maintained through the entire period of level crossing removal construction, but there may be some disruption due to site access on Station St.

The Route:
O’Hea st, Main Street, Hudson Street, Munro st, Loch Street, Mark st, Audley st, Station st, Moreland Rd, Cassels Rd, Tinning st, Upfield path to Albion St.

Possible Alternate detour route

Detour Route statistics:
3.04km, 11m04secs, average speed of 16.1kph. This compares to 2.66km on the Upfield path Distance: 2.66km with a travel time of 10m 41sec Ave speed: 15.1kph.

For the LXRP proposed detours – West detour: Distance: 4.05km
15m 31secs Ave Speed: 15.6kph. For the East detour: 4.2km, 21min 0secs Av Speed: 12.3kph.

Hazards and good points:
* moderate traffic on Main Street.
* Traffic Light crossing at Bell St
* bike lane on Hudson St
* Dogleg on Munro St is dangerous, but probably no less dangerous than Reynard St dogleg on proposed west detour.
* Audley and Station streets are quiet but may be disrupted on occasion with level crossing construction access
* Moreland Rd Crossing problematic due to high level of traffic
* Cassels Rd or Colebrook Cres could be used as the route between Moreland Rd and Tinning st.

* minimal deviation from Upfield Path
* Gradual change in elevation
* Minimal extra distance (about 400 metres)
* Minimal extra time

Elevation profile alternate west detour using Hudson, Loch, Station sts

* Better traffic management/ temporary pedestrian and bike crossing solution at Munro st west of railway line needed
* Temporary pedestrian/cycling crossing at Station St and Moreland Rd.
* Potential conflict with LXRP construction traffic in Station St

What do you think?

Level Crossing Removal Project Letter to Residents Works Notice dated 9 January 2020 (PDF)
Coburg and Brunswick – Upfield Bike Path closure 6 Feb 2020 – July 2021

5 thoughts on “Will you feel safe Cycling the LXRP detours for Upfield bike path?

  1. And when all this disruption is finished we will probably have a worse journey along the new upfield bike path because we won’t have boom gates or short delay pedestrian crossings to help us get across the road. I calculate a likely +8 minutes to my 20 minute journey to work.

    There is an alternative to the chosen western route following loch street and cassels road which is pretty direct and follows the train line- dropping you out at Albion st (admittedly a dangerous turnout there with parked vans often obscuring the road entirely). A small ramp would be needed for delicate wheels to get into a wide alley off tinning street. This is likely to be much flatter and faster than the proposed route.
    Regarding the proposed route:
    A bike turning off Albion street into Garnet St is very dangerous with oncoming cars on a narrow 2-way road and parked cars at the entrance to that street can force you into the middle of the road. Don’t expect any cars to give space to bikes climbing the garnet st hill southbound. When heading north on garnet st to cross Moreland road, the bike path requires crossing the road to the pavement on the right hand side to avoid an extremely dangerous roundabout – so bikes will have to cross the oncoming traffic, which will be very difficult and dangerous if VicRoads are also directing cars down garnet st.

    Good luck everybody. Ride Safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fully agree Chris, that route down Main, Hudson, Loch, Station streets and Cassels Rd is only 400 m longer, gradual elevation, could easily provide a reasonable cycling detour for 18 months. A couple of points where crossings/traffic management might be needed. I wouldn’t use that laneway to Albion, but use Tinning street to connect to Upfield path.

      Take your point about the safety of the roundabout turning into Garnet street and cycling along Garnet street.


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