Monday, March 23, 2009

MAJOR NEWS: Victorian Cycling Strategy released!

After the release of this plan was delayed in Feburary due to the bushfires, Brumby (premier) and Pallas (minister for roads and ports) today jointly released the "Victorian Cycling Strategy" (not the "Victorian Bicycle Plan" name I was using) at some park I could not identify when I saw footage on Ten News!

I have briefly read the plan and have summarised the planned improvements which are only relevant to "Melbourne Bike Routes" If you are looking for regional bike route improvements and other aspects of the plan which are non-route based (such as school education programs etc. etc., you should look at the plan yourself)

Whilst I think the statistics and graphs and tables are good analysis to the current cycling situation in Victoria, like yourself, I am only interested in what they are actually going to do in terms of cycling infrastructure in Melbourne. I will now start my comprehensive list of planned improvements relevant to MBR.

  • Federation Trail extension: Off-road bicycle path from Millers Road, Altona to Williamstown Road, Yarraville.

  • Merri Creek Pipe Bridge – Merri Creek Trail re-alignment path as part of upgrade of pipe bridge by Melbourne Water.

  • Bicycle crossing: At the intersection of Willsmere Road and the Anniversary Trail, Kew.

    Google Street View

  • Gardiners Creek Trail upgrade: Widening and general improvement works between Glenferrie Road and Toorak Road.

  • Fitzroy Street path: Off-road bicycle path between Acland Street to Albert Park, St Kilda.

  • Mount Alexander Road lanes: On-road bicycle lanes at the Shamrock Street/Grice Crescent intersection.

    Google Street View
  • Maribyrnong River Trail extension: Off-road bicycle path along Hyde Street, Somerville Road and Whitehall Street to Footscray Road.

  • Cecil Street lanes upgrade: Upgrade of on-road bicycle lanes along between Albert Road and Whiteman Street, South Melbourne.

  • Maroondah Highway footbridge: Construction of a new bridge over the Maroondah Highway in Lilydale to form an extension of the Lilydale - Warburton Rail Trail from Maroondah Highway to Lilydale Railway Station.

  • York Road traffic lights: Provision of a signalised crossing on the Lilydale-Warburton Rail Tail to provide access across York Road, Mt. Evelyn.

  • Bulleen Road lanes: New on-road bicycle lanes between the Koonung Creek (the creek bridge, not the trail) to Golden Way.
  • 10km radius priority cycle routes: The routes highighted in blue on the map below show routes (both on and off road) which will receive priority attention to help make inner city cycling faster and more comfortable.

  • Federation Trail - Maribyrnong River Trail link: Off-road bicycle path from Williamstown Road to Hyde Street, Yarraville.

  • Balwyn Road facilities: Provide on-road bicycle facilities on Balwyn Road, Balwyn.

  • Fitzroy bicycle priority traffic lights: Installation of bicycle priority signals at selected intersections in Fitzroy.

  • Williamstown - Docklands/CBD link: Connect Williamstown to the Melbourne CBD and Docklands.

  • Inner east route upgrade/extension: Upgrade the cycle route to the east, extending the existing route to Kew/Camberwell North.
    Note: I am not sure what this route actually is. If anyone knows, please leave a comment.
  • Gardiners Creek Trail further upgrades: Further upgrades (suggesting it will occur in sections other than Glenferrie - Toorak Roads as mentioned above) for the trail.

  • Maribyrnong River Trail upgrade: Suggests that it is just a general upgrade of existing sections of trail.

  • North inner city link upgrade: Link and possibly upgrade the link from Queens Parade to Albert Street.

  • Yarra Bend Park / Eastern Freeway link: Link the Chandler Highway to Wellington Street.

  • CBD on-road lanes: Improve bicycle facilities along William Street and Latrobe Street as primary routes into and through the CBD.

  • Inner north - south routes: Improve bicycle facilities on key north-south routes, including Royal Parade, St Georges Road and Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

  • CBD North bike bypass: Create a northern CBD bicycle bypass to the west to connect with the Maribyrnong River Trail.

  • Merri Creek Trail upgrade: Upgrade of the Merri Creek trail around Rushall Station.

  • Capital City Trail / Main Yarra Trail - Melb. Uni. link: Link Melbourne University with the Capital City Trail / Main Yarra Trail in the east.

  • Maribyrnong area links: Provide links outlined in the Maribyrnong Cycling Strategy, possibly including a link between Footscray and Sunshine.

  • Capital City Trail / Main Yarra Trail access upgrade: Improve access to the Capital City Trail on the south bank of the Yarra River near Alexandra Avenue at Yarra Street in South Yarra.

  • Footscray Road improvements: Improve cycling access along Footscray Road to the CBD.

  • Other links improvements: Improve key links in the Prahran area and Eastern suburbs.

  • Albert Street / Elizabeth Street improvements: Improve links in Albert Street and Elizabeth Street in line with works to be undertaken by Melbourne City Council.

  • Diamond Creek Trail extension: Off-road path between Diamond Creek and Hurstbridge stations.

  • Freeway paths: Off-road paths alongside the Frankston Bypass (Peninsula Link) and the Dingley Arterial (between Westall Road Extension and Dandenong Bypass).

