Three alternate cycling routes while Upfield Bike Path closed for 18 months in Coburg

The Upfield Bike Path was closed on 6 February, and will remain closed for 18 months until at least mid 2021. Here are three unofficial detours that try to be direct, reduce unneccessary elevation change (hills), and also take into account some safety concerns.

Some of the dangers on these routes could be ameliorated further if VicRoads and/or Moreland Council adopted some signage and simple traffic measures to facilitate the safety of cyclists.

Cyclists will use them anyway, despite increased risks, as they are far more direct routes with less elevation change than the official detour routes.

VicRoads, LXRP, and Moreland Council have not consulted local cyclists on their needs with regard to detour routes.

3 unofficial alternate cycling detour routes

The West Route

Upfield Bike Path west alternative route. It still has safety problems, but it is a very direct route and follows the Upfield path gradient fairly closely. It will have LXR construction trucks on Station Street to contend with.

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

Detour Route statistics:
3.04km, 11m04secs, average speed of 16.1kph.

Upfield path: 2.66km, 10m 41sec Ave speed: 15.1kph.

Stats for the LXRP proposed detours –
West detour: 4.05km, 15m 31secs Ave Speed: 15.6kph.
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 official west detour.
* Audley and Station streets are quiet but may be disrupted on occasion with level crossing construction truck 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. Colebrook Crescent will be used by LXRP trucks.

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

Possible Alternate west detour route

Sydney Road

This is the most direct route, but means cycling often in busy traffic with trams and train replacement buses at times.

* Smooth surface makes for a fast commuting journey during peak hours, even faster than the Upfield Path.
* Good access for local cycle journeys to businesses along or near to Sydney Road.
* Sydney Road designated with a 40km per hour speed limit.
* Peak hour cycle lane

* Peak hour cycle lane often contains debris or potholes which may result in swerving into traffic.
* Risk of car dooring
* Disruption to traffic from cars reverse parallel parking
* Reasonable on-road cycling skills and confidence needed.
* Not suitable for children, novice riders or those who do not possess on-road cycling confidence.

Initially Moreland Council Advocated to VicRoads and the State Government that a separated dedicated bike lane should be put along Sydney Road for the 18 month extent of the detour. This was not entertained by the State Government and Vic Roads.

Moreland Council has not advanced any other public advocacy position for a safe and fit-for purpose cycling detour for the period of closure of the Upfield Path.

The East Route

Upfield Bike Path (east of Sydney Road) possible detour during 18 month #UpfieldBikePath closure

The route (starting from O’Hea street):
East along O’Hea Street path
right into Ross street
Left into Wilson Street
Right onto Sydney Road footpath
Cross at Urquhart street lights
Footpath down Urquhart Street
Right onto footpath Elm Grove
Cross Bell Street at pedestrian lights
Left onto Bell street footpath*
Right into Rodda street
Right into Budds street
Right into Harding Street
Left into Chambers street
Right into Edwards Street
Left into Dare Street
Right into Rennie Street
Left into De Carle Street
Right into Albion Street
Anstey Station

Detour Route statistics:
3.89km, 15m12secs, average speed of 15.5kph.

Upfield path: 2.66km, 10m 41sec Ave speed: 15.1kph.

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

Hazards and good points:
* Some footpath travel along Sydney Rd, Urquhart, Elm and Bell street required (Moreland Council could upgrade these to Shared Use)
* Elevation loss not as great as using Barrow St/Pentridge boulevarde route
* Dogleg required on Harding, although the route can be altered slightly to avoid this using Fowler street.
* Bell street footpath can be avoided if laneway off Rodda street used to access shared paths through Bridges Reserve
* De Carle street is wide, but is used as a rat-run by cars, De Carle street is already a default cycle route
* Pedestrian lights at Moreland Primary assist crossing of Moreland Rd

* Follows Sydney Road to the east
* Gradual change in elevation
* Some extra distance (about 1.3km)
* Minimal extra time (about 4-5minutes > Upfield path)
* Less extra time than both the LXRP east and west detours

The route could be made safer through appropriate signage by Moreland Council, and VicRoads and LXRP.

Possible alternate east cycle route

The Official LXRP/VicRoads cycle detours

Two very long and circuitous detours have been proposed by LXRP/VicRoads without any local consultation with stakeholders such as local cyclists and cycling groups.

The official detour routes have been cycled and assessed by us and other cyclists as not fit for purpose and safe for all those people who currently use the Upfield Bike Path. The detour routes have been slammed by cyclists in the Moreland Leader.

All they have done to improve these routes is some extra signage.

In our opinion these official detour routes are unsafe and not fit-for-purpuse for the wide range of Upfield Bike Path users, especially for those people with low on-road confidence.

These routes involve extra elevation change (hills) and have far more intersections with risk of collisions.

Some of the roads are narrow and uphill which will lead to conflict situations between cyclists and impatient vehicle traffic held up behind slow cyclists going uphill.

As the routes substantially deviate from the rail line they do not meet the needs of local cycling traffic visiting businesses close to or along Sydney Road.

One should also note these routes will be used over two winter periods when cyclists are travelling at night, which increases cycling risk.

The detour routes also don’t cater to primary and high school kids that are known to use the Upfield Bike Path.

VicRoads and LXRP have known about the need for a suitable detour that is fit for purpose for all users of the Upfield Bike Path for at least 18 months (July 2018). From a conversation with VicRoads staff member Somon Lanza:

I also identified that as the Upfield bike path is a major arterial commuter cycling route, VicRoads needs to give enormous thought into providing a safe and fit-for-purpose commuter cycle route detour when the level crossings are being removed during construction.

I suggested one solution would be a temporary dedicated cycling path could be constructed down a portion of Sydney Road in Coburg with the removal of parking from one side of the road. He said he would highlight this issue to the Integration team to consider in their planning for when the Level Crossing Removal construction starts, and would pass on my details to the team if they need feedback.

Cyclists, when confronted with a need to detour, will choose the shortest, safest and least hilly route.

LXRP and VicRoads have failed to consider cyclists needs when mapping routes. They even grossly underestimated the extra times by up to 100 percent for each route.

Their official routes appear to be done entirely for the benefit of construction without considering adequate safety and preferences by cyclists.

Such ‘official detours’ might be appropriate in terms of distance and hills for motor vehicle traffic but are entirely inappropriate for arterial cycling traffic.

The Bicycle Network, who has a liason staff member who attends meetings with VicRoads and LXRP, has refused to answer questions regarding what meetings or advice they offered in regards to detours. They have not consulted with either Moreland BUG or local cyclists in terms of advocacy for good fit-for-puropose detour solutions.

LXRP proposed bike detours

One thought on “Three alternate cycling routes while Upfield Bike Path closed for 18 months in Coburg

  1. I tried several of the detour routes last week and none of them are safe for taking my son to childcare. The official routes have parts where cyclists and cars are squeezed between the lines cars parked at eiher curb – definitely not safe at peak hour. The unofficial west route (or something like it that I came up with on the fly) had too much construction traffic. And Sydney Rd? Just no. I hate to say it, but it really looks like we’re going to be driving on childcare days for the next year and a half. So that’s another bike gone and another car on the road. Congratulations all round Moreland Council, LXRP, and whoever else, you really put in the absolute minimum of effort on this one.


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