A project to improve accessibility on the Lilydale to Warburton Trail has been recognised at the state level, being nominated for 2019 Victorian Disability Sport and Recreation Award.
The project, which involved redesigning chicanes along the trail to be accessible for people with a disability, is nominated for the Inclusive Sport, Recreation or Open Space Infrastructure award.
Walling Ward Councillor, Len Cox, said he was proud of the work done on the project and that it had been recognised.
“Our staff took on this project after our local resident and advocate, James Wood, shared his experiences on the Warburton Trail with our Disability Advisory Committee,” Cr Cox said.
“James told us about how the bicycle chicanes on the trail were too small for his three-wheeled bike. The only way to get through the chicanes was to be lifted over them, which was simply inaccessible for people with a disability who want to use the trail independently.
Cr Cox, who represents Council on the DAC, said Council’s teams then worked with James to redesign the chicanes so they would be universally accessible for people with a disability, while still suitably slowing down riders at road crossings to keep them safe.
People using hand cycles, tandem bikes and other non-standard unpowered vehicles can ride between Wandin and Warburton without needing to dismount.
“That redesign is now being applied to all road crossings on the Warburton Trail, so James and people living with a disability can travel the entire length without issue,” he said.
“This project has been a great example of how the DAC can influence and advocate to Council for improved services and accessibility, and I’m proud of the work being done here.
“Regardless of whether this project wins the award, I’m glad this project has been recognised on a state level and I hope other Councils and organisations use it as an opportunity to look at what they can be doing in this space.”
Mr Wood, said he was impressed with how quickly the project was completed by Council, and that he was now able to use the trail independently.
“It means a lot for me to be able to ride on my own,” he said.
“Independence is a huge thing for me, and to know now that I can ride this part of the trail by myself is fantastic.”
The VDSR awards, which are in their tenth year, celebrates the achievements of sportspeople with a disability, the coaches, organisations, officials and volunteers who support them and the inclusive sport and recreation sector across the state.
The improvements align with Council’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy’s priority of having connected and healthy communities in the Yarra Ranges.
The final award recipients will be announced on Wednesday, 22 May at an event in Melbourne and will be livestreamed online.