  • Cycle route planning website: Development of a cycle route planning website with information about different types of cycle routes in the network and links to public transport. This website may be incorporated in or linked to the State Government’s journey planning website for public transport (Metlink).

  • Public bike hire scheme: This program, provided for under the Victorian Transport Plan, will establish a system for Melbourne based on successful systems in Paris and other parts of Europe. It will promote greater usage of existing cycling infrastructure in central Melbourne, and promote cycling for short trips in and around the CBD. The system will extend the reach of public transport at the destination, as cycling is faster than walking and more flexible than route-based public transport, and it will build on current strategic efforts by the State to develop safer and more accessible cycling infrastructure. The system will exist within central Melbourne providing access to the inner Melbourne cycling network. The proposed first stage will include at least 50 bicycle stations within central Melbourne, spaced approximately 500 m apart, with capacity for at least 600 bicycles at start-up and the option for quick expansion. The state will work in close consultation with the City of Melbourne and intends to issue a Request for Tender in 2009.
    Note: I want to know how they are going to stop people from stealing the bikes!

    UPDATE: I have found more information about this scheme. It should be up and running by 2010 and will offer memberships in the form of either daily, weekly or yearly periods. The first half hour of all trips are free as well with additional fees after that. It looks like you pay a fee to have access to the bikes, then you can ride around for free for half an hour, but if you return a bike to a station after that time, you will pay a fee.

  • Railway station bike cages: 26 bikes in each, with ability to expand, 18 already installed at metro stations, 10 more in future. Then case by case basis afterwards.
There it is folks. Feel free to comment. More posts to come in the future.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bicycle Route Directions anyone?

Here is something I wish to share with you that you may have been wanting for a long time. There has long been a push for Google to provide cycling directions to complement it's vehicle, walking and public transport directions. Even though, the Google attempt at the walking directions is kind of simple to do (it's simply the same coding as vehicle directions, but lets you walk down one way roads and not freeways).

Now a UK company called CouldMade, which acts as a commercial application front for OpenStreetMap, which features frequently in my posts on this site, has developed cycling directions for OpenStreetMap data.

Simply select the crosshair button (the address system doesn't really work so I don't recommend using it) and place the crosshairs for your original location and your destinations (you can have more than one). Make sure you select the cycling button and this will give you a suitable cycling route to your destination(s). The routing algorithms are not perfect and CloudMade are still trying to make them more accurate, but it is a start.

Have a look at an example I have created of cycling route directions from Ringwood to Frankston. Remember that this is OpenStreetMap data, which means it is a work in progress and not all data exists yet, but it is getting there. So be forgiving if your street is not yet there or it is there but has no name. You can even add the info yourself by visiting OpenStreetMap if you wish! Have fun and tell me of your cycle route directions which have been made using this site!

Knox Festival 2009: Knox Bicycle Plan Public Release

Sorry it took a little while to report this, but on Saturday March 3, I visited the annual Knox Festival, which is held at the Ferntree Gully Recreation Reserve on the first weekend of every March. This reserve is in an excellent location, as the Ferny Creek Trail runs right through the north of the reserve.

I arrived from the west and did not encounter any controlled entry points along the path in this direction (but it didn't matter, because if you rode a bike to the festival, you got in for free). I parked my bike and locked it up to the unusual bicycle parking (which I forgot to take a picture of). The parking was right next to the Bicycle Plan stand, but it wasn't just a stand. I saw something that did quite impress me. A giant Melway cycle map, which is featured in the newly created Knox City Council Cycling in Knox TravelSmart map. (This new map is currently not available online, but should soon. If you pop into the Civic Centre in Wantirna South, they should be able to give you one)

This reminds me that I really should follow up on my no-response email to Melissa Sparrow of Knox City Council. This time, I shall send my concerns about the Knox Bike Network to the generic council email address and see if this gets a response.

Here are a couple of photos of the giant map!

Darebin Road Underpass and gap closer opened!

OK, this might not be as exciting as for example, news that the Darebin Creek Trail extension to the Main Yarra Trail being given the green light (this decision to this problem is currently being made by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)) but it is still fantastic news for Darebin Creek Trail users.

The trail is now continuous from just north of the Heidelberg Road bridge in Alphington right up to Darebin Creek Reserve in Reservoir. This photo from the Bicycle Victoria website was taken looking south towards the bridge in October 2008, when the underpass was nearing completion, but the gap closer path was still under construction. Before the works, you would have to exit the trail at Darebin Road, cross the road, then travel down Ford Crescent for a few hundred metres to rejoin the trail. Now you can just go under the bridge and behind the back of the factories, all on the new expected standard for all major Melbourne trails, 3 metre wide concrete.

I have yet to have ride the Darebin Creek Trail, but a plan of action to ride it all myself would maybe consist of a train trip to East Camberwell Station. Yes it is a crappy station, but it is right next to the Outer Circle Trail, which I will then travel up north on to Chandler Highway, cross the shockingly narrow bridge (it used to be a rail bridge before it was converted to a vehicle bridge), travel east along Heidelberg Road, then somehow reach the start of the trail and zip up it, somehow bridge the gap in Bundoora, then travel right to the end at Epping North, then returning by train. If I do take this ride sometime, I will report it on this blog.

More information on the opening of the underpass and gap closing path can be found in the Victorian Government Media Release.