Upfield Bike path: shared use upgrade to cemetery footpath does not go far enough for cyclists

This footpath from Lynch Rd will be shared use

This footpath from Lynch Rd will be shared use

One of the anomalies facing cyclists accessing the Upfield Bike Path from central Fawkner was either using Sydney Road in a 70km zone or riding on the footpath next to the cemetery, an illegal act unless accompanying children.

Sustainable Fawkner suggested and lobbied candidates as a quick fix the footpath next to the cemetery from Box Forest Rd to the police station should be made a shared use path. (see End of Post)

We have just heard from our new Councillor Ali Irfanli (Facebook) that the footpath along Sydney Rd near the cemetery will be re-designated a shared path between Lorne St and Lynch Rd.

It will be signposted as such in the next 4 – 6 weeks. The costs of these works has been assessed as minor and is managed within the existing Council budget.

While we appreciate this change, it does not go nearly far enough to resolving an anomalous legal and safety issue for Fawkner cyclists.

This footpath from Lynch Rd to Box Forest Rd still illegal for cyclists

This footpath from Lynch Rd to Box Forest Rd still illegal for cyclists

I’d like to raise in particular, it doesn’t resolve the issue for cyclists crossing Sydney Road at Major Road intersection, who would still need to ride on a ‘pedestrian only’ footpath to the Lynch Rd intersection where it would become shared use.

Neither does the proposal fix the problem of cyclists crossing at Sydney Road and Box Forest Road and then using the footpath alongside the cemetery and over the railway line to the Upfield Bike Path.

Our contention is that this whole footpath next to the cemetery, from Box Forest Road to the Fawkner Police station, should be designated shared use, not just the portion between Lynch Rd and Lorne St intersections.

Council needs to adequately address the many access issues of cyclists in all parts of Fawkner in accessing the Upfield Bike path. Declaring the full length of this footpath alongside the cemetery as shared use is really a minimum to resolve the immediate legal and safety anomalies of accessing the Upfield Shared Use bikepath by Fawkner cyclists.

Other than accessing the Upfield Bike path through the main Cemetery entrance (which is closed at night) or Fawkner station, a number of cyclists avoid the last section of the Upfield Bike Path to Box Forest Road. This is particularly avoided at night due to it’s isolation and lack of any ambient public lighting. Due to poor drainage, sections of the Upfield bike path here also flood after heavy rains, once again a reason for cyclists to avoid this section as unsafe, particularly at night.

We look forward to working with our new Council and in particular Fawkner resident and Councillor Ali Irfanli in adequately resolving these issues. There is much to be done in extending the Upfield Bike Path to the Western Ring Road and beyond, and improving accessibility for Fawkner residents (and cyclists) to make better use of the Upfield Bike Path infrastructure.

On October 19, 2016 during the Council election I sent an email to a number of candidates, which included the four people subsequently elected as North East Ward councillors, listing a number of cycling and transport issues concerning Fawkner and the north of the municipality. Point 6 related directly to improving the access to the Upfield Bike Path:

6. Safe access to Upfield Bikepath from Fawkner needs to be greatly improved. We have this marvellous piece of cycling infrastructure going up and stopping at Box Forest Road, but with problems accessing it from Fawkner. (Moreland Council/VicRoads)

As Sydney Road in Fawkner is a 70km zone, I deem cycling on this road as inherently unsafe for confident riders, let alone anyone just beginning to cycle. I therefore cycle on the footpath next to the cemetery to access the Upfield bike path. Cycling on the footpath is illegal, unless you are accompanying a child. I am therefore breaking the law every time I ride on this footpath to access the Upfield bikepath. A relatively easy quick fix would be for this footpath beside the cemetery from Box Forest Rd to the Fawkner police station to be designated a shared use path by Council. This does not fix the access issues, just clarifies a legal anomaly for cyclists.

All the pedestrian crossings from the Western Ring Rd crossing (a bit of a nightmare to cross), Anderson Rd, Jukes Rd, Box Forest Rd, Major Rd, and Lynch Rd should all be looked at to see if they can be improved for cycle traffic to cross Sydney Rd and access the Upfield bikepath. Access to the Upfield bikepath from the north of Fawkner is particularly problematic, as for example, safe access from Anderson rd to Gowrie station / upfield bike path. This needs to be looked at carefully by transport and urban planners to resolve this issue and should be a high priority. About the only crossing I would rate as reasonable for safety is the pedestrian crossing to access Fawkner Station near Lorne street.

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