I understand the the Victorian Government has brought forward 11 level crossing removals, two of which – Buckley Street in Essendon and Camp Road in Campbellfield – will be fast-tracked with work commencing next year and complete by 2019.
Camp Rd railway level crossing is just 300 metres along the road from the Campbellfield shopping centre. It is this Level Crossing upgrade which concerns me the most here.
The 11 level crossings have been split into two packages with both now out to tender, according to this report in Urban Melbourne. My check of the Level Crossings removal website shows the Upfield line crossing removals as at 27 September, 2016 are currently under tender.
The “North Western” package has five sites. As well as the two fast-tracked projects, the package includes Glenroy Road in Glenroy, Bell Street in Coburg and Moreland Road in Brunswick.
The Upfield shared bike path parallels the Upfield railway line. It provides a relatively safe off-street bike path running down the spine of the municipality of Moreland. It connects people in Moreland with local schools, shops and businesses, and links with the Capital City trail in the south and routes into the Melbourne CBD.
But the problem in the north is the gap connecting shared bike paths: the Upfield path stops at Box Forest Road and does not connect to the Western Ring Road Path that borders the northern boundary of the municipality.
For those Fawkner residents wanting to shop by bicycle at Campbellfield there are presently two options: attempting to brave the horror of the Sydney Rd and Western Ring Road intersection, or the pedestrian bridge over the Western Ring Road a 100 metres east of this intersection. If you take the Pedestrian bridge, then once across Mahoney’s Rd at the Pedestrian lights there is a problem of lack of a path to cycle to the Campbellfield Plaza.
Upgrading level crossings at Moreland Road, Bell Street and Camp Road is an opportunity to also clear bottlenecks and give priority to the increase in cycling in the municipality.
I believe the Munro Street crossing may be included when the Bell Street Crossing is upgraded. (This needs to be verified)
The level crossing at Camp Road especially, needs to incorporate facility for cyclists to cross, and have the shared path extended down to Box Forest Road. This is important as the intersection of Sydney Road and Western Ring Road is simply not safe for cyclists to navigate across. VicRoads have provided no on-road or off-road facility for cycling through this intersection.
Extending the Upfield shared Bike path could connect with a path to the Campbellfield shops providing a safe route to cycle north for people from Hadfield and Fawkner and further afield.
The railway bridge across the Western Ring Road was built with a capacity to take a second railway line and also with enough space for a shared path to extend the Upfield Bike path further north.
But it is imperative that level crossing removal at Camp Street should also include works incorporating a cycle crossing.
Now is also the time the State Government should join City of Moreland and City of Hume in extending the Upfield shared bike path at least up to Camp road with a vision of extending it further north and incorporate a short path to the Campbellfield shopping plaza.
Providing off-road cycling facilities is a sure way to get more people cycling more often. It makes our communities more sustainable, and more climate friendly, while providing health benefits to individuals and society as a whole.
Outer suburbs like Fawkner, Hadfield and Campbellfield need cycle friendly infrastructure just as much as inner suburbs. Indeed, because there is more of a culture built around roads and the car, it can be argued more cycling infrastructure might be needed in these suburbs to get people transitioning to lower emission transport and to change transport behaviours.
There are other problems for cyclists from Fawkner, especially in the northern end around Anderson Rd, in finding a safe route to access the existing Upfield Path. These perhaps need to be considered in depth at Council and Vicroads level for resolution. For middle Fawkner the footpath on the western side of Sydney Rd next to the cenetery really needs to be declared a shared path, as Sydney Road has a speed limit of 70km per hour and is unsafe to cycle on, to access the Upfield path.
So how about better bike facilities and extending the Upfield bike path further as part of the Camp Road Level Crossing Removal, Frank Maguire (Facebook), Member for Broadmeadows, and Lizzie Blandthorn (facebook), Member for Pascoe Vale?