Carringbush Hotel, Abbottsford
These were circulated prior to the meeting.
Present: John Parker, Gordon Macmillan, Glennys Jones, David Leong, Peter Campbell (Chair), Julia Blunden, Alister Huth (Boroondara BUG); Ferdi Saliba (BrimBUG); David Hall, Russell Hick, (Whitehorse Cyclists), Maurie Abbott, John Merory (Banyule BUG), Helen Millicer (Glen Eira BUG); Alan Ball (Manningham BUG); Nik Dow (Melbourne BUG); Richard Adams (Monash BUG)
Apologies: Frank Kinnersley, Darren McClelland (Moonee BUG); Eric Ball (Manningham BUG), Graeme Oke (BrimBUG), Michael Hassett (Whitehorse Cyclists) Rachel Mackay (Glen Eira BUG); Ken Smith (Bay West BUG); Kevin Balaam (Hume BUG) Jason den Hollander (Bicycle Network Victoria), Chris Star (Yarra BUG)
Area of Responsibility
Chris began by explaining that his group has been in existence for about six years. The group looks after the waterways of the Westernport and Port Phillip areas, including drains, channels, levee banks, retarding basins and wetlands. They work with developers in growth areas, where storm-water collection etc is now the norm. Community involvement is very important.
Melbourne Water was established in 1991. Prior to that the old Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works had wide ranging responsibilities. They established much of Melbourne’s open space, which is so crucial to its liveability, around waterways. Mainly thanks to federal funding, 1988 saw a big expansion in Melbourne’s bike network, which involved purchasing lots of private property to create trails. Chris said that this sort of long term vision is now needed more than ever because of population growth. The question is where is the funding to come from. Glennys Jones suggested that a developer contribution scheme could be part of the solution.
Although MW is the single authority responsible for the Yarra River, other agencies have an important role. David Hall raised the question of flash flooding, which could be an issue with the Darebin – Yarra link still to be completed. Chris pointed out that flooding is not a serious safety issue in Melbourne compared with many other parts of Australia. Most trails are above the 1 in 10 year flood level and our drains are built to cope with 1 in 5 year floods. We have had very few deaths attributable to floods. Chris said it is better to design paths to go under water prior to danger spots such as bridges to act as a warning, rather than depending on mechanical devices. He referred us to Melbourne Water’s publication Shared Pathways Guidelines, based on the Australian standards, which can be downloaded at: http://ldm.melbournewater.com.au/content/library/5.11/shared_pathways_guidelines.pdf
MW is currently piloting an SMS warning system for local flash flooding. Chris said that while MW has some responsibility for clearing debris off trails after flooding and helps with this, especially when access from the water is needed, responsibility lies with the agency managing the trail. This makes it hard for individuals to know who to contact. Helen Millicer pointed out that with growing commuter traffic on the trails, some may need to be included in the PBN and VicRoads could take some responsibility. MW does not record bike rider numbers on trails, and Helen described BNV’s Super Tuesday and Super Sunday bike counts as being a possible useful source of information.
Chris said that MW policy is to encourage any use of pipe tracks that doesn’t interfere with operational use, including construction of paths. He advised us to use the tracks if we can access them. Chris said that current negotiations between the MAV and MW concerning the construction of paths on the tracks, now almost complete, was a high priority for MW. Glennys Jones pointed out the desirability of bike priority on minor road crossings as is now being implemented on Boroondara’s Anniversary Trail. Alister Huth mentioned work soon to be carried out re-laying the pipeline down St Georges Rd and the need to upgrade the bike path when this occurs. Chris said that although this was not strictly a MW responsibility they will probably do it.
Chris said that MW doesn’t collect any statistics on bike accidents on its trails.
Chris referred to possible further rearrangement of responsibilities under the Baillieu government. Perhaps we’ll see a return to arrangements more like those in the days of the MMBW.
Spokespeople for each of the BUGs represented gave short presentations on their various activities and concerns. Many BUGs are stepping up their advocacy activities and achieving some good results.
