Ballarat bike network gets massive financial injection

Ballarat’s cycling infrastructure is set to undergo a major facelift after the state government announced $9.3 million investment in the city’s bike network. 

Construction of 12 kilometres of new cycling and walking paths throughout the Ballarat CBD as well as a dedicated route along the Wendouree rail corridor are expected to begin by mid-2018, with final plans to be presented early next year.  

VicRoads and Ballarat City Council will be undertaking a month of community consultation before confirming the final design.

The announcement comes after figures from the 2016 census revealed just 0.81 per cent of Ballarat residents regularly cycled to work, a drop-off from the 2011 survey. 

VicRoads western Victoria acting regional director Mal Kersting said the upgrades would make a big difference to safety and efficiency.

More than 20 roads are being considered as part of the project, a list which will be fully revealed following community consultation. 

“Ideally what we want to achieve is to separate the cyclists from the through traffic and I think that will help  address...the behaviours we see between cyclists and motorists,” Mr Kersting said. 

“A lot of (the cycling tracks) will be off-road and using public space which is not currently used at all which will provide improved facilities for cyclists but also it will allow motorists to have a clearer understanding of where cyclists and pedestrians are likely to be.”

The funding comes after Ballarat City Council adopted its Ballarat Cycling Strategy 2017-2025 in March.

New dedicated cycling and walking tracks along the crossing points and garden areas on Sturt Street will also be developed in an effort to activate the city’s green space. 

Buninyong MP Geoff Howard said the government investment would closely reference the plans already created by council. 

Ballarat City mayor Samantha McIntosh said the upgrades provided a great opportunity to encourage the community to become fitter and healthier.

“At the moment with less than one per cent of our community moving around on bikes we know there’s a lot more that can be done,” Cr McIntosh said.

“We have spectacular streetscapes and wonderful opportunities to better use the centre of Ballarat and make transport less congested.” 

Dedicated cycling and walking tracks along the crossing points and garden areas on Sturt Street will also be developed.  Buninyong MP Geoff Howard said there would need to be some changes made to the roads to accommodate new cycling infrastructure.

Ballarat Bicycle User Group president Matt Briody welcomed the announcement and said one of the biggest factors that stopped people getting on a bike was a lack of safe infrastructure.

“People look at our situation and then they look at cities like Amsterdam or Copenhagen and assume they are different people but all that makes them different is that 30 or 40 years ago their governments started spending money on this type of infrastructure.”