PLANNED Bike lanes along Mair Street that could have been dangerously narrow have been scrapped, creating an angry backlash from cycling advocates.
As the $7 million realignment of the busy thoroughfare undergoes another change of plan, it can be revealed that plans for cycling lanes have been removed after they were found to not meet minimum standard width for safe cycling.
The news follows repeated revisions to the controversial Sturt Street bike path plan in another key state government CBD traffic plan.
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Regional Roads Victoria confirmed the inclusion of four lanes for traffic, plus parallel parking and median strips, meant the road would be too narrow to also include bike lanes, as had been drawn up in the second plans released in June 2018.
Screenshots from a video, released by Regional Roads Victoria in March, show a boulevard with four lanes and bike lanes, as well as trees down the median strip.
The video has since been removed from their website.
The roads authority has reverted to an original plan to build the road, which sees 15,000 vehicles daily, without bike lanes, angering cycling advocates.
In a social media post at the weekend on the Ballarat Bicycle User Group, spokesperson Matt Briody said after meeting with RRV, the authority admitted an error in building bike lanes that were narrower than minimum standard.
"RRV agreed that the bike lanes they had built would not be attractive or safe to cycle on and are considering removing them," he wrote.
"It makes a mockery of all of us who have been part of various consultation processes. We were told in 2017 that increasing bike and pedestrian safety was a non-negotiable.
"No provision for any kind of bike riding is planned for one of Ballarat's major thoroughfares other than 'take the lane'."
The Courier has been unsuccessful in contacting Mr Briody for further comment.
Andrew Cook, from Mair Street's Cycle City Ballarat, said the plan was "just stupid".
"I spoke to (Regional Roads Victoria) last week and they had no idea what was going on," he said.
"They say it was going to be the same all the way through, but it's not - it's different up the top to how it's going to be here, it's just stupid.
"They were originally going to put trees all the way through, I don't know what's going to happen there."
He added since median car parks were removed from between Doveton Street and Armstrong Street earlier this year, some people continued to park there - he said it was a recurring problem.
The Mair Street plans include dual lanes from Dawson Street North to Armstrong Street, and then from Davies to Humffray Street.
It also includes upgrades to intersections at Doveton, Armstrong, Peel and Humffray streets, new turning lanes, line marking and better traffic light flow, and new traffic lights at the Dawson Street intersection.
Construction is under way between Humffray Street and Victoria Street, which includes a new concrete centre median.
Roads Minister Jaala Pulford said the Mair Street upgrade hadn't originally envisaged cycling lanes as part of the improvements.
"There was an additional change made to the project that put some cycling lanes down to indicate the lanes. They looked pretty narrow to me, I know that our local cyclists were not thrilled with the design," she said.
"So we are are going to go back to the original plan there.
"My message to cyclists is that the Mair Street project will include some adjustments to lights to make sure they are safe and separate from cars.
"But also, we look forward to working with riders of all ages on the path up Sturt Street, which of course is just one street across."
RRV western regional director Michael Bailey said cyclists will still be able to travel along Mair Street.
"After a safety review, we've determined that the width available for proposed cycling lanes on Mair Street would not provide adequate safety for cyclists," he said in a statement.
"Cyclists will still be able to travel along Mair Street, and as part of the upgrade, we'll be installing on-road bike boxes at traffic lights to separate cyclists from traffic."
"As part of the $9.3 million Ballarat Safer Cycling Connections Project, we're improving cycling infrastructure right across the city, including dedicated off-road paths in the central business precinct."
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