Other current projects include the pipeline path between Heatherdale and Syndal Stations via the Mitcham Water Reservoir, where agreement between Melbourne Water and Municipal Councils is required re liability and maintenance issues. VicRoads intend to divest themselves of surplus land between Springvale Road and Boronia Road which was reserved for the Healesville Freeway, and is consulting interested parties, including WCA who see the potential for a 3.5 km E-W shared path from Dandenong Creek trail with connection by back roads to the Gardiners Creek Path at Deakin University.
John Merory reported that VicRoads is funding a Copenhagen bike lane on part of Oriel Rd. He bemoaned the difficulties of getting funding for end-of-trip facilities at the Austin Hospital which is outside the 10km radius. Maurie Abbott reported that upgrading the Yarra Trail through Banyule is an ongoing issue. Council has engaged consultants who are looking at three options. Some progress is being made with sealing some of the numerous short, informal access tracks that become problematic after rain. VR is currently looking at Council’s options for closing the missing link in the Banyule Trail along the Greensborough Bypass. Banyule lacks an east-west bike route. While a power-line easement offers the best prospects, private ownership of some sections is a problem.
Richard Adams reported that one aim of the BUG is to double Council’s spending on cycling, currently the lowest in Melbourne. A walking and cycling strategy is currently being developed by consultants and should be complete in two to three months. Participation in the survey used was high by Monash standards, and two public meetings held were also well attended by Monash standards.
Helen Millicer reported that not much has been done despite the bike strategy being completed 18 months ago. The BUG is finding the Council unresponsive to requests for a meeting. There is a problem with responsibility for cycle infrastructure being spread across different departments. Some Council work has recently been done on roads with mixed responses from the public.
Glennys Jones reported that the new Solway Bridge is now open. There is finally a link from the Gardiners Creek Trail up to Tooronga Village, which also provides access to Tooronga Rd for cyclists heading south. BUG members participated in two recent audits of the Anniversary Trail. The Hawthorn to Box Hill Trail is in a holding pattern until we see if it appears on the revised PBN. She alerted the group to a new VicRoads initiative relating to ten key cycle routes into the city. Whether there will be any opportunity for cyclist input into this is as yet unknown.
Alan Ball from Manningham described a hazard that has been created for cyclists at a roundabout on the corner of Drewe Close and Old Warrandyte Rd, Donvale, Melways map 34 G11. Signs indicate that ‘All Cyclists’ must take a bypass path. This means they need to slow down, hazardous in itself, and then places them in the position of having to watch for cars behind them as they cross the side road. A ‘Cyclists Only’ sign would be a preferable option. Julia Blunden agreed to work with Alan on a letter to VicRoads about this issue.
Peter Campbell explained that he has created a new web site for our organization which he has called ‘Victorian Cycling Network’. All are welcome to contribute but need to contact the moderator, Peter, to arrange access via Google or Gmail accounts.
There was general agreement that ‘Victorian Cycling Network’ does not convey the idea of advocacy, which is our chief purpose. Victorian Bicycle User Groups (VBUG) was agreed on as our new name.
Russell Hick said that this is an important issue for WC with numerous rides each week and sixty odd ride leaders, with new leaders constantly being added. He said there is a need for protocols. It was suggested that he contact Melbourne Bicycle Touring Club and Darebin BUG, both of which have sizeable rides programs. Maurie Abbott offered to forward a document he has prepared for Banyule BUG. Russell agreed to share his findings and his work with the group.
Cnr Blackburn Rd and Burwood Hwy: Gordon MacMillan reported that correspondence with BNV, MPs and Council on this issue has gone unanswered. Helen Millicer offered to follow up with BNV. However there was general agreement that BNV cannot be expected to deal with all such issues. Suggestions for action included, addressing all correspondence to specific people and making specific requests rather than general complaints; checking whether provisions for cyclists that are in place comply with the original planning permit; and contacting the marketing manager, pointing out what other comparable shopping centres offer.
Notes by Julia Blunden