VicRoads and the Ballarat City Council are urging residents to have their say on the state government $9.3 million upgrade to the city’s cycling infrastructure, which will see bike paths transformed throughout the CBD and Wendouree.
Among the plans detailed is an offroad bike path along Sturt Street running from Gilles Street to Pleasant Street. From Pleasant to Dawson streets the path shifts into the central median gardens before heading onto a new track between the road and footpath down to Grenville Street.
Ballarat City active transport working group chairman Cr Belinda Coates said she hoped the investment would double the rate of regular cyclists in “the next couple of years”. Figures from the 2016 census revealed a minuscule 0.81 per cent of Ballarat residents regularly cycled to work, a decline on previous figures.
“(Offroad cycling tracks) really help encourage people to get on their bikes and we know from examples in other cities and internationally where there’s higher numbers of people cycling it’s often prioritised.”
A new rail trail in Wendouree will aim to get cyclists off of Howitt Street, beginning at Gilles Street before finishing at the Ballarat Station. Commuters will also be able to access the station through a new track extending the existing Scott Parade shared path which will come over the top of the Peel Street bridge.
Meanwhile Grenville Street is set to become a major cycling intersection, linking the city’s prominent north-south and east-west routes.
From 3pm-7pm on Wednesday VicRoads will be hosting a drop-in session at the Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute’s Humffray Room, where cyclists will be able to inspect existing plans and comment ahead of construction, which is expected to begin in the first half of 2018.
A pop-up store at 315 Sturt Street will also be open from November 15-22 from 10am-2pm to allow residents to caste their eye over the proposed upgrades.
VicRoads is hoping the changes will help to improve cyclist safety in the Ballarat CBD after 34 crashes were reported from 2012-2017, eight resulting in serious injury.
VicRoads western Victoria acting regional director Mal Kersting said while the routes had been established, residents were in the best position to provide advice which would allow VicRoads to finalise its designs.
Major traffic shake-up set for Sturt Street
A host of Sturt Street’s most dangerous intersections are set to undergo a transformation as part of the state government’s $9.3 million CBD cycling infrastructure upgrade.
Among the changes drafted in VicRoads’ preliminary designs are the removal of intersections at Lyon, Errard, Windemere and Talbot streets. Alterations to intersections at Raglan and Ascot streets would allow drivers to perform a u-turn but not travel straight across Sturt Street.
The proposed changes are being driven by alarming crash statistics which highlight the intersections as among the most dangerous places on the road in the Ballarat CBD.
Half of the 76 crashes which occurred between Grenville and Pleasant streets in the five years to mid-2017 occurred at intersections without traffic lights.
VicRoads western Victoria acting regional director Mal Kersting said VicRoads was in the process of notifying nearby residents of the proposed changes and encouraged people to have their say at community consultation sessions over the coming week.
“We are aware that some intersections along Sturt Street have a very poor crash record and these changes will help to address that, while helping to connect the missing links in the city's bicycle corridor,” Mr Kersting said of the proposed changes.
Meanwhile Drummond Street is also expected to be overhauled in an effort to impress pedestrian access to Ballarat Health Services.
A tree-lined median strip is expected to be installed from Sturt Street through to Webster Street, while zebra crossings will be built out the front of the Ballarat Base and St John of God hospitals alongside improved bike lanes.
Check out VicRoads’ full interactive map here.